The Domestic Violence and Divorce Conundrum…

I have always maintained that we must be alive, first of all, to make our marriages or relationships work. That stance I do not think will ever change.

It is therefore absolutely important that people are encouraged to run from toxic and abusive unions and not waste anytime trying to save it, especially with physical abuse. Chances are that, the more minutes one wastes to stay and save an abusive marriage / relationship from collapse, the more opportunities one loses to even save themselves.

Sometimes, we put undue focus on preserving the sanctity of the marriage institution than safeguarding the sanity of the people in it, who are affected the most from any fallout, and who should at all cost be protected from abuse of all kinds. Jesus loves the individuals just as much as the institution of marriage; does He not? It would be difficult to wrap ones head around any religion or culture that wouldn’t value human life more than doctrines or practices.

Maybe part of the problem is that good people wait forever for bad situations to change, and that’s how they get played by bad people or their abusers who overtime get convinced and emboldened by the victim’s own decision of clinging on to a false hope that things would eventually change. Indeed, some choose to stay because of the kids, but in the end still die at the hands of their abusers, leaving the kids.

And how on earth a large part of society, including some churches still encourages people to stay, fast and pray away abuse in marriage and it will somehow disappear miraculously sometimes beats imagination. I absolutely believe in the power of prayer but I do not believe it is the solution to everything. I can never understand why in our part of the world, every problem we face must be attributed to some fact that we are either not prayerful or praying hard enough, or might have sinned against God.

Maybe we erroneously interpret the “for better for worse” marriage vow to simply mean people should die in their marriage irrespective of whether they are being physically abused or not. It always comes down to the sad conclusions that after all, “God hates divorce“, “what He has put together, no man should put asunder“, “infidelity is the only grounds for divorce“, etc. Then, there are often other statements that suggest that the victims perhaps did not pray enough or sought well the face of God in choosing their partners, hence the situation they find themselves in. Really? Godly people don’t change? We’ve not seen enough examples of very spiritual people who are intoxicated by the Holy Spirit himself acting like beasts? What’s even the guarantee that somebody being spiritual and approved by God today cannot change tomorrow or when it comes to God revealing marriage partners, that kind of revelation no longer comes in part but in full? I shudder to ask because anytime revelations / prophesies come from God, we are always told they come in part and not in full; and that is sometimes used to explain away why some revelations or prophesies fail, or?

Sometimes we just use our own interpretations and the ones we’ve grown up to be taught to limit the wisdom of God. And sometimes, we do it so much to suggest that we the interpreters of the Bible are ourselves wiser than God. We really try so hard to put God in a box, our own little boxes, outside of which He has no room to operate.

Marriage is great but sometimes we make marriage look and feel more like a bait for some, allowing many evil and unthinkable things to happen in the marriage, and people cannot break free as long as the issues does not involve infidelity. We have continuously pushed the rhetorics of infidelity at the expense of things that are sometimes worse than infidelity, such as physical abuse or domestic violence and maltreatment. Perhaps we forget that some people in a marital union are more accepting of infidelity and can live with it but can never stand violence, maltreatment and physical abuse. There are spouses who will never commit infidelity and yet are so wicked and abusive that continuing to live with them is more than signing ones own death warrant.

Apparently, the kind of rhetorics we push, even in our churches, makes God look like someone who approves of every kind of vice in marriage, except infidelity. We are happy as a people for women (who are mostly victims of physical abuse) to continue to hide behind makeups and concealers to paint beautiful faces that hides the scars of abuse, saving face in public and deceiving themselves and younger generations that they are enjoying a “God ordained marriage”.

God must be happy too, right?

As for me, I only tell people one thing: don’t buy anybody’s idea of “God hates divorce” and die in your abusive marriage. God does hate divorce, and neither is divorce a thrill for many right thinking couples because nobody enters happily into marriage to just get up and divorce. Context is very critical in the evaluation of every issue to which a rule or law applies. I have always asked extremists who lean on the rhetorics of “infidelity is the only grounds for divorce and that is final” this simple questions that I never get answers to: To whose benefit is it when people endure physical abuse and die in their marriage? God? Are the victims given a crown for that in Heaven for staying and dying? You think it’s enough to just preach “God hates divorce” and life goes on? Do you know how many Christians are perpetuating so much evil within the walls of marriage but will not even cheat for their spouse to as it may have at least that “one ground” to seek divorce?

