Christian teaching on marriage

Marriage is a covenant involving two persons "for from the beginning he created them male and female ... " (Mk 10:2 f).

Marriage is by free choice of marriage partners.

The chief purpose of marriage is the fulfilment of core and companionship.

Christian marriage is based on equality of the partners. No one is superior, there is no subordinate (Ben 1:26 male and female he created them in his own image).

Husband and wife are partners each with distinctive role which complements the other.

Christian marriage must be monogamous.

Divorce is condemned once marriage has taken place (man must not separate) Mk 10:2-12.

Christian teaching condemns misuse / abuse of sex like adultery (Mt. 5:27f ct Exodus 20:7).

Christian teaching is opposed to permissiveness which leads to promiscuity.

Christian teaching stresses proper marriage preparations; one should be patient and take time to be more prepared for marriage.

In Christian marriage there must be love, trust, openness, reconciliation, faithfulness, forgiveness etc.

Christian teaching condemns sex before marriage because it is wrong and damaging and lacks security in Mt 15:9 fornication is one of the evils which defile man.

 The body of a Christian is the temple of the Holy Spirit and must always be pure.

Marriage must be respected as a holy institution ordained by God and the marriage bed must not be defiled (Heb).

The oneness of the married partners is emphasised in the creation accounts; ''They are no longer two but one" Gen 2:24.

Children are the fruits of marriage and gifts from God (Gen 1 :28).

Prostitution is condemned, "a man who sleeps with a prostitute becomes one with her" (1 Cor 6: 16).

Lack of children in a marriage is accepted since they are just gifts.

Compare the traditional African and modern concepts of marriage

Marriage is the legal relationship between husband and wife.


In both birth of children is recognised and children are seen as blessings to the marriage.

In both marriages is an important step for ones entry into the phase of adulthood.

Marriage is important since it gives status and respect to the individuals concerned.

Marriage is seen as a uniting factor of two people and other members of the community.

Marriage is legalised sexuality where the couple enjoys sex without fear of guilt.

Both marriages are characterised by rituals and blessing since both have wedding ceremonies.

In marriage there is fulfilment of mutual love.

In both each of the partners has distinctive roles which complement the other.

Both are intended to be permanent in order to have a stable family.

Both marriages are regarded as essential because they fulfilment of sexual desires "it is better to marry than burn with passion" (1 Cor 8-9).

In both marriages is a public issue where people have to be notified.

The role of parents is recognised in both.

There is a possibility of celibacy for religious reasons like the nuns compare with Nnaku in Buganda.

There is premarital counselling involved in both.

Virginity is desired in both and creates more trust.

Gifts like dowry are given in marriage as an appreciation.

Marriage is celebrated in both.


Traditionally contract is between two families while in modern society it is between two persons.


Parents had a big role in choice making while in modern society there is free choice of couple themselves.

Traditionally, wife was subordinate while in modern partners are equal compile mentally to each other.

Traditionally wife inheritance was encouraged and a must while today remarriage is ideal and sometimes single parenthood after death of a partner is preferred.

Childless marriages unacceptable while in modern society children are gifts from God and some can live happily without children.

Traditionally, chief purpose of marriage is to production children but today fulfilment of mutual love.

Traditionally polygamy encouraged for status while today monogamy is preferred.

ln traditional society divorce not allowed except in worst vices like witchcraft while today it can be encouraged even in courts of law.

In African Tradition marriage is compulsory while today it is optional to those who dedicate life to the service of God.

Mixed marriages are allowed today unlike in traditional Africa where same tribe is preferred marriage partners today

Show how the factors that determine peoples's choice of marriage partners today differ from those of African traditional society

Factors that determine people choices of marriage partners differ in that-

Whereas in the African tradition a girl would be imposed on the boy vis-avis by elders though traditional childhood engagement today there is freedom of choice of the partners based on love.

Traditionally, society married for the impotent wives, while today sexually active people / men are recommended.

In African tradition priority was given to a person of the same tribe and culture but today intertribal or multi- racial marriages are common.

Today formal education and intelligence of the partner is important while in traditional society physical abilities were a necessity.

Today, beauty is highly considered while in traditional Africa it was a question of good behaviour.

Barrenness was totally rejected while today bearing children is optional and the number is minimised.

Cultural and social factors were important e.g. in Bugisu circumcision today common interest of partners.

Today the economic status / wealth of one's partner is recommended well as in African tradition it was the level of discipline and sociability are important.

Hard work and social ability recognised in African tradition while today it is possible to find married people who are lazy.

These days politeness, kindness are viewed as being important while traditionally girls would be forced unto rough men because they could afford dowry.

In African tradition there was no specific age limit for one to marry well as today it is possible to find married people who are lazy.

In African tradition there was no specific age limit for one to marry well as today anybody below 18 is considered immature and unfit for marriage.

Virginity was highly was highly considered but today it is despised as something desolate.

Extra marital relations allowed for men in some societies while today faithfulness emphasised for both.

How was the question of celibacy handled in traditional Africa?

"In traditional African society, remaining unmarried was not acceptable." Discuss.

Celibacy is the term given to remaining single or unmarried the rest of one life.

In traditional African remaining un married was not acceptable.

Even today, it is not acceptable, it is only tolerated.

Because marriage is the core of existence of society.

In traditional Africa there was no room for a single man or woman.

Women who feared men were treated with red hot bar.

They were looked as cursed or a curse to society and therefore society rejects them.

Marriage was a perquisite for becoming on adult.

The man/ woman who chose to remain single were a disgrace to his family and society as a whole.

Even widows and widowers had to get remarried or inherited.

Married men were accorded greater status and in some societies an unmarried man could not be given any title or responsibility.

To ensure continuity and in order to live 'eternally' one had to marry and have children.

The man who chose to remain single violated not only the traditional norms but also offended the spirits.

A celibate was also not accorded descent burial e.g. corpse passed through behind door in Bugisu and not buried in the compound / homestead but at the boundary.

The unmarried were mocked and given nicknames to challenge them their mind and marry.

Even a woman who is ugly or unproductive was more respected than one who is not married.

Explain the Christian teachings on Celibacy

Celibacy in the Christian sense is the act of remaining unmarried voluntarily mainly for religious purposes.

Christian teaching supports it because marriage is not looked at as a community affair but individual.

Marriage is therefore a private thing which one can voluntarily take it or not.

While traditionally procreation is mandatory it is optional to the Christian.

In Matthew 19: 12 Jesus gives three reasons why man cannot marry; Some do so because they were made or created that way. Others do not marry for the case of the kingdom e.g. priests, nuns, monks.


Figure 7 The Catholic Church has maintained a firm stand on the issue of celibacy. Even when Father Musaala questioned its relevancy, he was threatened with dismissal.

Paul in 1 Cor 7:8-9 says "the un married and to the widows I say this; " It is good to stay as I am myself (un married). But if they cannot control themselves they should marry.

Better marry than burn with passion (rain desire).

He also teaches that celibacy is a gift from God.

The unmarried can do better compared to the married (1 Cor 7).

The celibate should not boast of their state of life.

Celibates should exercise self control.

Celibates who cannot control themselves should marry than burn with passion.