Marriage Equality: For or Against?

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Marriage seems to be one of the most lucrative “business ventures” in Nigeria right now. It is ubiquitous; all across our country, in every region, every social class, every ethnicity, every religion or non-religion, people are getting married in drones.

Everyone I know is either getting married or planning to get married. Okay! Not everyone but you get the picture. One cannot hang out and enjoy a glass of beer or watch footie anymore without friends/family reminding you of your age and the need to include marriage in your to-do-list.

Emergence of social media especially instagram, has made weddings a competition. A Nigerian wedding is incomplete nowadays if it does not appear on Bella Naija and/or sites alike. Everyone is trying to out do each other in decoration, organisation, pre/post wedding shoots, costumes, couple entrance etc.

For some, especially the female folk, marriage is something they aspire to and holds the key to the pursuit of happiness. Many are of the belief that married people are better than single people (who are often termed les miserables) and that a healthy marriage has a huge effect on physical/mental health, longevity and prosperity.

Before one goes further, let’s define marriage. Marriage, in all honesty, is complex and hard to define. It encompasses all aspects of life; conjugal relations, friendship/companionship, love, procreation, mutual responsibility and/or solidifying family alliance (special thanks to Game of Thrones).

Traditionally, marriage is between a man and woman for any or all of the aforementioned reasons. Generally, it is believed that marriage gives one a greater sense of responsibility, life and purpose.

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However, our society is at a turning point. The monopoly of traditional marriage has been questioned resulting in calls from different works of life for everyone to embrace marriage equality i.e. marriage between individuals of the same sex.

People are more vocal nowadays and throw their weights behind same-sex marriage; whether it contradicts religious doctrines or not. Recently, marriage equality won the day in Ireland and is soon to be legal following approval of a referendum to constitutionalise the recognition of marriage irrespective of the couple’s sex.

Despite the large Catholic community in Ireland, 78% voted in favour of same-sex marriage hence becoming the 22nd country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage. Other countries include: Netherlands (the first country to do so in 2000), Belgium (2003), US (some states in 2003), Spain (2003), Canada (2005), South Africa (the first African country to do so in 2006), Norway, Sweden (both 2009), Mexico (some parts in 2009), Argentina (2010), Portugal (2010), Denmark (2012), New Zealand, France, Iceland, UK, Brazil, Uruguay (all 2013), Luxembourg (2014), Slovenia (the first Slavic and central European country to do so in 2015) and Finland (2015 but will not take effect till 2017).

Unsurprisingly, despite the marriage madness in our country, Nigeria doesn’t appear on the list. Nigeria and its citizenry still uphold the sanctity of the traditional marriage between a man and a woman. Civilised individuals believe traditional marriage is obsolete and based on religious and moral tenets – which cannot be proven.

This is what piques me the most about same-sex marriage advocates. They are quick to tag people who do not share the same view as homophobic (fear of gays), unexposed and haters. According to Matthew J Franck who wrote in First Things, “In the contemporary debate on the future of marriage, there appears to be, amid many uncertainties, one sure thing. Those who publicly defend traditional marriage can be haters, bigots or irrational theocrats and perhaps all of these at once.”

My question is, how is it homophobic for anyone to reason and express his views based on religious and moral grounds? What happened to one’s right to freedom of religion? It is our constitutional obligation to respect others’ freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of thought/conscience as well.

I am not for/against same sex marriage; I respect everyone’s decisions but you can’t and won’t force certain things down the throats of people and expect them to smile and say thank you. A number of religions do not support same-sex marriage but if your religion or non-religion supports it. That’s fine!

However, I don’t support people who clamour for religious rules to bend to satisfy their desires and ambitions. If you are a same-sex advocate and your religion abhors marriage equality, it is nobody’s fault. Human beings, whether religious or non-religious, base their lives on beliefs and use reason to distinguish between right and wrong.

From a Christian perspective, “therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, shall cleave unto his wife and they shall be one flesh.”  Proverbs 18: 22 also says “He who finds a wife finds what is good and obtains favour from the Lord.” Before you frown at my Bible citations because of your belief or view about the Bible, the truth is that we all tend to make sense of things on the basis of limited evidence available (beliefs).

