The high rate of divorce around
Namakgale Township, especially amongst church members was a great concern to
this study. In the meetings with pastors it was the main issue that was
troubling pastors. As a result, the researcher was motivated to conduct a study
entitled “An investigation into the causes of divorce amongst Evangelical
church members in Namakgale Township.” The aim of the study was to investigate
the causes of divorce amongst church members of the Evangelical church. It
provides information to Pastors involved in marriage and counselling.
A selection of literature on the
issue of the causes of divorce was reviewed. The phenomenological design,
qualitative paradigm and interview method were used in this study. Interviews
on the causes of divorce were conducted in the churches and the study indicated
that there are various causes of divorce which include inter alia the
divorce is mainly caused by unfaithfulness both through premarital sex and
extra marital affairs.
of understanding of marriage is another cause.
quietness of the church on the issue of divorce also contributes.
of women by men causes divorce.
members prefer to marry either by civil marriage or by customary union is
and traditions as it encourages men to have more lovers also causes divorce.
mismanagement of money further causes divorce.
church to a lesser extent also contributes to causes of divorce by being quiet
in the issue of divorce.
of dating is also another cause of divorce.
abuse of the rights of women also causes divorce..
change of roles in the family is another cause of divorce
is caused by marriages of Christians to non-Christians.
who are not doing their jobs also cause divorce.
premarital sex and children out of wedlock is another cause of divorce. The
Bible was explored as the main authority on marriage and what it says about
marriage and divorce. Culture as a part of the people was investigated to find
its influence on marriage and divorce.
The following are the
recommendations towards the solution of the problem of divorce:
church should be involved in preparing men and women in terms of their maturity
to get married. .
church should teach its members about marriage. The church should impact their
children with Christian education. They must be influenced by the church by
teaching them good Christian values. The church should teach parent how to be
role models to their children.
church should consider training its pastors for the job of counselling so that
pastors become professional marriage counsellors. The life style and conduct of
church leaders must be exemplary.
church should conduct a comprehensive premarital counselling. The counselling
session must be compulsory. No one should be allowed to get married before
church should be regarded a home for all its members. The church should play a
major role for almost all the activities of the life of its members. The church
should become a mother and love its members in good and bad times.
church should teach, preach, and live faithfully. It must begin from the top.
The pastors should set the standard to its members. Pastors should be role
models to their members. Members should be taught to practice
church must teach communication to its members in all spheres including
marriage. The couple should know everything in their family. They must
communicate in good and bad times.
church must teach the couples about how money should be handled. Money requires
team work which involves knowing how much each spouse earns. Everything about money must be transparent.
The church should teach married couples about culture. There is no culture that
church should be aware of changes that take place in the constitution of the
country. They should make an effort to teach its members about it.
church should schedule revivals, retreat, seminars and debates on marriage and
divorce. Christ said “Therefore… preach…teach… and surely I am with you always,
to the very end of the age” (Matt 28:18-20).
evangelical church must be consistent in dealing with divorced Christians and
those who were in polygamous marriages before they were Christians.
must not oppress women in the name of the “head of the family”.
church needs to address sexual issues early with young people in order to
prevent divorce later on.
