How Cultures Influence Family & Marriage

“…but what if the wife becomes rebellious and disobedient?” An honest question from one the husbands among the students. “My father in-law told my husband to hit me; our culture teaches that it is necessary.” confesses one of the female students.

The Family Ministries School in Arusha (Tanzania) started in February. By the end of 2 weeks 12 students gather daily in the classroom. Langson and Mary Zulu lead the school assisted by Damaris, Eric and Happiness, representing Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Zambia and Burundi.

I have the privilege to speak about the Biblical Principles for Marriage, a vast topic which could comfortably fill many weeks. While going through layers of what the Bible says about covenant, love and roles of husband and wife some intriguing questions come up. Questions which reflect how cultures differ, not just between the West and Africa – to generalize – but also between tribes and families.

What stands out to me is the thirst to see and understand what the Bible says about 2 becoming 1. A first response to other opinions than our own is usually hesitant. These students appear to be on the front foot, ready to apply. And when the dust of diving into the Word settles, the questions arise: “If I am supposed to treat my wife like my equal, wouldn’t that make her rebellious and disobedient?”. Yet before I give my opinion one of the married female students shares her testimony.

“My husband used to beat me, for no reason. His father taught him that he needs to hit his wife, otherwise she will not be a good wife. He would come home from his parents and beat me. Afterwards he would cry and say that he was sorry. We didn’t have a good relationship, we couldn’t trust or really understand each other. Two years ago he did a Family Ministries School, and he came home as a new man. We forgave each other and this healed our relationship. Now I am here because I want to learn what a healthy marriage and family look like.”

There is nothing I need to add to such a testimony. Other than encouraging them to share this powerful testimony and to demonstrate their love for each other.

FMS Arusha Classroom, 2nd week
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