You must be just a religious fanatic to think that far worse things do not happen in marriage than infidelity and people feel trapped just because God has only given one ground for divorce in the Bible. Just like any enterprise, if a marriage won’t work after you have put in your everything, including prayers, it just won’t work. Accept that and move on. Run even when it involves physical abuse.

In any case, even though marriage is an institution of God and a spiritual union, aside it being physical, no marriage will ever exist without the willingness of two individuals committing to the journey. Christian marriage is not a union solemnized at gun point or with knife to the throat. Two consenting adults find each other, express love for each other and decide to live together, seek approval of parents, bring the marriage to be covenanted before God in a Church (which then makes it a Christian marriage, as legally, the laws only see the Church as a venue for holding marriage), then a certificate from the state (not church) is given to them and they go on to live as married couples. So, at any point where one partner, irrespective of the circumstance, becomes unwilling to go on, and all effort to solve the issue fails, the union is as good as dead and no amount of not allowing them to go their separate ways because “God hates divorce” can ever make that marriage a happy one. The ability of a marriage to stand is always premised on the two consenting individuals who must be committed at all times, with a great dose of God’s grace to make it work.

In any case, even if the Church does not consent to divorce under any circumstance, except infidelity, have you ever seen married couples dissolve their marriage in Church instead of the law court before? The Church may play a big spiritual role in instituting the marriage and helping it last with godly counseling but when it comes to dissolution of marriage, it is a matter solely for the courts (the body that certified the marriage). Well, if you think that marriage certificates belong to the Churches that issue them, then think again.

Yes, God hates divorce and would be unhappy with couples divorcing not on the ground of infidelity (perhaps they may miss heaven, which I don’t even think is the case as context matters as much as rules), but it is more a matter of faith than legality.

Truly, may God grant grace where it is needed and may all parties to a lasting marriage play their part because the wellbeing of society depends on happy marriages and happy homes. And if we all raise our voices against domestic violence and physical abuse as much as we advocate against divorce, we would all achieve the same thing and we would not have to constantly fall on the “God hates divorce” rhetoric to cower people to stay and die in abusive unions.

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©Mark Gadogbe, 2021

Cover Image Source: https://instagram.com/elcarnastudios?igshid=dr0gdfq3qa3g

Marital rape and abuse?

A woman comes into a police station and tells the officer at the front desk that she wants to report that her husband is committing domestic violence against her, including committing marital rape against her.

An officer takes her into a room to begin interviewing her.

Officer: “Mam please describe to me incidents of marital rape and other types of domestic abuse that your husband has committed against you.”

Wife: “Well officer it all started 5 years ago after we got married. I turned him down when he asked for sex and he started telling me that because we had a Christian marriage, he and I both had a right to have sex with one another, and except for short mutually agreed upon times for when we’re sick or otherwise unable to, we ought not to turn down one another”.

Officer: “Did he force himself on you that night?”

Wife: “No – he just walked away, but I felt intimidated by the fact that he believed it was a sin for couples to deny each other, I felt pressure for the next time he wanted to have sex”.

rapewife

Officer: “Ok – so tell me more.”

Wife: “I decided I needed to set my husband straight about sex. I believe every person’s body is their own and no one has a right to coerce or convince someone to have sex when they are not in the mood, not even in marriage. I shared this truth that all of us as enlightened people should accept now in modern society. I told him it is NEVER selfish for me not to want to have sex for any reason, but it is ALWAYS selfish for him to try and convince me to have sex when I am not in the mood.

I told him that I would no longer feel pressured to have sex with him, and that really sex is just a small part of marriage. I told him I believed sex in marriage was not a “right”, but a privilege and that it should only happen when BOTH he and I were in the mood because of how happy and in love we were with each other. In fact, I even told him that just because I don’t want to have sex that often, that does not mean I don’t love him, I just don’t need it that often. I said we ought to be able to enjoy our marriage with one another, without having to need sex all the time – it should happen on special occasions when we are both in the mood.”

Officer: “So how did he respond to that?”

Wife: “He asked me if he was doing something wrong in the bedroom. He asked me if he could help to put me in the mood more often. I told him it had nothing to do with anything wrong he was doing, it was just the fact that I don’t need sex that often, and he ought to respect that and accept that. He was not happy with my view on sex and said my belief was a sin according to our mutually held belief in the Bible as God’s Word. I thought overtime he would overcome his beliefs, and realize that he could take care of himself if he needed it and just be grateful for the times when I was in the mood and wanted to have sex.”

Officer: “Mam but when did he commit marital rape against you?”

Wife: “Well there were many times, that I was not in the mood, and I said No.”

Officer: “So are these the times that he forced himself on you?”

