Is there any good reason for Christian women to change their surname when they marry? People change their names for a variety of reasons.

Usually during marriage ceremony women adopt the surname of their husband or compound both surnames. It is said that a woman signs her maiden name for the last time on her marriage certificate at the Registry or church office.  Christians and non-Christians imbibe this practice. The question is why is it so? How did this practice originate? Does it have biblical foundation? How important is it in today’s church?

Some married Christian women adopt their husband’s family name or compound it with their maiden surname for advantage. However, there are married women I know who retained their maiden name after their wedding. In one case it was because company policy was against the employment of husband and wife in the same establishment. They used that to hide the fact of marriage. In another case it was because the woman had popularised her name as a bestselling author.

There is a good reason for choosing to compound the surnames. Women from families with international clout do not want to lose out on the goodwill of their maiden surname, especially where those names can open doors with ease. But in places where inheritance is through women why is it that men do not change their surname to align with the family name of their wife or even compound it?

There seems to be no scriptural basis for Christian brides to change their surname after being ‘joined’ in holy matrimony. There is no Mrs ‘anybody’ in the Bible. Rather, what you see all over the place is that the woman is the wife of (the first name of the husband):

  1. Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth.
  2. Jael the wife of Heber.
  3. Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon.
  4. Abigail the wife of Nabal.
  5. Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite.
  6. Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod’s steward.
  7. Mary the wife of Cleophas.

Names are important. They are identification labels. Your name tells a lot about you, your background and where you come from. Some surnames glorify family idols. Some names can invoke the presence of demons.  Name change should be from darkness to light and not the other way around.

Christian sisters, it is not good to change your beautiful name to one that glorifies the kingdom of darkness. How could anyone change her surname from Miss Oluwabunmi to Mrs Orisabunmi or from Miss Chiebuka to Mrs Agbaraukwu or from Miss Ndarake to Mrs Inemesit? That you are married does not mean you should lose your identity.

I’ve already taken the position in my book project that civil administration should hands off matrimony, especially where it concerns Christians. The role of the church should be limited to counselling. The idea that Government or the denominational church can join a man and a woman in matrimony is a farce. It has no biblical foundation. ‘Joining’ in wedlock is a supernatural act that only God can perform.

Name change has created awkward situations in some matrimonial homes. One of the avoidable issues is the ownership mentality. It’s not usually voiced out but some men feel they have acquired not just a help that is meet for them but the spirit, soul and body of the woman. It is true that man is the head of his wife but it is equally true that the body of the man belongs to the woman and that God does not expect any married man to use his body to do anything the wife does not approve of.

There are many surnames that Christian men should not bear. It is better to change them than suffer because of tradition of the fathers. Other than ‘that’s how it has been from time immemorial,’ what has name change got to do with matrimony?

In my opinion, using the first name of a husband to identify a married woman is more honourable than adopting an idolatrous name that has the potential of inviting familiar spirits to torment a newly married couple.

Do you agree? What do you think?

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