Toxic Marriage; Islam, Christian and Traditional Religions Perspective

By Gabriel Omonhinmin

The recent national outcry, over the yet to be substantiated manner of the passage of Nigeria’s gospel singer, Mrs Osinachi Nwachukwu, has stirred up a great debate, which is ‘whether or not it is scriptural for couples to remain in a toxic union or marriage.’

As the argument for and against continued, the Trumpet Religion desk decided to examine the topic for better understanding and benefit of our readers.

We shall, therefore, attempt to examine in detail the Islamic, Christian and Traditional religious positions on this matter.

Reports of the death of one or both partners in domestic violence marriages are not new to our society. Domestic crises and death have been there as much as one can remember, but what is, however, not acceptable, is the alarming dimension this violence has assumed in modern society.

Oftentimes, women and men alike are killed in crises in marriage, depending on who is more physical or aggressive, among the partners. In extreme cases, children who never begged to be brought to life, also end up being killed in the process by either partner, in an apparent move to erase memories of such a bitter relationship.

Cases of domestic violence are on the increase and show no signs of reduction in Nigeria, regardless of age, tribe, religion or even social status.

Domestic violence takes many forms, which include physical, sexual, emotional, and mental. Available records show that a high percentage of eligible bachelors and spinsters are afraid, and not ready to go into marriage, because of these ugly sides of marriages. Present-day marriages unlike in the olden days are no longer sacrosanct.

In Nigeria, there are three types of marriage practised, Traditional/Customary marriage; Church/Islamic marriage and statutory marriage.

Although the under mentioned statistic is inapplicable in present-day Nigeria, in 2016, official statistics suggested that the dissolution of marriage in Nigeria was uncommon. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, just 0.2 percent of men and 0.3 percent of women had legally dissolved their marriage at that time. Two years later in the year 2018, it was reported that the rate of separation in the country, recorded a 14 percent increase. As the present statistics mirror a rather negative trend.

From the pictures painted above, is it religious for either party to continue to remain in a crisis filled marriage? What is the position of Islam, Christian and Traditional religions in matters like this?

Trumpet Religion spoke to a cross-section of clerics on this matter, and asked what should either of the parties in a toxic marriage do, especially, when the marriage is no longer tolerable?

First to speak is an Islamic cleric, Alhaji Tajudeen Adigun. He referred me to Holy Qu’ran Chapter 4 ‘An-Nisa’ and said the whole of that Chapter containing 176 verses is dedicated to women and how they should be loved and cared for.

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He stressed, “Verse 1 of Chapter 4 says, “O MEN, FEAR your Lord who created you from a single cell, and from it created its mate, and from the two of them dispersed men and women (male and female) in multitudes. So fear God in whose name you ask of one another (the bond of) relationships. God surely keeps watch over you.” He added, this opening verse, is enough warning that marriage should be taken very seriously, if you are not ready don’t ever go into it.

He continued, “What does Islam say about divorce and remarriage? Although it is not encouraged, most Muslims agree that divorce is permitted if a marriage has broken down, and generally Muslims are permitted to re-marry if they so wish.

However, there are differences among Muslims regarding the procedures for divorce and remarriage. A Sunni Muslim for example, do not require witnesses. The husband must express his desire for a divorce on three occasions with a waiting period of three months.

A Shi’ah Muslim in his own case, require two witnesses, followed by a waiting period before the marriage can end.

He added, “If a woman initiates a divorce it is called Khula. There must be a waiting period to ensure the woman is not pregnant.

He stressed further, “Although Shari’ah Law permits divorce, in the Hadith. Abdullah Ibn Umar reported that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “The most detestable of lawful things before Allah is divorce.” So although divorce is allowed, Muslims should try to avoid it, if possible.

This is an indication that many Muslims, who experience marital difficulties will try to resolve their issues instead of going their different ways. It is also because these couples made a contract before God, this is called Nikah, which is to remain together for life and divorce would mean breaking this vow.

