Sat | Sep 19, 2020

Oneil Madden | The Church a contributing factor to domestic violence?

Published:Sunday | February 9, 2020 | 12:00 AMOneil Madden - Guest Columnist
Marriage is one of the first sacred things instituted by God.

The unprecedented level of domestic violence, especially against women, that our beloved country has witnessed in the past few years is not only as a result of a negative subculture, but some of its roots can also be attributed to certain decisions taken by the Church.

The numerous fatal cases that we hear of daily or weekly are just a mere, yet serious, representation of the abuse that occurs in matrimonial homes. It’s just that a lot of church sisters have been tight-lipped about what they are experiencing.

This reality is more frequent among young couples due to the pressure that the Church puts on them. Young people are often forced into marriage to protect the good image of their respective churches. There are many cases where a church sister happens to get pregnant outside of wedlock and is rushed into marriage.

Often, the young lady may not have dreamt of marrying this young man, or vice versa, as the pregnancy was the consequence of casual sex – a common relief to youthful temptation.

Additionally, young Christians are repeatedly pressured into marriage because the older brethren believe that they have now become of age to start their own families. Given this constant pressure, many brothers and sisters in Christ make premature decisions in choosing their life partners.

One primary reason for their forceful encouragement is to prevent young people from falling into sin – fornication.

Furthermore, there are church brothers who go into marriage simply to avoid the stigma and criticism from church members that they are homosexuals. On the other hand, there are certain offices or promotions, especially ministerial ones, that require marriage.

Let me emphasise that I support marriage as it is one of the first sacred things instituted by God. However, too many immature young people are getting married, and they are not adequately prepared to combat issues that arise in their marriages. They lack the emotional, financial, psychological, and spiritual maturity necessary to support each other when required.

A breakdown in one or more of the aforementioned areas can easily result in verbal and emotional abuse and later transform into physical abuse. Pre-marital counselling is, thus, very important, and this period leading into marriage must be utilised wisely.


Once the knot is tied, it is a ‘humongous’ challenge to get it untied as there are many church denominations that do not believe in divorce. Consequently, there are many Christians who suffer in silence.

Although my focus is on the youth, it must never be felt that they are the only ones who experience this situation. There are clergymen of the highest title who abuse their wives but go to church on a Sabbath or Sunday under disguise.

Nonetheless, the church still has a role to play in preparing young people for marriage. They must be properly mentored. Churches are being equipped more and more with marriage officers-counsellors and justices of the peace (JPs) who can share their experiences and give pertinent advice to young couples.

Finally, young people should be very careful in selecting a life partner. If there are early signs that the prospective partner’s behaviour and character do not correspond with your vision of an ideal wife or husband, it is fine to call off the relationship, the engagement, or the wedding.

Be careful not to lie on the Holy Spirit to say that He told you that this person was the right one. Prevention is always better than cure.

- Oneil Madden is a PhD candidate, didactics and linguistics, at the Université Clermont Auvergne, France. Email feedback to and