*IS LOBOLA A CHRISTIAN CUSTOM?*
Here is why:
LOBOLA is most of the time a required (and heavily negotiated) price the bridegroom has to pay for his bride, often a huge price.
*LOBOLA IS NOT DOWRY*, since dowry is a willing gift by the parents of the bride given to the bride.
Christians are bought with the blood of Jesus (1Pet1:18-19), not with gold or silver therefore YOU CAN’T EVALUATE THE VALUE OF A BRIDE or of any human in dollars. Sport clubs evaluate players in terms of their effectiveness on the field but how can you evaluate the value of a future bride?
Mat.16:26 says one soul is worth more than the world.
LOBOLA IS A FORM OF SLAVERY: parents keep their daughter slave unto themselves until a boy buys her for himself into marriage; the fact that the girl is allowed to choose her ”buyer” does not make the purchase innocent. Often engaged people that can’t pay the lobola delay their wedding for years and fall in sexual sin before marriage, at times with the intention that once they have a child together, her family has to decrease the lobola (which plan does not always work).
Here are some arguments people use to support lobola:
*”BUT THE GIRL’S PARENTS HAVE SPENT MONEY RAISING THIS GIRL!”*
The bridegroom’s parents also have spent money raising their son!! A parent has no right to ask for a refund when child gets married!
*”BUT THIS IS OUR AFRICAN CULTURE!”*
-India practices lobola also! It is a pagan habit. Should we follow culture even when it goes against the Scriptures? In Europe many cultures indicate we should get drunk at weddings, should a Christian get drunk? Drunkenness is sin, see Eph5:18.
-Many parents in India abort boys as they desire to have girls for lobola benefits; they now require artificial inseminations with baby-girls!! And to get lobola quicker often they give their girls into marriage as soon as 10 years old, often marrying men 20 years older. Muslims practice lobola also.
*”BUT ABRAHAM PRACTICED LOBOLA ALSO!”*
-In Gen24 Abraham gave good-will gifts to the girl and to the girl’s family, there was no required price negotiated. Of his great riches Abraham gave some gifts; a Zimbabwean that earns 200$/month and is required to pay 5000$ for lobola is not a balanced ”gift”. If something is required, then it is not a gift but a price or a ransom.
I recently advised an engaged couple to give 50$ ”lobola first payment” then after the wedding, some day when he will become rich like Abraham, he will give gifts similar to Abraham’s gifts to appease the lobola-hungry family.
*”BUT JACOB WORKED FOR LABAN 7 YEARS FOR HIS WIFE RACHEL!”*
-Laban required Jacob to work (as a payment) for his daughter Rachel, see Gen29; Laban was behaving according to the pagan culture in which he lived. Moreover, Laban tricked Jacob by giving him Lea, which is another evidence that he was not a man of God but was behaving in a pagan way.
The result of Laban selling his daughters to Jacob? Both daughters hated their father for selling them and eating Jacob’s money from the deal, see Gen31:14-19
Other pagans that practiced lobola:
-Sechem in Gen34:12
-Saul started as a man of God but became jealous of David’s success, so he asked David to pay lobola in ways that could place David in situations where he could be killed, see 1Sam18:25.
Some cultures practice an exchange of gifts between the 2 families, with no negotiation or pressure, nothing bad about it.
*“BUT LOBOLA IS A SIGN OF FAMILY APPROVAL!”*
-Do you need family approval or God’s approval (Gal1:10)?
-What if the girl is Christian and her family is not and are disapproving her faith and her fiancee?
-What if the lobola ceremony involves pagan practices?
-Why should uncles and cousins be involved in the new union of a couple as a family? Is the boy marrying the girl’s family also?
-I remind you that the man and the woman that get married are becoming a new family (see Mat19:5 and Eph5:31 ”man shall leave his mother and father and cleave to his wife and the 2 shall become one”); the 2 are not one with their relatives but with each other; families of the 2 are not getting married!
