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Deception In Marriage: Clerics Advise Couples To Be Open To Each Other

By Chris Irekamba
12 April 2015   |   1:37 am
STERILITY is an age-long problem. It happened to Sarah the wife of Abraham, Elizabeth the wife Zechariah the high Priest, as well as Rebecca the wife of Jacob. What of Annah the wife of Prophet Samuel?
Aniagwu

Rt Rev. Monsignor John Aniagwu,

Sometimes male and female Christians contract marriages knowing full well they are unable to fulfil certain crucial marital obligations. For instance, sterility is becoming more pronounced among married couples today and the fault could either be from the man or woman. While some men know before hand that they are permanently impotent and so cannot impregnate women, some women are also aware of the fact that they are unable to bear children due to damaged wombs or some such things. But they still go ahead to marry and even keep their partners in the dark on this fact. This is just one example out of many. Obviously, this development is likely to threaten the marriage no matter how much love or faith is professed. Since the church does not condone divorce, what should the couple or the deceived spouse do in such a situation? Clerics that spoke to CHRIS IREKAMBA on the issue counselled intending couples to be open to each other and become clarified as to why they are going into such a serious relationship as marriage.

‘If You Hide Any Critical Information From Your Partner That Marriage Is Null And Void’
(Rt Rev. Monsignor John Aniagwu, Vicar-General of the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos/Parish Priest, St. Leo’s Catholic Church, Ikeja, Lagos)

IN the first place, we don’t entertain divorce in the Catholic Church. If a man was impotent or it was discovered that the woman’s womb was damaged and so is unable to bear children and it has been medically proven, but they did not disclose such conditions to their partners, then that may be a case of what we call annulment not divorce. Annulment means that the marriage is declared null and void. Declaring the marriage null and void means there was never a marriage to start with and so, we do not regard it as one.

But in the case where a marriage was totally valid, with everything intact, nobody or power can dissolve it. By concealing such vital information from each other, there was never a marriage. The persons in a union need to know whom they are marrying, as this constitutes a solid foundation for a lasting marriage.

For instance, if a male ex-convict intends marrying a woman and he never disclosed his status in this regard, the marriage is also null and void. So, it’s not only restricted to inability to bear children. If the woman knew he was an ex-convict, would she have gone ahead to marry him? Similarly, if a man did not know that his wife was medically unfit to bear children and the woman knew but concealed it, it’s not a valid marriage.

We do not demand any kind of medical checkup before marriage is conducted in our church, not even for HIV, though intending couples are free to do all these, but we don’t dictate to them on what they should do. They are mature and should know the right thing to do.
If, however, they come to the church with such complaints that the man or woman is not capable of giving birth or the man is not capable of fathering a child, what the church would do then is to declare the marriage null and void because it was contracted on deceit. We let them know that they never had a union, as some critical ingredients that constitute a true marriage were absent.

Essentials of marriage include full disclosure of spouses’ past and their medical conditions. But if any of the spouses violate any of these, then there was never a marriage. If they decide to stay together and decide to adopt a child, I would encourage them to do that because there are a lot of children out there that would benefit from such gesture. We encourage adoption in our church. Whether those concerned have their own children or not is immaterial, as we see it as an act of kindness or charity to adopt children who have no parents to care for them.

‘During Counseling Couples Are Encouraged To Go Into Relationship With Clean Mind’

(Rev. (Mrs.) Olayemi T. Aderibigbe, Minister in-charge, Ijero Baptist Church, Ebute Meta, Lagos)
IF there were proper counseling, such issues would have been taken care of. During counseling sessions, the couple is made to understand before God that there should be no hidden agenda, which means if there are things either of them had done that might amount to harming the relationship or depict unfaithfulness later in the relationship, we usually ask them to confess. With that aspect taken care of, then they can be encouraged to go into the relationship with clean mind. But if in spite of all this, they still go into the union with skeletons in their cupboard, then that becomes something else.

Pastor

Rev. (Mrs.) Olayemi T. Aderibigbe

In the case where a couple is experiencing delay in child bearing, this could be to test their faith. In situation, you have to pray along with them, encourage and counsel them. There have been cases where couples experienced delay in childbearing for many years and eventually the woman gave birth. Cases of sterility or barrenness are entirely different though. Where there is a delay, the people concerned are advised to go for medical examination because we believe that even in that condition God can still do something. God has always proved that He is God. Sometimes too, the couple knows some of these things, but they tell you they can manage it.

Usually, what we do to help couples enjoy their marriages is encourage them to go for medical examination to determine their blood group because it will be disheartening to discover after marriage that your children have sickle cells. But even in such cases, some couples would tell you ‘they have faith’. We believe there is no case that cannot be redeemed medically when coupled with prayers. But after two years in the marriage without children they start complaining.

Actually, it is at the initial stage that a man or woman should tell his/ her partner about his/her health condition. But sometimes they enter into agreement and such vital information is concealed. If it is discovered later that one of the spouses lied during courtship, we encourage them to forgive each other and if that grace is sufficient for them, they are advised to go for medical treatment as well.
At the same time, they can be encouraged to adopt children. Ours is to encourage them and not force anything down their throat. They have been joined together as husband and wife. We don’t encourage divorce; rather we encourage them to forgive each other because there is nothing that God cannot do. The moment forgiveness has taken place; you can then encourage them to adopt children.

