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Are Christian Divorcees Permitted To Remarry? (A Case Study of Nigerian Pastors Who Have Done It)

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L-R: Pastor Ituah Ighodalo and his pretty wife

It hit
the pastor like a thunderbolt. An admirable worker had approached him
for counselling on his failed marriage. His wife of six years left and
remarried when the going was rough. Ten years after, his economic status
had improved and he is ready for remarriage. But his pastor will have
none of it. The member, furious with what he described an
‘’inconsiderate stance’’ confronted his pastor. 

‘’Am
I to remain single and unmarried for the rest of my life? At just 42,
won’t I be susceptible to adultery and sexual misbehaviours? Is it not
better to remarry than sleep around with ladies?,’’ he blurted.

The
inquisition set the pastor into days of intense biblical research and
consultation. He emerged from the exercise unconvinced of a contrary
viewpoint. The member left the church in annoyance and remarried. Other
church members who stayed back had his sympathies. They grumbled their
pastor’s position was inhuman and inconsiderate.

 https://i2.wp.com/allafrica.com/download/pic/main/main/csiid/00201713:fa32d4954b69874806f3367823e50915:arc614x376:w614:us1.jpg?w=640

Pastor Chris Okotie and his ex-wife

When
founder of Household of God Church Oregun Lagos Pastor Chris Okotie
remarried in 2008, the Christian community was sharply divided over the
move. Okotie remarried Stephanie Henshaw, a widow and mother of three.
His first wife, Tina left and relocated to the US in 1998. Okotie
received flaks from many Church leaders.

Ever
defiant, Okotie stated the first marriage was over. According to him,
‘’She wanted to go. It was her choice that she didn’t want the marriage
anymore and she decided to divorce me. So God can’t hold me responsible
for something I didn’t do. This is the second time for me now to pick it
up from where Tina left.”

He had
a supporter in founder and serving overseer of the Latter Rain Assembly
Pastor Tunde Bakare. Bakare attended the wedding thanksgiving to the
consternation of many. He even officiated cutting of the cake,
describing Okotie as a true brother that he was happy for. On the
propriety of the second marriage, Bakare said, “This is a brand new
book; anything in the past does not exist anymore”.

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The
controversy generated more furore when General Overseer of Trinity
Chapel Lagos Pastor Ituah Ighodalo was forced to step down as Pastor of
Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) Christ Church, Gbagada Lagos
over his second marriage to former Miss Lux, Ibidunni Ajayi in 2007. His
first wife, Lucy-Ann Summer, a fellow Chartered Accountant refused to
join him in Nigeria and filed for divorce. Pastor Ituah, as he is fondly
called, waited for 10 years to remarry. The church authorities, it was
learnt, kicked against the move, stating it is against the policy.
Ighodalo ultimately left RCCG to found his church, which has continued
to grow in Lekki.

Whether
or not a Christian divorcee can marry is contentious. There are two
camps: both who believe they can remarry provided the departing partners
are certainly unavailable or remarried and those who insist Christian
divorcees cannot remarry as long as their partners are alive. Both cite
biblical passages to support their positions.

Pastor Femi Emmanuel

Presiding
Pastor of Living Spring Chapel, Lagos Pastor Femi Emmanuel believes
divorce is a terrible development for anybody. He however said
remarriage is permissible as long as the partner has remarried or
unavailable. According to him, ‘’Christians must work against divorce
because God hates it. But when it has happened, the believing partner is
right to marry again if the other one has remarried.

‘’If
we ask him or her not to remarry, what will happen? Will the other
partner divorce from the second marriage for reunion? Once the other
partner has remarried, the first marriage is over.’’

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He
explained Jesus declaration that a divorcee should remarry only after
the other partner is tenable when the other partner is unmarried. ‘’Once
the other partner remarries, you are no longer bound. Waiting is
insensible and impracticable’’. He however stated that Christians must
be encouraged to make their marriages work, instead of seeking a way
out.

He has
a supporter in the Senior Pastor of Glory Christian Centre Lagos, Dr
Iruofagha James. According to him, ‘’divorce is only permissible when a
case of adultery has been established. Even at that, reconciliation is
best. But when a partner has left for years and you have prayed without
any positive result and this partner has now remarried, then you can
move on with your life’’.

James
argued that to wait after the other partner has remarried is hoping
against hope. ‘’Will you now ask the new marriage to crash so that the
couple can be reunited? Or will you pray for the second partner to die
for the first marriage to be revived? It is an issue that requires
pragmatic approach otherwise we cannot hold divorcees accountable for
whatever they do thereafter’’.

But
General Overseer Agape Generation International Church Maryland Lagos
Rev. Toyin Kehinde holds a different view. He said the Bible is
unequivocal on remarriage. According to him, ‘’The Bible is clear a
Christian cannot remarry as long as the partner is alive. We cannot
change it but we have a choice to follow it or the society.’’

He
said Christian divorcees must choose between listening to God or the
society. ‘’The problem with us these days is that we have become so
subnormal that normal things now sound abnormal. Any Christian divorcee
that wants to make heaven and follow God must seek reconciliation or
remain unmarried for life,’’ he submitted.

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Senior
Pastor of The Vineyard Assembly Ibadan, Buki Gbenro, shares same view.
Citing Mathew 5: 32, he said, ‘’The Bible is very clear though people
are always free to argue and do what they like. Once you divorce and you
want to remain a Christian, you must never remarry. To remarry is to
become an adulterer or adulteress’’.

He
lamented the alarming rate of divorce in the Christian community and
said something drastic must be done to redress it. ‘’People are just
walking away these days from their homes, including men of God. They are
remarrying. Once you do this, you are acting against the Bible,’’ he
reiterated. 

https://i1.wp.com/trucalms.org/images/temp/olumide.jpg?resize=400%2C387

Pastor Olumide Emmanuel

Efforts
to get reactions of the Senior Pastor of Calvary Christian Centre,
Pastor Olumide Emmanuel who divorced his former wife, Ify and remarried
her former secretary last year failed. Several men of God attended the
wedding in solidarity with the move. Repeated calls to Emmanuel were
unanswered while text messages were also unreplied.

Culled from the Nation

@citypulse_ng

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Adebayo Folorunsho-Francis is a communicator, Journalist, blogger, business coach and, of course, a prolific writer. He has Dip (Journalism) and B.A. (History & International Relations) from the Lagos State University (LASU). The self-effacing young man has worked for national, regional and local newspapers. He had worked with THISDAY covered community news for ISLAND NEWS and corresponded with P.M. NEWS (evening tabloid). Presently, he is the editor of CITYPULSE MEDIA and senior correspondent of PHARMANEWS, West Africa foremost health and pharmaceutical journal.

1 COMMENT

  1. It is disheartening that many people teach what is far from what is stated in the Scripture.
    In the Scripture, divorce is never stated to be a permanent dissolution of the union between a man and a woman. That is why once a divorced woman joins herself to another man, she loses the opportunity of re-union with her husband. The Scripture encourages a woman to return to her husband even when she has been divorced.
    On the part of the man, it can be viewed from two perspective. Firstly, a man cannot divorce one woman in other to marry another one. That is what is regarded as adultery in the New Testament.
    Secondly, if a man is not the initiator of the divorce, he is free to marry another wife and must be ready to take back the first one in the event of a reconciliation.
    The Scripture frowns at the woman remarrying and is against the man remarrying another woman if that marriage is the reason for a divorce.

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