By Deborah Omoare
Chinyere, a woman in her 30s who is well-off and attractive, displayed remarkable generosity towards her pastor by lending him her car for three days. She believed that by honoring and respecting the man of God who oversaw her family’s church, she was demonstrating her appreciation. Meanwhile, during those three days, Chinyere’s husband had to rely on a tricycle to commute to work since his car was undergoing repairs at a mechanic shop.
Chinyere didn’t consider her actions to be a big deal, as she held a strong belief in honoring men of God, especially the shepherd of the church she attended.
However, many people in the community found this situation contentious because they noticed a pattern where certain women who identified as religious exhibited great respect for their pastors while denying their husbands the same level of respect. In many communities across Nigeria, this form of disrespect towards husbands has led to the separation or dissolution of numerous marriages as can be seen records kept by counsellors and at the local magistrate divorce courts.
It is however, ironic as investigation reveals that these same wives would go to great lengths to worship and show reverence to their pastors who did not pay their bride price, put a roof over their heads, or provide them with their daily sustenance.
For Chinyere, her pastor had instructed her to prioritize everything concerning him since he represented God on earth. He claimed that as the shepherd of the church, he could never lead her astray. This information instilled in Chinyere’s mind by her pastor led her to lend him her car, even as she watched her husband ride a tricycle to work.
In many societies and particularly in the Nigerian society amongst Christian believers, it is important to note that the husband is considered the head of the household, just as Christ is the head of the church, according to their biblical teachings. Women are therefore required to treat their husbands with the same deference and respect they would show to Christ. This, is the standard that a godly married woman should strive to uphold according to the teachings of her faith. On the contrary, many reports on this abuse of privilege litter the social media spaces, social discussions and academic debates.
Some devout women seem to overlook this principle and would make statements like, “You may think that I’m disrespecting my husband, but I’m not. I go to church to give that to my pastor, and as long as I’m respecting my pastor, I’m still on track.” Unfortunately, it is disheartening that nowadays, some pastors are the ones misleading these married women into disrespecting their husbands at home in this manner.
In the case of Pastor Pius, he would frequently invite Mrs. Solomon, a member of his congregation, to his home without informing her husband. When Mr. Solomon voiced his concerns about his wife’s constant visits to the pastor’s house, Pius responded by saying that he didn’t have to inform him whenever he needed his “daughter in Christ” to assist his wife.
Marriage is a sacred institution ordained by God and holds significant importance in society. It has been observed that many married Christian women highly regard their pastors while dishonoring their husbands at home. This behavior has led to a growing number of failed Christian marriages, as pastors allow women to disrespect their husbands within the confines of their homes.
Mrs Solomon experienced a collapse in her marriage due to this dynamic but was able to restore it with the intervention of her mother after Mrs Solomon’s mother warned Pastor Pius to stay away from her daughter’s marriage.
According to data from Nigeria’s Demographic and Health Survey in 2018, a higher percentage of women (3%) were divorced or separated compared to men (1%). The data also indicated that 70% of women and 57% of men were either married or cohabitating.
In a Facebook survey discussing this issue, Christiana Edoge expressed her view that many women disrespect their husbands at home while showing great respect to their pastors. She emphasized the importance of respecting pastors but not at the expense of their husbands, stating that husbands should always come first.
Theomarky Yinware, referring to the scripture, highlighted the significant role of husbands as leaders in the household. He noted that every Christian woman who reads the Holy Bible is aware that the husband is the priest of the house, and the wife must submit to his leadership. However, Yinware stressed that pastors should not usurp the husband’s authority in the home, as it goes against Godliness and biblical teachings.
Oluwatoyin Ndidi, a lawyer, urged women to act responsibly and take accountability seriously in their homes. She emphasized that women should not prioritize their pastors over their husbands. She criticized those who would neglect their responsibilities at home, such as cooking for their husbands, only to spend their hard-earned money or their husbands’ money on elaborate meals for their pastors. Ndidi emphasized the importance of women being responsible and respectful within their households.
Ugo Chikezie acknowledged the rampant occurrence of this issue in recent years, expressing his concern over the destructive influence of pastors with deceptive philosophies and high-sounding principles. He witnessed numerous marriages being destroyed due to pastors allowing or encouraging women to dishonour their husbands.
Evangelist Victor highlighted the role of the church in teaching individuals how to live righteously. He emphasized that pastors should not neglect their duty to teach women how to be committed and respectful to their husbands at home.
Ewere Festus lamented the behaviour of women neglecting their marital responsibilities due to their involvement with pastors. He expressed his dismay at witnessing people leaving their spouses to become errand boys or girls for their pastors or their pastors’ wives. Festus viewed such behaviour as taboo and highly inappropriate.
Ure Itagha, a Social Behavioural Observer, explained that this act was spurred by the culture of women supporting single men in the Ministries since the advent of missionaries incursion into Nigeria since the 1500s, including the concept of cooking and serving priests at ancient shrines.
“It first started when unmarried men lived for serving the church and women were encouraged, as their way of supporting the ministry to cook for these single fathers, pastors, reverends, etc.”
Mary Balogun, an award-winning writer affirmed that the place of a husband in a woman’s life is different from that of a pastor and when it comes to marriage, respect is seen as submission.
“If a woman submits to her husband, it means she respects him. That kind of respect is only required in marriage.”
She bemoaned that it is a result of lack of wisdom that makes a woman respect her pastor more than her husband.
“Many women see pastors as people who should be highly reverenced, the reason they will kneel for their pastors but can’t do so to their husbands. A husband is above a pastor in the life of his wife. Therefore, the husband should be more respected than anyone else, including the pastor.”