Last week, a Ugandan newspaper reported that a 50-year-old female pastor eloped with a 30-year-old member of her church.
The pastor had been married for 30 years and had eight children together with her estranged husband. Some of the children are in universities and colleges pursuing higher education.
The two lovebirds claimed that they had received direct communication from God, in the form of visions, that they get married. The intriguing thing is that the husband had been welcoming the young man to their marital home even at night, not knowing that he was inviting a viper to his bosom.
Now, the question is: Can God really sanctions a relationship between a married woman and another man? Can God really approve of breaking up of a marriage that has been apparently blissful for several years, culminating in a solid family that had that number of children? Is this woman really of faith as she claimed, or she falls under those false prophets that preach water but drink wine?
We can refer to the Bible when we are confronted with such tricky questions. In Mark 10:9, the Bible says: “…What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.”
Yes, when we take the marriage vows in church, the pastors will normally recite this verse. Both the young man and the old woman were clearly responsible for destroying this marriage.
There are sometimes that a marriage can be irretrievably be broken down, but as God’s children, what can we do in such circumstances?
Pastor Jonathan Kamasa of Remera Evangelical Church says that we should normally turn to our inner conscience before we walk out of marriage. “Look at those that you love in your marriage. Look at your children. Do you know that remarriage or divorce is an incurable wrong that they have to suffer for the rest of their lives?”
Pastor Kamasa adds that there are many things that are not just right with walking out of a marriage, however difficult it is. “Only death can break a marriage. When a couple promises each other that they are going to stay together ‘till death does them part,’ they are making a human contract in the presence of God. Therefore, it’s some status engraved on spiritual plane that only death should break.”
James Ntirenganya, a Christian also based in Remera opines that the age gap is normally a determining factor if a marriage is going to fail or succeed, especially in African context.” A marriage where a woman is significantly older than the husband will in most cases bring some frictions. There is a lot stigmatisation from the society attached to such kind of arrangements.”
But what can make a woman of God, as she claims, to abandon her husband of several years and elope with another man? Is it, as it’s said, that God works in mysterious ways and there’s a chance that the couple were hearkening to His call by coming together?
“I don’t think that God has a hand in such kind of acts. God normally want families to stay together and thus cannot be responsible for break down in marriages. Such a couple is using the name of God in vain to satisfy their selfish immoral ends,” Ntirenganya said.
The Bible is quite clear on two grounds for divorce. In Matthew 5:32, sexual immorality is cited as one while in 1 Corinthians 7:15 refers to abandonment by a non believer. However, in many verses, separation and divorce are not encouraged or required. Couples are advised to seek reconciliation and forgiveness when things are apparently not working out.