I want to thank you most sincerely for inviting me to speak at Joshua Ville this morning. This is my first visit to Joshua Ville and I’m already in love with the spirit.
We’re going to be talking about love, marriage and relationships this morning. That’s what I do on Twitter every Saturday. I tweet a blog called Jack&Jil. The blog has become major. In the last 28 days, 2.3million people saw my tweets. That’s what the analytics reveal. And it’s spanned the globe. It’s read in 24 counties.
There’s obviously something about Jack&Jil that resonates with people. Perhaps it’s because I say it as it is. Someone said last Saturday, “Leke Alder is one of the most explicit and real (sic) speakers I’ve ever met.” And another weighed in that he wished “this kind of explicit talk can be amplified more from pulpits. So incisive.” Well, we’re amplifying now!
What I really want to do this morning is read you a letter. I wrote you a letter. I want to give you a customized Jack&Jil experience. I do hope my letter ministers to you and your relationship. Happy listening!
About two years ago I came to certain realizations. I realized how potent marriage is, and how powerful love is. It’s right there in scriptures, but you know we like to over-spiritualize things, including basic human emotions. We reinterpret scriptures to fit our cultural worldview. Some of us are even more spiritual than God! We edit God and make him after our own likeness.
I was very surprised God was much interested in boyfriend/girlfriend relationships. I know that doesn’t sound “spiritual”. You know, in those early days of generational evolution of Christian culture on campus, to differentiate Christian relationships from the world, Christians refused to use the term “boyfriend/girlfriend”. The people were said to be engaged. I imagine then they were engagee/engagor. This of course created absurdities. How do you get engaged at the age of 16, 17, 18? How do you get engaged without marriage in view? And how do you get engaged without an engagement ring? Nobody thought about the consequences of this new sociological terminology. They could not intellectually discern that the problem was not the appellation “boyfriend/girlfriend”, it was what you did in your relationship. And soon engaged people were breaking up their engagement after university. The boys and girls were exposed to a wider variety of options and more compelling choices. There was so much pain and trauma. The breakages seemed like divorce. These boys and girls hardly knew each other. They even hardly knew themselves. The relationships were bound to break! The boys didn’t even own a bed! And money matters very much in marriage.
One can draw one or two lessons from those experiences:
One: Have a fair knowledge of yourself before making a matrimonial commitment to another. Know what you want. You’ll make the other person’s life miserable otherwise.
Two: Don’t make a marriage commitment to someone you hardly know. That he’s Christian is not enough. The qualification for becoming a Christian is not the same as qualification for marriage. One is a free gift of God, the other requires maturity and effort.
Now it would seem, on the surface that God left us instruction-less on boyfriend/girlfriend relationship, but left a swath of information on marriage. If that were the case it would be most unlike God. I will lead you in the way you should go, he said. And the Lord is our shepherd, to feed us, guide us and shield us. You can’t leap from adolescence into marriage. God is interested in every stage of our life. No thought or desire is hidden from him, including your heart desire for boyfriend.
The heart is an amazing invention by God. By the heart I don’t mean that mechanical implement pumping blood through your veins. That’s just a cardiovascular pump. It’s no different from the water pump at home. Works on the same principle. By heart I mean our sensitivity system, the one that “breaks” when we have heartache. Solomon said, hope deferred makes the heart sick. Essentially therefore, hope is the vitamin of the soul.
Now, the Bible says to guard your heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life. I want you to take a moment to reflect on that. One translation – The Message translation says, “Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts”. And yet another translation – the New Living Translation says, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”
The practical reality of this passage is that, that boy toasting you will determine the course of your life. And for Jack, that girl smiling at him will have an unimaginable impact on his life. She can cause his death, send him to the sanatorium. If I were you I’ll be careful whom I choose as marriage partner, and I’ll take that choice seriously. It’s your destiny we’re talking about.
No one goes into marriage and remains the same; it’s impossible. And no one comes out of marriage unaltered. Marriage is a great processor. It will process you and determine the outcome of your life. It’s why you shouldn’t marry an NFA (No Future Ambition). He’s going to ruin your life, limit your future, snuff out the promise in you. Love cannot suffer from astigmatism. Love cannot be blind. It can choose to wear sunshades but it cannot be blind. If your love is blind you better send it to the ophthalmologist, or you’re going to fall into a ditch.
