#BeingaMan 008: Religion and Being a Man – the difficult intersection.

There are numerous religions in Uganda and since I can’t talk about them all, I will talk about what I am well conversant with – Christianity (I am one). One could write a book about Religion and being a man because there is so much to write but I will focus on a few things since this is a blog post not a book. I also make this post very subjective and conversational so this is purely my opinion and take on the subject.

If you haven’t been following, this is part of my #BeingaMan series in which I write about what it means to be a man. We earlier looked at “How Women and Men define each other, we also talked about how Gender, Society and Culture define a man. In this particular post. I talk a little bit about how Religion defines a man. Let’s dive in.

Christianity has certain expectations of Men, Women and marriage. Feminists believe the bible to be very patronizing calling women the weaker sex, asking them to be submissive to men as the heads but that is also another debate. Today I will focus on a few ways in which I believe the bible defines or expects of a man. Interestingly, in my small research I see no reference between Wealth and Being a Man.

The Bible takes the institutions of Marriage and Family very seriously. Starting from Genesis, the Bible says a Man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and the two shall become one. So being a man means getting married.

Looking for a Wife.

For starters, a man will look for a wife. In early societies, parents looked for wives for their sons and although it still happens today, it’s not very common. What I pick from here is that the status of the relationship between the man and the woman are clear – Wife/Husband. When a man finds a Woman he loves, he wants her to become his wife and the woman also wants him to become her husband. The Bible hence doesn’t encourage living together (cohabiting). Comparing this to society today shows that a lot has changed.

Many Ugandans aren’t married but why?

In Uganda, from my experience, we have a very high rate of people living together and not officially married. How did I come to this conclusion? I have worked up country before and during my time there, I interacted with various families in multiple districts. In my simple research most of the families with couples younger than 50 were not married. Many of those older than 50 had a marriage certificate and a wedding photo in their house.

A wedding and a marriage are very different.

When I talked to the couples that hadn’t gotten married yet, they all talked about not being able to afford it. There seemed to be confusion about marriage and a wedding.  One man told me he had just taken the 2nd cow of 10 while they had just had their 4th child.

My Father got married to my Mum and the photos we see had them dressed in a suit and gown with popcorn and cupcakes. They stayed together till he went to be with the Lord. While in today’s marriages, we see Mean Wedding Meetings, Big Parties and starved marriages. How did we get to spending money we don’t have to please people we don’t like all in the name of a marriage ceremony. How difficult can it be to differentiate between a wedding and a marriage? In short, one is a ceremony and one is a commitment. I am still baffled by people investing in the ceremony and not the commitment.

No Polygamy, Adultery or Divorce

Anyway, let me continue. A man according to the Bible will have one wife. It doesn’t encourage polygamy, adultery, fornication or divorce. So a man according to the Bible will marry one wife to whom he will be faithful. He will also look for all possible ways to make his marriage work rather than looking for a way out. “Whatever God has put together, let no man put asunder” This is how serious Christianity is about Marriage and Family. The only grounds for divorce in the bible are adultery itself.

A man will love his wife like Christ loved the church

The basis of Christianity is the love that Christ had for us that he was even willing to die for us. Now imagine the bible commands us to love our wives like Christ loved the church. I must say that is a tall order but if you are Christian, that is what God instructs us to do.

Wrapping it Up

God knows we are imperfect and many Christians (myself inclusive) do not live up to all these standards but at least He set a standard we should aspire to live up to as Men each day especially when it comes to marriage and family. In the way we take care of the people he has blessed us with and placed in our lives.

If by the abundant grace of God, I become just half the man described in the bible, a man who will love his wife and children like Christ loved the church, I will have done my part.

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