Thursday, 10 May 2018

WEDDING MESSAGES HAVE TO CHANGE

Image of Naturalista Bride

I was at a wedding recently and as usual, was frustrated with the wife-centred message that came from most of the preachers at the event.

A couple of things stuck out like thumbs dipped in palm oil and I knew I just had to talk about it.
First, one of the preachers - someone you can tell is old fashioned - spoke a lot about the role a wife should play, which, if you attend many weddings, is submissive. I was not surprised by his message; I had heard it one too many times. What surprised me was a statement he made as he rounded up his message. 

'When you come to town, don't go to your father's house oh. Go straight to your in-laws' house. That is your new home.'

I was shook! 

Before I delve into every emotion and thought I had when I heard this, I should mention the second thing that got me all hot and bothered.

Another preacher, this time a more modern, cosmopolitan one, came up to deliver his message to the couple. He focused on what men and women need in a relationship. 

He said women needed; 

1. Public Display of Attention;
2. Love;
3. Care...among others. 

For men however, he described their needs as; 

1. Sexual satisfaction;
2. Loyalty;
3. Peace...among others.

I was piqued at his categories. Was he suggesting that men and women had different needs, especially when these broad categories were the differentiating qualities? I know there are exceptions to the rule but is there anyone that doesn't need love, care, peace, loyalty? The public display of attention was iffy but only men need sexual satisfaction? 

I waited to have him balance out his message, to have him say that all these were human needs and not specific to gender.

It didn't come. 

I must say...I was disappointed with that. Maybe I expected too much but I hoped a more urban preacher would highlight on sexual satisfaction for women. You almost never hear any preacher talk about it. Female sexuality is not something that is brought up often in church settings. It doesn't take much to see that many people assume female sexuality is a perversion, that women shouldn't like, want or need sex, that sex should be something that women give men and not something that should be mutually enjoyable and satisfying. This should be shocking in light of more biological information but damn! These thoughts don't seem to be going away. 

Here is the kicker though! 
 
Women are sexual beings just as men are! Let me go and bit further. Women want sex! And before your pulmonary vein bursts or an embolism occurs, I have to say this. 

Women. Need. Sex!

Women want to be caressed, kissed, taken to sexual heights un-imagined, pleasured and satisfied as much as men do. And this is not just something that happens when women are ovulating or just because they want babies. 

I think that the way female sexuality has been portrayed as (best) an aberration and (worse) promiscuity, has made many women curb their needs to fit into the larger normative behavior of society. This has led to one too many sexually frustrated women who just lay there and go through the motions because it is respectable to be a wife and producer of the only end product of sex approved for the female gender; children. 

This is a problem in our society. It is so bad that I heard a story of a young couple who so loved God and each other that, though they dated for many years, didn't have sex until their wedding night. The sex was horrible as the husband described it. He tried everything to spice things up. They even talked about it. But the girl had been so used to hearing that sex was a duty that she did just that. It was a chore to her and she wondered why her husband kept insisting on sexual satisfaction for her when only men needed that. In a marriage that is barely three years, the husband has already given up on sex except when she wants to make babies; which she isn't ready for.

If this woman had been taught that sex and female sexuality were as real as male sexuality and satisfaction, she would have been riding her husband and screaming like a banshee when he went down on her because it was okay to do that now that they were married; for those who subscribe to the sex-only-for-marriage ideal. 

I wanted the preacher to talk about these things. To mention how couples should make it a point of duty to please each other, satisfy each other, be adventurous with their lovemaking, give and receive head, role play, and in the rap artist Wale's voice, bed, floor, couch, more, more, more. I understand that the wedding banquet may not the place for in depth details of sex but just as it was easy to mention male sexual satisfaction, it should have been as easy to do the same for female satisfaction.
Anyway, I was really disappointed that the message didn't touch on that. 

However, that wasn't as disappointing as the message on her in-laws' house being her new home. To me, it seemed like they were trying to isolate her from her family just because she was adding a new one. I know that there is a possibility that it wasn't the intention of the preacher but that is how it sounded. 

I am worried about such statements because a lot of factors could make going to her in-laws' house bothersome. She may not like them or they may not like her or she may prefer the home she has known all her life rather than the one she is just getting. Even if she loves her in-laws and they absolutely adore her, she may not always want to be around them. And why should she ignore her family because she is now married? Why shouldn't she go to them as often as she wanted? And you see how he said 'her father's house', like her mother didn't have a stake in the ownership of the house? There was just so many things off with that message.

And why is the burden of leaving the family placed on the woman when the Bible, the very same foundation on which the message was given, put that on the man? You don't believe me? Genesis 2:24.

'Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.'

Before I talk about the verse, let me look at one word that sticks out for me. 

Cleave
verb \ ˈklēv \
intransitive verb
: to adhere firmly and closely or loyally and unwaveringly; children cleaving to their families.

So, the Bible basically says in that verse that a man shall LEAVE his father and HIS mother and shall ADHERE FIRMLY and CLOSELY or LOYALLY and UNWAVERINGLY to his wife and they shall become one. Why then, pray tell me, do we INSIST on the very opposite message? Why do we insist that a woman leaves her family, her identity, her life and take on everything about the man? 

I have so much I can write about this verse but that is a whole post on its own. And, isn't it weird that 'cleave' is a word that has two very different and opposing meanings? Hmmm...Weird.

So you don't think I just like wahala, I must commend a preacher who spoke about the dynamics of his own marriage that is over thirty years old. He talked about serving his wife breakfast in bed every day and how he supports her to reach her highest potential. In the same vein, he talks about how supportive she is to him in his work with God. You could tell that his marriage was a proper partnership that worked because they supported each other in the mundane things - like chores - and the serious things like career, potential and purpose; as it should be.

I think messages should focus on qualities that are human and not gender specific. Men and women want the same things generally; the difference comes with temperaments, upbringing, social relations, culture and religion. Messages should focus on each couple finding what works for them, learning and unlearning things with new information, supporting each other, pleasing each other and satisfying each other. The archaic 'man is the head and women should submit' message has got to go. Selfsame Bible talks about 'submitting one unto another' and I think messages should focus on that. In fact, why aren't messages focused on that? Why do preachers mumble when talking about a man leaving his family? Why do we keep trying to use the Bible to erase the identity of a woman and negate some of her needs? I mean, can we change these messages to new couples already? Because these wedding messages have got to change!

Anyway, the best part of this story is that the girl who got married is a strong woman who married a strong man. It was obvious that he adored her and would treat her right. I am sure that they will make their home on love and mutual respect and support as it works for them. They will have issues (as all couples do) but they will work things out in their own way. What I saw was a strong woman in partnership with a strong man and they would work based on their mutual support for and partnership with each other. 

As it should be.

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