By Francis Ewherido
A horrific and sadistic drama was staged at the God’s Glory Ministry, Jos last Saturday. The ‘actor,’ a certain Rufus Aplang and his fiancée, Judith, were billed to exchange marital vows. It was reported that when the presiding pastor asked Aplang if he was ready to take Judith as his wife for better, for worse, he answered ‘no.’ It was reported that the Pastor repeated the question and Aplang replied, “Pastor, I heard you clearly, and understand English very well and my answer is still, no.”
The news report said “the curious Pastor then asked him ‘but you are well dressed and came ready for this wedding. Why?’ To which Aplang replied, ‘sorry, I made up my mind 10 years ago to disgrace her on our wedding day.’” He was reported that he left the church thereafter. The stunned bride fainted and was rushed to the hospital.
As I read the story, many thoughts rushed into my head. First Judith’s family and well-meaning friends need to rally round her so that she does not do anything stupid to herself. They should keep a vigil around her. Aplang’s action is devastating, but she has to get over it and move on with her life. My people say that if you want to consider the length of a snake, you will never get a stick long and big enough to kill it. If she wants to keep remembering the 12 locust years she spent with Aplang, she will never recover from the shock. It hurts, but that too like some other heartaches she has had in life will pass. Time and family support are mighty healers.
Once she stabilizes, she must head to church and do thanksgiving to God for saving her from 12 years of slavery (not courtship) and a potential lifelong servitude, if she had gone ahead with the marriage. Beyond the pains, she has every reason to thank God. This marriage would not have gone anywhere and it is better it ended before starting. I often tell my marriage course participants that a break up, even at the altar before exchange of vows, is better than an unhappy marriage. Aplang is not her God-given husband. If he were, he would not have hurt her this bad. Her next task is to pray to God to send her the husband the author of marriage has destined for her. I intend to join her in that prayer.
Judith has every reason to thank God. Anybody who bears a grudge for 10 years is not a marriage material; he cannot be a good spouse. Forgiveness is at the centre of every happy and successful marriage. We all are fallible beings and we go into marriage with our good, bad and ugly traits. Every spouse must be ready for the total package. A happy marriage is not that where there are no conflict, but that where there are conflict-resolution mechanisms. Couples quarrel, argue, get on each other’s nerves and then reconcile. No marriage can survive without forgiveness.
Is Aplang a Christian? If they were at a registry, I would have concluded he is not, but they were to be joined as husband and wife in the church. The Bible is replete with passages on forgiveness.The Lord’s prayer, which Jesus personally gave us said “…forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…” Another passage says,”Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13). A good Christian cannot bear a grudge against someone he intends to spend the rest of his life with for 10 years!
Aplang is also very petty. At a time his mates were planning their families, careers and future, he was hatching and perfecting a plan to disgrace Judith on their supposed wedding day. Did he succeed? Hell, no. He only succeeded in making a complete fool of himself. If we were operating in a more nuclear space, Aplang will never get married again because who will allow his/her daughter to marry such a vindictive man?
I hope Aplang is not preparing to get married anytime soon. He is not only mean but too immature for marriage. The Gospel of Matthew 1: 18- 20 records that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was engaged to Joseph, but before marriage, Joseph found out that she was pregnant. Being a man of honour, he did not want to disgrace Mary publicly, but wanted to quietly break the engagement before the angel intervened. He wanted to break up the engagement immediately he found out, not 10 years later. That is class and maturity. What did Judith do 10 years ago to merit such treatment? Did she sleep with another man? Did she kill Aplang’s relative? Whatever she did, Aplang had two options: Break up the relationship 10 years ago or forgive her. To carry a grudge for 10 years? I am shocked he even spared the life of Judith. With this kind of bitterness, he could have killed her. He could also have destroyed himself because of hate. He could have suffered stroke or heart attack…all because he wants to carry out a mean act.
It is not only Judith that Aplang left in shock; he also left both families and his childhood friend and best man, Peter Sani, in shock. Sani attributed Aplang’s strange behaviour to “something diabolic.” I differ. Aplang knew what he was doing; he is just an unforgiving person. Aplang never really loved Judith and I am stunned Judith never knew for over a decade. You do not hurt someone you love this way. Those of us in marriage know that there are times your spouse hurts you and you really want to get back at him/her. Then you remember this is the love of your life and relent. Some couples talk things over and move on.
The other bit that did not make sense was the length of the courtship. There is no universally agreed timeframe for courtship, but 12 years is way too long. I can understand two years and tolerate four years, but what are you court-shipping for 12 years for? Is courtship a university course? Any focused student, who spent 12 years in the university, will come out with a Ph.D and an extra bachelors or master’s degree. What did Judith get after over 12 years of courtship? Heart break. It means she learnt very little in 12 years. If she was very observant, she would have seen the handwriting on the wall long ago. May be, like many people in lust, she was blinded. But better late than never. Subsequently, she should know that courtship and marriage are schools. You go in there, learn and get wiser and better every day. She should be a diligent student and learn. An animal that has been previously ensnared runs away from any stick that is bent.