By Francis Ewherido
It is not often I read long WhatsApp messages, or watch long videos on WhatsApp. But I have watched a 17-minutes-25-seconds video by Pastor Chris Oyakhilome three times. It dwelt on the roles of/relationship between husband and wife. In a liberal world, dotted by talks on gender equality, equity, mainstreaming, roles reversal, etc., many will consider his views retrogressive and archaic. But with the alarming rate at which marriages are collapsing, Oyakhilome’s marriage being no exception, you have to listen to him even if you do not share his views. Some of these marriages collapsed due to the embrace of some new paradigms, hook, line and sinker by women.
Now let us delve into what Oyakhilome said and x-ray some of the issues one after the other, making reference to the bible where necessary. Oyakhilome said many women assume that a husband is a male partner in a marriage, but that a husband is more than a male partner. He said husband actually means master. The dictionary describes a master as “a man in charge of an organization or group.” Going by the dictionary, a husband is a man in charge of his household. Rev. Oyakhilome was unequivocal that the man is the head of the house and he does not share his authority with the wife; they are only joint heirs to God’s kingdom, not “authority sharers.” He told his audience that when a woman marries a man, she should subject herself to his authority; if not she is a “rebel.”
Ephesians 5:22-24 says: “Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands as you do to the Lord. The husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church… Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Going by this portion of Ephesians, I cannot fault Oyakhilome for referring to the husband as “master;” Paul makes an allusion to it in this letter to the Ephesians. Though Oyakhilome did not, let us balance the preceding verses with Ephesians 5: 25 and 28: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her… In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.”
If you are a Christian, these verses are binding on you. The word “master’ might be old fashioned, but the spirit of the word is not. A wife’s academic, career and other accomplishments should not change this; it is the word of God. However, it must be said emphatically that St. Paul did not identify the wife as slave or servant of this master. Again, if the wife is co-heir, spiritually, shouldn’t she be considered as co-heir in other aspects of life?
I believe that two heads are better than one and in exercising this authority, husbands should carry their wives along; there should be consensus. After all, the Bible also asks: “can two walk together unless they agree” (Amos 3:3)? I advise men to carry their wives along in family matters. The modern woman is educated and wants to be in the know. In fact, some wives will sabotage their husbands and make the home ungovernable if they are not carried along.
Modern husband, in your own interest, carry your wife along while exercising that bible-given authority. The authority is not given to you to lord it over your wife, subdue, enslave and terrorize her, but rather, enhance her dignity and potentials through selfless sacrifices. In fact, the better you are at that, the better head you would be, just like the Master himself, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Again I ask, should this exercise of authority also extend to a husband who is a drunk or an agbaya (good for nothing), who in exercising authority can make the whole family end up in a pit? Should the wife obey him hook, line and sinker? I do not think so. To exercise authority, a husband should be properly fit and able, with unimpaired faculties. Also, if in exercising authority, the husband gives instructions that are contrary to the will of God, should the wife obey? I feel she should not; she should rather do the will of God. So exercising authority should not be automatic for husbands; I feel it should be merited.
Oyakhilome also said husband and wife are not equal partners. In fact, he said God created woman because of man. He said woman was not part of God’s original plan (Well, I don’t really know why Oyakhilome described creation of woman as an afterthought; God is supposed to be all-knowing, all-seeing and a master planner. But then I am not a bible scholar). Gen 2 does tell us that the man was unhappy because he could not find a soul mate in all that God created for his comfort. Oyakhilome also distinguished “being alone” from “loneliness.”
Alone is an adjective which means, “separate, apart, or isolated from others,” while loneliness a noun which means “the fact of being without companions; solitariness.” Before Eve, Adam was alone, but not lonely. So God created woman as a helpmate and companion to man, not to cure him of loneliness. That is basically Oyakhilome’s assertion. I can only add here that aloneness can breed loneliness and that was God’s intent in saying: “it is not good for a man to be alone.”
The issue of equality of spouses or not is very contentious within Christendom. The bible said a man leaves his parents and clings to his wife. They are no longer two but one. So I ask can one part of the union be inferior to the other? I tend to see the relationship between husband and wife in the light of the relationship between God the father and God the son (wife being God the son). Wives should however read carefully Philippians 2:6-8 and emulate it.
There are two issues he raised which I totally agree with. One, he warned wives to stop behaving like their husbands’ mothers. Too many wives are behaving like mothers and elder sisters to their husbands and it is driving the husbands up the wall. No husband wants another mama after passing through his biological mother. You are mother of your husband’s children, not his mother. Wives should get this into their heads. Two, some wives are like the leader of opposition in the House of Commons (one arm of the British parliament). Every position the husband takes or anything he does must be opposed, why? Some wives are real saboteurs. Unfortunately, some husbands also behave that way.
Whatever be the case, salute Oyakhilome’s courage. He took a stroll where many preachers fear to tread these days.