One of the questions Cheryl and I worked through soon after our marriage was the issue of changing her name. We talked and prayed it through for a couple of days during our honeymoon, before she eventually decided to adopt my family name and become a “Chong”. Thankfully In New Zealand it’s pretty convenient to adopt a new surname, and you don’t need to make an official deed poll change to do so – so once we returned and changed it on Facebook it become official!
Some of you might think it odd that it would need that much discussion, but for Cheryl it’s definitely a major decision – after all, she would be changing a name she’s had for over 20 years! And it’s not just us who wrangle with this life decision.
As a Christian I’d like to throw it out there – is there a Biblical mandate for wives to change their surnames today? I raise this question as a few of my friends consider the same issue in the coming months and years when they similarly tie the knot.
I mean, I understand the concept of changing names as a practical way of demonstrating the joining into the family, or as acknowledging your husband’s headship (Eph 5:20-33). And it’s interesting to note that prior to the Fall (Genesis 1:26-3), Adam and Eve were referred to as man and woman (in Hebrew, ‘ish and ‘isha) – so in one sense the wife shared the same syllable (if not a name).
But on the other hand, this whole concept of surnames was non-existent during the New Testament period (adjectives were used instead, e.g. John the Baptist, Jesus of Nazareth), and we’re in a different culture today. For example, a recent article highlighted even husbands taking on their wives surnames, for reasons such as keeping the family name going, not liking their paternal family name, and others. And in my opinion, Brooke Fraser sounds nicer than Brooke Ligertwood.
Anyways, back to us. I can’t speak on Cheryl’s behalf on the details of her thought process, but I did offer her the option of keeping her maiden name, mostly to preserve her family heritage (the surname Ning is a pretty uncommon one, and I don’t think there are any male cousins that could carry through that name).
(P.s. Unfortunately, someone already took www.facebook.com/cheryl.chong – so she is still on her maiden name there!!)
But what do you think about the name game? I’d like to hear your thoughts.