Sex Palaver: A Raging Storm in Clergy’s Homes By Michael WEST
In my days as a music critic and a columnist in foremost Nigerian newspapers many years ago, I avoided reviewing gospel and Islamic songs because of their spiritual contents. I believe that the songs were meant to propagate the gospel, teach doctrinal precepts and promote moral rectitude against deepening decadence, corruption and slopping societal values. Critiquing such works, I believe, may negate the messages they contain in the mind of music lovers. Until late 1997 when I stopped writing, I kept faith with that decision. However, some music companies did engage me privately to critique their spiritual songs in order to improve the quality of their artistes’ repertoires and elevate their production standard.
The above reason has been why I was reluctant to address the ‘war’ in the bedrooms of clergymen particularly the pastors. Is there anything so special about these saints that makes me so reluctant to treat challenges they go through as ‘untouchable’? Absolutely nothing. I believe that what I address in this column applies to all and sundry regardless of class, religion or tribe. However, I’m looking into the issues affecting our religious leaders in this edition because I can no longer pretend about it in view of the avalanche of complaints I received so far. Last Tuesday alone, I got six complaints from different quarters bordering on poor, fitful and denial of sexual intimacy either by men of God or by their wives.
There’s a popular photograph in circulation on social media showing a weeping woman said to be a pastor’s wife with the caption, “I need sex not the Bible.” The image looks funny and laughable but it is a stark reality in several homes. Many spiritualists are found to be stingy with sex at home. For instance, many traditional healers or herbalists do observe abstinence from sex periodically. This is due to the nature of their work especially when they want to embark on rituals and power acquiring exercises. Many of their wives do lament sexual neglect and denial during the period.
Islamic clerics, too, are no exception. Some dedicated and committed imams and alfas do observe abstinence from sex occasionally either when they are busy with spiritual activities like prayers, fasting and attending to the needs of their clients or patrons. Not a few of the clerics do consecrate themselves for weeks or months in a year leaving their wives to endure prolonged sexual urges.
Some pastors’ wives are worst hit. In any case, it appears it is a 50-50 thing between some pastors and their spouses as several pastors do groan under the yoke of sex denial by their women. Despite the Biblical injunction that couples should not deny themselves of conjugal obligations (1Corinthians 7:3-6), many believers, pastors in particular, are found wanting in this area. As for the other faiths: Islam and traditional religion, they are at liberty ea to marry as many wives as they have the capacity to manage. Polygamy is permitted in the two faiths; though there’s no express disapproval of polygamy in the Bible, those who are mandated to maintain monogamy according to 1Timothy 3:2 are the ministers of God. And the reason was provided in verse 5 of the text which reads: “for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?” This simply means that one wife is manageable and it will afford the man of God to concentrate, be focused and also be able to resolve marital crisis in the families of the polygamists and other members. I’m not ready to entertain or engage in debate over the appropriateness or otherwise of polygamy in a Christian marriage. Maybe if God permits, I will attend to the contentious issue some other time.
In recent times, I have been inundated with complaints from some men of God who shared their frustration on their sex life with me. A 56-year-old Reverend narrated how his wife has been denying him sex for four years. “As we speak, sir, I’m dying in silence. My wife knows that I dare not mess around with women because of my status and the call of God upon my life. I have pleaded with her endlessly to no avail. I searched my heart to see if I offended her but I couldn’t find anything. Right under my roof, she will fix appointments with men. She now smokes and drinks liquor at will. I have been provoked to the extent that I attempted beating her sometimes but I restrained myself. Sir, I’m tired. I’m under intense emotional pressure. Please what next should I do?”
There are fewer men that complain or speak up but the majority of such men nurse their pain in silence. It is wrong to force men of God into helpless and tempting conditions that would make secret and extramarital affairs an attractive option to them. Any woman that instigates her husband’s fall into sexual sin shall not be found guiltless. Of all conjugal squabbles, sex and finances are the most recurrent. Addressing one can easily lead to solving the other.
A regional pastor’s wife is threatening divorce if her husband fails to do the needful in the bedroom. She said her situation is getting out of hand and she is ready to damn the consequence by quitting her marriage. “I’m fed up, sir. Who did I offend? This man has no erectile dysfunctional case, he’s just being mean. He pretends to be fasting every now and then and it can go on for weeks and months. Who does that? If he knows he wants to go celibate, then, he should never have gone into marriage. Anyway, it is not too late for him to quit even after four children. This man is a wicked soul. So insensitive and selfish. How and why he suddenly became sexually dry I don’t know. This was not how we started over 20 years ago. Please help me, sir. The day I allow another man to sleep with me, the marriage is over. I will never return to him no matter how sober or apologetic he may become.”
She agreed to volunteer her husband’s contact so I can wade in, and I hope God will take control of the situation. She added that this is her fifth year of struggling with emotional burden as a result of being in a sexless marriage.
Another woman said she has reported her pastor husband to his general overseer over abandonment and emotional neglect in the bedroom for two years running and still counting. “In two years, we forcefully made love four times! Rather than improve, the situation is getting worse. Sometimes he would vacate the home and go to the prayer mountain for months. The last time he spent four months before he returned home. Yet, he’s counselling couples with similar problems. I do laugh whenever he counsels to strengthen intimacy among couples. My husband is a healer who cannot heal himself. His own charity begins from the outside.”
I want to assert that neglecting or denying one’s spouse of sexual intimacy is a “fraud.” This is the viewpoint of the Bible on the matter. Verse 5 of 1Corinthians 7 reads: “Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourself to fasting and prayer…(KJV). This is a clear indication that even to observe moments of fasting and prayer at home, you must secure the consent of your spouse for understanding. The preceding verse 4 says that neither of the spouse has absolute control over their own body. Meaning, when the man needs the wife, she can’t turn him down without genuine and convincing reasons which he, too, must agree to; and vice versa. Meanwhile, the command that must be obeyed is stated in verse 3 that “Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. This is an unambiguous statement regarding sexual intimacy. That’s why verse 4 states that “The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.” The command can also be extended to include financial provision, care, attention and faithfulness in the relationship.
I want to believe that there must be reasons for sudden change of sex drive in the bedroom. Some men may have undisclosed health issues or they may choose to punish their wives with sex in retaliation for some offence or wrongdoing. Some women also use sex deprivation to bring their husbands on their knees. This is punitive and unfair. It must stop. As long as you are still married, even if you have justifiable reason(s) to deny him sex, let him know the reason. It takes happy, horny mood and gladsome heart to enjoy sexual intimacy in marriage. Spouses should strive to ensure a jolly atmosphere in their homes as a condition to engender enjoyable and sustainable sexual intimacy. May God bless your home. Amen!
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