By Benjamin Njoku, Ikechukwu Nnochiri & Iyabo Aina
Just like the medical personnel, legal practitioners also hold divergent opinions on the directive by the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, to intending couples to submit themselves for genital test. While some lawyers hailed the decision as a welcome development, others argued that such mandatory genital test was tantamount to subjecting young couples in RCCG to degrading treatment.
According to Maxwell Balogun, “Section 38 (1) of the 1999 constitution, as amended and Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, granted every Nigerian citizen rights to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
“The constitution also entitled every citizen the freedom to change his religion or belief. It is my opinion that while such directive from RCCG may appear draconian, intending couples have their right of choice.
“In as much as the church does not forbid its members who are not comfortable with the directive to exit its fold, I don’t see how anyone’s right could be infringed”.
Another lawyer, Mr. Chuka Okafor, said: “Being a member of a church entails subscribing to its ordinances, rules of conduct and all its dos and don’ts. I am not a member of RCCG, but I know that some churches have long before now, conducted one form of test or the other on intending couples.
“Some churches conduct pregnancy test while others even go as far as probing if the girl had visited the the man’s home before.
“Some marriages were called-off by the church whenever it was discovered that there was breach of any of its moral codes. Even in my Roman Catholic Church, intending couples are mandated to attend marriage courses, failure of which may cost them the marriage.
“So I don’t see any legal issue on the Memo from RCCG. Don’t also forget that the church based its decision on a recurring problem it noticed and intends to stop”.
Meanwhile, Mr. Kayode Oludare held a contrary view, as according to him; “Section 34(1) of the 1999 constitution provided that every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person.
“Conducting a mandatory genital test on members of your church for the mere fact that they agreed to come together to fulfill one of the major directives of God to mankind, is very wrong and degrading.
“What is the primary purpose of such test when two people have agreed to come together to live as husband and wife? Do churches also conduct test to find out if the money their members donate as tithes and offerings were stolen?
“The pastor or church doctor who is conducting the test, who conducted his own test when he married? What then happens if intending couples go to another church to marry and then return to RCCG?
“What happens to RCCG parishes that are in very remote villages? Who will go there and conduct tests for couples there? To me, that directive should be challenged in court by any RCCG member who is denied his or her right to marry in the church on the basis of such genital test.
Similarly, entertainment celebrities who reacted to the issue have different opinions
It’s a step in the right direction— Felix Liberty, Musician/Pastor
This is a step in the right direction, even the Lord is very much interested in how you keep your body. Marriage is a spiritual union, we must try to keep it as sacred as we can, especially when it comes to how we see our bodies (Ezekiel 23:19-22)
It is totally absurd, degrading and insulting—Merit, Actress
It is totally absurd, degrading and insulting. Who tested them before their own wedding? What are they looking for?
I thought they are worshiping the God of miracles. Why do they bother themselves—Tracy Daniels, Actress
I don’t think it’s wrong—Amanda Ebeye, Actress
I’’m not a member of RCCG, but I have a lot of respect for the General Overseer of the church. I will say anything their members feel is fine, and anything the pastor thinks is best for his congregation is good to go. Also, personally, I feel marriage has to do with the two people involved, and if they choose to tie the knot in the church then they should be ready to go by the rules of the church. The church believes there have been a lot of falsehood and crises in the marriage institution, and this is how they want to set it right. So, I don’t think it’s wrong as long as the couples involved are fine with it.
It amounts to crossing the borderline —Imelda Jane, Musician
To me, it’s a total invasion of the couples’ privacy and at the same time, it renders the part of the Bible that says ‘With God, all things are possible’ useless. It should be optional and not a must. If intending couples deem it fit to do so, fine. If they don’t want to, it’s also fine. Compelling them against their will is crossing the borderline. That both couples are physically and medically fit doesn’t guarantee fruitfulness when it comes to spiritual matters. Except they no longer believe that some people actually get spiritual attacks just after wedding. I have seen so many cases like that. Some were even pregnant before the marriage but after the marriage, they had miscarriage and that was the end of fruitfulness in their lives. There are some, who after first child, can no longer conceive. I have seen cases where a woman had been declared unfit to conceive but at the end, she became a mother even before those who were assumed fit. So, it is up to the church members to decide. But you can’t manipulate the word of God. When you decide to fight your battles by yourself, God steps aside. At the end, you will still run back to Him.
It’s absolute rubbish—Foluke Daramola,Actress
As far as I am concerned it’s absolute rubbish. Why will they want to carry out such test? It’s obviously on the women. So what about the men? How do you run such tests on them as well. Also, even the Bible said that when they brought the woman who was an adulterer, Jesus Christ said whoever was without sin let him throw the first stone. Such a thing will cause distrust and disappointment in marriages. Instead of that,the church should do genotype tests and things that can assist the couple in the future in their home.
It’s not a bad idea—Bukola Fagbuyi, Actress
It’s not a bad idea since they don’t allow their intending couples to have sex before marriage. And it will reveal secrets of some couples with genital issues to be exposed since some always hide under the umbrella of being born again and will not declare to each other what they are battling with health wise.