2. SUMMARY (ii)
CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION 1
1.1 BACKGROUND 1
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM 5
AIMS OF THE STUDY 6
Main aim 6
Specific aims 6
NEED FOR STUDY 6
CLARIFICATION OF CONCEPTS 7
RESEARCH METHODOLOGY AND DESIGN 9
Data collection 10
Literature study 10
Empirical study 10
of the study 11
1.8 Research frame work
CHAPTER TWO A BIBLICAL AND THEOLOGICAL TEACHING OF MARRIAGE AND
DIVORCE MATTHEW 19:1-12 13
The Biblical and the theological analysis of Matthew 19:1-12 13
2.2.1 The geographical setting of
the text Matthew 19:1-12 14
The background and the text (Matt 19:1-12)
2.2.3 Social setting of the text
Literary context of the text (Matt 19:3-12) 16
2.3 The grammatical
Analysis of the text (Matt 19: 3-12) 18
The question of the Pharisees to Jesus (Matt 19:3) 18
188.8.131.52 Divorce in relation to the
institution of marriage 21
The practice of divorce in the Old Testament 22
184.108.40.206 The regulation of divorce
in the Old Testament 23
220.127.116.11 The purpose of the
legislation of Deuteronomy 23
18.104.22.168The grounds of
divorce in non-biblical literature 24
2.3.2 Jesus‟ response
to the first question (Matt 19:4-6) 25
2.3.2 The second question of the
Pharisees (Matt 19:7) 30
2.3.4 Jesus‟ response to the second
question (Matt 19:8-9) 30
2.3.5 The disciples question and
Jesus‟ response (Matt 19:10-12 32
The application of divorce today 44
findings of the chapter 46
CHAPTER THREE THE IMPACT OF CULTURE ON MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE49
Definition of the Major concepts 50
3.2.1 Definition of culture
3.2.2 Definition of tradition
Negative factors of the various marital practices 51
3.3.2 Polygamy 54
22.214.171.124 The view of polygamy in
3.3.5 Sororate Marriage 60
3.3.6 Woman to woman marriage
factors on marriage and divorce
3.4.1 The influence of lobola (pride price) on marriage and
influence of initiation on marriage and divorce 65
3.4.3 The influence of power on
marriage and divorce 71
3.4.4 The influence of money on
marriage and divorce 78
3.3.5 The influence of extra
marital affairs on marriage and divorce 79
CHAPTER FOUR EMPIRICAL RESEARCH DESIGN, DATA ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION 82
4.2 Instrument used in the
4.3 Data collection
4.6 The limitations of the study
88 4.7 The
results and analysis
summary of the findings of Empirical study 118
CHAPTER FIVE SUMMARY, RECOMMENDATIONS AND COCLUSION 123
5. 4 Concluding remarks 126
Namakgale Township is located under Ba-Phalaborwa
Municipality which is situated in the North-Eastern part of South Africa in the
Limpopo Province. Ba-Phalaborwa Municipality is one of the five local
Municipalities in the Mopani District. It has a geographical area of 3004.88
squire Kilometres‟ and constitutes 27% of Mopani District area. The
Municipality serves as a convenient gateway to the Kruger
National Park and the transfrontier Park through
Mozambique Channel (BaPhalaborwa Municipality2008: 16).
The total population of this area is 137 505 whereas
Namakgale alone has a population of 30 000 in 2007(Ba-Phalaborwa Municipality
2008:19). The following table show the population according to race.
Table 1.1 shows the population
according to race.
The above table shows that this area is dominated by
African people and the fact that the whites and coloureds are decreasing in
Ba-Phalaborwa Municipality (2008:20) also indicates
that Tsonga language is dominant in this area by 45.4% followed by Sepedi by
40.3%. Other languages are as follows: Afrikaans 6.8%, English 2.0%, Isindebele
0.1%, IsiXhosa 0.2%, IsiZulu 0.9%, Sesotho2.2%, Setswana 0.3%, Siswati 1.0%,
Tshivenda 0.7% and other
Pottinger (1990:3) says that the name Phalaborwa in
Sesotho means better than the south.
There are 69 Churches in this area. The
Ba-Phalaborwa has not detailed information about churches in this area.
According to Cartwright (1972: 1) the first missionary to arrive in this area
was Reverend Alexander Merensky representing the Berlin Missionary Society of
Germany. His work was not fruitful in this area so much that in 1871 he moved
away from this area to settle in Middleburg where he established a church which
is still there even today. The mission of reverend Merensky seemed a failure
but later, his son came back to start the mines in Phalaborwa, which mine
Copper and Phosphate ores which are the most mined natural resources found in
The Two summers 2001 report; reveal that in
Ba-Phalaborwa municipality there are five types of marriage ceremonies
recognized in this area:
The first type is Church wedding- this wedding is
officiated by a priest in a church. The wedding needs registration which can be
done by a priest if he/she is an official marriage officer or can be done in
the home affairs offices. This wedding is distinguished by the blessing of God
to the couple. The second type is called is called African bush flavour. This
one takes place under a tree, game farm or at a lapa (African thatched house
with grass with no walls). This wedding is accompanied by African rituals.
Normally, this wedding is accompanied by friends and relatives of the family.