Wife: “No he did not force himself on me, but he coerced me into having sex with him.”

Officer: “How did he coerce you?”

Wife: “Well he told me that I was being selfish, and that I was sinning against God and him by denying his sexual needs. He told me if I continued denying him that we would need to go to a Christian counselor – so I gave in many times and let him have sex with me when I was not in the mood”.

Officer: “So you gave consent? Or did her force you?”

Wife: “Well he did not physically force himself, but I felt pressured because he was going to have us go to a counselor, so I just gave in and let him. But that was still rape right?”

Officer: “Uh, no mam that was not rape. Your allowing him to have sex with you when you were not in the mood because you did not want to go to a counselor was not rape. You made a decision, you decided you would rather have sex with him than go to a counselor, you gave consent.”

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Wife: “Ok but later he did even more things to coerce me…”

Officer: “What things did he do?”

Wife: “He eventually got me to go to a Christian counselor, and I felt really pressured by that counselor that I had to have sex with my husband more, and that I needed to let him try to put me in the mood even when I was not – I could not believe it –who did this counselor think he was? I told that counselor he was full of garbage.”

Officer: “Then what happened?”

Wife: “Then my husband asked me after the counseling appointment if I really loved him and cared about our marriage – and I told him “Of course I do! I love our life together – we just disagree about sex”. I told him if he could just accept my views of sex our marriage would be perfect, he was a good man and I enjoyed going places with him and doing things with him. This was now two years into our marriage and we had an infant son, and my husband was such great father to our son. For some reason that was not good enough for him, he thought we needed more sex in our marriage.”

Officer: “Ok did he come to accept your view of sex?”

Wife: “No – he actually setup an appointment with the Pastor of our church and his wife! I went even though I did not want to, and our Pastor actually told me I was sinning against my husband by denying him! The nerve! It’s my body, and no one, not my Pastor, not my husband is going to tell me otherwise.”

Officer: “Mam but how did your husband commit domestic violence against you? Or when did he rape you?”

Wife: “Well after the appointment with the Pastor all of a sudden he canceled with the babysitter and stopped taking me on our weekly dates. I asked him why and he said it was because I was “sinning against him and our marriage by my willful sexual denial” wasn’t that domestic abuse? After all he was using our date night to get me to admit I was wrong about sex in our marriage.”

Officer: “Um mam – he is not required by law to take you on dates.”

Wife: “But wait – there is more. We had a new kitchen remodel that we were ready to sign papers on and he called and canceled the meeting to sign the papers to get the work started. He said the kitchen we had while outdated, was still functional and he was not comfortable with spending the money to do it. We were only cleared to get the work done based on his income, and I don’t make enough to do it on my income alone.”

Officer: “Um mam – he is not required by law to get your kitchen updated.”

Wife: “But wait you need to hear this. He used to go clean out my car every weekend. I would pick a room each weekend for him to dust and clean, and now he stopped doing that. He used to give me back rubs at least once or twice a week. Now he stopped doing that too – he can’t do that right? This is emotional abuse! This is manipulation right? He says it is “discipline” to bring me to understand God’s view of sex in marriage.

Officer: “Well mam maybe he is manipulating you or maybe he just does not want to do these things for you anymore. Either way, none of this so far that you have told me is illegal, you might not like it, I might not like it, but it is not illegal.”

Wife: “What do you mean not illegal? The law says he can’t make me do anything I don’t want to do?”

marital-rape-can-a-husband-rape-his-wife-l-llfnkm

Officer: “Mam, from everything you have told me, you have done whatever you did by your own choice. You might have done it because you wanted to avoid stress, or going to a counselor, or you just did not feel like arguing.”

Wife: “But there is still one more horrible thing I have not told you – my husband changed his auto deposit of his paycheck so it no longer goes in our joint checking account, he has his own account now. He goes grocery shopping for us each week now. I used to do the grocery shopping. He gave me the credit cards that were in my name for me to pay out of my own paychecks. I work too, but I don’t make nearly as much money as my husband. I used to be able to go anywhere I wanted and spend what I wanted, but now I have no spending money. That is financial abuse right? He can’t do that right?”

Officer: “Mam is he providing food, shelter and clothing for you and your child? Is he holding you in your home against your will?”

Wife: “Well yes he is providing those things for me and my son, and no he is not holding me against my will. He makes sure my car is fully fueled every week. He gives me some cash for if I need some things during the day when he is at work. But I used to have full access to all our money in our joint bank account and I was able to do what I wanted with our money, and now he took that from me – he can’t do that”.

