“Marriage is metaphorically the most profound relationship God has with his bride - that is the Church."
Being purveyors of God’s word, pastors and gospel singers are cognizant of God's loathing for divorce.
The scripture says God takes exception to it, because it tears at the heart of his redemptive plan for the world.
Malachi 2:14 says: You ask why he no longer accepts them. It is because he knows you have broken your promise to the wife you married when you were young. She was your partner, and you have broken your promise to her, although you promised before God that you would be faithful to her.
By being involved in God’s work, principally preaching the gospel and bringing more people to his side, you would expect some pastors’ vanguards against satan’s mischievous shenanigans and tangled web of sin, especially against their marriages, to be impregnable.
As it seems, however, some pastors’ defenses against the devil are just as weak as those of some of their new acolytes. It seems the men of God have moments of indiscretion as well.
You could rationalise that it is the reason the evil one has been doing numbers on the Church, not only in Uganda, but also in other countries.
“While many will probably gloss over it, I will say it straight from the shoulder; it is obviously the evil one who deluded and lies at the root of the marriage vow violations of controversial evangelical pastors such as Aloysius Bugingo of the House of Prayer Ministries,” Bartholomew Mukasa, a theology student, says.
“The evil one’s dark schemes are also to blame for the unraveling of Pastor David Kiganda, Steven Mutesasira and Geoffrey Senyonjo’s marriages.
Sadly, the marriages of gospel musicians such as Isaac Ruccibango, Judith Babirye, Fiona Mukasa, also bore the brunt of the evil one’s schemes,” he adds.
Bugingo, roundly criticized for indelicate remarks about Teddy Bugingo, his estranged wife, seemingly took the subsequent backlash from fellow pastors and the public against his impolite words and alleged infidelity; like water off a duck’s back, yet, by all accounts, he had dishonored his marriage vows with his infidelity.
Could divorce become the new normal in the Pentecostal church?
“Bugingo had his defenders, needless to say. Many of his church folk remained loyal while others remained on the fence. From his case, you could argue, divorce and remarriage may with time become the new normal in the evangelical church,” evangelist Fred Mukosha, opines.
“You can’t rule it out. Think of it, scripture outlaws certain sexual orientations, but those orientations over time became accepted and at length, became as normal in the Western world.”
Using Bugingo’s example is not singling him out; that’s far from it. It is just that his story is more recent and pronounced.
“The fact, however, is that he is intent on marrying the other woman. He is pushing for divorce from his wife of 29 years, yet as Jesus taught in Matthew 5:31-32, divorce can only happen in cases of adultery and desertion; of which Bugingo seems to be the culpable party,” says Mukosha.
Bugingo’s wife had accused him of infidelity and neglect, but she had stopped at that. She hadn’t said she wanted to bring down the curtains on their marriage.
“The Bible is clear in 1 Cor. 7:12. In the chapter, pastors are encouraged to steer clear of sexual immorality and to honour their marriages,” says evangelist Moses Opio.
Suzan Apio, a theology student and evangelist at Leading Light Church in Sonde, says the attack on the institution of marriage is real and spells trouble for the church.
“Marriage is metaphorically the most profound relationship God has with his bride - that is the Church," she says.
"Some pastors have violated that relationship with their misconduct yet in signing up to serve the Lord, they are expected and are supposed to be exemplary. And it is a bad thing that some of the pastors do not want to stand corrected on the issue. That sets a very bad precedent,” Apio says.
Church’s changing stance on divorce
If recent calls and proposals relating to Catholic clergy marriage and granting a divorce to aggrieved married Catholics ever come to fruition, they would herald a major challenge to centuries-old Church tradition.
It would be an extraordinary chapter of the 21st century if it came to pass.
Debates and calls for opening up priesthood to married men in parts of the globe where clergy are few and far between have in recent years gotten more amplified and in 2016, Pope Francis announced new procedures to make it easier for Catholics to get marriage annulments.
A falsified doctrine
According to the scripture, Jesus lived a very simple life. There was nothing ostentatious and grandiose about his lifestyle.
If you juxtapose Jesus’ lifestyle with that of many of today’s controversial sow-a-seed-prosperity Gospel pastors, you will discern a huge contrast.
“Their lives are a far cry from Jesus’. They are inclined to glamour, fancy cars, flashy houses, jets, expensive clothes, etc," says Apio.
"For the most part, they get rich off God’s people through high-pressure offerings and a falsified tithing doctrine, which the New Testament doesn’t teach about."
Could be this, perhaps, be the century we shall fully see the false prophets, whom Jesus, Peter and Matthew talked about, for who they are?
“Prosperity gospel pastors, who tell their congregations that if they give their money to God He will bless them with more money, are no different from the early controversial Christians who used to sell indulgences [payment to the Church that purchased one an exemption from punishment],” says Mukasa.
Through the years, the prosperity gospel movement has gotten harsh blowback from prominent evangelical leaders, such as Rick Warren and Ben Witherington III. Warren said the prosperity theology promotes the idolatry of money.