He concluded, “Once couples are having crises in the marriage, they are expected to go to their mosque for advice and support from the Imam. In this regard, extended families are also expected to play a role in the resolution of whatever crisis the couples might be having. But as a matter of last resort, a couple may feel divorce is their only option, this should therefore be granted to them. In all this process, the woman is never to be molested, harmed or shamed, no matter the situation.”

Pastor Dr Paul Enenche, founder of Dunamis Gospel Center, Abuja, the church where the late singer was a choir member, in a press statement after her passage, expressed shock at what he was told about the way and manner the late singer was allegedly being assaulted by her husband. He said “Although, it is not scriptural to divorce, if any man feels he can no longer stand his marriage, instead of killing his or her partner, the man should take the woman back to her parents and say “I can no longer continue with this marriage.”

He said “As a person and as a Church, everyone who knows us knows that we have zero degree tolerance for domestic abuse and wife-battering of any sort. If you ever listen to any of our relationship messages, there is a principle, policy and a rule we have and that is, it is better to be alive without marriage than to die because of marriage. We’ve said that over and over.

Enenche added, “Now this kind of time is the time where people heap all manner of the blame on the Church and that is typical because whatever goes wrong, the first point of call is the Church. I have seen people ask questions, why should a wife abuser be a member of the church or how can somebody be so brutal and he is a member of the Church? That is not a question that people who know the scriptures should ask. You know the Ark of Noah, the same Ark that carried good animals also had evil beast inside the same Ark.”

Apostle Johnson Suleiman of the Omega Church International Church, Auchi, Edo State, in his reaction said, “When I said some years ago, that there are certain marriages that should break.” There was nothing or abuse I did not receive. That was why I kept quiet when this very incident happened. He stressed, “You are in a marriage where a man is beating you on a daily basis, and you will not leave the man alone. Stay there now! You’ll die and we will bury you. If I catch any man in my church beating his wife, I will take along with me some church members to go and beat the man up in his house.”

Chief Shamsudeen Gbadamosi, the Baale of Paara Community in Ifo Local Government Area of Ogun State said, “Traditional religion and customs do not encourage couples to continue to stay together in a violent union. Once they discover the marriage is no longer working, there are steps they must take in trying to redeem the marriage.

If adultery and infidelity are the cause of the disagreement, and once a woman is caught in the act of adultery, the marriage is automatically dissolved.

Couples, who are married under traditional religion, are first asked to seek the help of the elders of their husband’s immediate family to arbitrate whatever disputes they have. If that fails, such a man or woman can seek the help of the elders of the village or town to again look into the course of their disagreement. If the dispute still can’t be resolved, separation is therefore encouraged, instead of one of the two partners killing the other. There is no shame or force to continue to remain in an unworkable marriage.

Pastor Ikuforiji of Christ the King Global Ministry, said, “In everything we do, we should learn to say ‘No To Other gods’. Quoting Exodus 20:1-4.

“In our modern times, we think idols and their offerings are obsolete, but that is not true! Today, the idols have taken on a disguise. From what is happening in the Christian world, we need to disrobe them and expose their danger. Idols are the things we worship instead of God. They are things to which one yields his strength. These things are nothing but false gods. How can one be in a marriage where she is daily being battered and she remains in such a marriage? An act like that is nothing but idol worshipping. Can one marry, if he or she is not alive? No!

The bible position on matters like this is very clear. When the woman accused of infidelity was marched before Jesus Christ, what did Jesus tell her accusers? He said, “Anyone without sins among the people shouting crucifer her should cast the first stone.” What did the accusers all do? They all disappeared one after the other. And Jesus told the woman to go and sin no more.

Although divorce is not encouraged in the bible, a man or woman being battered in a marriage reserves the right to quit such marriage before he or she gets killed. These days, people take what people will say about them, more seriously than, their well-being and safety are gone. Such behaviour of staying put in an abusive relationship is not religious. The caveat, however, is that if a Christian quit his marriage, he or she might not be able to re-marry, until one of the partners dies.”

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