Christians also use this wedding ceremony after the priest had officiated. They
organised a reception in the evening and have a braai after wards. The third
type is called African traditional gifts- Whilst making your vows; you will be
exchanging gifts to one another. There are certain items that are used and
symbolize the following: blanket (for better or worse); the arm bracelet (for
richer for poorer) and the kaalbas (in sickness and in health). This wedding
takes place after the groom has finished paying Lobola (dowry). The bride‟s
family accompany their daughter to the in-laws with the gifts for groom‟s
family. Christians normally exchange gifts in church such as watches whilst
they are exchanging their vows. This wedding is accompanied by a great feast
where the two families kill two cows to celebrate this wedding.
It can be said that in the olden days a wedding only
took place either in the church or in the court. Today people can marry
anywhere they want. What is common about all these weddings is that the
registrations of them takes place in a proper house with a roof and walls.
The fourth type is the Oliphant‟s river boat
wedding. The bride and groom hire a boat for their wedding. The boat drives for
half an hour then they have a ceremony. Once the ceremony has been done the
boat will return and there is no reception in the boat. Relatives and close
friends accompany the groom to witness them exchanging their vows. The signing
of this wedding is done in the proper house not the boat. The fifth is called
Traditional Royal African wedding. This wedding is normally done for a prince
and it is specifically for royal family only. This wedding takes place at Poona
lodge. It is followed by a ceremonial bath and dressing and end with a
traditional blessing. The wedding celebration takes place at the traditional Nkhosi Kraal (the inner sanctuary of a
God created marriage as permanent social phenomenon
to be enjoyed by all partners (male and female) together and Genesis 2:24 sets
God‟s ideal for marriage as a permanent institution not to be separated by
mankind. However, sin has destroyed the standard that has been set by God at
the beginning. Kunhiyop
(2008:190) suggests that if the families
misrepresent God‟s ideals then the whole society is lost and Kunhiyop is correct
because the Bible states that “righteousness‟ exalts a nation” (Prov 14:34)
It becomes a
concern to many pastors when marriages crumble and eventually end up in
divorce. The phenomenon of divorce has been extensively spoken and written
about. Maleba (2004:7) quotes Glendon when stating that:
The lack of firm and fixed ideas about what marriage
is and should be is but an aspect of the alienation of modern man. And in this
respect the law seems truly to reflect the fact that in society more and more
is expected of human relationship while at the same time social changes have
rendered those relationships increasingly fragile.
reasons for divorce, are lack of true concept of marriage and the fall of
mankind to sin are the reasons why divorce is happening in our community.
Kunhiyop (2008:193) argues: “sin and rebellion
against God have turned what had been intended to be a loving permanent and
lifelong relationship into one that can produce hatred and divorce”. In other
words that which has been created good has become evil because of the
Cultural practices also contribute to the high rate
of divorce. This is true with Namakgale community because it is culturally
diverse; it has people from neighbouring countries as well as other parts of
South Africa. In some cultures only women fornicate as the blame is put on
them, men can have as many concubines as they wish, it is culturally accepted
as expressed in the following proverbs: “Indvodza
inganwa“(Siswati) meaning – the man is the only one whose proposal for an
affair is granted by female, in Sesotho/Sepedi they say “Monna ke thaka o a naba” – meaning man is like a bean plant, he
spreads. As Namakgale is predominately rural and poor, the majority of the
inhabitants are traditional and still adhere to their cultural beliefs and
customs. This invariably has a profound impact on their day-today lives as
decisions taken, are influenced and shaped by their socio – cultural make-up.
This cuts across all the social strata of the people, regardless of their
religion or political inclinations. It is not surprising to see church members
take decisions about their lives based on cultural norms. .
