The last couple days have been rife with conversations about divorce and domestic violence following the unfortunate passing of popular gospel artiste, Osinachi.
The late singer’s family claim she was assaulted by her husband which eventually led to her death.
According to her elder sister, “the husband, Mr Peter Nwachukwu hit her with his leg on the chest. All these while, he had been beating her but my sister hid all that she was passing through from us.”
“Before now, we told her to come out of the marriage, we told her that they are not divorcing, that it’s just separation. But she felt that God is against divorce.”
This got me thinking and I decided to put my thoughts into words. Why are we as a people so against divorce? How does religion and belief affect that decision?
What does the Bible say?
Matthew 5:32, “but I say unto you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery; and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.”
Mark 10:9 reads, “What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder”, a verse you hear a lot as a churchgoing christian. Verse 11 reads, “Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her”
There are more bible verses that basically outlaw divorce in no uncertain terms. However in Matthew 19:9, the bible basically repeats Matthew 5:32, adding the caveat of cheating being the only acceptable reason for divorce. In 1st Corinthians 7, Paul also adds that you are allowed to divorce if your partner is an unbeliever and decides to not continue in the relationship.
The founder of the Dunamis International Gospel Center, Paul Enenche came under criticism for saying “Divorce is not allowed under any condition”. The late Osinachi was a member of his church. To be fair to him, he added that “it is better to be alive and there is no marriage than for you to die because of marriage” but religion and belief in Nigeria doesn’t always come with common sense.
What does Islam say about divorce?
Unlike in Christianity, divorce isn’t totally frowned upon in Islam. Instead, it is looked at as a last resort if all else fails. The Prophet Muhammad once said, “Of all the lawful things, divorce is the most hated by Allah.”
However, Under the Quran, a husband can leave his wife for up to four months in a trial separation. Once that four-month period has elapsed, the husband and wife are to reunite to continue their marriage or obtain a divorce.
Then there’s society, this also plays a part when couples think about a divorce. There’s a stigma in our society around divorcees that we cannot deny. Your own parents, extended family, even your friends and colleagues will try to convince you to stay in uncomfortable situations just because of what people will think. So it’s not always all on religious institutions, the society and immediate community also has its faults.
When the Osinachi news broke, my youngest sibling asked on our private family group chat if divorce was allowed for Christians. I kept mute but watched to see the reply from my parents, all I got was a “Go and check the bible” mockingly, from my mother. The problem is that in a country as religious as ours, people tend to take what they get from the bible literally without any kind of interpretation.
Personally, I do not believe that the bible that was written all those years ago should be blindly followed in 2022. The difference in the times from 1990 till now is so large that blindly living life through a book written thousands of years ago is comical.
Domestic violence is serious and it’s real, it happens all around us. In 2021, the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) recorded 2,584 domestic and sexual violence cases for adults, with women being the main victims with 2,349 cases. Telling people being abused to stay in their marriages because of some belief system or because of fear of the societal backlash is not the way to go. Instead, we as a society should learn to be more accommodating and shun the abusers.