Last Saturday, we joyfully witnessed the coming together in marriage of two church members—Bwembya Chanda and Abigail Mbelenga. It was a colourful and wonderful occasion. Seeing these two young lives consummating their friendship in this God-honouring way brought a lot of joy to our hearts. That is the way it should be because a Christian home commenced last weekend. What breaks our hearts is when a Christian gets into an unequally yoked marriage with a non-Christian. We know that it is a recipe for disaster, and that certainly breaks our hearts!
Never before in the life of this church has this ever happened!April will be a very rare month for us as a church. We have weddings lined up every weekend of the month, including the first weekend of May. In fact, if it were not for the fact that I will be out of the country on the second weekend of May, there was yet another couple in the church wanting to get married on that weekend too. But since they really want me to officiate, they are considering postponing their wedding to another date. In other words, it was going to be six weekends of weddings, one after another. Never before in the life of this church has this ever happened!
We ought to rejoice that the Lord is leading our young people in this way. Because many of them are first generation evangelical Christians, behind each of these weddings are many hours of painstaking premarital instructions. We do not want to take anything for granted. So, each of these young couples spend many hours over a period of months being taken through the basics of what Christian marriage is all about by one of the older couples in the church. The elders keep a finger on what is going on to ensure that adequate instruction is given before the tying of the knot.
Tears often flow freely during the days leading up to many of the weddings that we witness.We need to pray for our friends who are getting married this month because of yet another reason. Because many of them are first generation evangelical Christians, there are often bitter clashes between strongly cherished cultural practices and evangelical Christian beliefs. By cherished cultural practices I do not mean the acceptable matebeto, chilango ‘mulilo, ukwingisha, etc. Rather, it is often those practices that are mixed with rank paganism that our young people rightly reject and experience painful accusations of arrogance and disrespect for parental authority. Hence, tears often flow freely during the days leading up to many of the weddings that we witness.
Marriage is important. It is the foundation of society and civilization in more ways than one. To begin with each home is a government. It is the most basic building block of society. Local government and state government hang on domestic government, and not vice versa. Also, where homes are stable, society remains stable as well. It is such homes that bequeath to the next generation a people who are ready to take up the challenges of responsible adulthood. But homes that have no moral fibre and where parents are ever changing partners will soon produce skewed individuals who are a danger to society. Ask the police and they will tell you that most criminals come from such homes.
Also, in a country that is devastated by poverty, HIV and AIDS, we need to see Christian homes as beacons of hope for orphans and vulnerable children. Many of them have no idea what a functional marriage and home looks like. So, what a blessing for them to be brought under the love and authority of Christian parenting for a season! The investment is for a life-time. In fact, looking at the individuals being baptized upon profession of faith at KBC in the recent past, many of them are “dependants” in Christian homes. They came to Christian relatives for physical help and shelter but God had bigger plans for them and used the testimony of their foster parents to bring them to salvation in Christ. May our Christian homes continue to give hope to many children, beyond our own children.
These young couples need every support they can get. Getting married is not easy.You can see why April must be an exciting month for all of us in the church. It speaks hope to the nation and the world. My appeal to our friends who are getting married is that they should start on the right note by maintaining a robust Christian witness during their wedding ceremonies and receptions. Our time-keeping is certainly something to write home about. We start our weddings ceremonies on time and finish on time. As you know, in Zambia, that is as rare as a dog’s horn!—to use an African proverb. I am not able to comment on how we are doing at wedding receptions, since I rarely attend them. (My absence from receptions is primarily because by their very nature they ill-prepare me for the solemn work that I have to do the next day on Sunday). Perhaps those of you who are regulars at wedding receptions can comment on how we are doing there with respect to maintaining a robust Christian witness.
Finally, let me make a passionate appeal to Christians to support Christian weddings. Let us make an effort to be there before, during and after the wedding. These young couples need every support they can get. Getting married is not easy. May I also suggest that we improve our propriety in dressing when attending other people’s weddings. I am not suggesting that we must all appear in three-piece suits every weekend this month, but I still do not think that flip-flops, snickers, jeans and t-shirts are appropriate for such an important, once-in-a-lifetime, event. Even the Bible, in Matthew 22:11-13, speaks about someone being thrown out of a wedding reception because he attended the event in inappropriate clothes!
See you at the next wedding…and the next…and the next…and the next…