FAITH | MARRIAGE
By Deo Tumusiime
Over the years, I have pondered on the diversity of the religions we subscribe to. One aspect I have found quite cross cutting yet intriguing is marriage and how the various religious groupings perceive of it.
For starters, I must point out that human beings are not the only animals created by God, and definitely not the only ones that engage in relationships resulting in birth of young ones, and sustenance of the animal race. Goats, cows, chicken, cats, dogs, ducks, antelopes do likewise. The difference in human beings is the politics of relationship, espoused through the various religious practices, many of which are regrettably attributed to God the almighty creator of the world. But as we shall clearly notice in the subsequent lines of this article, what God created manifests to us all no matter what religion one subscribes to.
One man, one wife - If you are Catholic, you will already know that the Catholic Church headquartered in Rome, Italy, does not allow a situation where a man marries more than one wife. Often, the Bible is used to justify this where it says in Genesis 2 that "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh."
The reality of a man and woman becoming one flesh could be reserved for a separate discussion. Never mind also that these words were used way back in Genesis before the likes of King Solomon the man of God came up to set the record at 700 wives. Well, whatever the case, the business of one man, one wife just does not seem to work best, because every now and then, wedded men present with another woman somewhere, often getting discovered after the man has died. But the Catholic Church remains forever bent on their belief that one man, one wife is what God said, and that cannot change. Anything more is considered adultery.
Note that while adultery is the sin where a married person engages in a sexual relationship with another woman other than the official spouse, there is another sin called fornication committed by those who have sex before marriage. The beauty of it is that these sins are washable through penance. It is not uncommon today for previously cohabiting (fornicating) couples to wed when they even have children in the picture. But do we ever ask ourselves why God allows people to cohabit and even rewards them with children? I have also seen cases where properly wedded couples struggle with so much, including getting children. Ideally, this means that wedding is not necessarily magical in as much as it is desirable for purposes of legality.
Interestingly, very little is said of whether a married man may fall in love with another woman (where love is actually perceived as the greatest commandment) and what should happen in the event that a married man genuinely falls in love with another woman, where this love may naturally lead to sex. The lacuna created by the Catholic Church's failure to clarify some of these areas, has been responsible for the breakdown of marriage. The moment you create an impression that once you are married to someone, your life and desires must entirely rotate around that person, you create in people some sense of extremism, whereupon many will not accommodate even seeing their spouse talking to another person of opposite sex. "S/he is mine", we sing and attune our minds.
Priesthood and marriage - We again observe that in the Catholic Church, priests are not allowed to have wives, and thereby cannot produce children. They are free to interact with women, preach to women, conduct wedding ceremonies, but they are prohibited from having sex. The rules are even made stranger in the bible where it suggests in Matthew 5 that "Whoever looks at a woman lustfully, he has already committed adultery with her! The writers of this verse could even afford to forget the fact that women may also be lustful towards men. Again, this practice is at fault, because as far as I am concerned, it is only natural for men and women to be attracted to each other and to have sexual desires for that matter.
The Catholic Church also goes ahead to establish the institution of nuns, usually residing within the vicinity of the priests' residence, but these too are deterred from having sex. It is, however, widely predicted that some priests actually have done it with some nuns, and in some cases elsewhere in the world, nuns have had to abort pregnancies and bury their babies in mass graves in order to save their image to the world, that they sincerely and religiously are able to live as celibates. This is the worst case of crime against humanity but whenever it happens, someone is quick to defend…..Nuns are also human! And while in so doing they may fool the world into believing that they are superhuman, the chosen ones of the Lord, Creator God does not give a damn. God created us perfectly and no matter one's religious beliefs, every woman experiences periods and horny moments, implying that they are capable of bearing children even when clad in gowns and vales. The priests too must be going through some form of hell of pretense because sexual feelings are only but human. Many of these are from our communities and were once part of us, and we know their stories. Celibacy is every inch of it demeaning to humanity. It is silent torture even in as much as we may argue that those who go for it do so willfully. But the Catholic Church leadership somewhere in Europe just won't relent on their belief, and they want the world to just follow sheepishly.
Anglicans and marriage - The Anglicans like Catholics believe in Jesus Christ. Yet while they are in agreement on the policy of one man, one wife, Anglicans allow their priests to marry, have sex and have children. I have not heard of a scenario where God badly punished Anglican priests for having wives if that is supposed to be something so wrong. Why should two sister religions following the same man be world apart on an issue, so easily understandable as marriage?
Muslims and marriage - Our brothers the Muslims on the other hand decided that their men shall marry at least four women with a disclaimer that "provided you are able to fend for them". Of course in "fend for them", the authors were imagining that women cannot provide for themselves and must always rely on their husband for survival. Here though, unlike the other two religions, you get married to a man, well knowing that anytime he may get another wife. This way, as the first wife, you do not suffer high blood pressure upon seeing your husband with another woman. In fact, the Hajis sometimes host their Hajjatis together and they share much laughter. Some even conduct joint business ventures, while the Catholic and Anglican wives are saying…. "Dare get another woman, I will burn her. Get another woman, I will shoot you. I see you with another woman; I will pack and go home…" It is sheer animosity even when we all know that increasingly the number of women in the world is numerically superior to that of men. To love another woman is said to be criminal!
Well, while the various religions choose to lead us as they prescribe, some facts are indisputable. That no matter what religion one subscribes to, life presents to us similarly; we get hungry and want to eat, we get tired and want to sleep, we all live and are shielded under the same blue sky, when it rains it falls for us all irrespective of our religion, when we have sex right, we get babies, the sun shines on us similarly, we all get sick when exposed, we all get excited and also get sad, we breathe the same unseen air, and when our time on earth is done, we all die. In the mix of all this, religion does NOT suffice. If a Catholic marries a Muslim woman, other than what has been pumped into their heads, there is absolutely nothing wrong. So, why should religion prescribe how and whether people should marry?
We seem to be humanly united in everything except in religious beliefs. Why don't we honestly look at those aspects that truly define us as human beings and capitalise on them to cultivate harmonious living? Surely, the precepts of God the creator are very obvious, simple, long lasting and apply to us all by virtue of our state of humanity as I have enumerated. But we choose to politicise religion, and end up hurting our very own under the guise that that is what God said. I think we really need an audit to re-align religion with reality as we seek to maintain sanity in our world that will ultimately lead us to God.
A friend of mine recently reminded me that matters of religion are unquestionable. That you just believe. To take this course I am worried, is to cheat our present and future generations to come, because while many may not feel free to speak out, these questions will always remain on people's minds. We can choose to sit back and do nothing, assuming that all will be well, but a lot of people are badly hurting in marriage prisons and many young people today just do not want to think of tying that knot. The earlier we have this human created dilemma resolved, the better for our future.
The writer is a communications consultant