Catholic Priest in South Africa Urges Youth to Involve God in Choosing Marriage Partners

Participants at the Thursday, September 2 session of the marriage awareness campaign by the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference. Credit: Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference

A Catholic Priest of South Africa’s Dundee Diocese has said that many marriages are breaking because God is never put in the picture especially when young people are choosing their life partners.

In his keynote address on the second Thursday of the ongoing marriage awareness campaign of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC), Fr. Zakhele Ziqubu, a long-time marriage trainer in the three-nation Conference asserted that the Holy Spirit must be invoked to enlighten those who are ready for marriage.

“The problem is that our youngsters are not even considering God. God is not even in the picture yet he is the guru. We find that such relationships that do not involve God do not work,” Fr. Ziqubu said in his Thursday, September 2 address.

He compared the lack of involving God in the choice of a marriage partner to a person who goes to the market, buys an item and leaves behind the manual on how to use the item.

“God is the handbook of marriages. God calls people into marriages. God provides them the graces that are necessary for the sustenance of marriages,” he said.


The September 2 session was facilitated by Archbishop Zolile Mpambani of South Africa’s Catholic Archdiocese of Bloemfontein and South African Union of Catholic Women’s Organization (SAUCWO) Secretary, Mahadi Buthelezi.

Mrs. Buthelezi introduced the theme of the day’s session, “choosing a right partner” by posing, “Do you think that today’s young men and young women are not asking the right questions when choosing a partner?”

According to the SAUCWO official, young people today disregard the important aspects in a person and lean towards material things.

“Young people seem to be more concerned about financial status, how a person looks, the car that they drive, where they live, the bank account. These are just but a few materialistic things that our young women and men tend to look out for and think is a criterion for choosing a right partner,” Mrs. Buthelezi said.

She added, “Choosing a life partner should be about someone who challenges you in a healthy manner; someone who supports you in all your dreams and endeavors; someone who helps you to grow for the better and someone who chooses to love you against all odds.”

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In his September 2 address, Fr. Ziqubu highlighted the challenges that young people are confronted with in a society he says continues to demonize marriage.

“How can one choose a partner... if there are all these abuses, if there are all these fights, if there are all these rapes, there is killing, you wonder how was the choice made?” he poses.

The South African Catholic Priest expressed regret that few families are painting a right image of the institution of marriage, a situation that he says leads young people to give up on the institution.

“It is not that marriage is bad. It is just that some people are choosing to represent it so badly and so poorly and whoever looks at them becomes so discouraged. Some young people are deciding not to get married based on how they have seen their parents represent marriage so badly,” Fr. Ziqubu said.

He added, “Let us represent marriage; let us live marriage; let us manifest the goodness of God in the society and the Church and wherever we are.”


The author of God, Love, Life and Sex says that a partner to be chosen is a partner with whom one will spend their entire life together, adding, “It isn’t about a year or so of staying together. There is a choice to opt out.”

The Catholic Priest further highlighted various financial, social and cultural pressures that push people into marriages that he said hardly last.

He explained family pressures that require one to be married to give space to those coming after them.

“There are also the social status pressures that force someone to hurry up and get married because one of the parents might be holding a position in the Church or in the wider structure of the society,” the member of the Clergy of Dundee Diocese said.

Other pressures, he said, result from pregnancy and a girl subsequently being forced out of the family by her parents.

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The Priest explained that financial pressures happen when a young partner finds a job and decides to get married quickly because they are not sure of their job stability.

Additionally, when one’s parents are getting old and frail, one may get married so as to ensure that the parents are taken care of in their old age or sickness. In this case, Fr. Ziqubu said, one needs to ask oneself who they are marrying.

“Are you marrying a nanny or nurse to take care of your parents? And what happens when your parents eventually die? Can the woman you married go home since she has accomplished the job of taking care of your parents?” he posed.

The Priest also highlighted the pressure of getting offspring as the other reason that lead people to get married especially in the African society, and explained that this becomes problematic where there are no children.

“Marriage is from God and is of God. God is involved, God is in charge, God chooses us. Marriage is a vocation,” the Priest emphasized.

On his part, Archbishop Mpambani urged young people contemplating marriage to learn from how the institution worked many years ago.

“Going back to the earlier age, the parents chose the right partner for their child. We need to think and borrow from what our parents looked at. They looked at the family, the character, the respect, the diligence,” the Archbishop said.

The Marriage Awareness Campaign kicked off on August 22 and is expected to end on October 9 with the celebration of Holy Mass.

In their August 19 report, ahead of the marriage awareness campaign launch, SACBC leadership highlighted modern challenges facing families and the resulting break-ups and acknowledged that there are still successful relationships that act as a source of hope in the marriage institution.

The Catholic Bishops in Botswana, Eswatini, and South Africa pledged to provide their pastoral guidance to the institution of marriage through the SACBC’ Marriage and Family Life Office “as a sign of their firm belief and support of the institution of marriage and family.”

Information provided by the SACBC website indicates that the program is scheduled to run on Sundays on Radio Veritas between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. and on Thursdays on SACBC Facebook Live respectively, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Themes for the campaign, which have been spread across the various weeks through which the program is running include God’s purpose for marriage, choosing a right partner, and marriage as between a man and a woman.

Other themes for the awareness campaign include marriage as a sacrament and the importance of matrimonial ceremony, procreation and rearing of children, reconciliation in marriage, and till death do us part.

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.