The Marriage Issue (Part 5): Terms of Engagement

marriage issue post2Last week, we began to look at the subject of loneliness. In this message I’ll share general principles on dating and marriage – terms of engagement, if you will. But here’s an aside: As a general rule, don’t date someone you can’t marry. Apart from the possibility of an “accident,” which can get you stuck, there’s also the issue of building false hope in someone. Be fair in your dating. God hates unfairness. He calls it an unjust scale, which ties it to justice. And God is a just God. Don’t waste someone’s life. If you’re not going to marry a woman let her go. Stop using her as interim loneliness ameliorator. And if you’re not going to marry a man stop using him. The feeling of being used is a horrible feeling. Don’t buy into the nonsense out there. There are emotional devastations people never recover from. You don’t want to be responsible for that. And with that let us proceed into our discourse. I thought someone needed to hear that.


Jesus was the creative agency of the Godhead. All things were made by him, and without him was nothing made that was made. (Col. 1:16)

When Jesus created the universe he deployed a creativity sequence that is still in use till this day. All successful corporations deploy this sequence, from Microsoft, to Apple, to Samsung, especially the technology companies. You see, in space-time dimension, which is the dimension we live in, the principle of cause and effect reigns supreme. What Jesus did was to adopt and customise the essence of the principle for the Genesis assignment. And so he would cause something to happen and then check out the effect. He would create, and then examine his creation. And if there are any glitches or patches he’ll fix them. It’s why the Bible kept saying, God looked at everything he had made and he declared it good… And God saw that it was good… And God saw that it was good… That was the creative sequence in application. And he left us a record of that creative process for our use in order to learn how to innovate and create in space-time dimension. When your phone company updates the software on your phone it’s that creative template being adopted. Jesus used that sequence in the creation of Adam and we’ll soon see the relevance of it to the subject of dating and marriage.

In Genesis 2 we see God the Creator, Jesus the Christ in a design session. In v.18 we catch a glimpse of a moment in time when God arrived at a critical deduction. And we see God publish his thought process. He came to a design decision after creating the unique being called Adam: “It is not good for man to be alone,” he said. According to the Amplified Bible the text should have read: “It is not good, sufficient, satisfactory that the man should be alone.” That was a design iteration. That was God thinking out loud.

God identified loneliness as a natural consequence of the uniqueness of Adam and he began to look for solutions. And because Adam stood in a representative capacity for mankind the whole of mankind suffers from the glitch also. And Adam was a conceptual embodiment of both sexes. Therefore both male and female experience loneliness. Male and female created he them, the Bible said concerning Adam. Please note that phrase. We’ll come across it later. Loneliness afflicts both men and women, loneliness afflicts everybody in the world. It’s an Adamic phenomenon.

In looking for a solution to the problem of loneliness, pets were actually considered. They were brought to Adam to see his reaction to them. Adam’s perception of the animals informed the naming of the animals. And so God tested if he would perceive any animal as soul mate, and the proof would be the name he called the animal. By this time God had deduced that a soul mate would solve the problem of loneliness. The Bible says that Adam gave names to all the animals but for Adam there was not found a helper meet for him. (Genesis 2:19-20). In other words, none of the animals qualified, including pets.

Then a brilliant thought occurred. Why not extract an embedded concept, the woman, from inside the man. That will prevent rejection since she’ll be of the same genetic stock. The idea was to split the combo called Man into two sexes and thus create two genders. The man already possessed the female chromosome, the X chromosome. It’s why the Bible spoke of Adam in Genesis 1:27 as a male and female combo – male and female created he them, the Bible says. It’s a chromosomal reference.

