Edikan Ekanem

Marriage is among the most precious gifts to us from our creator. Its blessings, joy and proceeds cannot be overemphasised. For this reason, “…a man will leave his father and his mother and he will stick to his wife, and they will become one flesh” -Genesis 2:24.

Without a doubt, many are blessed as a result of their marriages, seeing marriage a key to their prosperity, being lifted from grass to grace, making them become responsible, turning boys to men, girls to women and many more. Marriage is indeed a blessing from God.

However, beyond the euphoria of “he who finds a wife finds a good thing”, we must look beyond the surface, seeing beyond our noses, using our tongues to count our teeth, because the trauma accompanying disappointments in marriages is untold.

Sadly, as a result of the above disappointments and frustrations in marriages, the number of petitions for dissolution and dissolution of marriages in Nigerian courts on daily basis is alarming and even shocking to the devil. This is really unfortunate and pathetic.

Marriage nowadays has unfortunately been likened to a simple contract where parties can terminate at will either by agreement, frustration or in the present of eventuality. This sluggish erosion of the honour, splendour, respect and scared status of marriage is sickening, disheartening, barbaric and uncouth.

These unpleasant occurrences emanating from marriages in recent times have raised the curiosity of persons regarding the possible factors triggering these ugly experiences and stories in marriages. Diverse opinions arise in this regard.

From a forensic analysis made by a judiciary correspondent who witnesses these proceedings for divorce first-hand, many people are contending that most marriages fail because the parties were pressurised to enter into the union.

Others are of the opinion that most religions do not enlighten their members on it, even denying them positions in church because of their marital status invariably compelling them to enter into wedlock. African customs and tradition is also said to play a pivotal role in this regard.

From the above analysis, the paramount similarity existing among all the views held above is “involuntary entry into marriage”. Put it differently, these parties do not enter into marriage at their own volition thus becoming impossible or challenging for them to survive therein.

This makes people wonder whether marriage is a do or die affair. In other words, people are forced to ask whether there are laws making marriage compulsory for individuals. Is marriage the passport to God’s kingdom or entry ticket into heaven? Will people who do not marry in their entire lifetime be punished by God or government?

The concise attempt to elaborate on these issues has ipso facto become the crux and material particular of this work and same will be addressed seriatim. This work will equally elucidate on the fate of those who never want to marry for reasons best known to them.

Legally, there is no constitutional or statutory obligation on a person to marry. Choosing whether or not to marry is left for individuals and their consciences to decide. No preferential treatment is given to “married citizens” over the unmarried ones under the law.

The right to decide whether or not to marry is founded on section 37, 38, and 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 which provides for the right to freedom to private and family life, right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and also right to freedom against discrimination respectively.

Worthy of note is that persistent and restless pressure on individual to get married is a clear breach, infringement and violation of his fundamental and constitutional rights described above under the aforementioned sections of the constitution. These breaches can make victims approach courts of competent jurisdiction to seek redress.

Also, from the extant provisions of the Marriage Act, Laws of the Federation 1990 (the law that regulates contracts of marriage), there is no mandatory requirement for a person to get married. Pointing specifically, section 7 states “whenever any person desire to marry, one of the parties to the intended marriage shall sign and give the registrar….”

From the above wordings, this law only gives directives on how to contract a valid statutory marriage at the volition and disposition of the parties. This is clearly deduced from these phrases “whenever” and “desire”. It literally means that if there is no time or desire of getting married by a person, this law will never be in force neither will it compel individuals to marry.

Tilting to the ecclesiastical jurisprudence, there is no curse or prohibition that follows perpetual bachelorhood or spinsterhood. It is really unfortunate that many “self-claimed and professed Christians” go about spreading the unfounded, baseless and porous hoax of “woe to a man in whom his father’s lineage terminates in his hand”. With due respect, this message is unscriptural and nowhere found in the bible.

Lest we forget, our Lord Jesus Christ said: “For there are eunuchs, who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs on account of the Kingdom of the heavens. Let the one who can make room for it make room for it.” -Matthew 19:12

In adherence to this bible portion, some persons have decided not to marry in order to render their scared service to God to the full. It started in the apostolic age till date. If we may ask, why then do people mount pressure on others to marry? Is there any scriptural justification? We really need a sound cogitation in this regard.

In a nutshell, in as much as we project the blessings of marriage to our fellow humans, we should know that “the length of our feet is being measured and it’s capable of measurement”. Let’s not allow recommendations and encouragements turn to a compelling order.

It is better to keep a good name as a single person than marring our reputation, robbing us of happiness, destroying already existing human relationships in the name of marriage.

As long as an individual can maintain his or her chastity, perpetual bachelorhood or spinsterhood is not and will never be a sin before God or an offence before the law.

Thank you.

Edikan Ekanem is a contemporary writer and a columnist, reached via 08130015006 or eddy4jah@gmail.com

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