Now, I have taken time to study scriptures. And God has graciously surfeited me with his revelation. As I studied scriptures I found out that relationships (including the boyfriend/girlfriend variety) are so serious to God they’re actually contextualized within the commission of Jesus, and even in the atonement. And lest you think I’m delirious and fabulistic I’ll give you the Bible citation. Remember when Jesus walked into the synagogue and was handed a scroll that was opened to Isaiah 61? You’ll find that story in Luke 4 from verse 18. Luke actually skipped a sentence from the original scripture in Isaiah. The original reads as follows: Isaiah 61:1: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted…” Luke skipped that statement – “he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted” and jumped to the next statement – “to proclaim liberty to the captives”. Now we can come up with all sorts of theological explanations why the statement was skipped but the fact remains that the tending of broken hearts is within the messianic charter of Jesus.
Now, here’s where our religiosity intrudes into our understanding: we can’t imagine that a girl’s broken heart, or a young man’s broken heart is within the contemplation of scriptures. Yet it is.
It doesn’t matter to God how your heart got broken – whether Labake broke your heart, or Darlington broke your heart… or your heart broke because you lost a loved one… As long as you have a broken heart God will bind up that wound. That’s what the scriptures say. God envisaged the possibility of Labake and Darlington breaking each other’s hearts and made provision for healing. Healing is healing to God, whether mental cases like the craze man from Gadara; or physical healing like the healing of the invalid at the Pool of Bethesda; or the emotional healing of Labake from breach of promise of marriage by Darlington… God heals all diseases and sicknesses. He heals all grief. And grief is specifically mentioned in the messianic prophecy of atonement.
Isaiah 53:4 says, Jesus bore our griefs and carried our sorrows. He’s referring to depression as well. In fact the Amplified translation says, Jesus bore our “griefs, sicknesses, weaknesses, and distresses and carried our sorrows…” Note that there is no plural for the word “grief” yet the Bible says Jesus bore our griefs. God is emphasizing that there are different types of grief and that the sacrifice of Jesus covers all. If you’ve been sick from heartbreak, if you’ve been disappointed in marriage, if your fiancée died and you’ve not been able to move on, or you’re divorced, God will heal your pain this morning. God cares for you physically, mentally, emotionally and psychologically.
This simple revelation led me to organize healing programs for those on my Twitter timeline – people with broken hearts. I called it Moving On! I was very troubled by the mails I was receiving. So much anguish, so much pain and sorrow. One very pretty corporate executive almost committed suicide because her husband left her. (I get regular mails from people contemplating suicide). Last year alone I answered over 1,200 mails.
The programs took place in two prominent hotels in Lagos, but under very private settings. You couldn’t attend unless you wrote in for an invitation stating your problem.
When we put the announcement out on Twitter, I was thinking of an intimate setting for 20. To my shock and dismay so many people responded and we eventually pruned the number down to 150. Out of this, 120 people showed up, including a brother and a sister who came independently.
I didn’t have a format for the program. All I had was a burden. I had barely introduced myself and handed the microphone over to someone than the stories began. People began to talk. They spoke of pain, spoke of anguish, and they began to cry, until everyone in that auditorium was crying. So raw were the emotions and so traumatic the stories that my staff ran away from the auditorium. They couldn’t take it. My wife ran to the bathroom and wept, and wept and wept. The psychotherapist I invited to assist me held up for the most part but ended up weeping overnight. The people wept from 10am till 7pm. The floor was carpeted with tissue. We had to go and buy extra boxes of tissue.
But something miraculous happened. As they wept they were healed, and delivered. Forgivenesses were wrought and healings came. And the miracles continued after the program. New jobs, new relationships, new opportunities, new life… The key was forgiveness. When we hold on to the pains of the past we can’t apprehend the joys of tomorrow.
One of the most beautiful testimonies was a woman, a medical doctor who had worn black since her fiancé died. She wore black every day for many years like a widow. A few days after the program, she wrote me. She had decided to wear colour for the first time that morning, and henceforth. God had changed her wardrobe and given her floral beauty for ashes, and the colourful garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. There were so many testimonies. I’d never witnessed that kind of deliverance. You can’t box God. I didn’t lay hands on no one, I didn’t do a thing. The anointing just permeated the hall without a hint of religiosity. God came into that hall and fulfilled the omitted statement from Luke chapter 4. He bound up the broken hearted; and then moved on to the next statement to proclaim liberty to the captives. And our God will do the same here today. I want you to forgive all those who have hurt you. Forgive your father, forgive your mother, forgive your brother, forgive your sister, forgive your pastor; forgive the man who impregnated you and disclaimed responsibility; forgive the man who jilted you, the one who left you at the altar; forgive the girl who cheated on you, and forgive yourself. If you don’t forgive, you can’t come out of prison. Forgive. As I speak this morning, the yoke is being broken by reason of the anointing. The anointing always breaks the yoke.
