Role of the church in marriage
Sir: Marriage is a legal union between two consenting adults. Though this union, most times is preceded by a period of scintillating love relationship, it could be laden with huddles. Love is a strong bond in marriage but many married people will tell you that the challenge of married is not love, but living together; sharing the same space and tolerating each other. In this part of the world the church is deeply involved with marriage, from the period of budding relationship to the wedding solemnisation. The Church ensures that the couple knows and adheres to the Christian tenets concerning marriage. One of these is the dogma of “for better for worse,” which means the couple must accept the consequences of their decision whatever the outcome, good or bad.
However, few years ago, a particular church had reason to change this doctrine. For decades, they had upheld and taught the usual principle “for better, for worse” and enjoined members to endure the ups and downs of their marriages, however, extreme. All this changed when a church member took the live of his wife.
After many years in marriage with children, things became sore between couples. They became incompatible as their quarrels and fights increased in frequency. The man, an elder in the church, would beat his wife for every little reason. Sometimes, the woman who was also a church leader, would report her situation to the church council, but the Pastor and elders of the church would always encouraged her to hang on citing the scriptures and reminding her of her status as woman leader in the church. And above all, the marriage doctrine of “for better, for worse.”
She endured to make the marriage work and to be a good example to young couples never to give up in marriage; to keep her status as leader amongst women and to keep her husband’s high-ranking portfolio in the church, all these to her detriment.
On that fateful morning, when the sad event happened, the entire community was surprised and devastated. The church members wondered how this could ever happen to such a “spirit-filled, tongue speaking and lovable” couple. The Pastor felt very guilty because unlike other mourners, he had a chance to save the woman but rather acted otherwise just to preserve the image of the church.
However, with this incident, the church council decided to revise its stands and amend the church policy concerning marriage and divorce. Even though the church encourages members to remain in their marriages, couples who are under persistent physical abuse are now allowed to “separate”, live separately (not divorce) in the interest of their life, and that of the children.
Perhaps all churches, as matter of responsibility and urgency, should also consider the dark side of marriage and modify doctrines so as to preserve the lives of their members because the sanctity of life far outweighs that of marriage if one were to be chosen over the other.
Usha Anenga, Medical Doctor writes from Makurdi, Benue State.