A quiet revolution is taking place in Christian circles, particularly among Pentecostals, the novel born-again generation.
In the past it would have been near impossible to hear a pastor discuss marital intimacy as a major focus of a message from the pulpit of a Pentecostal church of old – 1990 and backwards towards the early 1970s, when the SU wave of Pentecostal revival swept into Nigeria. Today, Pentecostalism has taken a new hue as adherents have seemingly cast off the ‘yoke’ that once held them from frank discourse on certain important issues vital to have a sense of fulfillment in the way they profess the Christian faith. One of issues is marital intimacy, which was not meant to be discussed even between couples. Back then, born again preachers were very modest and meek in their preaching, teaching, dressing and mode of worship. Some found it extremely difficult to make certain pronouncements because they were bound by their strict Christian upbringing not to utter certain words perceived to be offensive to the ear. The type of guidance younger women got from wives of such preachers centred mostly on spirituality and holiness while they carefully avoided issues relating to marital sex. Meanwhile several Christian spouses desired to have more satisfying sexual experience within the confines of their marriage and still remain within the bounds of holiness.
The times have changed. Some Pentecostal pastors have learnt how to call to a spade a spade, and not shovel. Nowadays, marital intimacy is being discussed from pulpits as a vital component of the messages that strengthen marriages, keep adultery at bay in such marital unions while both spouses still study, meditate on the word of God, live righteously and blast in tongues. When couples attend ministrations, where the issues surrounding marital intimacy are discussed, they more often than not leave happily and smiling.
One Pentecostal preacher who is respected and admired for her ministrations in this regard is Pastor Funke, wife of Bishop Felix Adejumo, founder and senior pastor of Agape Christian Ministries Inc. Pastor Funke is a spell-binding motivational speaker, marriage counsellor and a typical African woman, who believes in the biblical injunction that the husband is the head of the home and a thoroughbred Yoruba woman who does not miss kneeling down to greet her elders. She did not come from a privileged home background, but with grace attained success.
Her teachings have endeared her to many because she is not the type that preaches spirituality only. She touches lives, heals relationships, teaches men and women about every day life issues, telling spouses how to be in unity, love and happiness.
Now consider me: I am not a member of her denomination. I come from a Catholic background, but recently I listened to her ministration on righteousness, which charged women to be of good conduct. But I found her teaching on marital sex as a vital pillar for buildibg a happy home mind-blowing.
Mrs. Adejumo explained that women should not wait for their husbands to initiate sex all the time. “Ask your man, are we taking a journey to Jerusalem today? Make him feel wanted,” she said, and frowned at women whose attitude discourage marital sex. Instead, she urged women to take the lead role and adjust to various styles during intercourse, rather than sticking to the centuries old conservative style of the game.
Her words: “Give him what he wants, the way he wants it and watch him all day. You will see that his pet name for you will be consistent.” Even the male pastors, deacons and the other men who always wear a stern face who could not restrain themselves and cracked up in broad smiles. It was a message with a difference.
Her avant-garde teaching on the issue struck the right chord with the men among the congregation who grinned from ear to ear. Trust some of eagle-eye cameramen who zoomed in and caught several men touching their wives, telling them to listen attentively. Clearly, the message sank deep into the brain of the congregants and lodged there, triggering off beautiful thoughts of righteous and enhanced marital sex and perfect bonding.
It is quite difficult to take an accurate census of dying marital relationships she has healed with her heartwarming messages. Really, many marriages have soured because of the orthodox teachings couples had long received on the topic, leaving spouses sexually starved. This situation has caused trouble in several homes. A sex-starved man can kill with a pretentious reason.
The story of Paul and Miriam best illustrates the damage which the issue of sex can cause in a marriage. The misunderstanding between the couple had deteriorated to such an extent that divorce was being considered as the next necessary option. Until they got to that point, nobody had taken pains to investigate the cause of the problem between the couple. Fortunately, a young, Spirit-led pastor who got involved had a private chat with Paul to know if there were other issues at the root of the matter. That was how Paul opened up and spilled the beans, revealing that his wife had for long starved him of sex. He said he irritated him so much she turned him down, he got so angry that he sometimes thought of strangling her. Miriam was a dyed-in-the-wool Catholic raised by an aunt who was a Reverend Sister and taught her to have a very dim view about sex and keep away from men. So she did not understand the special power of sex to bind a couple together. With the fresh insight, the young pastor worked to counsel and reconcile them, and in the process rescued the marriage and stabilised it.
Also consider this other instance that happened when I accompanied some neighbours to attend a post-wedding thanksgiving service at Latter Rain Assembly Church, Ogba, founded by Pastor Tunde Bakare. As the new couple danced to the altar, Pastor Bakare invited them to the podium while their family and well-wishers waited at the altar. He then asked the bridegroom whether he performed the first marital rite after the wedding and the groom nodded in affirmation. Bakare shook his hand and congratulated him before praying and blessing the couple.
In most churches, people sleep or doze become alert and attentive when marital sex and how it should handled to enhance bonding is being discussed. You find that the most ardent listeners are men, who are bothered by the unsatisfactory response they get at home.
People were shocked a Christian man was caught watching pornography in his office. He had positioned his table where many might not see the screen of his laptop view. But as the saying goes, every day for the thief, but one day for the owner of the house. It was unbelievable and a big embarrassment.
Adejumo further told men: “How many times have you woken your wife up at 2:00a.m to appreciate her for being the wife who threw away her own father’s name to take up yours forever? The same woman who bears children for you that she will not take to her father’s house. A CNN research found out that the most important word in English is mother.” Then she asked: “Is it easy to marry and live with a man? It is not an easy task; therefore, women should also be appreciated in their little world.”
The most striking thing about her teaching is the fact that she uses practical examples and everyday family experience, issues and matters arising. As she types on her iPad, she teaches others to passionately appreciate God for their fingers which some people do not have. She has a way of captivating the audience with the power of oratory and examples that people can relate to.
To people who tend to claim, “it is not a big deal’ Adejumo explained that they could not be more wrong, saying that the situation is very much a big deal in the sense that some people forget what they should remember and remember what they should forget, stressing that when this type of lifestyle is adhered to regularly, life becomes uninteresting.
Every teaching on sex, therefore, be it in school, church or at a programme attracts huge and rapt attention, especially when couples who are directly involved are in attendance. Adejumo wants women to honour their husbands in totality, but most importantly, to appreciate, praise and worship God.