Now here’s the shocking fact from those deliverance sessions: 99% of the people in that auditorium were born again Christians attending brand name churches. Clearly we have an emotional epidemic on our hands. Something is wrong. Perhaps we’re not saying it as it ought to be said. Or the scaffolding of the artificial parameters of spiritualism we erected is collapsing on us. We are harbingers of truth. If the truth sets people free, how come our people are in bondage? Our suspension of reality in the amplification of ideals of faith is creating problems for our youths. We have created nonhumans through our teachings, men of faith, X-Men, cyborgs and superhumans… Yet we’re still men and women. We need love, we need friendship, we need affection.
We need to take another look at our relationship value chain. We need to take another look at our philosophy of choice of life partner. You see, by the time the people come for pre-marital counseling the mistake of choice has been made. A bad marriage starts with a wrong choice of partner.
A relationship is not some synthetic configuration. It’s not something cobbled together by the imprimatur or spiritual fiat of a pastor. A wedding is not the same as a marriage, and a marriage is not the same as a happy marriage. A relationship is two people with feelings, emotions and needs. And happiness matters in marriage. The opposite is depression. “Am I going to be happy in this marriage” is a very, very legitimate question.
We don’t pay enough attention to the soulish quantities of marriage. And that incorporates the physical configuration and presentation of the woman. If a man tells you looks don’t matter, you better believe that New York is the capital of Sokoto State. Men are moved by physical appearances. Men respond to beautiful looks. And they have templates. What Satan does is tell Christian women to look ugly as measure of spirituality, while he tells his own daughters to look alluring. The Christian women then end up looking like his associates, the demons. Demons are incredibly ugly and smelly. But he encourages his daughters to be beautiful like the holiness of God. The Bible talks about the beauty of holiness. And because the Christian women don’t look attractive to their husbands, a gravitational pull of temptation is created for the men. Your secretary looks beautiful, your wife looks ugly, and you call that spirituality? Every day you keep casting out the spirit of lust!
Look beautiful. The physical matters to men. It appeals to their ego and vanity. The beauty of a woman adds to a man’s brand equity in the comity of right thinking men. Men can be vain when it comes to women. Look, the guy is not God. Only God looks at the heart. The rest of us look at appearances. And if you’re a man and you’re better dressed than your wife, something is not right. That’s your glory looking ugly. God made women compelling objects of admiration. And Sarah came to the notice of Pharaoh’s court before any thought of Abraham came up. He was just a collateral. God gave the woman easy access to power. Read history. Now imagine what happens when physical beauty is combined with inner beauty? That’s God’s formula. It’s why the Bible uses Sarah as the model of feminine beauty. She combined both inner beauty and outer beauty.
Friendship is also important in marriage. Marry your friend. Become friends with your spouse. Do the things friends do. Friends go out together, friends spend time together. The Bible calls friendship love of delight and affection – phileo. Please don’t tell me you love your wife or girlfriend with the love of the Lord! Who are you kidding!
Love is important in marriage. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You don’t want to be in a loveless marriage. Ask Leah. And then ask Jacob.
Love is that beautiful and marvelous titillation of heart. It is someone caring for you, someone caring about you…
Love is a caramelized slice of happiness… It’s the soul gleefully rejoicing in private giggles as it shares a recollection with itself.
Love is that tolerant affection that allows you to be you, allows him to be him. It is the private charter of the soul.
Love is that oneness of spirit… the bridge of difficult divides of life. Love assaults racial and tribal barriers. It is a compressor of nativity and time.
Love is two people assuring each other they can surmount the odds of this life with a unified front.
Love is someone believing in you, having faith in you, just because you’re you and nothing else.
Love is a dream of life, the taking of strolls hand in hand under the haze of a heavenly chandelier called the moonlight.
Love is that knowing look, a secret code of the heart discernible by an audience of one.
Love is the tenderness of affection… the arm around the shoulder in the shuttered lights of the movie theatre…
Love is the colour blocking of a man’s vision… It is 120 shades of psychedelic hues… the high heels that resonate in the heart of a young man as they knock on the floor.
Love is the accessorization of a woman in quantums of golden affection, the glittering expressions of diadems.
