Pastor Bisi Adewale is a family life coach and the president of Living Home Foundation. In this interview with Church Times, Adewale who has been in the ministry for close to 10 years shares his thoughts on what singles should look out for before they say Yes I do”
What was it like choosing before you got married in your time compared to now?
Before I got married we were taught to always wait on God before making a choice. It was a good teaching but with time I have realized that it is not a balanced teaching. In those days many of our churches don’t have plans to prepare couples for marriage. But the best they used to do was to prepare them for the wedding. The marriage is a life-long event. The wedding is a day and at most a two-day event. So they are two different things.
You said the teaching of waiting on God for a life partner was not a balanced one. How do you mean?
We have four major teachings about choosing a life partner. The teachings are good but they are not balanced if they are isolated. An average evangelical pastor will talk to singles and encourage them to wait on God before making a choice. Another pastor will talk to singles about checking love before they are married while some will talk to you about character that you have to check the character of the person you want to marry. Some preachers will also encourage you to marry the person you like and admire. All these messages are good but they are not balanced if they are preached in isolation. To have a balanced message on choice in marriage all these four factors have to be present.
Many marriages are based on one side of the coin. That is why some pastors erroneously preach that the last time God chose for man was in the Garden of Eden and even at that, God regretted it. I don’t know where they got that teaching from because after the Garden of Eden experience God still chose Isaac by sending the angel ahead of him to bring Rebekka to him.
In practical terms is it possible to have all these factors because there are people who say for instance that they never liked their spouses at the point of marriage but they later developed love after marriage?
Love is important in marriage and there is a need to be sure that you love your would-be partner before saying I DO. But we must understand that God does not force people into marriage. When people say God does not choose for people they are right in a way because what God does is to give a leading and not make it a compulsion. God leads people to make the right choice but we can decide not to follow God’s leading.
The issue is: What if God leads you and you don’t like the person? Indeed, you may not like the person from the outward appearance but if you check very well within your spirit, if you don’t have any idol in your heart, and if you release yourself to the voice of the Holy Spirit you will begin to develop love for the person.
But the hindrance in most cases is because we have idols in our hearts already and that makes it difficult for us to appreciate what God is putting before us. God does not force people into marriage but prophets and people can force people into it.
We must understand that no prophet is in the spirit hundred percent of the time. The best way to hear from God is to hear God yourself. Unfortunately many singles are in the habit of giving names to prophets while also asking them to pray for them and make a choice out of the names.
An average Christian in Nigeria does not know how to hear from God. The best way to be manipulated is to allow somebody else to hear from God for you. Before you know it, the person will become your God and before you know it, the prophet will begin to manipulate you.
You can imagine a woman looking for the fruit of the womb who approaches a prophet for prayer and the prophet says the thing troubling her is in her private part that she should remove her skirt so he could remove the thing. And the woman who claims to be well-educated obeys him. This is just an example of the type of deceit in the church today.
There is the problem of many old singles in the church today. How did we get to this point?
It is true we have a lot of old singles in the church today and some people are making merchandise from this. I wrote a book titled “It is my turn to get married”. In it, I mentioned that there are about 40 different things that a single person exhibits that may make it impossible to get a partner. Some churches will say old singles need deliverance but it may not be about deliverance in all cases, it may be character, and it may be a result of the way the single person dresses. It may be a double life for the lady. Another issue is the issue of bride price in some parts of the country.
I was in Umuahia about two months ago and we were asked to minister to single ladies. I saw people in their late forties and fifties trusting God for a life partner. We were having a couples program at one end of the auditorium and then we had to minister to the singles and a particular woman was coming. She was trying to join the singles group and I directed her to the couple’s stand because she was looking like a grandma. I was shocked when I was told she was still single. I later found out that she was 51 years old and still trusting God for a partner. So the problem is real.
There is another one we counseled and we found out that she had misused her opportunity when she was a younger person. She was the choosy type. When she realized this, she became sober and the Lord intervened. She got married six months after that encounter. So we have since found out that the cause of delay may not be spiritual in some cases.