Officer: “Mam – why are you still with this man? You clearly don’t see marriage the same way he does and it sounds like he is either trying to teach you something or he is getting ready to divorce you by separating his money into another account. He may have even had an attorney advise him to do that with his paychecks. If you get with a divorce attorney, your attorney can get a “status quo” order, which then requires your husband not to spend any sums of money without clearing it with the court and your attorney. The court can order that he has to provide you with a certain dollar amount each week that you can put in your own account and spend as you want as you go through the divorce process and they can order him to continue paying all the household expenses.”

Wife: “Divorce process! I just want him to stop what he is doing and let us go back to our old life. I love him and the life we have. I don’t want to have joint custody of our son, I don’t want to see my son every other week, I want to see him every day! We would have to sell our home, and even if I could keep it in the divorce I would have no way to make the payments even with child support and alimony from him. I don’t want half my life, I want all my life – the way it was! Can’t you or another police officer tell my husband to stop doing these things and we can still stay married? Can we have a judge order him to take me on dates, upgrade the kitchen, put his money back in our joint account and stop asking me for sex? My girlfriends at work told me what he is doing is domestic abuse and is illegal – that means you can stop him right and force him to stop doing all this right?”

Officer: “Um- no sorry no one can do that for you. I don’t mean to get in your personal affairs mam, but it sounds like you have quite the dilemma, there is an old saying “You can’t have your cake and eat it too”. You have to make a choice, either work out the sexual issues with your husband and make your marriage work, or divorce him and try and find a man who believes as you do, that whoever wants sex the least determines how often a married couple has sex.”

© The frustrated feminist wife. Biblicalgenderroles.com (2015)

Church Bully & Pastor Protection Program

There is a particular stereotype whenever any scandal or issue involving a Pastor and a member of a Church creeps up in many of our churches throughout the world. That stereotype is that the pastor is always right and the member’s only motive is to destroy.

The entire Christendom switches into a “Pastor Protection” default: the Pastor is the saint who’s above reproach and the member an agent of the devil who’s allowing himself or herself to be used to destroy or cause division within the body of Christ.

Well, it appears God has favorites who are always the “men of God” and He cares nothing about His sheep, who must always be put down, shamed and suffer Church abuses in silence. Perhaps, that’s surely no intention of God and He actually sanctions no such unfair treatments within the body of Christ.

It’s sad that we see scandals being committed by the people we hold out and place confidence in as “men of God” everyday and we continue to rather protect them and not call them out. Many times, we the victims are rather forced into a culture of silence or take “let God fight my battle for me” stances and bottle up our pains at the expense of protecting the reputations of these abusive men of God and never realizing that the only thing that achieves is the liberty and emboldenment it gives them to abuse or prey on other innocent and unsuspecting lives.

If you have ever come close to being sexually abused or violated as a woman by a man of God who you see as a father figure or hold in high esteem, you would never love the experience or the psychological damage it leaves with you for the rest of your life, yet alone wish a fellow woman or sister to shelve her torment and not call out a sex offender who doubles as a man of God.

Me as a man can never even forget the traumatizing experience of someone very close to me who came near to being raped or violated by a “Pastor friend of the family” who she looks up to as a brother or father figure, such that I boil inside anytime I hear his name come up, let alone imagine the mental state of the person who actually survived the ordeal. Too many times it keeps coming into my mind and I keep telling myself, I don’t know how long I can keep this Pastor person’s identity protected, even though he actually didn’t succeed in the act (or so I have been told) and would surely one day blow his cover if I should actually hear of any similar act by him. Only God knows how many people his so called “moment of weakness” actually prevailed against or whether it actually was a one-time unsuccessful stunt; nobody knows, but the mind never forgets these things.

So, yes, I can never trust any human being, even a man of God as a “Saint”; and I resent it when people just jump to the defence of men of God caught in scandals and outrightly label their accusers as agents of division. You think God doesn’t love the victim as much as the alleged offender? Why must anybody’s word against a man of God be shot down even before it even leaves their mouth as if these leaders of our Churches can never perpetrate any evil?

Perhaps Busola Dakolo’s claims against the Senior Pastor of COZA, Biodun Fatoyinbo, may be untrue; but I sure agree with her words that God has no favorites. We are all God’s Children and stand equal before His saving grace. He loves us all the same and must give us all equal hearing. The Church must not teach us otherwise! These are surely dangerous times when you expect Church leadership to show good morals and not play cover ups that makes God look unfair and unjust.

