We posted this on our Instagram page @lifegivadotcom and got lots of reactions and comments, few stated below, but before then, let’s put our own thoughts forward;
1. The bible does not say anything about the wife taking up her husband’s name.
It is not a biblical culture to see women take up their husband’s name as their last name. Last name wasn’t a thing in the bible, what we see is people being referred to by their location, Joseph of Arimathea, Mary Magdalene. While women were often identified by their children ‘Mary the mother of James and Joseph as seen in Matthew 27:56. And of course by their husband as seen in John 19:25; Mary the wife of Clopas.
Yes, some people say that Gen 5:2 indicates that God gave the name Adam to man, but understanding the meaning of the Adam in that verse, or by simply looking into other translations you’ll understand that God wasn’t trying to give Eve Adam’s name.
He created them male and female and blessed them. And he named them “Mankind” – Genesis 5:2
So, nowhere was a woman instructed to take her husband’s last name. What she was instructed to do is to submit to him. What does this mean? (discussion for another day).Nowhere was a woman instructed to take her husband’s last name. What she was instructed to do is to submit to him. Click To Tweet
2. The woman taking her husband’s name is a cultural thing.
A woman changing her last name to that of her husband’s is something that originated from the western culture, although some argue it has its roots from the Bible. Maybe because the man is instructed to be the leader and breadwinner and protector of the home, so it goes without saying for his home to be identified by his name. But choosing to either follow this culture or not doesn’t break any Bible command.
Other cultures (asides the western culture) have their own tradition on whether a woman is to take the man’s last name or keep hers. I won’t be surprised to even find out some do it the other way round – husband taking his wife’s last name.
Which ever one it is, if you are going to go against your culture, you will definitely be met by some opposition, which is expected. So you’ll need to have a reason you are very convinced in.
3. The two are now one flesh
I personally believe that this could be a very good reason for both couples to bear a common name. The Bible said upon marriage “the two becomes one”, as much as a name doesn’t matter, many people still don’t want to let go of their individuality, they never fully accept that they are now one with this woman or man.
So, if a woman refuses to take her husband’s surname which she has every right to choose not to, I just want to hope it’s not a bid to hold on to her individuality.Many people still don’t want to let go of their individuality, they never fully accept that they are now one with this woman or man. Click To Tweet
4. Think of your kids.
I believe this point isn’t so important, but let me put it either ways.
While reading up on this issue, I stumbled on an instance where you have a compound (hyphenated surname) so your children share the same. Now imagine your son (with a hyphenated surname) is marrying a woman also with an hyphenated name, please what will their surname be? A compound of 4 names? At a point, it gets impractical.
I have argued manytimes that not all systems are meant to be challenged, some just exist as a guide, and taking the man’s name might be one of such, just for the purpose of order.I have argued manytimes that not all systems are meant to be challenged, some just exist as a guide, and taking the man’s name might be one of such, just for the purpose of order. Click To Tweet
Why are you not taking his name, or why are you going for a hyphenated surname?
Having said all that, it’s is not unscriptural to not take the man’s name, but if you are going to not take his name, which is going against the cultural norm, then your reason or your motive becomes the judge.
I have seen cases where a woman has built a whole career or empire on her name before getting married, she doesn’t mind changing it legally but for her career sake she has to keep it. And that is okay.
We’ve seen the case where the woman is the last of that lineage and in a bid to immortalize the family name adds it to her name. And that’s okay too.
But if the decision to keep your name is because you question the bible’s stand on the man being the leader in the relationship, or you are already plotting for the easy exit if the marriage fails, then that is not okay.
Sometimes what is wrong with a thing is not the thing. It is the motive for the thing.
I think the reason this is a topic is because people are redefining marriage and the role of a man and woman in it. Which is important.
We presently live in a world where the role of leadership and head of the home as stated by God is being hugely contested. Yes, a man and his wife and equal but have been assigned distinct roles. Earthly marriage depicts a heavenly mystery, union between Christ and the church, that was what Paul said, so it is important to keep this in mind while question traditions and norms.
