Original Research

Towards redeeming marriage custom from ‘triangular captivity’: The missional dilemma of the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe

Martin Mujinga
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 41, No 1 | a2067 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v41i1.2067 | © 2020 Martin Mujinga | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 November 2019 | Published: 20 August 2020

About the author(s)

Martin Mujinga, Department of Systematic Theology and Ecclesiology, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa


Marriage in the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe (MCZ) is under siege. This scenario was bequeathed by the British imperialists. This siege is evident because the ecclesiastical theology of marriage in the MCZ is fastened on both African culture and the civil order. Firstly, marriage is anchored on African culture because the MCZ is an African church and it grows its mission using African epistemology. Secondly, marriage in the MCZ is affixed on civil authority because adult membership in the the MCZ is defined by being ‘properly married’ for those who have spouses. The triangular net is evident because marriage starts and proceeds culturally, the government legalises marriages and the MCZ uses marriage certificates to grow its membership, whilst the clergy solemnise marriages as government agents using the civil Marriage Act Chapter 5:11. The aim of this article was to investigate how the MCZ’s mission is informed by both African culture and civil order given that it regards marriage as the canon of adult membership, blousing of women and badging of men, participation in the sacrament of Holy Communion, confirmation into full membership, leadership positions, accredited as local preachers and acceptance into ministry. In responding to this aim, the article uses a qualitative research method to interrogate the MCZ policy books and minutes of conferences that address the theology of marriage. The research will conclude by challenging the MCZ to come up with a theology of marriage that unties itself from the cultural and civil net of this rite to interpret its ecclesial mission.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This article is interdisciplinary in the sense that it addresses the issues of ecclesiology, missiology, theology, African culture, gender, church polity and the power of civil authority. The research calls the MCZ to define its marriage theology not contaminated by civil ideologies and African philosophy.


redeeming; marriage; triangular captivity; missional dilemma; Methodist Church; Zimbabwe


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