Marriage is an institution under siege. That is why today I want to ask an important question: Where is the Church in all this?
The last place of refuge for every battered wife is church. After turning to the parents, in-laws and friends, women often go to church to pour their hearts out to their pastors, bishops and other church leaders and to ask them to pray for a “breakthrough” in their marriages.
Church leaders, in their wisdom, pray with the woman, offer her counselling and implore her to “hang in there” because the Lord is on his way to heal her marriage. A few years down the line, relatives bury the woman after her husband finally clobbers her to death.
I think it is important for us to bare the unpopular facts. The Church has lost its prophetic voice. The Church is losing its grip in the society by continually encouraging men and women to stay in abusive marriages instead of telling them the truth — get a divorce.
It is time for the Church to start advocating, encouraging and initiating divorce, particularly among members of their congregations who are trapped in abusive marriages.
It is easier and preferable to pull a woman through a divorce than bury her (and her children) after her husband has murdered them. The same goes for men.
The times we are living in are very different from the days when the Old and New testament were written and handed down to us. We are living in a time when you can catch a bad disease in a matter of minutes — including those that have the potential to wipe out entire families.
People go to church not for anything else, but to find meaning in life and to get answers to their life issues. If the Church remains tone-deaf and irrelevant as it is slowly becoming, then we can never sort out the issues that we keep reporting about in the media.
I am growing increasingly tired of the Church over-glamourising marriage and not telling young people that not all marriages are made in heaven.
Some are made in hell. I am tired of churches presenting couples who have been married for 50 years to act as the barometer for a good marriage, without asking the two the tough questions. Out of those 50 years of marriage, how many of those was he an abusive, drunk husband who never took responsibility? How many of those were happy, fulfilling years?
Of course, I know nothing about marriage, since I have never been married, but I also know that marriage is not about the quantity of years spent together, but about the quality of the relationship.
The Church needs to do its job in not only praying for breaking marriages, but also being the first to tell an abused woman or man to get out before your spouse kills you.
What we are having today is a church so blind to the issues affecting their congregations that when women confess to their pastors how they were clobbered like a snake the previous night, the pastor tells them: “Don’t worry, my sister, report that man to his maker. Now close your eyes and let us pray.”
I understand what the Bible says about divorce. I know God hates divorce. But, so does He hate murder and abuse and I am certainly sure that God’s intention for marriage was not abuse but companionship, love and family.
I also understand that the Church works within certain paradigms and procedures, undergirded by specific philosophical foundations which dictate their ecclesiastical persuasions. But, what I am telling the Church today is that flexibility is a very practical virtue. Nothing is cast in stone anymore.
Let the Church be flexible even within the biblical foundations upon which it is built, and most importantly, the Church should be smart, relevant and courageous enough to embrace divorce where marriage has become a matter of life and death.
Christ came to give us life, and life in abundance. If a marriage threatens the life of a spouse and innocent children, then the Godly thing to do here is to facilitate the evacuation of that family from the dangerous situation.
One of the many reasons women who are stuck in abusive marriages do not entertain divorce is because of the ostracisation and the opprobrium divorced single women face from the Church.
The Church should mitigate this by including divorcees in their church activities, including church leadership, to show that, indeed, there is life in the service of the Lord after divorce.