The role of premarital counselling for marriage stability: a pastoral examination of the interface between the Christian and Alago Indigenous Epawoza concept of marriage preparation.
Bawa, Bitrus Yusuf.
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This study focuses on the pastoral examination of the interface between the premarital counselling methods of the Evangelical Reformed Church of Christ (ERCC) and the Alago indigenous Epawoza concept of marriage preparation in a quest to help curb the spate of marital instability among the Alago people of Nigeria. The study argues that neither the ERCC current model of premarital counselling nor the Alago indigenous Epawoza methods of premarital counselling are able to provide adequate help to couples for marriage stability among the Alago when allowed to operate independently. This study therefore seeks to answer this key research question: What aspects of premarital counselling from the Alago indigenous knowledge systems can be inculturated by the church to improve stability in Alago marriage in Nigeria in a context that is full of domestic violence and alarming rates of divorce? Hence by using prevention, contextualization and the see-judge-act frameworks as tools, the ultimate objective of the study is to develop a synergistic premarital pastoral counselling model that the ERCC ministers can use towards improving marriage stability among the Alago Christians. The foundation upon which the proposed model is built is the ERCC theological justification for church engagement in reaching out to each ethnic group through the proclamation of the gospel alongside pastoral care through counselling within the ambit of their contexts. The research methodology is qualitative in nature, in which case data was obtained through individual in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with four categories of participants: the ERCC ministers/church elders, elderly Alago persons, wedded Alago couples, and divorcees among the Alago Christians. The philosophy of the study is to obtain views from both the ERCC and Alago indigenous perspectives as well as insights from literature on the major sources of the challenges resulting in domestic violence and divorce. Analysis of the research findings shows that the underlying factor accountable for instability in marriages among the Alago Christians of the ERCC is the absence of synergy between the church and the Alago indigenous methods of doing premarital counselling, given the fact that the Alago are currently caught up in-between their culture and the influence of Christianity, Westernization and modernity. This dissertation offers a synergistic premarital pastoral counselling approach that seeks to promote greater marital stability as a benefit of this interface.