Question:

Hi,

I just have quick question: I am a lady of 31 years and my boyfriend is 32 years old. We are both working and studying. I am Zulu and he is Venda. Our cultures are not the same. The Vendas pay a lobola, but the Zulu people just have a union of the two families. In the Zulu way of getting married, there are a lot of things which must happen before you can get married. My partner proposed to marry me, but we don't have enough money to do all these Zulu things. The only thing we are ready to do is the Umembeso gift from the groom to bride's family, such as a blanket and other stuff, but he doesn't have the amount of the lobola. He doesn't have my parents' permission. My mother was a born again Christian. We are also Christians who understand the sin we have been committing. This coming Sunday he is coming with his elder brother to meet my family to negotiate. Please, could you give us advice on how to approach my uncles and brothers to convince them that we want to get married? The lobola belongs to parents and my parents are no more. I don't believe in communicating with ancestors.

I hope you understand my point. Please advise.


Answer:

Every region of the world has its own customs regarding marriage, but those customs are not necessary for a marriage to take place. The Bible teaches that marriage is formed when two people enter into a covenant. "Yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant" (Malachi 2:14). A covenant is a special vow before God. See: Marriage Covenants for details. Other traditions that are added on top of this are not required by God.

Keeping traditions is nice, but to not follow God's commands because of your traditions, well, that is just plain wrong. "He answered and said to them, "Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?"" (Matthew 15:3). You two have been living in fornication, something that God clearly states is wrong. "Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge" (Hebrews 13:4).

If necessary, get a civilly recognized marriage and then work to have a traditional celebration later.