Furore over RCCG’s Mandatory Genital Tests for Intending Couples

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• Church defends decision, says several cases of impotence springing up

Mary Ekah and Chiemelie Ezeobi

The recent directive mandating all intending couples of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) to submit themselves for mandatory genital tests has elicited mixed reactions with many in support of the directive and others wondering if the church was not going too far by invading people’s privacy.

In a memo, which has since gone viral, the Assistant General Overseer of the RCCG (Admin & Personnel), Pastor J.F. Odesola, said the church had observed the recurrence of marital crises resulting from falsehood, especially in the case of undeclared or un-confessed reproductive or genital status.

Dated May 10, 2018, the memo read: “Calvary greetings in Jesus’ name. The Mission Authority has observed the recurrence of cases of marital crises resulting from falsehood, especially in the case of undeclared or un-confessed reproductive/genital status.

“We have the directive of the General Overseer to instruct the entire Mission’s outpost that forthwith, pre-marital medical examination for intending couples should also include a genital test.

“Furthermore, provinces are requested to register with particular (trusted) government approved hospitals for the various pre-marital examinations for intending couples.

“Remain blessed in this season of songs and victory in Jesus’ name, amen.”

While some Nigerians commended the initiative, others deemed it an invasion of privacy.

A lifestyle blogger, Diary of a Naija Girl, who claimed to be in the know about the memo, said the church was acting because of so many complaints.

She said: “RCCG has heard many complaints from women as to their husband’s false declaration of sexual prowess and ability.

“Because the church frowns at divorce, women have stayed in their marriages even when their husbands are impotent.

“Because of the ‘no sex before marriage’ rule, some women don’t have any inclination of this so they go ahead and marry then get stuck or simply cheat secretly.

“For this reason, couples’ genitalia will be examined before marriage to be sure they are not basing the marriage on falsehood.”

One Dr. Jummie said: “Membership of a church means submitting to its ordinances and being accountable to them.

“Some members ensure extreme measures to prevent pre-marital sex and their first opportunity to see the ‘real’ is on the wedding night.

“So many deception cases out there. There are indeed wolves who prey on the innocent!

“Therefore having a genital exam protects these members who are trying so hard to honour God with their bodies. I agree!”

Comedian, Wale Gates was of the opinion that the church shouldn’t stop there, saying they should also look into the issue of domestic violence.

He said: “RCCG should also carry out a psychiatric test for intending husbands to identify potential wife beaters.”

Nejeeb Bello said: “I am not totally against this so called ‘genital testing’ or fertility testing ordered by RCCG before weddings.

“We don’t know why there are suddenly so many stabbings among new couples.

“Remember, RCCG pastors do marriage counselling, and complaints may have been on these issues.

“Personally, I am more worried about marrying someone with hidden mental health issues than a person who can’t have kids. Nothing should be hidden though when going into marriage.”

Iyke Iyinagoro said: “So, now they are getting involved in members’ private and intimate affairs? Nigerians should concentrate less on churches and work harder.”

Will Orem said: “Some people have chosen to remain sheep for life. This is ridiculous.”

Defending the decision on the mandatory genital tests for couples, the spokesperson of RCCG, Pastor Olaitan Olubiyi, said Tuesday that the memo in question came up as a result of different issues and cases that had been brought to the attention of the church by couples that are going through situations and challenges occurring from the non-disclosure of the health status of some men before marriage.

He informed THISDAY in a phone interview that the church was only responding to a trend that it had observed and felt it was necessary for couples, especially men, to go through genital examinations before marriage.

“In the first instance, a memo is an internal document, it is not meant for public consumption. So, it is supposed to be seen purely as a communication within the family. But that being the case, I know you might also argue that RCCG is a public organisation.

“Now, whatever the church does is always as a response to a need or reaction to certain issues. In recent times, we have had a series of cases with newly wedded couples or even existing couples that have been going through a lot of problems in their marriages, so the memo came as a response and reaction to the problems we have observed within these marriages.

“In RCCG, we believe that before the marriage vow, the two people going into the marriage must have all the information about each other and that is why they are always asked: ‘Do any one of you have any reason why this marriage must not go ahead?’

“Any marriage contracted on the grounds of deceit is already in danger. Let me just give you an instance, if a man knows he is impotent, we are not saying they shouldn’t get married, but is it not fair to let the lady you are marrying know that this is my condition and for the two of you to agree to go ahead, believing that God is going to bring healing?

“But where a man knows his condition genitally but refuses to confide in the person he is marrying and they get married and they then begin to have all manner of problems emanating from just one particular issue that has to do with the genital status that was not declared right from the beginning, that is an issue.

“The church feels this is not fair. Even apart from the man, if two people are going into marriage, there are always issues that need to be made known to each other. Look at the royal wedding held a few days ago, for example, let’s just imagine for a moment that the lady hid the fact that she was married before and got divorced, and then she went into the marriage with Prince Harry, and then the truth comes out later. What do you think would be the result?” he asked.

Olubiyi, who insisted that the church was not in any way infringing on anybody’s privacy or rights, added: “What the church is saying is that there must be full disclosure of the health status of both parties, so that the two of you would know from the onset what you are getting into.”

Asked if some church members were actually untruthful about their genital condition before marriage, he said: “That is exactly what I am saying, that a lot of marital issues come to the church and we discovered that hiding their genital status has been a major cause.

“For instance, if a couple is waiting on the Lord for children, in the African culture, a woman is presumed to be the one having fertility issues. But we discovered that most times, it is the man that has issues and more often it had been there before marriage but he never disclosed it to his wife before marriage.

“That is why the church is saying that nothing should be hidden between couples before they go into marriage.

“In the church, we also conduct pregnancy tests before marriage on the women, so if we put the woman through those tests, it is also fair that the man is subjected to certain tests before marriage.

“Ordinarily, the church should not be getting into such things but we are now realising that this is becoming a big problem because a lot of people are hiding facts and information about themselves that they ought to have shared during their courtship.”