Monday, December 29, 2014

Archbishop Okoh's address to the Humanum Colloquium

26 Dec 2014   
by Nicholas Okoh

Christian marriage in Africa faces the tension which marriages elsewhere experience. This includes complementarianism, which is the view that men and women have different but complementary roles and responsibilities in marriage, family, religious leadership, etc. It is based on the Creation in which God created them “male and female”. Men and women are designed to be different physiologically, emotionally and otherwise with the purpose of bringing different gifts to a relationship. In marriage, the complementarity of husband and wife is expressed very clearly in the act of conjugal love, having children, and fathering and mothering. As William Frey says:

“Today’s controversies are the logical and inevitable outcome of something that began a generation ago, the so-called sexual revolution. That revolution has not been bloodless nor painless. It has left a large number of wounded veterans. Who can count the broken marriages, the countless teen-age pregnancies, and the millions of convenience-motivated abortions?” [1]

Patricia Morgan corroborates that with this quotation from her recent book:  “…the sexual revolution is to the family what communism is to the market. Both entail … assaults on core institutions of civil society, leading to human misery that the state is not equipped to put right… in both cases, citizens lose the buffer of an intermediate form of social order… resulting in … defencelessness in the face of state power”[2] The family is, and has always been, this buffer. As God’s spiritual and moral agent in the world, the Church must continue to be the prophetic voice of God’s truth in the World, supporting the family.

The pressure on Christian marriage in Africa does not just replicate the pressures of western secular and postmodern revisionism of Christian tenets; it particularly involves reconciling the competing claims of our African tradition, the Gospel and modernity.  It involves issues like the complementarity of a man and woman in love, equality, monogamy, polygamy, indissolubility and mutual responsibility. Craig Blomberg identifies the debate of gender roles as one of the most volatile, not just in the Christian church but also in marriage, and advocates complementarity of man and woman in the home, which is an extension of the Church. On the debate about male headship in the home he argues that “while a few writers entirely separate the issues of home and church, most agree that the [church] was initially modelled on the [home]. If we can learn more about God’s design for husbands and wives, we should be able to make some valid inferences about men’s and women’s roles in the gathered community of believers”.[3] Headship of the family is reserved for the man; this applies both to Christian and Traditional marriage and family and is not debatable. the rest
Our recommendation is that, in order to save marriage in the postmodern world, there is a need to rediscover the complementarity of man and woman. This means consciously reversing philosophies and actions introduced by church and state through legislation, biblical revisionism and unguarded social liberty camouflaging under the banner of human rights. The Church must lead societies in returning to the Biblical pattern of marriage contracted under God, patterned after His ordinance; a union of man and woman who complement each other in shared but defined roles, developed as a unit of family for procreation of children which is necessary for the sustenance of human society.


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