KAMPALA – A few days ago, I saw you on NTV discussing issues about the Christian [mis]understanding of the institution of marriage, polygamy, divorce and remarriage, adultery.
Dear Pastor Solomon Male,
Why you are wrong on questions concerning the Christian teaching on the institution of marriage, polygamy, divorce, and remarriage, and adultery
I became your fan when you exposed the tricks used by some Pentecostal pastors in order to attract masses to their churches and eventually steal from them. It is no doubt that you helped many innocent Christians yearning for miracles and financial breakthroughs not to fall into the tricks of such wolves in shepherds’ clothing. Thank you!
A few days ago, I saw you on NTV discussing issues about the Christian [mis]understanding of the institution of marriage, polygamy, divorce and remarriage, adultery. Unfortunately, this time you got it wrong! As a concerned Christian [and your brother in Christ], I would like to respond to your false claims concerning the Christian teaching on those issues.
Since you used the bible to explain the Christian [mis]understanding on those mentioned topics, I will use the Bible to correct your misleading claims. To be fair to you, I will try as much as possible to avoid quoting Roman, civil, or Church law. Again, I write this response out of charity for you and for the masses out there who follow you on media, just as I do. This response is not a fight.
THE CHURCH ORDAINS MARRIAGE
This is totally false. The Church understands that marriage predates it. It proclaims that marriage was ordained by God at the beginning of creation: “And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth” (Genesis 1:28).
“For this reason, a man will leave his father and his mother and unite with his wife, and the two will be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). In the Catholic Church to which I subscribe, this fact that marriage was ordained by God (not instituted by the Church nor by the state) is taken so seriously that in celebrating the sacrament of holy matrimony, the couple (i.e. man and woman) are always the ministers of the sacrament.
In other sacraments, usually, the priest (or deacon) is the ordinary minister for the sacrament. This also explains why the church respects the natural bond of marriage. The Church recognizes those who are in a natural marriage as “married” although their union is not a sacramental bond- which is a participation in the life of Christ (just as baptism is being born in the life of Christ).
The church also nullifies a marriage if it is found out that there was a natural bond between, before or during the wedding. The church also nullifies a marriage if there was no consent from one of the partners (for example, if it is found out that the couple was forced to get married, etc). Nullifying a marriage means that there was no [sacramental] marriage bond. Please note that “nullity” does not mean the same thing as “divorce”.
IT IS HYPOCRISY OF THE CHURCH TO CONDEMN POLYGAMY
I was indeed surprised when said that the church is “a hypocrite” when it condemns polygamy and divorce. You mentioned Old Testaments figures such as Moses, Jacob, Abra[ha]m, Solomon and other figures who had a litany of wives to support your claims. I am sure that you know (like any other seasoned Christian) that Christ is the fulfillment of the Old Testament and all the prophets. I will quote a few teachings of Jesus Christ on divorce and polygamy to show the falsity of your claims.
Here I call to mind Matthew 19:3-8. Twice during the dialogue with the Pharisees who questioned Jesus about divorce, he shows that right from the beginning of creation, God ordained marriage to be between one man and woman (Gen 2:24) and divorce was allowed by Moses because of the “hardness of your hearts” (Matthew 19:8). The dialogue between Jesus and Pharisees took place in the following way:
Some Pharisees came to him to test him and asked him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason?” And he answered them, “have you not read that from the beginning the Creator created them male and female and said, “For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and unite with his wife, and the two will be one flesh?’ So it is that they are no longer two, but one flesh.
Therefore, what God has joined let man not separate.” They objected, “Why then did Moses order to give her a certificate of divorce and send her way?” Jesus answered, “Because of the hardness of your heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning, it was not so.” (Matthew 19:3-8).
We can see that from this dialogue with the Pharisees, Jesus Christ does not agree with your claims. Jesus Christ explains the immorality and impermissibility of polygamy and divorce not by referring to Jewish laws (or Roman laws as you do) but by appealing to the beginning of creation.
Genesis states explicitly that marriage was ordained by GOD to be exclusively between one man and one man, “the two shall become one flesh, Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:7). I think you can now see that your claim that “there is no passage in the bible that condemns polygamy” is baseless. I would encourage you to read Genesis 2 and Matthew 19 closely.
Your appeal to Old Testament figures who had many wives and concubines such as Jacob, David, Solomon, etc is explained by the fact that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophets and that all these figures were only prefiguring Christ the fulfillment of the Law who was yet to come. Also, your question whether these “Old Testament persons are not in heaven because of polygamy” is uncalled for since it is God, not the Church, that determines who goes or does not go to heaven. The same reason [that Christ fulfills the OT) applies to other [Mosaic] laws. For instance, according to Mosaic law, adultery was punished by stoning to death.
Did Jesus (although he was a Jew) permit the Pharisees and Scribes to stone the woman caught in adultery in John 8: 1-11? As the fulfillment of the Old Law, Jesus warned the woman “not to sin anymore” (John 8: 11) but never surrendered her to be stoned.
“THE BIBLICAL DEFINITION OF ADULTERY IS HAVING AN AFFAIR WITH SOMEONE WITH WHOM YOU HAVE NO PURPOSE OF PERPETUITY”
You assert that the biblical definition of adultery is “having an affair with someone with whom you have no purpose of perpetuity.” This is very wrong and very misleading.
Don’t Scriptures say that David committed adultery when he had an affair with Bathsheba the wife of Uriah the Hittite (cf. 2 Samuel 11) whom he intended and indeed married after killing Uriah? Scriptures say that when the mourning of Bathsheba was over, David sent and brought her to his household, and she became his wife and bore him a son (2 Sam 11: 27).
What David had done was evil in the eyes of Yahweh (2 Sam 11:28). Tradition has it that as a sign of his repentance, David composed Psalm 51 in which he pleaded God to purge away his grave sin of adultery.
I would like to bring to your attention that in the New Testament, the definition of adultery is more radical than mere having an extramarital affair: mere looking at a woman lustfully is adultery! Jesus says in Matthew 5:27-28.
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell (Matt 5:27-30).
After these words, Jesus states emphatically even the one who divorces a woman (except on matters of chastity) and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery:
It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, makes her an adulteress; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery (Matt. 5:31-32).
I would like to end by reminding you the words of the greatest scripture scholar, St. Jerome, who stated that “ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” As a shepherd (pastor) and a prominent speaker, I advise you to study the Bible (both the Old and New Testaments) as a whole- not just snippets. Otherwise, you will mislead many people on issues concerning Christian marriage.
Looking forward to receiving your response,
Fr. Joseph Lugalambi is a Roman Catholic Priest of Masaka Diocese.