It’s Not Biblical For A Woman To Take Her Husband’s Name Or Surname After Marriage — Says A Catholic Priest
By Fr Kelvin Ugwu
You may not like what I am about to say, but I am not saying it for you to like it.
It is NOT biblical that a woman after marriage MUST take the man’s name or surname. It has nothing to do with bible and it is NOT what portrays the Christian teaching of “two becoming one flesh.”
In the on going discussion concerning Native Names versus English Names, many agreed that our identity or names are very important, and that no one should be forced to take an identity he or she cannot relate to.
To suggest that it is a MUST for a woman to take the husband’s name after marriage is the same thing as saying the woman has no identity outside of the man.
You are not happy that a catechist or a priest is imposing a name on your child during baptism but you don’t see anything wrong with the fact that you are imposing your name on your wife after marriage. Heloooooo!!!
You want to question everything that you consider as coming from colonial masters, but you don’t want to question this part. Hmmm!!!
Even biblically, this sort of thing never existed. People were simply identified by what they do or where they live or the children they have or simply as wife or husband of so and so person. They never changed their names.
Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 21:11)
Simon of Cyrene (Mark 15:21)
Mary of Magdala (Mark 15:40)
Mary mother of Jesus (Matthew 13:55)
Mary wife of Cleopas (John 19:25)
Zacharia the priest (Luke 1:5)
Paul the apostles to the gentiles (Romans 11:13)
Joseph the husband of Mary (Matthew 1:16)
Zacchaeus the tax collector (Luke 19:1-10)
We can go on and on. . .
Mary after marrying Joseph did not answer Mary Joseph. Elizabeth did not answer Elizabeth Zacharia etc.
If you trace your African culture back to your great grand fathers era, you may still see the same pattern as the Bible.
So, where did we get the teaching of women taking the husband’s name as a MUST? Maybe from the obsolete law of Converture developed around the late Middle Ages. Or maybe from what some may call our culture that tend to see women as not having any identity outside of the man. A culture that promotes the view that male children are more important than female children. A culture that looks at ten female children as not being equal to one male child. It is to us to question such culture, but leave the bible out of this.
I know of a woman whom after marriage changed her name. About five years into the marriage, the man became sick and died. She remarried and she had to change her name again.
So, I was imagining the story of the Samaritan woman with Jesus in John 4 who married about six times. Or the story told by the Sadducees in Matthew 22 where a woman had to marry for seven times because the men kept dying without a son. It then means, following our present custom, she will keep changing her name after the marriage of a new husband. It is like saying “you are nobody until you get a husband.”
This post would have ended here, but I think I need to make this clarification before I get misunderstood.
First, it is a different thing if a woman WILLINGLY wants to take the husband’s name. Just like how there should be nothing stopping a man from taking his wives name as well. What I am against is normalization of this practice and making it a MUST. If your wife does not want to change her name to yours, it should never be seen as an act of stubbornness or not doing the right thing.
Again, THIS IS NOT ABOUT FEMINISM. Please avoid the temptation of thinking Fr Kelvin is speaking for feminists. Some of the things feminists advocate for are true and I agree; but they are true not because feminists say them, rather feminists say them because they are true. There is a big difference between the two. Truth existed before feminism and not the other way round. It is that truth I stand for and not the branch of that truth.
Well, as I will always maintain, you can argue with me, but make sure you come with facts.