As a cleric, will your church or mosque wed a couple that met on social media?
‘Most People Will Not Tell You, They Met On Internet’
The world has become a global village and barriers of distance have been bridged by ICT. These days, brokering relationships are no longer limited by physical contacts, as a virtual community now exists in the social media, where people meet to discuss and enter into life-long deals, including marriages. This contrasts sharply with the olden time pattern of marital relationships, which develop from homes, churches, workplaces and other physical social platforms. Social media encounters remove the oversight functions by third parties, such as the pastors, Imams, church marriage committees or even concerned parents. In the social media, it is strictly the business of two persons, for better and for worse, while in the old order, contributions of other stakeholders could enhance the outcome of the process. Many marriages have failed for lack of proper foregrounding in the traditions of the people and in the spiritual. Now, as a cleric, will your church or mosque take the risk of wedding a couple that met on the social media? CHRIS IREKAMBA reports.
‘It’s One Of The Ways God Can Orchestrate A Marriage’
(Apostle Samson Albert Arojah, Primate, St. Peter’s Cherubim and Seraphim Band, Ketu, Lagos)
AS a man of God, I make bold to say that there is nothing wrong with the multi-use that social media platforms afford people. This platform is in itself, a blessing to this generation. If a bachelor and a spinster met on any of these platforms: Facebook, What’sApp and Google+ among others, and decided to take the bold step to get married and they approach me as a cleric to wed them, I will, once and if one of them is a member of my ministry.
God works in ways that confound the human mind. The meeting of two people on social media platform is one of the ways God can orchestrate a marriage. I make bold to say though that submitting to solemnisation of holy matrimony in Church brings divine and lasting blessings to the union.
As a cleric of the Cherubim and Seraphim order, not only do I have a prophetic calling, I also function in the Office of a Prophet. The spiritual controls the physical. Therefore, if an intending couple approach me to wed them, I am bound to enquire of the Lord, if this move falls in His permitted, accepted or perfect will and what the future holds for them; and I will relate back to the love birds.
It is a difficult terrain I must admit, as many intending couples do discountenance directives of the Holy Spirit and rely on the man-made or church coined secular strategies to marry. They attend marriage seminars and read books. Incidentally, most of those holding these seminars or writing books are themselves divorcees or are contending with marital crises.
Intending couples that have had premarital sex, who have started cohabiting, who have made vows to marry and have sealed it with an engagement ring, in the eyes of the Holy Spirit are married. As Prophets, you may not have the opportunity to counsel them rightly, as these actions of theirs will becloud your spiritual judgment.
However, if an intending couple had approached you for spiritual guidance immediately they met, be it on social media platforms or physical platforms, the calling of the Prophetic ministry will be available to guide them.
Where you met is immaterial really, as what counts for a true Christian man or woman is to seek God’s face immediately he or she has started developing emotional feelings for the brother or sister or perceive that their relationship may lead to marriage.
For a cleric to handle matters of the heart of intending couples is a tasking venture, especially when love, obsession, infatuation, career and wealth are in the mix. Spinsters of this age know how to package; they are all made up, looking angelic with accentuating voice. Most of the bachelors of this age have melted.
What I will not do is to wed a couple on the social media platforms. For instance, I, the officiating minister I’m in Lagos, while the bride and bridegroom are supposedly in Canada, exchanging marital vows on the Internet. They must submit themselves physically for the wedding. Parental consent is sacrosanct for both parties, especially for the intending bride.
‘Where They Met Is Not An Issue, Except In A Beer Parlour…’
(Imam Moruf Onike Abdul-Azeez, Deputy Chief Imam,
PEOPLE can meet anywhere, either in the university, mosque or on the social media. Once they have seen themselves and agreed, marriage has no condition in Islam as to where they met. But there must be an offer and acceptance on both sides. The parents must also be present to give their consent to the marriage. Then there is the exchange of bridal gifts. There must be witnesses from both sides. They must be physically present so as to be guided. Once all these conditions are met, where they met is not an issue.
These are basic requirements and every other thing is secondary. But they must not meet in a beer parlour or prohibited areas by Islam. If they have met on social media and they appeared physically before the cleric, those four questions would be asked.
Once the above conditions are met, marriage is done. We don’t bother to ask them where they met. We only discourage our members from meeting in areas that are prohibited by Islam.
