This report is reprinted from IN TOUCH WITH CHURCH AND FAITH #163, a Jescom publication.

Julia wants to get married to her husband in church, but he is unemployed and cannot pay “roora/lobola”. Her parents are dirt poor and hope for some cattle/’mombe’ or the equivalent in cash.

The purpose of “pfuma” is not really to enrich the bride’s parents, but to be a token of appreciation of the bride and of respect for the parents who give their daughter in marriage to the son-in-law. But in these hard times, this venerable custom deteriorates into a business transaction. On top of that, men fear church marriage: they fear the enormous expense of a “white wedding” and, more importantly, some hesitate to commit themselves for life.

There is an answer to the money problem: just don’t have an expensive wedding. The church wedding as such costs very little. The expensive celebration is a luxury, an extra not necessary. The mutual acceptance as man and wife for life and the spiritual support is what counts.

Another couple, rather mature, wish to have their union blessed in Church, but suddenly, while the ‘banns’ [notification of pending marriage] are read, a woman turns up with a baby on her arm claiming the husband as hers since the child is his. What to do?
In Christian marriage, two women cannot share one husband. But if the child is his, he must support mother and child. But he too is unemployed…

An old widower wants to get married again to a much younger woman. But his grown-up children protest. They are afraid the new wife may get away with the inheritance and leave them without anything. There is a legal solution to this problem. The lawyer in our Justice and Peace group has some practical advice. The children have a right to the inheritance, but so does the old man have a right to get married if he so wishes, and nobody should stop him.

This week we buried a very old man. Only a few months earlier his wife had died. They must have been together for over fifty years, sharing the joys of life, but also poverty, sickness, and the early death of some of their children. There are married people who do stick together and carry “each other’s burden” until the very end. Thank God.