Of religious doctrine, the law and marriage

In addition to the regular service, I was privileged also to partake on Sunday, May 19, 2019, of the doctrinal class of my church. It is the first of its kinds since I started attending the church.

However, it was the most difficult Sunday for me. I came to the service on the heel of completing a tiring 48 hours marathon call of duty in the midst of which I also engaged myself in an ongoing online project which I've made a nightly ritual to a large extent.

Before your imagination runs wild, my online engagement has a lot to do with my blogging passion which has become a second nature on which I spend a couple of hours or thereabout every night.

As always, it took a chunk of energy off me. Consequentially, I was tired and lifeless. I was also famished because there was no time to eat anything. I'm saying this because that didn't allow me to contribute as I would've loved to in the event that was to ensue.

Nonetheless, I had to endure the double rigor of regular service and an incorporated doctrinal class. The combined activities lasted for over five hours. I cannot complain because it turned out to be the most enriching experience for me.

During the discussion session, a lot of questions came up spanning church welfare, the propriety or otherwise of Christians managing a hotel, and other lifestyle and spiritual issues.

This is a representational picture.

In all honesty, it was a fruitful engagement all round. And I wouldn't have wished for anything gloriously better.

I had a lot of insightful and pleasurable takeaway from the contributions of the congregants which comprised regular members of my church and those who joined us from other parishes.

But the most touchy for me was the discussions around the subject of marital consummation and divorce.

The resource clergy emphasized on the need for marital restitution, which is doctrinal for the church, from all inappropriately married partners.

That's the prompt payment of dowry and other sundry marital rites where it has not been observed.

And he also said that the church recommends a short courtship which must involve the church leaders.

As part of the doctrinal belief of the church, like others, the church does not engage in putting asunder the two people God has joined together in holy matrimony no matter what. And I've serious issues with that.

Of course, the church has no legal right to do. But it has every moral and spiritual responsibility of preventing all manner of deceits on the road to the altar which many members have fallen victim of.

Because in the literal sense, it is not every marriage that God has consummated. The realities stare us in the face everywhere we turn today.

Just so you know what I'm talking about. Today, people marry for sexual consideration. People marry for physical appeal. People marry for financial consideration. People marry for class.

There are even passport wives these days possibly because of the dire strait the country is in economically. I mean people, ladies largely, who pretend to love and agreed to marry a man just because it offers them the opportunity of traveling abroad.

But once on the other side of the Atlantic, they begin to show their herd instinct for the western culture which protects women against men although depending on who gets to the phone first to a large extent.

Even at that, the chances of a man winning a legal battle against women are very slim. We've seen many lose their substantial life acquisition to their wives as settlement.

What prompted this was a question raised by a participant. According to the narrative, there was a couple who had difficulty in bearing children after ten years.

Without consulting his wife, the husband took for himself a new wife and they started having children together. The question posed by the participant is double-barrel.

Should the woman stay in the marriage or go the way of the husband? There were diverse and disagreeable opinions on the issue.

Shrewdly anchoring on the Bible, the resource clergy though believed the action of the husband was inappropriate, he, however, insisted the woman cannot leave the marriage simply because the man has paid her dowry.

Interestingly, he was seconded by his wife. This position, to me, was flawed and discriminatory against the woman. I mean, how does the head of a monkey differs from that of a Gorilla?

Some even said the woman should wait and that in the long run, God can intervene. My question is how come the man too cannot wait. After all, they both sworn a marital vow at the registry or wherever to live together in sickness and in health; for richer or for poorer.

Besides, are there no cases of women and men who never had children though waited on God as the suggestion says?

This brings me to the Biblical and constitutional provisions on marital matters, especially, divorce. Just like the Bible, the constitution recognizes the important position of marriage in society.

The Bible says: marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but the fornicators and adulterers God will judge. Hebrews: 13: 4. Fine, it, however, does not take into consideration the dynamic nature of the society with its projection which I believe was done in good faith.

For instance, the Bible did not expressly make provisions for the eventuality of divorce arising out of the Adamically irreconcilable differences that may occur between couples and goes to say that divorce is permitted only on the ground of adultery.

And Christ corroborated this view probably because then most of what we see today in marriages is alien. But then the Ecclesiastes says there is nothing new under the sun. Mark 10, 5:11.

Whereas, we know today that a lot of marriages have foundational issues of deception, non-compatibility, abuse and misuse of husbands and wives, violent threats to the life of parties in marriage among others which are justiciable.

We have seen situations whereby signposts in a relationship should warrant urgent legal intervention when it obvious the religious institution cannot do anything to save the day but were allowed to continue only to lead to death or permanent injuries of married partners which are avoidable.

The church today is failing in its responsibility for spiritually and socially reconstructing the society as it should but choose to hide under some fluid Biblical passages when all it requires is being proactive.

No wonder institutions and countries only accept marital documents issued by the courts and similar institutions. By so doing, justice can be enforced where instances of abuse or violations can be established before it is too late.

Although the question bearer did not tell us whether all options have been exhaustively explored concerning the inability of the women to conceive, I want to assume she is medically fit to conceive. She's only a victim of other existential factors beyond her control.

Then the man has the burden to act responsibly which he failed at. Be that as it may, if the woman approaches the court with a divorce suit, I'm sure she's going to her victory not minding what the church says.

Therefore, the church must be proactive and innovative in handling marital situations that could genuinely warrant a divorce and not just sit back sermonizing that the Bible does not support it whereas the reality of the time indicate that some marriages indeed should not stand though it is the will of God that it doesn't happen.

In the absence of action on the part of the church, we've seen situations where deeply aggrieved parties in a marriage have taken an extreme unilateral decision of ending their marriage which ought not to be so.

In all, the church does not exist in a vacuum. It is a member of the larger human society whose grand norm is the law of the land. The law prescribed the dos and donts for every member and also recommend reward and punishment.

Whether the church is in support of the dissolution of problematic marriage or not, it doesn't matter. In most cases, the law has always taken its course. And that for me is fair enough for anybody whether man or woman who seeks justice as regards to their out of favor so-called holy matrimony.



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Deji Olaluwe
Abuja, FCT, North Central,, Nigeria
Deji Olaluwe is a writer, poet, and blogger. He's the brain behind this blog. Some of his hobbies are travelling, listening to good music (especially Afro-centric genres), and meeting people.