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Finding love (Part 1): Is the church the right place?

inside out with Respect Chofamba

The world has become smaller in a sense, just at the click of a button, you can be talking to someone who is thousands, if not tens of thousands, of kilometres away.

Not to speak of the speed at which one can easily get from one place to another. Unfortunately, the world has together with our social circles shrunk to become smaller, making the business or art of finding love or a life partner an intricate puzzle of challenges rather than fun.

In the past, the business or art of finding love was sophisticated and made it seem as though social circles were much bigger. At a tender teenage age, our great-grandparents used to find a suitable suitor who they would spend the rest of their life with. In most cases, without much drama or threats of divorce.

As the world evolved, people married at much later ages, with most of our parents getting married in their early 20s and late teenage years. I often laugh because my mother married in her mid-20s and that was considered late in her time.

And now as our social circles seem to have shrunk to a few designated places like the workplace, church, very few and sporadic social and family events, the business of finding love or at the least just a normal human relationship has become more complex. You find people getting married in their early 30s, late 30s and at times even early and mid-40s.

In a bid to understand this new phenomenon, I took time to study trends, listen to random conversations and at times just speak to strangers about it. The educated and ambitious modern person does not take relationships that seriously.

What is more serious and urgent in their life is material prosperity, money and professional goals, not forgetting the latest baby on the block, bucket list items. Relationships are usually at the bottom of the list.

One of the reasons is that a lot of people feel relationships are beyond their control. I mean how can you ever control when and how you meet the next stranger that will become the most important human being in your life forever? Moreover, where can one get that one person that they will vow to treasure for the rest of their lives with no excuse or a day off?

All this makes it seem as though this generation has no yearning and desire to be in marriage or committed relationships, which is false, as most who find themselves single are doing the most to find, be found, accidently bump into or strategically meet that one partner who will spend the rest of their life with them.

Today, there are various ways that people are strategically positioning themselves to meet a partner, and we are going to explore these avenues in this three-part series on finding love. Being a Christian nation, one place that most people find easiest to find love is the church.

The church is a great social gathering which can easily increase your social circle in an exponential manner. You can meet friends, colleagues, acquaintances and, of course, a marriage partner.

Churches in modern Zimbabwe are the one place where the single people go not only in their best clothing outfits, but on their best behaviour with their hearts and minds open to find love with that Bible-believing, tongue-talking and demon-chasing brother or sister. As such, the church has several ways that it has begun to encourage the single to use it, as a place to find love or a potential partner.

One thing that is so obvious in most religious gatherings talk about how it is not good for a man to be alone. The church will make you feel like being single is not only a sin, but an abomination and you are way less than you ought to be when single. And then you are placed in a position to find your mate preferably in the same church by hook, crook or design.

Recently, there was a much publicised all-night prayer for singles with the sole purpose of praying for marriage. I thought this is it! We need more prayers for the single rather than condemnation and speculation as to why one remains single. My celebration was soon dampened by the realisation that the church needs more than just prayer to get singles married or with life partners.

For after the night of pleading with God, praying fervently in the spirit and in your own understanding remains that glaring question: “How do you find a partner in modern society?” For as much as society has evolved, some things remain unchanged like human relationships and marriages which remain anchored on two people, be it strangers, colleagues or friends meeting and relating until they both agree to marry.

My question was soon answered as I found out that some in religious circles have gone a notch higher by creating events that single people can meet and interact. We have churches hosting a braai-out for single people, a dinner, a bring-and-share meeting and many other activities.

As much as many find this unchurchly, I find it innovative and exciting. It makes one’s social circle bigger and increases the chance of meeting that ideal partner you can maybe spend the rest of your life with. After all, in any space that you allow males and females singles to interact, there is bound to be the formation of relationships.

To expediate the process of helping the single find ideal marital partners, some religious gatherings will call out all singles that desire to get married to line up in front and parade themselves.

In one place they asked all the guys to line up and the ladies to pick the one they would want to marry. The result was both fascinating and interesting as most of the girls all wanted one guy in the line. This was a special case, but in most cases, they then go on to ask the singles how they can possibly be failing to find a suitor since there are many to pick from.

Whether this really works or not, I cannot tell. However, I know that some would eventually see each other in this way. The question of whether this should be done in the church is a discussion for another day.

Of concern though is the idea that the preacher takes it upon himself to tell two single people that they are husband and wife. This is literally matchmaking in the church, but the twist being the Lord told me this is your wife or husband. While some have found a partner in this way, it is sad that some only got away with a phenomenal heartbreak that not only broke them to their soul, but made them lose their faith.

While the church has many things that it is doing to help singles find love, the world has a lot more it is doing and we will explore all this in weeks to come. The exciting world of online dating, speed dating, escort services and how your close people can help you meet your ideal partner are all issue we are going to explore in this series.

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