Well, the idea turned out to be a stroke of genius, a design breakthrough. And so was an Adamic variant called “Woman” sequenced and introduced into creation. And the reaction of Adam to the Woman was very telling. That was proof the idea worked. Adam waxed lyrical, and displayed transcendent capacity. He became spiritual. For the first time in human history we see man compose a poem. He would create the most memorable line in history – “bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh,” he said. That line has become the stuff of legend. 6,000 years after, that poetry still resonates. Adam in essence was the first lyricist, the first rap artist, and since then men have been composing poems and writing songs to express their feelings about women. Adam taught everyone. And so we know there is something about the woman. Something compelling about her. She inspires creativity in man, helps the man discover capacities he never knew he had. Before the sighting of Eve there was no record of Adam ever composing a poem. And we had no knowledge of his transcendent or spiritual capacity. He discerned the Woman was taken out of him without being told. He was fully sedated throughout the operation. He somehow knew they had relational provincialism. He thus operated in the word of knowledge and the word of wisdom. The right partner ought to bring out the best in us, inspire us to attainment. The right partner ought to inspire spiritual capacities in us. Adam demonstrated spiritual capacity in the naming of the Woman. He named her according to revelation. He would later call her Eve. Eve means mother of all living. And thus did the prophetic and other capacities of Adam come to the fore after the woman came into his life. What is your girlfriend inspiring in you?

A woman is a very powerful concept. She makes people responsive to her, makes people want to do things for her. It’s why she can’t handle being ignored. There’s an emotional quality about her. It makes people emotional about her and she has capacity to generate huge quantities of emotional energy, so much so she can fill any cubic volume with her mood and feelings. It’s why Solomon recommends attic expedition for the man living with a quarrelsome woman. That tells you men can’t handle certain qualities of emotion. They take off.

Unfortunately the power of a woman has often been defined in terms of her sexuality, not in terms of her inspirational capacities. It’s an unfortunate stereotype, and even more unfortunate that some women themselves play to the stereotype, reinforcing it.

It’s up to you to choose how you want to deploy those extraordinary capacities God gave you as a woman – the power to inspire, to fill a cubic volume of space with raw energy, to influence decision making, to determine the outcome of destinies, to ameliorate loneliness, to inspire spirituality. These are powerful capacities. In life, our meditations determine our generations. We generate what we meditate upon. And so Philippians 4:8 comes to mind. The Bible says to meditate on what is “true, noble, authentic, compelling, gracious – the best not the worst; the beautiful not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.”

That said, it’s in your interest as a man to keep your wife happy. If she’s unhappy you can’t be happy. You’ll have to run from home. She has humongous capacity to fill that house with her mood. Please keep your mum out of your marriage. Young men keep making this mistake. They allow their mum to run roughshod over their wives. I’ve received so many mails of marriages in ruin from the vicious exercise of power by an interloping mother-in-law. Don’t destroy the equilibrium in your home with an explosive cocktail of contending negative energy. Don’t allow your mum oppress your wife. You’ll pay a terrible price. As a man you can’t function without peace.

Some mothers-in-law are so colonial. They commandeer the authority in their son’s matrimonial home and begin to exercise power in a hellish manner. There is the story of the mother-in-law who insisted on sleeping on the matrimonial bed with her son and his wife. She was visiting to help the couple in the weaning of their newborn baby. She slept on that bed every night for a whole month. The marriage didn’t survive. Mission accomplished. Then there’s the case of the mother-in-law who physically contested for a newborn with her daughter-in-law in a real tug of war, the baby as the rope. She sought to make the child get used to her smell, not the smell of the mother. Kind of reminds me of one of my dogs, Ideo, whose daughter gave birth and she chased the daughter away and took over the nursing of the kids! She just appropriated them. Then there’s the case of the mother-in-law who pointedly accused her daughter-in-law of snatching her husband from her, meaning her son. She was a widow. And so she woke up early every morning to send curses in the cardinal direction of her son’s home. She would rather the marriage broke so she can have her son back. Fortunately the marriage survived her. I could tell you many such stories. The problem is, many men can’t confront their mother’s wrongdoing. And it’s partly out of fear of those capacities. A mother can keep a contention going for decades. That requires incredible energy. And so the men will rather keep quiet and allow the mother wreck their home than confront her. The wife is left with no option than to try and fend off vicious attacks on her sanity and marriage. And in the process she suffers horrible PR. A man ought to defend his wife, not spectate while his wife is being attacked by a lioness, or a pack of hyenas, meaning his sisters. Clearly some mothers charge prohibitive rent for 9 months stay in the womb. The son continues to pay long after he has stopped using the facility. Some pay for life! The privity of contract in a marriage is between God, the woman and her husband, not God, wife, husband and mother-in-law. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cling to his wife and the two shall be one flesh. What could be more explicit and more straightforward than that! And please don’t take your wife into your family house after marriage. If you can’t get a separate apartment for your new family you weren’t ready to marry in the first pace. And don’t site your new home a walking distance from your family house, such that your matrimonial home is now an extension of your family house, your brothers and sisters strolling in as they like. It means they have no respect for the sanctity of your home.

