The Sunday Mail
ARRANGED consensual marriages are an interesting culture that seem to have gained traction in church set-ups over the years.
In pentecostal churches, young people are invited ‘kumasofa’ for such deliberations. Initiators are usually men who identify women they like in the church.
While arranged marriages seem to be a trend in pentecostal religious circles, traditional churches have on the other hand taken a subtle route where strategic social and networking events are lined up for the singles to mix and mingle. In both circumstances, the ultimate goal is marriage.
Though difficult to believe, there are people who met their spouses for the first time on the very day of the wedding or lobola payment. They would have put their trust in the church elders .
One admirable arranged marriage is that of Archbishops Ezekiel and Eunor Guti, whose first date was on their wedding day.
Fifteen years after the death of his first wife, church elders took it upon themselves to find Baba Guti a wife. They searched for her through prayer and then in the physical; until young Eunor was identified and accordingly persuaded by the elders of the church.
The rest is history.
There are also some, those who struggle to start relationships, who get help from church elders to trigger relationships that eventually flourish into marriage.
It is important to note that in the Church, there are systems in place — guarded on Christian principles — to handle such arrangements. In addition, these individuals’ track records are known and this makes it possible for smoother match-making.
The concept can be traced back into the Holy Book. There are biblical stories of people whose marriages were arranged for them. Ruth, through the assistance of her mother-in-law (Ruth 2), benefited from such an arrangement. Isaac’s father sent a servant to identify his future wife (Genesis 24).
Today, some churches have gone further and have introduced platforms for young people to hook up with potential partners. The platforms provide a system of Godly principles in courtship.
However, many factors come into play in arranging marriages.
A church is a melting pot where people from different backgrounds meet and therefore the process can be a bit more complex.
Speaking with mainly youths from a Christian background, The Sunday Mail Society got the impression that many prefer arranged relationships due to issues of transparency of the individuals concerned.
“With the drama I have gone through in the past few years, I am so open to an arranged marriage. You think you know someone and bang — lies, lies and more lies. Arranged marriages have worked before, why shouldn’t they now,” Mufarowashe Chekera said.
Praise Moyo came in: “It’s a lovely idea, especially if it’s a recommendation from true men and women of God. They know you and know your potential partner so they are likely to make a perfect match. In this day and age, finding the so called right one can be a daunting mission.
“But with arranged marriages, you don’t have any problems and will avoid the temptations of fornication and sexual perversion. The other day I was watching one of Pastor Chris’ teachings, he was saying love grows. You don’t have to be in love with a person to marry them. Love grows, love is a choice. My only hope and prayer is that the people should be compatible and be able to get along.
“However, the concept deprives you from making your own choice, getting to know each other on a personal level, bonding and understanding each other’s behaviour as well as deciding if it is really what you want.”
While some prefer arranged marriages in order to avoid the deception that comes with some dates, others value dating and getting to know each other before marriage. “Before I date a guy I want to understand his background, including dreams and aspirations. Can we hold an intelligent conversation but still joke together? Does he have emotional stability? All these you only know after spending some time with someone.
“Even the way one treats their friends, family and colleagues tells you a lot. The way they treat you in front of other people, you only know about it after spending time together,” said another young woman who preferred anonymity.
Founder of Glory Ministries International, Apostle Pride Sibiya said God gave people the gift of decision-making, hence arranging marriages is a bad idea.
“Making a decision for someone, especially on matters to do with love, is going against the very nature of God and love. People may help and give advice to dating people since it is an area where great wisdom is required but they shouldn’t make the decisions for the people involved. The choosing part is not for any other person except for the candidate and God.”
He quoted Deuteronomy 30:19 in which God grants people the power to make their choices.
Apostle Sibiya went on: “House and wealth are an inheritance from fathers, But a prudent wife is from the Lord (Proverbs 19:14).”
Sharing a cultural perspective, Chief Donald Kamba of the Makoni chieftaincy traced the origins of arranged marriages to the need to build a home on the basis of couples knowing each other’s background. A Shona proverb, ‘rooranai vematongo’, encouraged marrying within one’s community to avoid any unpleasant surprises in future.
“This approach had the effect of making a marriage a permanent home for a married couple.
‘‘The principles and values underpinning arranged marriages remain valid to the extent that marriage is a sacred union that must not be reduced to a piece of paper union which can be destroyed at any given time when one party feels it is no longer worth keeping,” Chief Kamba said.
He stressed the need to know a potential life partner before entering into marriage.
This, he said, is the only recipe to ensure that marriage will become sacred and survive life’s turbulences.