By Francis Ewherido

A few weeks ago in this column, I wrote: “Both parties (courting) should submit to a thorough medical check up to know their health status: blood group, genotype, HIV status, presence of other sexually transmitted diseases, potency, fertility, etc…” I want to expatiate in view of a few messages, comments and incidents since then.

Recently, a family friend won a long-drawn battle with her son, a well educated and eligible bachelor, who wanted to get married to his heartthrob, a beautiful and equally educated young lady. The problem was that both of them carry the AS genotype, which can result in giving birth to babies with sickle cell anemia (25% or 0.25 probability when both parents have the AS genotype).

The mother wanted an end to the relationship. She lost three siblings who were sickle cell carriers while growing up and did not want to experience such avoidable deaths any longer. The young man tried to convince the mother with modern medicine that now made it possible for pregnant women to know if foetus is carrying the defective gene and abort if so.

The challenge there was that the mother is Catholic and did not see any difference between abortion and homicide. “Why go to that extreme to solve a totally avoidable problem,” she exclaimed. Ultimately, reason prevailed and both parties painfully had to end the relationship. Just in case you are debating whether the mother’s action is interference or intervention, in my humble opinion, it is intervention.

Just wondering aloud now, why will two people see potential pains and dangers ahead and still want to get married? I guess it is the foolishness of people in love, or is it lust? It reminds me of a novel I read long ago where a guy was drenched in the middle of a rainy night, trying to woo (back) a lady who for reasons I cannot recall was not interested in the relationship. The guy remarked that anybody in love is a fool, and he, at that moment, was the biggest fool of them all.

I have seen sickle cell carriers in crisis; it is heart wrenching and frustrating. You should not bring a child into this world to experience such torture; you do not want to see a loved one in such agony, if it is avoidable. It is okay that our forebears married out of ignorance. Why will you do it now knowing full well the implications? That for me is a heinous crime against humanity, especially the unborn.

Again a guy marries knowing he is infertile and cannot father a child. Years into the marriage, after many self denials, running away from medical checkups and other tricks, when his game is up, he begs his wife to discreetly sleep with other men to get pregnant. If the gullible wife falls for the scam, they celebrate the arrival of children later knowing they are not the products of the union.

Sometimes it is the woman who is infertile; instead of coming clean with her partner, she prefers to deceive and manipulate him just to get married by hook or crook. After marriage when the game is up, she sweet-talks her husband into purchasing of babies, and that is one of the reasons why baby factories are springing up all over and has become a multi million naira business. Why not do the honourable thing of legally adopting if you want children. Two of my friends did and they personally told me. Since then my respect for them has grown for being real where and when others decided to be hypocritical.

The story can get bizarre. A guy is in his 40s with “everything” going well for him but has refused to get married. When family pressure gets unbearable he hooks up with an unfortunate lady. From the beginning he tells the lady no sex before marriage, because it is “ungodly,” which is wonderful, but unfortunately, it is based on deceit: He is wholesale gay and has no iota of attraction to the opposite sex.

(Quite unfortunately these are the people constituting a cog in the wheels of courtship sans sex.) Then after wedding the lady waits for her “husband” to consummate the marriage (a marriage is consummated when traditional sexual relations take place between the spouses after the wedding

). Day one, “I am tired;” day two, “not tonight, baby.” When he finally runs out of ideas, he opens up and begs the wife to go and surrender her body to any interested man and just be discreet. Why we decide to be so inconsiderate beats my imagination. If you know you are gay, why not open up to your immediate family and get them off your back? Freedom comes with concomitant responsibilities and when you freely make difficult choices, you should be ready to defend them. My grouse here is not his sexual orientation but deceiving and wasting another person’s time. That is morally reprehensible.

To my last respondents, I do not have issues with a HIV positive marrying a HIV negative, provided there is full disclosure. Modern medicine makes it possible for them to have HIV negative children. Also no problems with an infertile person getting married to a fertile person provided there is full disclosure and the man is potent (can have erection, penetrate and engage in spousal intercourse) if he is the infertile party.

Potency is important because without it, the marriage cannot be consummated and such a marriage is not valid within some sections of Christendom and some other religions. My support for the latter union stems from the fact that the number one reason for marriage is companionship (Genesis 2:18) not procreation. It is not compulsory a marriage produces children.

On a last note, I strongly feel that courting parties need plenty of help from family and loved ones. They need prayers, intervention (not interference), good counsel and emotional support; so many of their decisions flow from the heart rather than the head. They are susceptible to manipulation and emotional accidents


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