But what would you have to say about God’s timing?
Yes, there is God’s timing. But God says he makes all things beautiful in His own time. God’s time does not mean we should be 60 before we have a partner. There is a biological clock on the body of the woman but there is no biology in God’s kingdom. When God spoke to Sarah He said He would meet her need of a child according to the time of life. That shows that there is a time of life that God also recognizes. It’s like when you come out from secondary school and you have to wait for ten years before getting admission and you say it is not God’s timing.
Are you saying there are no exceptional cases?
I think there are exceptional cases. But such cases have to do with those who don’t have a desire for the opposite sex and then decide not to marry. They make themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of God. There was a case of a man who never had a desire for a woman but they forced him to marry a woman against his wish. He did, but the marriage was not a pleasant one. The wife had to report him to several people before he would sleep with her and when they had a child it took another five years to get the man to sleep with the woman again. That is not an ideal marriage. It is always good to know yourself. The man lost his ministry because he was not comfortable with a partner. But for people who have problems with lust, they should get married rather than burn.
What are your observations about today’s youths concerning the issue of marriage?
My observation is, we have got to a stage where young people want good marriage but they don’t want to pay the price. The advent of Facebook has become an additional problem for young people. Thousands are being destroyed daily because of Facebook relationships.
Churches don’t have time to groom young people for marriage. Many people are only interested in the wedding, not the marriage. I DO is for the wedding and I continue to do is every day. For the latter to be achieved some things have to be put in place. Some believe wrongly that love is enough for marriage.
But it is not enough. Love conquers all things but it does not come in isolation. You want to marry and the two of you don’t have a job, there is no way love can conquer such. What love conquers is offense. Love will not cover when you are to pay your house rent. Love will not cover the basic things you need for a home to run. For you to make your wife love you there must be money to meet at least basic needs
But don’t you think we are placing much premium on money? What if the man loves but he can’t just help because the funds are not coming?
It is not in the lot of the woman to feed the house. It is the responsibility of the man to provide for the home. A lady can support the man but the man should not relent. You can’t be a real man if you can’t put something on the floor to run the home. May God bless all women that have been supporting their husbands but men should not take it for granted. I know of a close relative whose husband lost his job in the bank and the man had to start working on a construction site just to keep the home. His wife saw his commitment and assisted him greatly in the trying moment. But for a man to fold his hands and expect that the woman would fend for the home is unacceptable.
What would you have to say about people who are deceived into marriage?
There is no perfect liar anywhere except the person being told a lie enjoys being deceived. Many of those who are deceived are sometimes ignorant of what to look out for in a partner and sometimes they just love to be deceived. For instance, your partner says he is a graduate and he doesn’t have any picture to show that he went to the university or certificates to show that he really went to school and you still tag along. That would show that you just loved to be deceived A wayo sister is always meant for a wayo brother. There was the case of a sister who married a brother and they both found out that the two of them had had children for different people before they came together in marriage.
Would you subscribe to internet marriage?
The world is going into some weird technology and all kinds of things are happening. It will be difficult for me to say don’t marry somebody you categorically meet on the internet. But I will say, be careful not to marry a masquerade. Don’t marry somebody you don’t know because there are so many people using the internet to deceive. Facebook is so terrible that people tell lies on it. It is dangerous to shop on the internet for a partner but I encourage people to shop on inter-God. The interesting thing is that you can marry the right person and still have a failed marriage because it is not only about the foundation of the marriage but also about what is built on the marriage.
The relationship between partners is not a water relationship it is a covenant relationship. There are three types of relationship, blood relationship, which is the relationship we have with our parents and siblings, we have water relationship which is the one we have with our friends and acquaintances and then we have the covenant relationship which is the one between married people. Blood is thicker than water and covenant is stronger than blood. In a marriage, the world around you is involved. As soon as you are married God is number one and then your spouse before others.