At Namakgale Township many church members of the
evangelical congregations, are divorcing. It is therefore important to
investigate the factors that cause divorce in the evangelical churches.
of the problem
The issue of divorce is no longer an isolated issue
nor a local issue but a global concern. John Feinberg and Paul Feinberg
(1993:299) concur that divorce is one of the troublesome trends in our world
today. They argue that in U.S. alone, the statistics shows that divorce rate is
up to 50 percent or more. They also give different statistics from country to
country and it varies: In Arab countries divorce is low. In Jordan in 1989
there were 8.1 marriages per 1000 and 1.21 divorces per 1000. In the same year
in Syria there were 8.8 marriages per 1000 and only .73 divorces per 1000. In
predominately Catholic countries in central and South America, marriages far
exceeded divorces. In 1988 there were 5.3 marriages per 1000 but only18
divorces per 1000. In 1990 U.S recorded 1, 175,000 for that year. Adeyemo
(2006:1148) adds that “one in two marriages in the
United Kingdom and United States ends up in divorce. These numbers are very
high and they are constantly increasing. John Feinberg and Paul further state
that divorce is no longer an issue that affects the community alone but it
affects the church as well. It is regrettable that it is not only affecting the
members of the church alone but also the clergy who are supposed to be an
example to the flock.
According to Du Plessis‟s findings (2006:3) divorce
rates in South Africa in 2002 per 1000 people were 0.81. This would indicate
8.1% rate per 100 marriages. This indicates that 1 marriage out of 13 marriages
will collapse. This alarming rate of divorce in the church is regrettable.
These statistics negate the plan of God about marriages in our societies
including Namakgale marriages. These figures indicate the threat to the
permanence of marriages. Divorce has not only affected the western nations only
but has affected Namakgale community. Adeyemo (2008:1148)
concerns that “African statistics are harder to come
by”.It has been observed that the fraternal of the evangelicals in Namakgale
has begun a program that seeks to assist orphans and some of these children are
victims of divorce. The aim of the study is to
“investigate the causes divorce
and the role of culture on divorce amongst the
Evangelical churches at Namakgale Township”. In the
light of the problem above, the following research questions are asked:
1.2.1 What are the major factors
that lead to a divorce?
1.2.2 What is the role of culture on divorce?
1.2.3 What does the Bible say about marriage and
1.2.4 What is the role of the
church in an attempt to address the challenge of divorce?
1.3 Aims of the
The main aim of the study is to investigate the
causes of divorce and the role of culture on divorce amongst the Evangelical
churches in Namakgale Township.
1.3.2 Specific aims
In order to realize the
above-mentioned aim, the specific aims of this study are to:
Present a biblical exegesis on the issue of
marriage and divorce with special reference to Matthew 19: 1-12. This biblical
exposition will lead us to the intent of God in creating marriage. It will
expose divorce whether
God sanctioned it or it is caused by hardness of the
human heart (Deut 24:1-4).
Investigate the role of culture on divorce. To
what extent does Pedi and Tsonga customs and their traditions have on marriage
in this community. The minority cultures will also be explored as well as the
influence of foreign cultures.
To explore the role of the church in maintaining
and restoring stability in marriages
Make recommendations to alleviate the problem of
divorce among church members.
for the study
Many scholars have done research on marriage and
divorce. To give examples, (Maleba 2004:5) has done research on divorce among
AFM pastors in South Africa. His objective was to investigate the motivations
and justifications for divorce among AFM pastors and find out if Pentecostal
doctrine of the church has an influence on divorce or not. Smith (2005:3)
researched God‟s intention about marriage where, he discussed, marriage,
divorce, separation and remarriage amongst Christians based on his background
in Liberia. Smith talks about rediscovery of God‟s ideals and makes a call to
families to revisit God‟s intention when He created Marriage. Du Plessis
(2006:6) has done research about divorce and remarriage of pastors in the Bluff
area in Durban. His aim was to investigate factors that are responsible for the
increase in divorce cases amongst ministers in the church. Although the
findings of these scholars are scientific and used throughout the world, none
of them have focussed on the causes of divorce amongst the Evangelical church
members found in Namakgale Township under Ba-Phalaborwa Municipality in the
North-Eastern part of South Africa. Moreover, this research also focused on the
role of culture on divorce amongst members of the Evangelical churches.
This study will investigate the causes divorce and
the role of culture on divorce amongst the Evangelical church members in
Namakgale Township. It is hoped that this study will add new knowledge and fill
a very critical gap in the existing body of knowledge. In practice this
information will be useful to the community at large. It will assist pastors to
be able to teach their members especially in terms of premarital counselling.
