Marriage seems to be one of the most lucrative “business ventures” in Nigeria right now. It is ubiquitous; all across our country, in every region, every social class, every ethnicity, every religion or non-religion, people are getting married in droves. Everyone I know is either getting married or planning to get married. Okay, not everyone but you get the picture. One cannot hang out and enjoy a glass of beer or watch footie anymore without friends/family reminding you of your age and the need to include marriage in your to-do-list.
The emergence of social media, especially Instagram, has made weddings a competition. A Nigerian wedding is incomplete nowadays if it does not appear on Bella Naija and/or similar sites. Everyone is trying to out do each other in decoration, organisation, pre/post wedding shoots, costumes, couple entrance etc.
For some, especially the female folk, marriage is something they aspire to and holds the key to the pursuit of happiness. Many are of the belief that married people are better than single people and that a healthy marriage has a huge effect on physical/mental health, longevity and prosperity.
Before one goes further, let’s define marriage. Why? Well because marriage, in all honesty, is complex and hard to define. It encompasses all aspects of life; conjugal relations, friendship/companionship, love, procreation, mutual responsibility and/or solidifying family alliance (special thanks to Game of Thrones).
Traditionally, marriage is between a man and woman for any or all of the aforementioned reasons. Generally, it is believed that marriage gives one a greater sense of responsibility, life and purpose.
However, our society is at a turning point. The monopoly of traditional marriage has been questioned resulting in calls from different works of life for everyone to embrace marriage equality i.e. marriage between individuals of the same sex.
People are more vocal nowadays and throw their weights behind same-sex marriage; whether it contradicts religious doctrines or not. Recently, marriage equality won the day in Ireland and is soon to be legal following approval of a referendum to constitutionalise the recognition of marriage irrespective of the couple’s sex.
Despite the large Catholic community in Ireland, 78% voted in favour of same-sex marriage hence becoming the 22nd country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage. Other countries include: Netherlands (the first country to do so in 2000), Belgium (2003), US (some states in 2003), Spain (2003), Canada (2005), South Africa (the first African country to do so in 2006), Norway, Sweden (both 2009), Mexico (some parts in 2009), Argentina (2010), Portugal (2010), Denmark (2012), New Zealand, France, Iceland, UK, Brazil, Uruguay (all 2013), Luxembourg (2014), Slovenia (the first Slavic and central European country to do so in 2015) and Finland (2015 but will not take effect till 2017).
Unsurprisingly, despite the marriage madness in our country, Nigeria doesn’t appear on the list. Nigeria and its citizenry still uphold the sanctity of the traditional marriage between a man and a woman. Civilised individuals believe traditional marriage is obsolete and based on religious and moral tenets – which cannot be proven.
This is what piques me the most about same-sex marriage advocates. They are quick to tag people who do not share the same view as homophobic, unexposed and even ‘haters’. According to Matthew J Franck who wrote in First Things, “In the contemporary debate on the future of marriage, there appears to be, amid many uncertainties, one sure thing. Those who publicly defend traditional marriage can be haters, bigots or irrational theocrats and perhaps all of these at once.”
My question is, how is it homophobic for anyone to reason and express his views based on religious and moral grounds? What happened to one’s right to freedom of religion? It is our constitutional obligation to respect others’ freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of thought/conscience as well.
I am not for/against same sex marriage; I respect everyone’s decisions but you can’t and won’t force certain things down the throats of people and expect them to smile and say thank you. A number of religions do not support same-sex marriage but if your religion or non-religion supports it. That’s fine!
However, I don’t support people who clamour for religious rules to bend to satisfy their desires and ambitions. If you are a same-sex advocate and your religion abhors marriage equality, it is nobody’s fault. Human beings, whether religious or non-religious, base their lives on beliefs and use reason to distinguish between right and wrong.
From a Christian perspective, “therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, shall cleave unto his wife and they shall be one flesh.” Proverbs 18: 22 also says “He who finds a wife finds what is good and obtains favour from the Lord.” Before you frown at my Bible citations because of your belief or view about the Bible, the truth is that we all tend to make sense of things on the basis of limited evidence available (beliefs).
The Igbos believe marriage is a public institution hence the saying “otu onye anaghi alu nwanyi.” Truly, the only certainty in this unending debate about marriage equality, is that marriage is the business of the society and its success or failure has a huge impact on the society. For me, based on my beliefs I say live and let live. Don’t expect religion(s) or anyone to bend a knee to your beliefs.
What do you think about marriage equality?