The problem with many Christians is that they get conflicted about the tenets of the kingdom they belong to vis-à-vis their nativism. If you want to live by the tenets of native matrimonial philosophy please do. But if you want to live by the tenets of God’s kingdom you must obey the Bible. The problem comes when we try to syncretize native tradition with Biblical precepts. The two have very divergent philosophical bases.

As respects marriage, the procreative capability of a woman is what defines her value in the African traditional system. When there is no conception, the mother of the man actively shops for a new bride for her son. And the man ends up with two families. It’s allowed. Most times the original wife is chased away, even branded as a witch in the process. But in Christianity children are a blessing, not the definition of marriage. There is no basis for divorce on the grounds of infertility. And the mother-in-law is a matriarch in the African traditional system. She rules over all. She’s seen as a permanent figure in the man’s life, an immovable object, a constant. The wife is seen as a flight risk. The logic of dispensability of the bride in African traditional culture is pretty straightforward. If her primary function is the spawning of eggs, then she’s a variable. Anyone can be procured to replace her and fulfill that function. And she must bear boys!

God’s word says the man must leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife. African tradition says he and his mother are inseparable. That the wife is a disposable foreign object. How can a marriage be built on two contradictory philosophies?


But we soon arrive at a very critical question with regards amelioration of loneliness. The Woman was created to ameliorate Adam’s loneliness, to be his companion. Could any woman have played that role? In other words can we marry anybody?

There are three parameters set up by God in determining the suitability of the woman we popularly know as Eve to Adam. The name “Woman” refers to her function as a bride while Eve refers to her role as a mother. Eve means mother of all living. But she was a woman first before she became Eve. In other words she was a wife first before she became a mother. This historicism is a very important. She is a bride first and then a mother. A marriage must be able to succeed without children. You and your wife are soul mates, bound together in love and friendship. Your marriage is not a procreation contract. Children are extras.

As stated in The Marriage Issue Part 3, the three parameters used by God in the matching of the woman to Adam are suitability, adaptability and complementariness. We find this information in the Amplified Bible translation of Genesis 2:18: “Now the Lord God said, it is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper suitable, adapted and complementary for him.” Because it is an original God template it is advisable to adopt it in the consideration of a life partner. The man ought to ask himself, Is she suitable to me? Can she adapt? Would she complement me? And the woman ought to ask herself, Am I suitable for this man? Can I adapt to him? Do I complement him? Without these three factors loneliness cannot be effectively ameliorated. It’s a soulish phenomenon. The reason people feel lonely in marriage is because the marriage equation does not satisfy all three parameters. And if you take time to ruminate on failed marriages you will discover many violated one or more of these parameters at inception. There are marriages that should never have taken place. There are people who have no business marrying each other. Some people just want to marry, and that for a variety of reasons, but many times just to remove social shame. That is a very wrong reason to go into marriage with someone. Once the marriage takes place the basis of the marriage is gone! Be careful not to marry someone who just wants to marry. Or someone just looking for kids. Such a person is not looking for a wife or husband, he or she is looking for surrogate mum or sperm donor. Such marriages are full of unhappiness. The people never loved each other – at least one party never did. There’s nothing more horrible than being stuck in a marriage compartment with a man or woman who doesn’t love you. If you doubt, ask Leah. And then ask Jacob. And then ask the children from the two women in the marriage. The children of the unloved woman soon conspired to murder the first born of the favourite wife. If you marry someone who doesn’t love you, you may end up in depression, wind up in an asylum or worse, in a mortuary. When we ignore the parameters used by God we court trouble.

