You have been in ministry of leading pastors in seminars and workshops for well over 20 years. What has been observation on family life of church leaders?
The family life of men of God have always been in crisis. But they were not as pronounced then as we have now. I read that John Wesley and a number of church leaders had problem with their marriages. But they did not divorce. Some of our forefathers like Ayodele Babalola also had problem with their marriages but they did not divorce. They had terrible wives, they had husbands that did not support their ministries and some had children that did not take after the gospel. But then they managed the crisis and still kept their family intact. Even at that the situation then was not pronounced as we have it now. We must also appreciate that the number of pastors then can not be compared with what we have now.
Babalola’s wife was a problem to him. The wife died a couple of years ago and the CAC authority did not play active role in her burial. In the case of Babalola, he did not push out his wife. In those days, pastors who had problem with their wives had to keep enduring the problem until they are called home to meet the Lord. In those days until you probe you will not know pastors had problems with their homes. But today we don’t believe the scriptures that marriage is for life. We find one excuse or the other to push away our wives. Nobody wants to endure. At the slightest provocation, the next thing is divorce.
What do you think led to this?
From my interaction, I discovered that many servants of God were not careful enough in making the choice of life partners. In those days there was this teaching that before you can choose a life partner you must pray and pray through. Today people marry because of beauty, connection, class and status. Our teachings on marriage are at best shallow. We are not careful to teach the whole counsel of God.
In those days people were encouraged to pray until the day of their marriage. We believed we could still call it quit before the day of marriage because a broken courtship as we used to say is better than a broken marriage. We prayed about virtually on everything concerning our marriage. But today we do match making in churches. In most Pentecostal churches we don’t preach against pre-marital sex again and we accommodate all kinds of things in the church.
Was it that those who had bad marriages in those days did not pray through?
They prayed but from my findings they also made mistakes of choice. Now, I’m not saying if a marriage is the will of God that there will be no problem. The fact that your marriage is the will of God does not mean there will not be challenges. A typical example is the case with Elizabeth and Zecharia in Luke chapter 1. Though they were the daughters of Aaron and were holy they had the problem of child bearing. But God compensated them with a child worth more than a thousand children.
Unfortunately we are no longer told endure hardship. We are no longer told that marriage is for life. Today we have restructured marital vows to read for richer for richer instead of for richer for poorer. We must appreciate that if it is the will of God we should be able to hold on no matter the situation we find ourselves.
I also found out that many church leaders don’t believe in the sanctity of marriage. We don’t believe marriage is a covenant. We see it as a contract which can be broken. But scripturally it is a covenant among the man, the woman and God. If people have that perspective, they will think twice before breaking the covenant. The Bible says those who are covenant breakers, God will deal with them. You will find out that those who divorce in most cases don’t really have settled homes again.
But how will you describe a situation where couples are emotionally divorced yet they live together?
In the conference that we are holding, we will get to a point where issues like this will be addressed. We will speak on why separation and why divorce in Christian marriage. For example in a marriage where a partner is aggressive it is advisable that the victimized partner should move out to save his or her life. A separation can take place with the consent of both families. They could live separately and trust that there will be a change.
But that could lead to permanent separation?
We don’t pray for that. But rather than die in a marriage there is a need to apply wisdom and move away especially when life is involved. There have been many cases of men killing their wives and women harming their husbands and killing them. There are also cases of people who marry and leave their partner in another part of the world. In that case separation has taken place already among the couples because one of the purposes of marriage is for emotional fulfillment. So in that case what do you want the partner that has been neglected to do? Those are the kind of issues we will be addressing at the coming seminar. Sex is central to marriage. When couples are not having fulfillment in that area, there will be problem in that marriage. Apart from those who have the grace to hold themselves and turn themselves to eunuch it is difficult for the ordinary man to stay without sex for years or months.
But what is the situation now with the state of pastors’ families?
It is so bad now. One out of three pastors has problems in his marriage. Many are battling with the problem of procreation. This particular problem has lead to children outside wedlock and divorce. In the African context when there are no children in a marriage people do all kinds of things. There are cases of pastors who have low sperm count and whose wives will go and sleep with people outside just to get pregnant.
There is also the problem of character, submission, humility in most Christian marriages. Many of us are trying to be American in our approach to marital issues and it is compounding issues for homes. A lot of Christian couples have also been unable to balance ministry and home. In many homes pastors don’t give priority to their homes. What you have as a result is that pastors sleep with maids and sometimes at worse cases with their children.
Are the problems in homes irredeemable?
