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A Must Read:Men of God in Nigeria and Divorce

chrioya

“For I hate divorce, says the Lord” —Malachi 2: 16

The most trending news in Nigeria at present,

apart from that of Ebola and terrorist attacks, is

that of the impending divorce of charismatic

Pastor Chris Oyakhilome of the Believers’

LoveWorld, better known as Christ Embassy which

The Cable broke last Friday, August 29, 2014.

Gossips are having a field day. Tongues are

wagging. How are the mighty fallen and the

weapons of war destroyed? It is not the first time

a reverend, pastor, bishop, evangelist or any cleric

for that matter will divorce

Unless you’re not on top of the news. It is

happening daily. The list is growing both locally

and internationally. Incidentally, a neighbour to

Pastor Chris at Oregun in the Ikeja area of Lagos

and his namesake, Rev. Chris Okotie, has even

broken a record by divorcing twice, the last one

being in June 2012. Internationally, there was the

case of the revered tele-evangelist, Pastor Benny

Hinn, who earlier divorced his wife, Suzanne, and

later remarried the same wife.

It needs be said that there are several other

pastors and clergy out there whose marriages are

in the shambles. They are living with their spouses

like familiar strangers. Many have not divorced

out of sheer fright of scandal. Others are papering

over the cracks in their marriages in deference to

God’s injunction in Malachi 2 verse 16 cited above

while praying and hoping for restoration.

First and foremost, it needs be understood that

pastors are human beings…

They are mere mortals like you and me. They are

only privileged vessels chosen by God to do His

work on earth and communicate His mind to us,

the laity. Pastors have psychological and

physiological needs like the rest of us. They want

to be loved, respected and ministered to. I pity

those who make God of their spiritual leaders.

Who thought they are infallible and are

superhuman? Those are the people who are

utterly disappointed when a supposed “man or

woman of God” falls.

In an article in The Diaspora Star (online edition),

Ekerete Udoh while commenting on why pastors

are afflicted with divorce has this to say: “Even

though they are the very representatives of God

on earth, listening to His command and

transmitting the same to us, they too can be

overwhelmed by the glittering spectacle of the

environment, spectacles that daily befuddle our

thoughts and confuse our capacity to think clearly

and do the things that are edifying; they too can

take a pass on the messages they have

transmitted to the flock and read from a different

script. Even though they daily counsel couples on

the way to live with their spouses, to love, cherish

and obey their loved ones, they too are not

immune from the fissures and complexities that

afflict the institution of marriage.” True talk!

Ekerete went further, “Put simply, the institution

of marriage as it affects the men and women of

God is under assault. Infidelities, divorces and

outright emotional cruelties have been reported

about cherished men and women of God. Stories

of uncontrollable sexual dalliances, of severe

addiction to pornography, to adultery abound,

leaving the flock to wonder if they indeed are true

men and women of God or are spiritual

pretenders. In most cases, mega churches built

over years of hard work and dedication have

collapsed when the congregation couldn’t

reconcile the double-ways of the lives of their

pastors when the dark sides of their lives came

out.” Well said!

I am of the opinion that Pentecostalism is partly

responsible for this increasing rate of divorce

among pastors. How do I mean? African

Traditional Religion and Islam do not frown on

polygamy. If you’re an adherent of these two

religions, you’re free to marry more than a wife.

Also, in many of the orthodox churches, polygamy

is not a mortal sin. I know many of the white

garment churches like Celestial Church of Christ

and Cherubim and Seraphim churches are not

against their members or pastors marrying more

than a wife. Their main argument is that Bible

patriarchs like Abraham, Jacob, David, and

Solomon, to mention a few, had more than one

wife. In fact, Solomon, the acclaimed wisest man

of his time, had 700 wives and 300 concubines. It

is the latter day Pentecostal churches that

criminalise polygamy and punishe those who

marry more than a wife with excommunication.

The Pentecostals are quick to quote scriptures like

Genesis 1:27 and 2:24, and 1 Corinthians 7:2 to

support their stance.

What has polygamy to do with soaring divorce

rate? It is my considered opinion that since the

cause of many of the divorce cases is hinged on

adultery; peradventure, if the Pentecostals were

to allow polygamy, this will reduce cases of

adultery and concomitantly, stem cases of

divorce. However, a holistic picture of reasons for

divorce will show that apart from sex, there is also

the element of poverty; that is, a man’s inability to

cater to the needs of his family. Many of the

common arguments women who sue for divorce

cite are adultery, lack of welfare, neglect,

molestation, assault and battery or simply put,

violence. Though in the case of men of God, the

issues often centre on adultery, neglect and

psychological violence.

In the earlier cited article by Udoh, he advanced a

couple of reasons for the divorces of men of God.

This includes tempter ladies who use feminine

tricks to sexually compromise men of God. The

other factor cited is ego. According to him, a

number of marriage counsellors spoken to say

the case of the men of God and their marriages

present a unique set of challenges: “There are

some members within the congregation who are

motivated by the need to test the depth of

spiritual and moral foundations of these men of

God. They will dress provocatively and tempt

these pastors with their feminine wiles and looks.

Some have been found to have fallen for those

temptations and subsequently sacrificed their

marriage in the process…”

On the issue of ego, the writer has this to say:

“Another issue that has led to the dissolution of

most marriages of men of God is ego. Most of

these men are used to having people obey every

word they utter; they have a severe sense of

entitlement and most times do not expect

contrary opinions. Unfortunately, they often bring

this tendency home to their wives and loved ones,

creating in the process alienation, resentment

and a deep emotional gulf between them. On the

surface, they may cut the picture of happy

couples, but inwardly, those outward

appearances are facades.”

What is the way out for the clergy? I think they

need to watch and pray. They need to come to

terms with their weaknesses and try to seek help

on time before they are destroyed by their

foibles. I like pastors who have taken preemptive

measures of not going on visitation without their

wives and who counsel people in the open and if

in private, in the company of their wives,

particularly when counselling ladies. I also

appreciate churches that encourage congregants

to dress modestly and decently. Beyond these,

the congregations need to pray for their pastors.

Indeed, we are what we are by God’s divine grace.

BY JIDE OJO/PUNCH

 

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