We preach equality before the laws of the land but never before Christ. Unless the Church wants to tell us it is an Animal Farm where “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”. The fact that we would even want Pastors’ images or reputation protected in the church irrespective of the wrongs they actually perpetrate or are accused of is even sickening.

©Mark Gadogbe (McApple), 2019

No justification for cheating? 

“I am married to a preacher. I love him, but he’s hardly home. Preaching assignments here and there. The little time we get to be together too is always ruined by visitors and phone calls from Church members and their ’wahala’. Dave, I can’t even compete for his attention, let alone, time. That’s why I am having an affair with my Ex-boyfriend. At least, he sees me.”

This thing eh. Extremists say there is never any justification for cheating and someone who truly loves you will never cheat on you no matter what. Eh? Be there and be talking big grammar. 😊

Me, I always say whether cheating is justifiable or not does not take away the fact that there are plenty of “good reasons” why people cheat which must never be overlooked or made light of.

It may not make sense to you, but it made sense to them enough to even consider the possibility of cheating on you (maybe grace kept yours from going all the length so don’t boast). What is so trivial to you is not that trivial to somebody o. No human being takes neglect or abuse (of any kind) forever. It gets to a point where enough becomes enough, and no matter all the scriptures you quote…there’s no turning back for them. That’s how sensitive a human beings’ needs are.

Keep trivializing things in your marriage/relationship and keep taking for granted the balance between physical/emotional needs and spiritual needs.

This thing is some way o. I’ve seen a lot of “hard tongue speaking busy for God people” whose life became miserable after the marriage they took for granted, giving all their time to God’s work, began to shake. One will wonder in the end, if their marriage was that equally important to them before they kept relegating it to the background and kept quoting a million scriptures and reasons to keep their partners sacrificing and sacrificing and sacrificing. To what end, only God knows.

I’m not against doing God’s work or winning the whole world for God or any other good paying secular work for that matter. I’m all about creating a good balance in life because even Bible is against a false balance. And I’m all against abusing marriage in the name of doing God’s work and trying to justify it.

If the reason why you keep putting everything else above your marriage or partner’s needs is good enough justification for you, then their reason for cheating on you (or leaving you) because their needs are not being met should be equally good enough justification for them. Who’s the judge of what’s justifiable to a person?

Yes, I’m not for cheating and neither am I a fan of that blunt lose talk or phrase “there can never be any justification for cheating“. Action and reaction has long been a proven fact of life. So is the saying “you reap what you sow”. You can’t reap a good infidelity-free marriage/relationship if you don’t give it good enough time and effort it requires to safeguard it. You can’t boast of well trained children when you don’t stay present in their life to play your parental roles.

Why marry when you know you can’t have or make enough time for it. Nothing takes our time except we allow it to. It is we that made ourselves busy and we have the choice to always undo that at will. If you don’t want to, be willing to pay the price for it, after all, every choice in life comes at a cost.

So stop making all that noise about, when someone cheats on you, then it means they don’t love you. It’s not a general or universal rule, so don’t make it one. Even Jesus we proclaim our undying love for but we keep sinning against Him. We keep “cheating” on Jesus and breaking His heart 😊. Probably they loved you to bits but you took it all for granted, refusing to change and still expect them to be there. So yes, some will cheat on you and still be there…even after all our sins we don’t break off from Jesus, do we? 😊. Oh, that’s different? How different?

Some people will leave you so fast, others will wait on you for so long, but in the end, everybody moves on or away from anything toxic or that which makes them constantly unhappy. Even Jesus will throw you into Hell eventually if you constantly keep breaking His heart and not repenting 😊.

It doesn’t matter how long it takes, they will eventually move. So if your pride is that your partner has been tolerating your “stupidity” for so long and haven’t left or cheated yet, it’s just a matter of time. Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you, but ever seen marriages that break after so many years; 10, 20, 30 years? You will wonder wonder what happened after all those years. You think human beings tolerate nonsense forever? 😜

©Mark Gadogbe (McApple), 2018

Woman: God’s great gift

Reading the creation story, one comes to realize that:

THE HIGHEST GOOD GOD THOUGHT OF FOR A MAN BESIDES HIMSELF IS A WOMAN.

A woman is thus very very good for a man…but, it is where purpose is not known that abuse becomes inevitable!

May our women look to God (their source) for their self-worth and not always run to man for validation.

Woman, know ye not that thou art worth much more than the value a man places on you?

Mark Gadogbe (McApple)

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Image source:
http://www.thedsilvadiaries.com/woman-sharing-power-with-god/