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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Training a good husband. Was tradition unfair to men?

Yesterday Maina wa Kageni and Joseph wa Kingangi were talking about unfairness in tradition. In our African cultural traditions, women are always advised by their mothers, peers and aunts on how to be a good wife. But these same cultures have ignored the men. There is no course on how to be a good husband. Mwalimu was of the opinion that being a husband comes naturally and gave the example of the animal kingdom.

My Human Opinion

There is no course on how to be a good husband?? So untrue. And I also don't agree with Mwalimu's opinion. Being a good ANYTHING doesn't come naturally. Even being a lazy bum takes training.

Training a good man/husband comes in many different ways. You don't have be seated down or told 'Now I'm showing you how to be a man and a good husband'.

The best form of training a boy to be a man is through relevant role models, mentorship and apprenticeship—the boy's father being the best, and unfortunately the worst role model.

Men learn best by seeing and doing. They see their father beating their mother, they learn. They see their father being kind to strangers, they learn. They don't see their father at all, they learn.

A role model is someone whose behaviour is worth emulating. Therefore, it goes without saying that a good role model produces a good role modelee.

During the traditional rites of passages, boys were (and in some places still are) separated from their parents and siblings and taken aside to be trained on how to be a man.

This included among other things, how to provide (i.e. hunting, herding, gathering, farming etc), how to protect (building huts, fences, how to use weapons like spears etc), how to be brave and face life's problems (like the circumcision they were about to undergo) and so on.

Mental note, marriage advice from mothers and aunts, reasonable. From peers—watch out.

Anyway, the point is that just as the girls were being taught how to cook, the boys were being taught how to provide what needed to be cooked. Whether that still happens is another story.

Nowadays, the training is left to school teachers, religious leaders, the media and peers. With peers taking the cake, with disastrous effects.

My Biblical Opinion

You do not need traditions. Everything you need to know about how to be a good husband is found—you know it— in the Bible.

Since 'good' is relative, let's see a few Bible verses about character traits of a Godly husband.
  1. Slow to anger (very important) :
    James 1:19-20
    My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.
  2. Honest
  3. Hard working (very important)
    Proverbs 12:11
    He who works his land will have abundant food,
           but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment.
  4. Faithful (very important)
    Proverbs 5:11-19
     15 Drink water from your own cistern,
           running water from your own well.
     16 Should your springs overflow in the streets,
           your streams of water in the public squares?
     17 Let them be yours alone,
           never to be shared with strangers.
     18 May your fountain be blessed,
           and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
     19 A loving doe, a graceful deer—
           may her breasts satisfy you always,
           may you ever be captivated by her love.
  5. Self-control
  6. Generous
  7. Reliable
  8. Forgiving
  9. Willing to be corrected and listen to wise counsel
  10. Last but not least, Fears the Lord (very important) Proverbs 1:7 and
    Proverbs 14:26 
    26 He who fears the LORD has a secure fortress,
           and for his children it will be a refuge.
And many many more.

Finally, there must be a passing-on-the-baton of some kind from one generation to another.

Moses passed the baton to Joshua:
Deut 34:9 Now Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him. So the Israelites listened to him and did what the LORD had commanded Moses. 
Elijah passed the baton to Elisha
 2 Kings 2:9-15
9 When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, "Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?"
      "Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit," Elisha replied.
 10 "You have asked a difficult thing," Elijah said, "yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours—otherwise not."
 11 As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. 12 Elisha saw this and cried out, "My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!" And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them apart.
 13 He picked up the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. 14 Then he took the cloak that had fallen from him and struck the water with it. "Where now is the LORD, the God of Elijah?" he asked. When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over.
 15 The company of the prophets from Jericho, who were watching, said, "The spirit of Elijah is resting on Elisha." And they went to meet him and bowed to the ground before him.

Let's pass the right baton to our children shall we.

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