Another little window opened into Mozambican culture:
Orlando and Eugenia have been together over ten years. They have three sons, the youngest is Belarmino, less than 3 years old. The leadership in the church have been trying to encourage the members to marry their common law spouses in order to communicate that marriage is a God designed spiritual relationship. So far three couples have taken the plunge and been very excited to see a new level of commitment and communication growing.
In June Orlando set December 28 as his date, but on the 21st he announced to the church that it was not to be. And here is why:
Although in his 30s, Orlando considers himself an orphan because his parents are deceased. He has two living uncles who are feuding and have been so for quite some time. When he invited them to his wedding, they assured him the one would not attend if the other were present. In essence, he had to choose between them, delay his wedding for their peace making, or go ahead without either of them.
Finding himself in this very tight spot, Orlando opted for the second alternative. Wait for the uncles to make peace. Why would he choose this route? Well, as an orphan, he has to consider the welfare of his family. If he were to die unexpectedly, Eugenia and the boys would need some looking after. It would probably fall to the feuding uncles to take care of them. If he got married without their presence, they would feel that they had no obligation. If he chose one over the other, then only the one would have the responsibilitly. This way they are both equally required to maintain his widow and orphans.
Yes, Orlando is a Christian. He believes he is an adopted son of God by the blood of Jesus. He would say that he believes God supplies all our needs according to His riches in glory. On the other hand, his uncles are both animists who have no link to the church or his belief system. In fact, the church would quaintly and accurately call them "pagans." Not only is Orlando a Christian, but he is the elder in the January Church which is currently without a pastor. So he has been preaching, doing visitation, and fulfilling all the pastoral duties since February. Now he will step down and there will be a gap. No one else is quite prepared to fill those shoes of his. But the mandate for church leaders to marry their common law spouses is to be obeyed before the end of 2008.
As I write, I am still amazed at the power our cultures have over us. We choose to do things, knowing they are counter to what we profess. Easy for me to wonder how Orlando can say, "I am a son of God" and still want the security of some unbelieving uncles who may not even come through in the crunch. How blind I am to the log in my own eye.