In her Column, in the Sun newspaper of July 29, 2018, Funke Egbemode wrote on, ‘My born-again lover’, detailing, in her characteristic beautiful style, how some Christians hide their ills from their intending spouses. She highlighted three of them: impotency of a husband, abnormally large size of a husband’s penis and a wife that has no womb. Apart from these, a husband may discover that his wife suffers from vaginal frigidity. HIV and children born before marriage are problems that are not restricted to any gender, which a spouse may not disclose. There may be spiritual problems hindering sex, which the victim may not even know till after wedding.
Funke got it all right. It is painful, very painful, to hear these sad stories from one’s spouse after wedding. There is no way any of them would have known without disclosure by the intending spouse. Marriage, for God’s children, is not like buying a car. It requires prayers and absolute dependence on God for His leading. Most Churches today have a Marriage Committee that ensures on satisfying specified conditions by intending couples before the Church joins them.
One of the conditions is the testimony of their conviction. Uncle may say, “I took three days dry fasting and during the third day, I dreamt. I saw Sister Mary in a beautiful wedding gown and I looked around to see, who might be her bridegroom, but I saw nobody. As I was going to sit at the gable end of the building, Angel Gabriel grabbed my hand and drew me close to her, and joined us. I woke up”. A little weeping by him, may add some colours to the testimony.
Which Church will not join a couple Angel Gabriel had joined? The testimony of Sister Mary will collaborate that of Bro John: “We were in fellowship, singing merrily, and our Senior Pastor came and told ten of us, five ladies and five guys, to stand up. I was wondering the wrong thing we did, when he started to minister on the responsibilities of a couple, quoting copiously from Ephesians 5. I did not know when I slept off. I woke up to see that I was wearing a wedding gown. The ladies with me, were also, wearing wedding dresses. The guys, including Bro. John, were in suit. They and the ladies formed my bridal train. I was wondering what was happening, when our GO held Bro. John and me, and joined us, pronouncing us husband and wife. I woke up”.
Who can fault these two testimonies? Who do you ask whether they are true or not? This is why Pastors, with the special wisdom God has bestowed on them, always ask the intending couple, before joining them, irrespective of the amazing recommendations by the Marriage Committee, “Will you take this … to be your wedded…?” The underlying reason is simple, “I don’t know him or her”. The Pastor goes the extra mile by asking whether their marriage will be, “For better and for worse…” until they are parted by death. The response is usually cheering, “God being my Helper”. On that basis, he joins them. When any problem arises, the spouses usually pretend as if they did not labour to convince the Marriage Committee with great testimonies of how God chose them for each other. This raises the question, whether God approved their marriage really, if Uncle is impotent or Aunty has no womb or is suffering from frigidity?
The truth will be known at this time, that their testimonies were fake. If however, God led them, He also has the answer to their problems. My wife and I attended Deeper Life Bible Church one Thursday, which was their testimony day. A lady testified how her womb was removed, when she was pregnant. One day, she attended that very Church and during the ministration, our brother, Pastor William Kumuyi, said that God had restored a womb to a lady in the Church, who had lost hers. She knew that God was speaking to her and thus, claimed the revelation. Not long after, she was pregnant and gave birth to the baby, a baby boy, she was carrying.
If a spouse, through deception, causes his or her partner, not to have considered something material that would have influenced his decision in the contractual relationship, the position of the Law is that the marriage contract is voidable.
For God’s children, there is still room for forgiveness. “Neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more”, is an example to follow. “How can a man live without children?” one may ask. Christian marriage is beyond childbearing. We wedded three months to my wife’s degree examination. We took necessary precaution to prevent pregnancy before her examination. A year after, when we expected the pregnancy, there was none. One day, she told God that she should die so that I would be free to remarry. I rebuked her for the ungodly prayer. Imagine a lady, who passed through the Nigerian civil war, when there was moral decadence and the four walls of University of Nigeria, and also, through our long engagement period, and still maintained her chastity! I was ready to have her without children. God however, objected, giving us four! Child adoption, surrogate babies, IVF, et cetera, are options available for spouses in need, where the issue is childbearing.
If a spouse enters marriage through deception, by not disclosing such problems detailed above, it means that the habit was not formed that time. He or she has been living a life of deception. The discovery will not be strange to the intimate friends and some family members. This is why the Church spends much effort to preach, teach and hold Bible studies. “Ye shall know the Truth, and Truth shall set you free”, the Bible insists. This is to ensure that every member is born-again. An encounter with the Lord Jesus reorders the person’s priorities. The Church also provides, at least, six months’ counselling for intending couples. If these people are very careful, while they may not know the problems their intending spouses may be hiding, they will discover their deceptive tendencies. The Church organizes programmes for singles and the married to equip them for family life. She conducts HIV tests also, before wedding people. There are also books in the market on the family that can be of help.
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Thank God that there are still Christians, who share their ills with their spouses during engagement. A brother told his intending spouse that he tested HIV positive, which he contacted through blood transfusion. Our Sister still wedded him. Another Sister had a baby, when she was an unbeliever, but did not disclose it before wedding. Some years later, she did and our Brother forgave her. May we go and do likewise!