Gender Focus with EMELDA MWITWA
IN RESPONSE to my article of last week, headlined “For better and better till divorce do us part”, I would like to share feedback from the readers. My article was looking at the high prevalence of divorce in the country following statistics indicating that 20, 818 marriages were annulled in the local courts in Zambia last year. Below are the readers’ reactions:
It is true that divorce is bad, but sometimes it cannot be avoided. When couples are always fighting or one of them is constantly being beaten, it is better for such a couple to divorce to prevent death. Nowadays you can’t turn your spouse into a punching bag, things have changed. There are a lot of people who have been punched and they collapse and die. I think in such cases, divorce should be granted to save life.
The issue of HIV has also become a common cause of divorce. It is common to find that one partner is HIV-positive but they don’t want to tell their spouse about it. What should one do if they discover that their partner is secretly taking ARVs (anti-retroviral drugs)? This is one of the reasons why people are divorcing. The best is for an HIV-positive person to be open with their partner so that they are helped by proper counsellors.
From your article, I feel the common causes of divorce that are cited in the courts of law are infidelity, drunkenness and conflicts related to finances.
Infidelity is common nowadays and the culprits could either be women or men. Who is to blame? I think it’s the upbringing of children. Some people come from homes where cheating of spouses is a trend in the family. The same applies to drunkenness. So a person coming from a background where a mother or father was unfaithful in marriage, is also likely to cheat on their partner.
On sickness, I feel it should not be a cause of divorce. Even if your spouse has mental illness, you don’t have to divorce them. It’s better to endure sickness together, who knows maybe God can do a miracle and heal your spouse. It is wrong to divorce a sick person, unless one commits adultery.
It is sad that divorce is more common now than before. We need to reflect and see where we have gone wrong. In my view, I feel women are the major culprits, especially those who are working. Some women tend to grow wings when a man is not working or if he has a lower income than them. The Bible says women must submit to their husbands, but some women do not want to submit.
The Church needs to do more to establish what has gone wrong and help the couples in their communities. But the Church is not doing much in terms of helping couples in their communities. Sadly, some pastors are more interested in making money than grounding people in biblical principles of marriage.
I would like to share six points that I feel could help prevent divorce.
First of all, the Church needs to be careful on who they choose to counsel (young couples) before marriage. A pastor needs to know the counsellors – (husband and wife) before introducing them to the would-be couple. In some cases, the cause of divorce depends on the marriage life that the marriage counsellors have lived. The Bible says: “Whatever you sow that shall you reap,” If there is immorality in the marriage counsellor’s marriage, that’s the seed they will be sowing in the counselees’ marriage.
Second, let the Church channel resources meant for conferences to build strong marriages. For example, they can have married conferences to help strengthen marriages in their communities. Wherever you go, there are conferences, but none specifically on marriage. Spiritual life is built on Sundays, so once in a year, can’t the Church, for God’s sake, help build the falling marriages? This will help save many marriages. Some married couples have never undergone premarital counselling because they were made to marry because the woman fell pregnant. The Church in Zambia must unite and start concentrating on building families by having marriage and family conferences. The devil knows that if family unity is destroyed, then there will be no Church; no community. We need to build united families so that we can have a united Church.
Third, in the Pentecostal movement, some visiting preachers who some resident pastors invite do not live holy lives where they come from. Some live adulterous lives. They may preach good sermons, but there is no holiness in their lives. These may impart the spirit of immorality to the church when they lay hands on the people. Be careful who lays hands on you, don’t allow anyone to touch your head.
The fourth reason is that most men are not adequately prepared for marriage. Young women are often taught adequately before stepping into marriage but not with men. Let the men’s fellowships in the Church deal with this problem. Because of lack of preparation in form of premarital counselling, many young people think that marriage is all about sex. There is more to marriage than sex. Men or experienced bashi bukombe need to take up the responsibility of teaching young men to be financial managers, protectors and good leaders. Otherwise, the future generation will lose interest in marriage because of the happenings in their parents’ marriages.
Fifth, hard economic times are also responsible for tearing families apart. A couple may start on a good note, but along the way the man could lose his job and be unable to feed his family. Most women fail to cope with jobless men. But there are some women who cope by starting small businesses to fend for their families.
Sixth, marriages are breaking up at a high rate because of problems caused by failure of women to do domestic chores. A lot of girls are growing up without learning household chores because their parents tend to hire domestic workers. When such women marry, they fail to do domestic chores such as washing and cooking because they were used to a maid getting work done on their behalf. Let me appeal to mothers to train their daughters in domestic work. The reality now is that most of the girls spend 90 percent of their day on social media instead of doing domestic work. Some mothers think that they can teach their daughters domestic chores when they are about to get married. It is not possible that alangizi can teach a girl in one week what she was supposed to learn while growing up. It is impossible.
I have read your article in today’s Daily Mail on the captioned subject. My question is, how binding are the vows couples make as they tie the knot? Are those supported by any document (Bible), so to speak?
The vows are binding in the sense that you are making a vow/promise to your spouse in front of the people and on God’s altar, if you are marrying in church. They are not necessarily extracted from the Bible but they reflect biblical principles and our moral values or the spirit of ubuntu. For example, when a spouse is sick, morally you ought to stick by them in the same manner as you would when they are fine. Also morally, if you happen to make a fortune, you are required to stick by your partner who stood with you in hard times. Hence the vows for richer, for poorer; in health and in sickness; and for better for worse. I think they are not bad vows. What do you think?
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Gender Focus with EMELDA MWITWA