Islam is a dynamic religion. There are so many scientific things now, such as couples going for medical tests and things like that, which were not in place before. For instance, people now do blood group and people are using aircraft now. But all these were not in existence before; so you can’t say everything has to conform to old tradition. Once it doesn’t contravene the Qur’an and the Sunnah (the sayings and guiding principles of the Prophet), there is no problem. Anything you must do as a Muslim must not contravene any of the provisions of the Qur’an and Sunnah. The parental consent gives the evidence that they are not related in any way. And they mustn’t fall within the prohibited degree of marriage because there are some people that cannot be married in Islam.
‘New Testament Does Not Specify How A Couple Should Meet Before Marriage’
(Pastor Mike Onyeka, Senior Pastor/Vision Bearer of Victorious People Assembly Intl Inc. (House of Praise), Aba, Abia State)
THAT a couple met on the Internet or any of the social media should not stop a pastor or a church from wedding them. It will depend on a number of factors, which include: how much does the pastor know the couple or at least one of them, who now introduces the other? Are they born again or at least ready to be led to Christ? Are they adults or is any of them a minor, which may raise the issue of compulsory parental consent? Have they undergone the necessary medical tests, for example HIV and genotype status? Has the pastor or church had the opportunity of taking them through a basic pre-marital counseling and others?
It must be noted that the New Testament does not specify how a couple, particularly adults, should meet before marriage in order to be qualified for church wedding. But the Bible does contain relevant and helpful instructions. For example, the marriage must be honourable. This demands that the cultural requirements on both sides that are not unscriptural should be met to give the union honour in the sight of the community. Again, the laws of the land such as the Marriage Act in Nigeria must be complied with. The church or pastor should confirm these matters before undertaking the joining.
It must also be noted that the times are changing. Developments such as the Internet and the various social media must be recognised in fashioning out a godly code of behaviour for Christians, particularly in areas, where we do not have specific biblical injunctions for obvious reasons.
The traditional African culture insists on the two families being involved from beginning to end of the marriage arrangement. The Bible does not condemn it. In fact, that was the culture of the Jews of the Old Testament. But every Christian is not an African. Besides, a couple can meet on a social medium and still go back to their families to complete the rest. Even where the families don’t necessarily get involved, depending on their ages and cultural background, that may not be enough for the church to refuse to wed them.
Let me mention that there are a lot of advantages in getting our parents and relations involved in our marriage arrangements. It makes for safety and support even after the wedding. Pastors should teach this to their young people.
‘We Must Ascertain The Genuineness Of Their Love Before Marriage’
(Rt. Rev. (Dr.) Michael Olusina Fape, Diocesan Bishop, Diocese of Remo, Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion,
Sagamu, Ogun State)
MARRIAGE is a divine institution ordained by God from the foundation of the world (Genesis 2:18-22). Primarily, what it entails is the union between a man and a woman. That is why homosexuality or polygamy cannot be justified for whatever reasons within the context of a Christian marriage. The issue of how the man and woman meet depends on the cultural environment. Ordinarily, there should be physical contact between the two people to be married by way of courtship. The relationship must have a point of origin, either physical contact between the two people involved directly or through their families. For instance, in the case of Isaac, it was Abraham’s father that made the arrangement to seek the permission of Rebecca’s family for her to marry Isaac (Genesis 24). In other words, there was no contact (courtship) between Isaac and Rebecca before their meeting.
Today, people are getting engaged on the social media and consummating it with a wedding, either in the Church or Registry. People give reasons for approaching the social media for engagement and marriage. This is not the orthodox way. However, on the one hand, many have been involved in it and today they have happy homes and fruitful marriage. On the other hand, many who met on social media have burnt their fingers and are licking their wounds irredeemably today.
If people that met on the social media approach me for wedding, regardless of where they met, they would be subjected to the Church’s normal pre-marital counselling programme to ascertain the genuineness of their love. If in the process of counselling sessions, reasonable degree of compatibility is established with genuine Christian faith, I will approve of their wedding.
The above notwithstanding, it is my candid opinion that a committed Christian should not go to the social media to search for a wife or husband. It is important to seek God’s face in the choice of a life partner. It must not be handled with levity. Going to the social media to get engaged is a sign of desperation and frustration. The family is very close to the heart of God. If God is acknowledged as the foundation of marriage, He will provide the bone of bones and flesh of flesh for whoever trusts in Him (Proverbs 3:5-6).