The Igbos believe marriage is a public institution hence the saying “otu onye anaghi alu nwanyi.” Truly, the only certainty in this unending debate about marriage equality, is that marriage is the business of the society and its success or failure has a huge impact on the society. Live and let live. Don’t expect religion(s) or anyone to bend a knee to your beliefs.

What do you think about marriage equality?

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Divorce: A Trend In Nigeria Now?

“Everybody seems to be getting married and the unmarried ones seem to be getting more worried.” That’s a tweet from one of the numerous people I follow on the social media, Twitter.

My friend, Mikael gave me the shock of the year so far on my birthday. He told me he wants to settle down with his girlfriend after just three weeks of dating.

Mikael and Valerie met at a birthday party in February and they hit it off. Mikael is one of those guys girls describe as tall, dark, handsome and rich while Valerie is a nymphet with a sexy British accent to say the least.

When he broke the news to me, I was non-plussed and speechless for a while. As a matter of fact, it took me two minutes to recover from the shock.

“Are you serious” I asked him. He told me, the lady is a British citizen, sexy, educated and from a well-to-do family. What else does he need? Although he didn’t say the words, it was obvious he’s settling down with the babe because of her physical attributes and rich background.

I’m really worried for my dear friend because a wise man once told me “Do not marry while too young, for you have not experience enough to train your son; nor be too old, that you have not the patience. There is a mean in marriage, as in all things”

“No man is the same after marriage. Either his joys are doubled and his sorrows halved, or his joys are halved and his sorrows doubled.”

Honestly, the rate at which young people say “I do” is becoming worrisome not because marrying at a young age is a bad thing, NO but because the rate at which they marry is directly proportional to the rate at which they separate and just like the wise man said, there’s a mean in all facets of life.

Call me old fashioned but I believe marriage should be for better, for worse till death parts the couple. Nowadays, people are in a hurry to walk down the aisle, same way they are in haste to separate when one squabble comes along.

In 1969, United States Governor, Ronald Reagan of California signed the nation’s first no-fault divorce bill to eliminate deceit associated with the legal regime of fault-based divorce. A decision he later described as one of the biggest mistakes of political career. The new law eliminated the need for couples to fabricate spousal wrongdoing in pursuit of a divorce;

Thirty years later, the myth of the good divorce has not stood up well in the face of sustained social scientific inquiry — especially when one considers the welfare of children exposed to their parents’ divorces.

The children are often the victims when parents separate/re-marry. They are forced to watch their parents fight themselves in court for their custody. Children from divorced are often if not always troubled. The role of a father and mother as a team in the life of a growing child can never be over-emphasized so they need to stick together even if they don’t get along anymore, just for the sake of the kids.

Due to civilisation and imitation of western culture, divorce is on the rise in our dear nation. Most young men seem to believe the only aim of marriage is for pro-creation while others succumb to the pressure from their girlfriends,via pregnancy or otherwise to put a ring on her finger and legalise their coitus.

Then, there are the desperate ones especially the females, who plunge into the pool of marriage with their make-up on, polluting the pool as a result.

Most people crumble under pressure,the pressure from some families has made a lot of people miserable because they ended up with people they weren’t supposed to end up with it.

There is also a group that believe in fantasy/fairytale of marrying early and growing up with their kids so they rush into what they aren’t ready for, all in a bid to have that “happily ever after” life.

We need to understand that marriage isn’t a “boyfriend/girlfriend” issue. Marriage is sacred, a union blessed by God, who detests the word, divorce. (Malachi 2:13-16; also read Matthew 19:9 & Ephesians 13:4)

There’s no rush when it comes to marriage, take your time to know your partner inside and out, know what he/she likes and dislikes, make sure you can cope and live the rest of your life with his flaws as well as he’s ready to live with yours.

Marriage needs maturity, understanding, wisdom, endurance and tolerance to cope with the hitches that come with it.

Always remember, marriage is not about what happens at the wedding but what happens after the wedding.