There have been cases where God has intervened. We try to teach Church growth and have looked at all areas of ministry. I have known wives who have changed and built a new home. But there are cases that we cannot help. One problem the church is battling with has to do with churches where both husbands and wives have ministerial calling. There are too many problems in that area. It is either the husband takes over the ministry or that the man is such a problem to the wife that one would be praying for the death of the other. There are cases of women that have been called to start church and their husbands took over the church from them.
There was a case of a church which was started by a woman but when the church started to grow, the husband who was a teacher resigned from his job and took over the church and said God had called him too. He has been doing everything to counter the wife. The wife also retaliated and stopped allowing the man to have sex with her. This made the man to look out for another woman and had a child through the woman. The shocking thing is that the two of them are still living together, and they drive the same car. But they are living the way they like. Yet they come to church on Sundays. I remember there was a meeting where I asked G.Os to stand up. The wife stood up and the husband also stood up.That is why we have been having cases of wives that kill their husbands and husbands that kill their wives just to marry another person.
Where does the gospel stand in all these?
The scripture cannot be broken. The truth is when your home is not settled, your ministry is as good as dead. Many ministers have not come to realize that. There was the story of a man who prayed for the death of his wife but the Lord reprimanded him and asked him to go back and love his wife. There is this myth in pastoral circles that your wife is your number one enemy in ministry. Some pastors are not wise enough when handling marital issues. There was the case of a female pastor that reported her husband to the church committee and the committee went ahead and threw the property of the man out of the house and warned him to stay away from their pastor. The man had to re-marry and the lady though has not remarried must have developed ways of satisfying herself. She is still the General Overseer of the church.
People cannot preach the truth of the gospel because of some of the things we have mentioned. The fact is that many church leaders are not having a good home and because of this they shy away from certain truths of the scripture. They will not say anything if their members are picking wives and remarrying.
When pastors could exhibit some of these truths could it be that they are not Christians in the first place?
Those who engage in all kinds of things in today’s church are perhaps not Christians in the first place or they have a faulty foundation. Research has shown that there are more nominal pastors and Christians than genuine Christians and pastors. And the major reason is that we are not practicing discipleship. We are now turning the church to something secular. We are deemphasizing the spiritual aspect of our relationship with God. Everything now is principles, management, gimmicks and all sorts. We don’t talk about fruit of the spirit and being Christ-like. The danger the church is facing is that those who will lead it tomorrow are not well prepared today. Too much motivational teaching is destroying the church. Some motivational speakers will refer to the Bible as the good book and refer to Jesus as the greatest man that ever lived. It is all trying to beg the issues. They use these terms so they can also appeal to a secular audience and get money from banks and companies. But I believe that God will do away with many of them. We must go back to the Bible. Marriage in the bible is traditional. The man is the head the wife is the supporter. The role of the husband is to love the wife and provide for the home. The woman is to show respect and support her husband.
So what practical suggestions will you give to solve the problem in marriages?
We must believe in the sanctity of marriage. We have to pray through before going to marriage. Marriages that work are made to work. You must be the best friend of your partner. We must create time for our spouse. We must nurture one another and face challenges together. Once you are married accept the person you are married to and stop looking for another partner outside. After you are married the devil will bring women your way and make you feel they are better than your wife but you must discipline yourself by holding unto your wife and see the best in her. We must look at the good point of our partners. We must appreciate our wives and our husbands. In marriage it is what you are looking for that you will get. If you are looking for her mistakes you will get it and if for her positive aspects you will get. Pray and intercede for one another.
What do you have to say about ministries that are being run by couples
If the two of them have been called there is no problem. But then they must be able to work harmoniously. But God can call a man and may not call the wife. He can also call the wife and not call the man. The mistake many men make is that they bring their wives that have not been called to ministry to the altar and by doing that they expose her to spiritual attack. A man who has been called can involve his wife in ministry work but he should not bring her to point of ministering on the altar if she has not been called. If she does not have the call and the capacity she may be attacked spiritually and die prematurely. Most women don’t know how to handle position of authority. I have seen churches where women are their leaders. If you see the way they dominate the church you will be shocked. That is why such churches don’t last.
What are the expectations at the conference?
I’m trusting God to use the conference to address many issues that relate with marriage and we are going be as practical as possible. It is a conference for all Christians and it is expected that God will use it to restore many homes. We expect most people to be there with their spouse. We believe God to help us to use the conference to deliver homes. It is unfortunate that many churches are taking after America. But we should understand that America is not the Bible..