‘Everything Is Just Wrong About Marriage On Social Media’
(Pastor Tom Okonkwo, General Overseer, Resurrection Power of God Ministry, Lagos)
Everything is just wrong about marriage on the social media.
What is marriage? It is a legal relationship between a husband and wife. It is an institution, a life union, Gen 2:18. This union most often produces children that outlive their parents.
Today, the social media has taken marriage to another level altogether: homosexuals (e.g. Charles and John), lesbians (e.g. Gloria and Agatha). Another type is the man or the woman marrying their pet dog or cat.
However, in Gen 2:18, “And the Lord said, it is not good that the man should be alone; I will make an help meet for him”. This means a companion for him, a helper suited for his needs. We shall soon discover that social media marriage lacks the fundamentals of a correct marriage. It is iron and clay kind of marriage. This mixture can never work, Dan. 2:41-43. Although you can decide to remain single for life, you have not sinned at all as Apostle Paul admonishes in 1 Cor 7:8. If you cannot contain, marry, but in the proper way, so that you don’t burn. This is to prevent you from falling into sexual sin, 1 Cor 7:9. Remember, you are choosing a life partner. Now, I give you the meaning of a life partner. It is like a person drowning in the sea. The person will hold on to anything to save his/her life, even if it is a very sharp cutlass. The person will not mind whether the cutlass is cutting his/her hand. The person will cling to it till he or she is either saved or sinks. You can see that there is no divorce here, so choose wisely.
A proverb says, “A marriage contracted through moonlight play is dissolved through the same way”. The people that grew-up in the village are familiar with tales by moonlight. Children come out to the open to play under the moonlight. All kinds of games and activities are carried out, for example, stories that talk about the people’s tradition i.e. folklores, fables using animals as characters. They use sand to construct houses and vehicles that are seen in their school textbooks. Do you need to be told that such houses and vehicles are not real? Look for them the following day and see whether you can find them. Marriages contracted on the social media are like that. They have no foundation.
Social media is good, if rightly used, but we all know that they dish out rubbish most of the time. Is it not through this medium that satanic marriages mentioned earlier are spread? Some of these marriages are even consummated in some so-called churches. I am sure you are irritated by such stories. An Igbo person would say, “tufia kwa.” Let’s consider some fundamentals of marriage.
Courtship is one of them. This is a period, when the man and the woman get to know themselves physically. Courtship could be for a short or long period during which the man and the woman get to know each other, but not carnally. You will know whether your partner is crippled, blind, deaf and dumb or has other physical disabilities and the professed love for him or her will be tested.
Once you are through with this first stage, you move on to under-study yourselves in terms of character. Are you compatible? Can you live together in harmony till death or translation (Rapture) separates you? When both of you are fully persuaded that you can be one, you then invite your parents. This takes us to the story about Abraham in Gen 24:1-40, where he instructed his eldest servant to look for a wife for his son, Isaac. ‘Go to my kindred to get a wife for Isaac. The woman must not be a Canaanite (i.e. heathen).’
I ask: where is the parents’ place in this so-called social media marriage, which can enhance the outcome of the process?After both parents on either side have consented to the union, the necessary things are done, including the payment of the bride price by the groom’s family. Bride price is the traditional seal on the marriage. Do you know that children born, when the bride price has not been paid, are regarded as illegitimate? Yorubas call it “omo ale”; Hausas call it “shegu”.
The couple then approaches the religious body to which they belong for spiritual blessing. It should be noted here that the church in particular must have carried out its oversight functions before now. The church marriage committee must have confirmed that neither of them is a divorcee, whose partner is alive, 1 Cor 7:39 -“The wife is bound by law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord”. And that both of them are true practitioners of the faith, among other things, 2 Cor 6:14
From the foregoing, it is very clear that I and other true men of God will not conduct wedding for a couple that met on the social media.
‘We Don’t Wed Couples Anyhow’
(His Eminence Dr. Samuel Chukwuemeka Kanu Uche, Prelate, Methodist Church Nigeria (MCN)
IN Methodist Church, we are very strict in the way we do things. Before any of my ministers or I would wed a couple, they must bring their parents or guardians. They have to pass through all the traditional requirements and if the parents or guardians are still alive, their opinions must be sought. In fact, the bride’s parents must confirm that the groom to be has their consent to marry their daughter before the wedding is contracted.