For illustrative purposes let me share a story with you. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in one of those relationships in which you’re in a relationship but you’re not in a relationship. The guy makes relationship demands – going to the movies, receiving and sending of intimate texts, late night phone calls, hugging, holding of hands, socializing…yet he says they’re not in relationship. You help him out with family obligations, buy expensive birthday presents, send borderline love cards…And yet he says he’s not really sure about you, that he’s still praying. That was the situation the young woman found herself in.

Clearly, the guy wants to eat his cake and have it, yet he’s not a magician. Only magicians can eat their cake and have it. I was particularly intrigued by how long it was taking to hear from God, as if God is tone deaf. And isn’t it fair that if the young man insists on not committing until he hears from God, that he should forego all benefits under the arrangement, until he hears from God? This gentleman has effectively put the young woman’s life on hold. She’s hoping against hope, and because she’s invested so much in the non-relationship it will be difficult for her to pull out. Everybody thinks they’re an item.

What this guy has done is to create room for plausible deniability. He can marry a different girl out of the blues tomorrow, after all he never promised the young woman marriage. He said he was praying. If you’re in this kind of situation you’ve got to force a discussion. Ask him a few simple questions: What exactly are we? What are we really doing? And what is this “relationship”? If you don’t force the issue the state of affair will continue till your substitute arrives. Then you will have regrets. Ask him if he won’t mind you dating other people while he’s waiting to hear from God. You’ll be shocked at the answer.

The truth is that this gentleman is struggling with one of the three mating parameters in Genesis. Does the lady complement and complete him? Clearly yes! There are things he lacks she’s bountifully supplying. She’s giving him emotional nutrient, assuaging that terrible loneliness he has. So she meets the standard of complementariness.

How about adaptability? She’s clearly adaptable. She drops everything to be with him any time he makes a request. She adapts her schedule to his social diary, all with a view to marrying him. Her desire and capacity to adapt is not in issue. So there’s adaptability.

But what about suitability? That’s the big question. And the young man is struggling with it. He can’t come out with the truth. He doesn’t consider her suitable to his self-conception, or his future. Perhaps he doesn’t find her pretty enough. This can be a struggle if his friends have pretty girlfriends. Does her sartorial taste match his expectations of his wife? Is she culturally literate? Does she understand social etiquette? Would his friends applaud his choice? Would he be proud to introduce her as his girlfriend? Is she the right weight and dimension? Does she portray class and elegance? Is she from a certain background? Where does she live? Are her parents distinguished? What level of education does she have and what schools did she go to… These are the issues he’s struggling with.

The truth is, you can’t marry just any woman. And you can’t marry just any man. I know that goes against certain religious doctrines on marriage but the truth is the truth. You will have regrets if you buy into the generic principle of marriage. Marry someone who satisfies all the three parameters laid out by God. They are your terms of engagement.

You’d be foolish not to do so.

The practical significance of the three mating parameters in Genesis to those who are already married is that a couple must seek to bridge the dissonance gap on each parameter. Complement each other, adapt to each other, make yourself suitable for each other. Marriage takes effort. It is a perpetual work in progress. There are always shifting dynamics. And that is why love is a wonderful adventure, a lifetime journey.

I wish you the best on your journey.

Thank you and God bless!

© Leke Alder