I laugh every time I think of the mindset and attitude we went into preparing for our wedding, a laughter o, so bittersweet.
Just as we had assumptions about marriage, we had assumptions about weddings. If I would ask you to describe me a Christian wedding, what would you say? I am guessing you would say something like: a wedding ceremony in a church with a small service that includes taking vows before friends, families, and God. Correct? (maybe not). Well, regardless of your answer, that seems to be the way to do a Christian wedding (universally).
If you read part two of our marriage story, you would know that our reason for getting married is God and His wonderful wisdom on marriage.
Therefore our wish was to be married before God. We simply wanted to honor Him all the way. As some of you may already know through experience, weddings tend to be about everything but honoring God.
Maybe it is the way we communicated our wishes to the families, but for some reason, they felt like we were disregarding the African-traditional way of doing a wedding. To be very honest, I might have. I am for everything it stands for, symbolizes, but I am against everything it actually stands for. You might be too if you continue reading.
First of all, let me explain what the tradition entails. The tradition states that a couple ‘cannot’ be married if the man doesn’t pay a bride-price. The family members sometimes give a set amount and sometimes let the man choose. Aaah… that sounds better right? It is not. It’s a trap. If the price is by any chance lower than their expectation, they will claim that the man doesn’t value the woman enough. So, yea… no pressure.
Some countries have an additional list of gifts (chosen by the families of the woman) the man also has to buy these. And all of this is supposed to be a symbol, a way of honoring the parents. The worst part is that, even after the man pays the bride-price, and buys everything on the list, the couple will still be at the mercy of the family’s decision during the ceremony (which has to happen in a specific way).
They imposed this tradition on us because they believed that the tradition is biblical, and so did I for the longest time because that is what I (and almost every African child) was taught. And that is why we started searching for the truth.
We soon found out that there is no universal way to do a Christian wedding. There is nowhere in the Bible that says it has to be in a specific way, this immediately tells us that weddings are more cultural than anything. And honestly, it makes sense because, besides the fact that the Bible is the Word of God, it also contains the history of a certain group of people, people with their own cultures.
Our families would not accept this truth (like many others).
The famous story they use to justify their claim is the story of how Rebecca came to be Isaac’s wife.
Abraham, Isaac’s father, wanted a woman from a specific background for his son to marry, so he sends his servant to find her. But he did not send him empty-handed. You can read the whole story in Genesis 24.
The reason this passage cannot be used to justify the African-traditional wedding is simply because:
- The things given to Rebekka were meant as a gift. Not a price paid for her hand. She had to still make the choice to go with Abraham’s servant or not. Genesis 24:58
- The gifts did not come from Isaac, but Abraham, without Isaac’s knowledge.
- Neither the servant who came with the request nor Rebekka was at the mercy of her family.
Exodus 22: 16 "If a man seduces a virgin who is not pledged to be married and sleeps with her, he must pay the bride price, and she shall be his wife"
This is the verse that comes close to what the tradition claims, and yet even this verse can’t be used as a justification. The price that the man in this verse must pay serves as a punishment for violating a virgin. Another reason is that many African parents are fine with their children having girlfriends and boyfriends, and many know that their children are sexually active without being married. But they seem to have accepted that just fine.
When I was younger, my father used to tell me that I shouldn’t have sex before I have my degree. I guess because it would distract me?
1 Corinthians 6: 18 Run from sexual sin! no other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against our own body.
The worst part is that the families advised us to live together for a year to get to know each other before we marry, this doesn’t make any sense because one family is Christians and the other are Muslims, but they both gave the same advice.
I hope that this shows why the African-traditional wedding is not biblical.
We learned a lot honestly, but these are the most shocking things we learned.
If you have any thoughts about these things, please share them with us in the comment section.