A friend added;
Personally, I see refusal of a woman to take her husbands name as a sign that she will not be a traditional wife. I see it as a form of rebellion against traditional marriage, which could be a good thing in the case of wrong traditions and if judged through the lens of the Bible and not the society.
Most likely, a woman that refuses to take her husbands name will have issues with the idea of submitting to their husbands. Obviously not in every case but it is something to watch out for.
I really don’t care if my wife picks my name (my surname is even long and complicated 😂) but I want to see her willingness to take it, and I’ll tell her not to worry cos I don’t mind.
Her willingness to take it is a sign. Her willingness not to take my last name is also a sign, which might not be about the name itself but a deeper underlying issue. That issue is what needs to be addressed
Below are the comments on the post on Instagram, read and add yours below.
It depends on the culture you’re from. For example, we have a number of families from Ethiopia at our church. The practice there, whether you’re single or married, is that your last name is your father’s first name.
My mum doesn’t have my father’s name to her name. I also think it can be a choice. My mum’s mum(grandma) has her father’s last name and her husband’s last name. so making it 2 last names with her name. The law here in Taiwan gives a limited amount of time to change last name. Either husband, father’s or both… Any.
I think the reason for last names is for legal issues, recognition and less confusion.
In this era of political correctness, I think it is needful to be informed of why women have taken their husband’s surnames hitherto. Theology explains that women and children usually reference their last names to their husbands and father as the case may be. Maybe the reason for that is to trace lineage, identify culture groups, keep family and societal heritage, e t.c… I give an example; how are supposed to know that Jesus was a descendant of David as promised in prophecies foretold if names referencing wasn’t taken seriously? Maybe the real question is that women and children can choose whatever name they want, but there has to be a way to identify to lineage through a universal/unique name structure. For example again, we know that the word “Christian” is an association to the family of Christ, and of God. Adopting names that conote an attachment to Christianity makes it quite easy to identify one’s social, religious, and moral ideologies… I hope this isn’t too complicated
Really Not a big deal… for me, it’s not mandatory to pick one’s husbands last name (There are lots of people that don’t) except if there’s a law that demands it… I don’t mind picking my husbands last name though
And I think it depends on the agreement of the couple,
It still boils down to them..really… If they agree on the Bride retaining her maiden name, fine… if they agree on her picking her husbands name, fine.. or if they even agree on her attaching her husbands surname with her maiden name, it’s still their choice.
I just believe it’s about their mutual agreement..
This is the book of the “Generations” of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him;  Male and female created he them; and blessed them, ( and called their name Adam) in the day when they were created. #Bible!
Taking your husbands last name is actually cultural and not religious. Some cultures require the lady to keep her maiden name, some require children to take their mothers last name, etc. I didn’t take my husbands last name because nowhere in my bible do I see where it is required, and my husband is okay with it for now.
It’s their choice.
If the lady wants it, especially cause she already has some recognition with her father’s made and her husband is okay with it.. then that’s beautiful.
It’s something that must be discussed before marriage.
However, you’re either a Mrs or a Miss and doesn’t Mrs mean you’re married to someone? If so, and one bears Mrs (your father’s name), that means you’re married to your father???? 😂😂😂😂
I don’t know though. Just saying.
For me though, it’s not a big deal. I might use both.
It is down to personal choice. If the lady wants to keep her name, she should.
Thank you for reading, we are hoping you can add your voice to the discussion as a comment.
Well it all boils down to culture. If the argument for some is that it’s to trace your lineage or to maintain a family tree then for most cultures in the Northern part of Nigeria that is gonna be a problem. This is so because most cultures from that part of the country take up their fathers first name. So for instance Yakubu Yahma gives birth to 4 kids Emmanuel, Moses, Sarah and Elizabeth; all of them would bear Yakubu as their last names which is their fathers first name. So we’ve got 4 future families, stemming out from Yakubu Yahma bearing four different last names and the sky hasn’t fallen down yet. Do whatever it is you fancy as long as there is communication between both spouses.