It will help the married couples to avoid the repeat of the same mistakes done by
colleges. It will also help social and community leaders who deals with issues
related to family.
1.5 Clarification of concepts
The following are concepts that
will be used frequently in this study:
Elbridge (2002:15) defines marriage as “an exclusive
and intimate union of a man and a woman that is established when they make a
covenant to leave their parents and form a new family unit. It is a pure and
holy union that is similar to the eternal union of Jesus Christ and His church.
Ferraro (2004: 194) defines marriage as establishing legitimate relationship
between men and women. He tends to assume that all marriages are heterosexual.
However, some culture does recognize men to men and women to women as being
Culture as defined by Ferraro (2004:24) means
everything that people have, think and do as members of society. By everything,
Ferraro is referring to possessions, ideas, values, attitudes and
behaviour. He also believes that
culture is not an inheritance but is what a person grows with. Coetzee and Roux (2002:58) define culture as
a property, a way of life of a people. Coetzee and Roux continue and say that
culture is man‟s contribution to the nature of environment. It is a general way
of life whereby it demonstrates their achievement of a society in thoughts,
morals and material production. They
conclude that Culture includes a body of knowledge, beliefs, values behaviour,
goals, social institutions plus tools as well as the material
constructions. According to Khoza
(2005:111), there is culture in everything, for example, culture of people and
culture of business. He advocates that there is Culture of the people underlies
the social identity of the people and Culture of
Business refers “to that which
pervades business and business organization.”
and others (1999:4) defines divorce as a choice that two people make, not to
live together as husband and wife. This means that legally they sign the
documents of divorce, but the other partner might sign against his or her will.
In South Africa it is possible that one person can process divorce and end it
without the knowledge of the other. Some people divorce their spouses by
Kunhiyop (2008:192) states that “there can be no
doubt that when there is love and pleasure, a marriage stands a better chance
of surviving and being a good environment for raising Children”. According to Truesdale and Lyons (1986:57),
to love is to act in the best interest of another person, in a way that seeks
to create fellowship with another and
tries to create a bond of loyal friendship. Truesdale and Leyons
indicate that that mature love is based upon concern, compassion, and
commitment for another person and it regards the needs and feelings of the
other person as equal to one‟s own. However, Baron and Byrne (1994, 319)
mention six types of love, namely:
Passionate Love – where two people are attracted to each other when they first
Friendship Love – where love relates
on deep friendship.
Game-playing Love - where a person
has more than one lover at the same time
but does not want this to be known.
4. Mania: Possessive Love – where a person cannot relax
if he or she suspects that the lover is with someone else.
5. Pragma: Logical Love – where one loves another person
because they share similar backgrounds.
6. Agape: Selfless Love – is the love that sacrifices
for the sake of the other. This is a love that God demonstrated when He sent
his only begotten son who came to die for us. It is the love that should exist
between Christ (groom) and the church (bride). The same love should exist
between husband and wife.
In this study, the above different types of love
will be looked at as far as to see how a relationship is affected to a point of
divorce or how some of these types of love may strengthen a relationship.
This concept describes those Christians who stress
the message of justification by grace through faith alone (Truesdale and Lyons,
1986 94-95). According to Truesdale and Lyons the concept comes from the Greek
words meaning gospel (good news) and the leaders of the protestant reformation
were among the first Christian called evangelical. Today, there are numerous
evangelical church denominations. They are united in their stress on the need
for personal salvation. They stress doctrine of justification by grace through
faith alone. They believe that justified Christians should live holy lives.
They also emphasize the deity of Christ and the authority of the
1.6 Research methodology and design
Maleba (2004:38) explains that
“the phrase “research design” can be explained as
“the plan or sketch for the drawing of the final
product of the study”. In this study both qualitative and quantitative research
designs will be used.
1.6.1 Data collection
The following methods will be used to collect data,
namely, literature survey and empirical study.