Love is a leaping of the heart, like John the Baptiser leaping for joy in the musty sac of amniotic fluid.
Love is customized affection. It is me knowing you and you knowing me and nothing else matters.
Without love, marriage becomes utilitarian. It is full of duties and no joy. Such a marriage has the fetid taste of a grey pasty substance the palette abhors. And if anyone tells you these romantic notions are the negation of spirituality ask him if he never read a book called the Song of Solomon. If anyone tells you these ideals are nothing but the deliriousness of fermented imagination, then you must recuse yourself from sitting in the seat of the scornful.
Don’t marry someone you don’t love, or who doesn’t love you. Marriage requires dutiful, delightful and emotive love. Mushy sentimentalism is desirable. The human soul hungers for it. You want to wake up in the morning besides someone who thinks the world of you, someone who utters a prayer of thanksgiving to God for you… Don’t marry just to remove social stain or shame. Those desperate two to three letter prefixes to your newly acquired name are not worth the years of pain and anguish. Those alphabets are not worth crying yourself to sleep every night, consoling yourself in the fact you have children. Marriage is not meant to be pain and sorrow. Marriage is a beautiful thing. It’s meant to be full of hope and joy.
Now here’s a revelation men are uncomfortable with: a man can’t do without a woman! Only purposed eunuchs have that grace. A man needs female companionship. He’s lonely otherwise.
We must distinguish physical loneliness from emotional loneliness. Men sometimes want physical alonement, but they can’t deal with emotional aloneness. Adam’s physical alonement was not his problem. His problem was emotional loneliness. It’s why God had to create Eve. Men don’t do well with emotional loneliness.
Now, there is something God put inside a woman to ameliorate a man’s emotional loneliness. The locus classicus is the story of David in old age. When David became old, he suffered from shivers. He was always cold. Nothing could cure that cold… not blankets, not the fireplace. That already tells us the cold wasn’t physical. Were the cold physical, water heaters, blankets and a fireplace would have cured it, as anyone who has ever visited Britain in winter can tell. What David suffered from was emotional loneliness. It manifested as shivers. And that happens. It took the engagement of a pretty young woman named Abishag to ameliorate the shivers. Abishag never slept with David. They didn’t have sex. But she gave him warmth and intimacy. Intimacy matters to men. It cures emotional loneliness. The problem often is that we procure sex to solve our intimacy problems. Sex calms the nerves. It relaxes the nerves through the mechanism of acute tension and sudden release. The only problem is that once another thought-induced or visual-induced stimulation comes, the nerves begin to cry again and the cycle resumes. The man begins to look for sex again. Now you understand why masturbation requires more masturbation until it becomes an addiction. And now you understand what Paul was talking about in Galatians 5 when he wrote about loveless sex being repetitive. In Galatians 5:19 (MSG), Paul wrote about the trap of “repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness… paranoid loneliness… all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants… a brutal temper… an impotence to love and be loved… divided homes, divided lives… uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions…” He called these the results of the desires of the flesh. The flesh is not the physical body. It’s a technical word for your psychological state… the way you think and reason.
As a woman you must learn how to minister intimacy to your man. It gives him assurances, and men need assurances. They experience doubt and fear. Many affairs come about in pursuit of intimacy, albeit in the wrong places. It’s why deep friendship matters in marriage.
In closing, let me show you the importance of your thoughts.
When you visit certain homes you’ll notice the atmosphere is heavy and very disturbed. You feel uncomfortable. You can’t feel love in that home.
But when you visit some other homes you can feel love and harmony. There’s this indescribable warmth and easiness. There are no atmospheric sharp edges. The environment is curved and smoothed like the beveled corners of iPhone 6.
Where did all these environments come from? The chill wasn’t generated by the fridge; neither did the warmth come from the gas cooker. Those environments were generated from the insides of the occupants of those homes. Our dominant thoughts permeate our environment. We are radioactive materials leaking thoughts into the atmosphere.
And now you see the practical significance of the Bible giving you recommended thinking list. In Philippians 4:8-9 (MSG) Paul wrote: “I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious – the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise not to curse.”
It’s all in your thinking. What have you been thinking: beauty, love, harmony, joy, peace…? Or bitterness, anger, resentment, hatred, pain and sorrow. Whatever you think will permeate your home, your life, and your relationship.
Thank you and God bless!
Delivered at Joshua Ville, COD, Victoria Island, Lagos
Sunday, 8 March, 2015
© Leke Alder | firstname.lastname@example.org