-I formally had to ask for my wife’s hand from her father, as a culture habit: if he said no, we would still have gotten married. ‘Asking of the hand’ is today rather a formal announcement of intention of marriage, not a request of permission as it used to be centuries ago
*”BUT LOBOLA IS A PROOF THAT THE BRIDEGROOM IS SERIOUS AND HE WILL NOT EASILY DIVORCE BECAUSE OF THE GREAT SUM ON MONEY INVOLVED!”*
-Marriage vows are kept before God, not before the family; Africa has a lot of loboled marriages ending in divorce anyway!…and a lot of ”small houses” and immorality, despite the lobola system. -Lobola and often culture interfere with the Biblical foundation of marriage
-A huge lobola is not a motivation to stay married, the love of Christ is the true motivation 2Cor.5:15
-Lobola being huge does not prove he appreciates a lot his future wife: I will see his appreciation in his laid down life for her, see Eph5:25
*”BUT LOBOLA UNITES THE 2 FAMILIES!”*
-Why not invite Jesus to unite the 2 ”extended families” through faith in Jesus, Eph1:10, 2:14,16, thus the 2 families becoming united members of one Body of Christ, 1Cor12:27
-Jesus removes the enmity or any wall or distance, not lobola
In our African churches (and we have 230 churches in 24 African countries) we advice that where lobola can’t be avoided, *IF YOU ARE PARENTS OF THE FUTURE BRIDE* then ask for a symbolic lobola: a bread as Jesus is the bread of life, 1kg of salt as we are the salt of the earth and 1L of water as Jesus is the living water. This way you will have a chance to evangelize your pagan in-laws.
*IF YOU ARE A CHRISTIAN BRIDEGROOM-TO-BE*, then explain to the parents of the girl (and to the girl also: a Christian man should marry a Christian girl, see 1Cor6:14) that your Christian faith does not allow you to buy your wife; if the parents of the girl insist for a huge lobola, the girl should seek counsel from her pastor for wisdom: their union should continue even if her parents dont agree; try to bring the pastor home to mediate the issue or a legal counselor that they would respect; if parents intervene with violence, then if needed police can be asked to intervene as the laws of Zimbabwe forbid selling humans. Parents have no legal right to stop their daughter from getting married, unless if she is underage or marries someone underage in which case parents should report to police, not use violence.
Mark10:9 Jesus said, ”What God has united let no one separate”; families removing the wife for an unpaid lobola is sin, it is also against the laws of Zimbabwe.
Eph5:31-32 man gets married out of a personal decision, not under pressure or permission from family.
*IF YOU ARE PARENTS OF A FUTURE BRIDE*, then 2Cor12:14 is for you: *PARENTS ARE RESPONSIBLE TO SAVE UP FOR THEIR CHILDREN, NOT CHILDREN FOR THE PARENTS*. Remember that the money and the debts of the future bridegroom will belong to the bride as well: if the bridegroom has to pay 5000$ to the parents of the girl, after the wedding him and his wife together will have 5000$ less or might have now a debt of 5000$ if he had borrowed. Husbands and wives should have one wallet as they are one flesh.
*WHEN DO WE RECOGNIZE PEOPLE AS MARRIED?*
–We accept the traditional marriage, where the bridegroom and the bride agree to be married before the 2 families; John the Baptist acknowledged Philip’s marriage even though ruler Philip was not married before God in the temple, he was not a believer in God (Mat.14:3); we acknowledge pagans’ marriages without them coming to church to get married in church, of course; as a Christian you can get married as a pagan only, you have that freedom, but why not do the government papers and even church marriage as well if you are a Christian? Why not honor the God ordained government and Christ’s church?
–We accept the marriage before the government, as the government is God’s tool in keeping social order, see Rom.13:1; this type of marriage is a legal protection against polygamy, also guarantees heritage rights for spouses and children, child support rights in case of divorce and other legal benefits;
–We accept and highly advise marriage in church, of course
A Christian might do one or all these 3 ceremonies; I and my wife did the the church wedding one week after the civil (government) marriage, consummating marriage by living together and sexual union after the marriage in church.
We prefer not to marry anyone in church unless they did the civil marriage, this way we are sure they are not polygamous (already married to someone else).
Some people delay long time church marriage because of lack of money: they want a huge event, maybe out of pride…?
Pastors should not charge money for getting people married.
Ask me for the doctrine of marriage in pdf format, 24 pages.
Any questions? Comments?