126.96.36.199 Literature Study
Literature review will be used to collect data on
the problem. Sources related to the topic will form the core of the study and
be used to enhance the research and the interview questions. Literature study
will include Biblical exegetical materials which elaborate theological
resources that conceptualize marriage and divorce. The Bible will be exploring
marriage and divorce sections such as Genesis 1:27, 2:24; Deuteronomy 24:1-4,
Matthew 5:31-32; Mark10 1-12; Luke 16:18, I Cor 7:15 with a special exegesis of
Matthew 19:1-12. Prominent theologians that have used critical exposition on
the biblical passages both in Old and New Testament will be used. Since this
research also investigates the role of culture in divorce it will be critical
for the researcher to interact with literature based on the cultures of this
community. This study will compare and contrast these critical resources to
arrive at the conclusion of what the Bible teaches and what these scholars
teach. This critical evaluation will help the researcher to apply these
findings to the Namakgale Evangelical church members who are continuing to
divorce in this Township.
188.8.131.52 Empirical Study
The researcher will use both an
interview and a questionnaire.
Maleba (2004:38) says this method concerns the lived
experiences of people as they occur .While,
according to Creswell (1994: 1-2) this method is an inquiry process of understanding a social
or human problem, based on building a
complex, holistic picture, formed with words, reporting detailed views of
informants, and conducted in a natural setting. A person-to-person interview
technique will be used. The advantage of this technique is that the researcher
will be in a position to approach the affected and non-affected informants
regarding divorce issues. Since the researcher is a Reverend, and is used to
talking and discussing with different types of people about sensitive topics,
the researcher is capable of handling lengthy interviews.In this case, the
interview will be unstructured. The
researcher will, as suggested by Leedy and Ormrond (2001:153) work together
with participants to
“arrive at the
heart of the matter” namely, factors that
Welman, Kruger and Mitchell
(2005:6) advocates in a questionnaire method
“underlies the natural-scientific method in human
behavioural research and holds that research must be limited to what we can
observe and measure objectively, that is, that which exists independently of
the feelings and opinions of individual”.
Maleba (2004:38) suggest that this method
use data of Numbers.
A sample of
32 respondents is earmarked. The following groups will form the sample:
Those that have divorced
Those who are in process of divorce
Those who are marriage specialists such as
pastors, church elders, social workers and divorce lawyers.. A total sample
size of thirty-two is earmarked however, when a saturation point is reached
during the interviews, the sample may be reduced.
Delimitation of the study
This kind of study appears to be of national
relevance but it will be delimited to the Evangelical churches at the Namakgale
Township of Phalaborwa, Limpopo Province, and Republic of South Africa.
1.8 Research framework.
Chapter 1 will focus on the background of the
problem under investigation. The problem was formulated and the purpose of the
study was stated. The concepts, which will be used often in the study, were
identified and defined and the research methodology was clearly described.
Chapter 2 will focus on a biblical and theological
teaching of marriage and divorce as intended by God: with exegesis of Matthew
19:1-12. This chapter will explore the Old Testament and the New Testament
passages in issue of marriage and divorce. This will include biblical
exegetical resources that conceptualise marriage and divorce. In order to
achieve this, the work of prominent theologians will be used; especially those
who have written critical analysis about marriage and divorce. This chapter
will compare these critical resources to arrive at the heart of the matter what
causes divorce in the Bible. This will help the researcher to apply these
findings to the Evangelical church members in Namakgale Township.
Chapter 3 will focus on the role of culture on
divorce. Church members have a tendency to carry their culture, traditions, and
customs into the church. This chapter investigate to what extent does the
culture in this community influence marriage and divorce amongst church members
in the Evangelical church members. In other words this chapter will discuss and
compare views of cultural and that of Christianity. Cultural practices such as
Lobola, initiation, types of marriages, and many others will be explored to
find its impact on marriage in this community.
Chapter 4 will focus on the empirical research design, data analysis and
interpretation. This chapter shows the instruments that were used in conducting
the empirical research. It shows the interview schedule used and the responses
from all thirty two respondent interviewed. This chapter will show how data was
collected and interpreted. It will also show the findings of this empirical
research from sample found in Namakgale Evangelical church members.
Chapter 5 will focus on overview, recommendations,
suggestion for further research and concluding remarks. This chapter summarises
chapter two, three, and four; in other words this chapter serve as a conclusion
to all that has been discussed in all chapters in this research. This chapter
suggest ways and means that the church in this community can used in order to
reduce divorce at least among Evangelicals church members.