Theological and Ethical Reflections on Care for Widows from an African Christian Perspective

Isaac Boaheng ORCID iD  & Samuel Boahen

Issue: Vol.3  No.4  April  2022  Article 2 pp. 102-114
DOI :  |   Published online 12th April, 2022.
© 2022 The Author(s). This is an open access article under the CCBY license (


This paper is a literature-based study that offers a critical analysis of widowhood from biblical and traditional African socio-cultural perspectives. The paper anlayzed Scriptures on God’s standards for caring for widows and books, journal articles, and dissertations on widowhood in Africa and found that widowhood in most African societies is characterized by unethical rituals, mandatory remarriages, harassment, denial, solitude, impoverishment, loss of social status, and depression as well as financial, sexual and social exploitations. Having offered theological and ethical reflections on the care for widows from the African Christian perspective, the paper suggested that the church must allocate a substantial part of its income to help the needy in general, more so widows. Traditional authorities are also encouraged to eliminate/modify unethical widowhood practices. The paper contributes to the ongoing scholarly discourse on African cultural transformation and female empowerment from an African Christian perspective.

Keywords: Africa, Christianity, Ethical, Theological, Widows, Widowhood

Adeyemo, Wuraola C.“Widowhood and its practices: Causes, effects and the possible way out for widows and women folk.” World Journal of Education Research, volume 3(2), (2016): 1-8.

Andria, Solomon. “James.” African Bible Commentary edited by Tokunboh Adeyemo. Nairobi: WordAlive Publishers, 2006.

Asante, Emmanuel. Theology and Society in Context: A Theologist’s Reflections of Selected Topics. Accra: SonLife Press. 2014.

Asuamah, Millicent Yeboah. Widowhood Care and Employment in 1Timothy 1:3-16: A case Study of the Evangelical Methodist Church of Christ as a Paradigm for African Instituted Churches. Masters Theses: Luther Seminary, 2012.

Atindanbila, Samuel et al., “Effects of Widowhood Rites on the Psychosocial Well-being of Women in Nadowli district (Upper West Region-Ghana).” The International Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities Invention vol. 1, issues 6, (2014): 430-436.

Barclay, William. New Daily Study Bible-The Letters to Timothy, Titus & Philemon. Edinburg: Saint Andrew Press, 2003.

Baloyi, Lesiba and Molebogeng Makobe-Rabothata. “The African conception of death: A cultural Implication.” In L. T. B. Jackson, D. Meiring, F. J. R. Van de Vijver, E. S. Idemoudia and W. K. Gabrenya Jr. (Eds.). Toward sustainable development through nurturing diversity: Proceedings from the 21st International Congress of the International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology. pp. 260-272. Melbourne, FL: International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology, 2014.

Boaheng, Isaac and Ebenezer Asibu-Dadzie Jnr. Essays in the Old Testament & African Life and Thought. Accra: Noyam Publishers, 2020.

Edet, Rosemary N. “Christianity and African Women’s Rituals.” The Will to Arise: Women, Tradition, and the Church in Africa edited by Mercy A. Oduyoye and Musimbi R. A. Kanyoro .Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2001.

Genyi, George Akwaya.“Widowhood and Nigerian Womanhood: Another Context of Gendered Poverty in Nigeria,” Research on Humanities and Social Sciences 3(7) (2013): 68–73.

Gunga, Samson O. “The politics of Widowhood and Re-Marriage among the Luo of Kenya,” Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya (PAK) 1(1), (2009): 161-174.

Hope, Kempe Ronald Sr. Poverty, Livelihoods, and Governance in Africa: Fulfilling the Development Promise. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.

Kessy, Flora Iddy Mayumana and Yoswe Msongwe, Widowhood and Vulnerability to HIV and AIDS-related Shocks: Exploring Resilience Avenu Research Report 10(5). Dar es Salaam: REPOA, 2010. Retrieved from [Accessed on 23rd December, 2021].

Kotzé, Elmarie Lishje Els and Ntsiki Rajuili-Masilo, “‘Women … mourn and men carry on’: African women storying mourning practices–A South African example.” Death Studies 36(8), (2012): 742–766.

Kunhiyop, Samuel Waje. African Christian Ethics. Nairobi: WordAlive, 2008.

Lovemore, Mbigi and Jenny Maree. Ubuntu: The spirit of African transformation management. Randburg:Knowledge Resources, 1995.

Nichol, Francis D. (Ed.). “James 1: 27.” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7. Washington: Review & Herald Publishing Association, 1978.

Patterson, Richard D. “The widow, orphan, and the poor in the Old Testament and the Extra Biblical Literature.” Bibliotheca Sacra (1973): 224-234.

Pobee, John Samuel. Giving Account of Faith and Hope in Africa. Eugene, OR: Wipf&Stock, 2017.

Spilling, Anna. The role of the church in supporting people who are bereaved: A cross-cultural comparison between Norway and Kenya.Master’s Thesis: Norwegian School of Theology, 2011.

Tasie, G.I.K. “African Widowhood Rites: A Bane or Boom for African Women.” International Journal of Humanities and Social Science 3(1), (2013): 155–162.

Thayer, J.H. Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon 5th edition. fifth edition. Massachusetts:Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2002.

Towner, Philip H. The Letters to Timothy and Titus.Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2006.

Widows and Oprhans Movement. “Issues of discrimination in widowhood in Ghana that require addressing in the context of the CEDAW.” Retrieved online from: [Accessed on 31st January,2022].

Witherington III, Ben.The Acts of the Apostles: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B.Eerdmans Publishing, 1998.

Wright, Christopher J. H. Old Testament Ethics for the People of God. Nottingham: Inter-Varsity Press, 2004.

Wilson, William. Wilson’s Old Testament Word Studies. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, n.d.

Isaac Boaheng holds a PhD in Theology from the University of the Free State, South Africa, a Master of Theology degree from the South African Theological Seminary, South Africa, a Master of Divinity degree from the Trinity Theological Seminary, Ghana and a Bachelor of Science degree in Geomatic Engineering from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana. He is a lecturer in Theology and Christian Ethics at the Christian Service University College, Ghana, and a Research Fellow at the Department of Biblical and Religion Studies, University of the Free State, South Africa. Boaheng has over sixty publications in Systematic Theology, Ethics, Biblical Studies, Translation Studies, African Christianity, Linguistics, Pentecostalism and Christian Mission, among others. He is an Ordained Minister of the Methodist Church Ghana serving the Nkwabeng circuit of the Sunyani Diocese.

Samuel Boahen is a minster-in-training through Theological Education by Extension (TEE) at the Trinity Theological Seminary, Legon-Accra and a Theology student at Christian Service University College, Kumasi. He is a member of the Ebenezer Methodist Society, Techiman. Boahen’s research interest lies in Biblical Studies, Systematic Theology and Missiology.

Boaheng,I. & Boahen, S. “Theological and Ethical Reflections on Care for Widows from an African Christian Perspective.” E-Journal of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences 3, no.4 (2022):102-114.

© 2022 The Author(s). Published and Maintained by Noyam Publishers. This is an open access article under the CCBY license (