So, we don’t wed couples anyhow. We must be meticulous in ascertaining the authenticity of the marriage and such couple should do the right thing. For instance, their parents must be involved in the marriage. Marriage is not just between two people. In Africa, we have a way of doing things and we must follow it. When I was going to marry my wife, I paid the bride price and there was a ceremony witnessed by people, after which my wife was handed over to me.
I witnessed an engagement that took place in the aircraft, when I was travelling to Abuja one day. A boy came to the Business Class, where I sat and gave a girl a ring. That is the first stage and I would not ask where you met. Rather what I will ask is: “What is your parents’ opinion?” If they are involved in the marriage, then we will proceed with it.
For example, there was a wedding between a so-called freeborn and an osu, and the parents said they would not be involved. We did everything to persuade them to change their mind, but they insisted they would never be involved, saying their son had done something abominable. Do you know what I did? I told the couple to go to court and they went to court, where they were first married and then I wedded them. Interestingly, after eight years, the parents started going to the couple’s house to eat and drink. In short, the family was reunited.
Apparently, we killed the caste system in that community because we are out to fight anything that is superstitious, inglorious or idolatrous. Man must be free because in God, there is no segregation.
‘There Is Nothing Particularly Wrong, But Both Families Must Be Involved’
(His Grace, Most Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins, Archbishop of Lagos)
PEOPLE have opportunities of meeting for the first time anywhere. It could be on the football field, in the church, at a party or wherever.
However, what is most important is the kind of interaction they have had with each other. This has to do with the kind of quality time they have spent to know about each other, the kind of relationship they have had, which certainly has to go beyond just communicating by phone, WhatsApp or whatever. That maybe the starting point, but it has to go beyond that in terms of having one-on-one, face-to-face kind of interaction before it can develop into marriage.
So, if the social media is just the first point of contact, obviously there is nothing particularly wrong with that. What will be wrong is not to have given each other the opportunity of finding out about their lives, challenges and talents. Particularly in an African setting, marriage is not just between two people. It is between families, and naturally, if people are meeting on the social media and then they step it up to such a point, where the families are involved, fine! People can gather information about one another and do background checks, so to say, on the social media. It’s the same process you would go through, if you meet a person in the church.
What will contravene the situation is meeting on the social media and without any preparation you just run to the church that you want to marry. That is not enough.
In any case, in the Catholic Church, before a couple can get married, there are processes that must be followed through. They have to meet the parish priest and fill a form. The parish priest interviews them and then information is sent to the places where such individuals or their parents live. There are other conditions that have to be met before the marriage is contracted, irrespective of whether they met on social media or not. If they met on the social media for the first time, then they have to go through the whole process or even do the six months pre-marriage programme, when all the background information about the couple would have been known before marriage can take place.
Marriage is not just between two people; it is a relationship between two families. Seeking parental consent, doing the traditional marriage and all of that have to be done. Marriage is an exchange of vows between two people, and it is not done in absentia. Therefore, one cannot be exchanging vows with somebody that is not present. You have to do it physically and not by proxy.
‘I Will Not Conduct A Social Media Wedding’
(His Grace, Most Revd. Emmanuel Josiah Udofia, Primate of the African Church/President, Christian Council of Nigeria)
MARRIAGE has to do with individuals and it started in the Bible when God created man, and then made a woman for him. So, there was need for that. If a couple decides to marry without having met each other physically, it is not right. Personally, I don’t subscribe to that, because there must be formal agreement between the two parties. Aside the two persons agreeing to marry, the two families must also give their consent. There must be agreement between the two families and so on. Any marriage that has been contracted without these formalities, I don’t think it is Biblical because from the example of the Bible, if any body wants to marry, the person should go to the family, and it is only after everyone is in agreement that the actual marriage takes effect.
So, I don’t subscribe to marriage on social media and I will not wed them because they have not fulfilled all righteousness. I will not conduct such marriage until they have fulfilled the marital conditions such as paying the bride price and all that. Without all this, there is no marriage at all.
For example, when Abraham wanted a wife for his son, Isaac, the Bible says the servant of Abraham met with the lady that Isaac wanted to marry. He did not stop there; he also went to see the lady’s family and then fulfilled all the requirements before such a marriage was consummated (Genesis 24:52).
Does it really matter, where people meet? My answer is yes and no. It matters in the sense that there must be a meeting ground, where the two parties will have to discuss and agree together and then fulfill all the necessary requirements before such marriage could be consummated. I always advise anybody wanting to marry to follow the process of securing a successful marital home.
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