God can heal the situation, especially when forgiveness has taken place. If sex before marriage is encouraged, that means we can no longer trust God. If you say the Lord is leading you to marry this individual and you are sure about it and you have prayed, then God cannot mislead you. If they bring such a case to me the first question I ask is: ‘Did you pray about this relationship and what did God tell you?’ It should not be that one just jumped into that relationship. If actually God is leading you to marry Mr. A. or B, definitely there will be a testimony.
Recently, in the Nigeria Baptist Church, there was a woman who had waited upon the Lord for more than 14 years with her husband. At the appointed time, God answered their prayer and today they are carrying their baby. In the first instance, she got married when she was 40 and then had her baby when she was above 50 years. In fact, it was celebrated in the church. So, if they tell us that they prayed and God directed them, then I would encourage them to keep trusting Him.

‘Couples Should Reveal Their Reproductive Status Before Marriage’

(Pastor (Dr.) Jacob E. Umoru, President Lagos Atlantic Conference of Seventh-Day Adventist Church)
A COUPLE should not walk out on each other because they cannot have children. Marriage is a divine institution established by God Himself before the fall, when everything, including marriage, was “very good” (Gen. 1:31). We read in Genesis 2:18-24 where the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” … 20 The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper fit for him…24 Therefore, a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.”

‘God celebrated the first marriage and marriage is honourable. It was one of the first gifts of God to man, and it is one of the two institutions that, after the fall, Adam brought with him beyond the gates of Paradise. The other institution is the Sabbath.’ – The Adventist Home, pp. 25, 26. It is worthy of note here that Satan hates these institutions.

From the above, it is clear that the main purpose for marriage is companionship. “It is not good for man to be alone.” For the sake of replenishing the earth God added ‘… multiply and subdue’. Young people should consider seriously the sacredness of marriage before going into it.

Marriage is a lifelong commitment of husband and wife to each other and between the couple and God (Mark 10:2-9; Rom. 7:2). Paul indicates that the commitment, which Christ has for the church is a model of the relationship between husband and wife (Eph. 5:31, 32). God intended marriage to be as permanent as Christ’s relationship with the church.

The issues of sterility are grave areas to deal with. Couples need to establish clearly in their mind the purpose for their union and if they are faithful to each other, the Lord will bless them.

Divorce is contrary to God’s original purpose in establishing marriage (Matt. 19:3-8; Mark 10:2-9), but the Bible is not silent about it. Because divorce occurred as part of the fallen human experience, biblical legislation was given to limit the damage it caused (Deut. 24:1-4).
But one must state that a couple should not deceive each other by not revealing their true reproductive status before they are coupled. Marriage can only hold when both parties are truthful and faithful to each other because their success in this journey is based on confidence. This union is a relationship not just a change of status.

‘There Are Ways A Lady Can Detect That Her Man Is Productive’
(Rev Francis Ejiroghene Waive, General Overseer, Fresh Anointing Missionary Ministries Inc/Senior Pastor, Church Of The Anointing, Warri, Delta State)

THE Bible teaches and we affirm that pre-marital sex is ungodly. Consequently, we do not believe that indulging in pre-marital sex is one of the solutions to the problems of sterility among couples. Pre-marital sex will not reveal the state of a lady’s womb. There are other ways medically to detect this just as there are simple ways a lady can sense that her man can have an erection without actually having sex.
Our belief and adherence to scriptural injunctions is absolute, thus we give no room for experiments. Effective pre-marital counseling, foolproof medical tests and an encouragement of openness and full disclosure are the solution. This is not to say that there will not be few cases, where people are able to hide their true conditions. I have seen such in my over three decades work in the Lord’s vineyard and this is regrettable, but we can’t amend the word of God.

With all the sexually transmitted diseases around, abstinence continues to be the best option. We must teach this to our young people, especially before they become sexually active. Young adults must know the consequences of promiscuity and be encouraged to keep themselves pure.

For those that are already in a marriage relationship and these problems of sterility, low sperm count and damaged womb among others are discovered, we teach that they can pray earnestly in faith for divine healing. We also strongly encourage medical treatments. Fortunately IVF, legal child adoption and similar options are available today and we encourage couples to take advantage of these.


‘Sterility Should Not Cause Divorce In Marriage’

(Rt. Rev. Isaac Ayo Olawuyi, Bishop, Diocese of Lagos Mainland, Methodist Church Nigeria)

Ibru11

Rt. Rev. Isaac Ayo Olawuyi,

STERILITY is an age-long problem. It happened to Sarah the wife of Abraham, Elizabeth the wife Zechariah the high Priest, as well as Rebecca the wife of Jacob. What of Annah the wife of Prophet Samuel? It happened to them all. But amazingly, almost all of them eventually became mothers in their lifetime. There is hope; so no couple should feel that they would remain barren forever. But there can always be a time of waiting for the couple expecting the fruit of the womb. Several couples are outside there still waiting and looking unto the face of God for the fruit of the womb.

I believe that the issue of barrenness should not prompt people in courtship to start engaging in premarital sex. The argument that how could they know if either the man or the woman is complete sexually or could procreate should not be used to support what God forbids in the scriptures. Hebrew 13:4 says, “Let the marriage be held in honour among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled: for God will judge the immoral and adulterous”.

The sanctity of marriage must be preserved for the good of the society. Procreation is just one among many purposes for which marriage was instituted. Marriage is also meant for companionship, friendship, partnership and so on.

Therefore, sterility should not cause divorce in marriage. Marriage is always for better and for worse. It is a vow, which holds that it’s only death that can separate the couple. It always read: “until death do us part.” Marriage, therefore, is an everlasting covenant. Jesus said for this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and what God has joined together let nothing put asunder. It is against biblical injunction either to engage in premarital sex or divorce on account of sterility.

Let me put this clause, the intending couple has the liberty to seek the doctor’s confirmation of their fitness before marriage.