Should the Christian church keep ‘unequally yoked’ partners together?
A murder allegedly committed by a man involved in an 'unequally yoked' relationship with his baptised girlfriend has raised a sensitive issue that affects a large segment of Jamaica's Christian population. How does the church treat common-law relationships when one party to the relationship gets baptised before the other?
"There is a problem with how the church treats with persons in common-law relationships when one partner is baptised before the other," acknowledged Reverend Carla Dunbar to Loop News reporter, Claude Mills, on the subject matter.
“Before a baptism, I contact the man in the relationship because I believe in male leadership, because even though the woman is saved, she goes home to him. When a woman gets saved, I ensure that I adopt the man, telling him that this not an easy walk. The thing is that women are (very) emotional, and when they get devoted, they are completely at it (Christianity)," she explained.
Reverend Dunbar believes a religious conversion can lead to the other spouse walking a path of “sexual frustration”. She also said God has created a hierarchy where He is first and the family is second, and that "the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does."
She quoted 1 Corinthians 7, a part of which reads: “Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”
"Most people don't know how to create a balance, one must not idolise one's spouse, but put things in perspective, and give priority to things that deserve priority. I have seen both men and women give themselves over to Christ, and that can lead to sexual frustration for the other partner," Reverend Dunbar said.
Residents of the district of Glengoffe in St Catherine alluded to 'sexual frustration' having likely been the catalyst for a recent homicidal rampage by a man whose common-law mate was recently converted and had refused him sex for months.
One resident sought to explain further: "Months ago, the girl got baptised and because of that he wasn't getting any sex. He baptised at the Church… on Sunday, but by the night he was like stark raving mad, and he (reportedly) attacked her," outlined the resident.
The enraged man allegedly used a machete to inflict chops wounds to his mate’s neck and chest. She ran. But he pursued her and killed one of her neighbours in a dangerous rampage that also resulted in injure to another male, along with property.
Gospel singer, Sone', who is himself a minister at the New Life Fellowship Centre Church of God in Sunrise, Florida, believes, however, that a woman in a common-law relationship has the right to choose her own spiritual path, even if it involves withholding sexual favours to her mate.
"How do I live with a spouse who does not believe in God? That question is not unusual in our world today, and couples who face this situation encounter many problems. In the case of a legal marriage, and both are unsaved, and one gets saved, then the wife is not allowed to leave her husband, or withhold sex, regardless. However, in a common-law relationship, what happens then is that the woman is on a spiritual path. You cannot have sex if you're not married, or then it becomes fornication, (which) then (means that the) woman can withhold sex," he said.
He quoted II Corinthians 6:14: "Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what partnership can righteousness have with wickedness? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness?"
He used the scripture to support his argument.
He believes that marriages are sacrosanct, but common-law relationships are an entirely different type of relationship.
"If there is no marriage there, then everything changes," Sone' said. "Once one partner gets baptised in a common-law situation, the best thing is for them to do the right thing and get married, even if the man is not baptised. They just have to hope that the man follows suit and baptises afterwards."
He, however, warned that a man should not put his mortal soul in jeopardy by getting baptised to "appease a woman" and resume sexual relations.
"I believe in maintaining and sustaining families," Sone said. "Once a woman or man gets baptised, then they should get married to their partner and see how well they can do as a couple, and if the man decides to get baptised later, glory be to God."
But is it the place of the church to tell you whom you can or cannot marry? This is out of consideration that the choice of a lifelong mate is a matter of profound importance. It is second only to that of a person's relationship with God.
The Glengoffe incident is a stark reminder of what may happen when 'sexual deprivation' is combined with a baptism and unintentionally pushes a relationship asunder, which can lead to deadly consequences. Indeed, one school of thought is that maybe one should not take the scripture: "Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me" (Mark 8:34) literally. What do you think?