Proverbs 31 from an African Perspective

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community education / identity / marriage

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Here in the UK, the contemporary life experience of some Zimbabwean married couples especially nowadays is subject to the confusion of the roles and responsibilities within marriage. From observation of families in the communities, it appears that the men have made the shameful decisions to be non-enterprising and not to fend for their families; instead opting to look up to their wives as if they were young boys still living at home with their mothers. Their masculinity and maturity seems to have disappeared somewhere and appears to have been replaced by an unattractive dependency that overburdens their wives physically and emotionally. There are several women who are now positioned as the “heads” of the family, carrying out their duties as wives and mothers in the home, as well as having a job so that they can pay bills and living expenses, whilst their men are present and living in the family home -with no jobs or income. In view of this scenario, and the African understanding of a man’s role towards his family and his home; should African women in this situation call for a redefinition of what it means to be the “head” of the family?

From an African cultural viewpoint, the roles within the Proverbs 31 text apply to what the man/father/head of the house would be assigned to, to mark his position as the “head” within the family. Is it fair then, that African women are judged on being a good wife biblically yet men slip under the net so easily, especially the ones that cannot/will not provide?

As I reflect, I see how within Christian marriages, God comes first, he is the head of the household unlike in cultural marriages, where the man is the head of his household.  I am of the understanding that when God is the foundation of a marriage, the marriage will be strong and can surpass the problems encountered in everyday life, be it a lack of finances or an abundance of finances. Within a Christian marriage both husband and wife look up to God for guidance. In this instance, the marriage stands a better chance in the event of problems because there is a higher entity above the husband that the couple could both seek. If a man does not desire to be led by God, and does not read the Bible to understand it’s teachings, he goes about his life and runs his household in whichever manner he pleases as he will not be accountable to anyone.  He will not respect his marriage or his wife, neither will he consider his children or uphold them with value because he will not have a reference of how to do this effectively. So, if his wife is the breadwinner; The Proverbial Woman, a man that does not understand the bible will be the man that will victimise, or possibly resent his wife for being an enterprising woman that provides for her family.

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