COMPARISON OF CONSEQUENCES OF CHILDLESSNESS AMONG CHRISTIAN COUPLES OF THE NONGO U KRISTU U I SER U SHA TAR (NKST CHURCH) IN BENUE STATE, NIGERIA
This study focused on comparison of implications of childlessness among Christian
Couples of the Nongo u Kristu u iSer u Sha Tar (NKST church) in Benue state, Nigeria. The pain associated with childlessness is a concern throughout the world and particularly in African societies and the church which believes so much in the biblical command of God to Adam and Eve to multiply and fill the earth. The social, cultural and biblical factors attached to children make childless couples go through intense pain, loss of faith, anger and frustration. This research is therefore carried out with the specific objectives to investigate the implications of childlessness on the social life of Christian married couples in NKST Church in Benue State of Nigeria. Investigate the implications of childlessness of Christian couples on the growth of the NKST Church in Benue State of Nigeria. Survey design was used in the research and the target population reasonably reached. Their views were collected and analyzed.The total population for this study was 517 childless members of the NKST church in Benue. Census sampling technique was used since the population was small. The instruments used to generate information from respondents for this research were questionnaire and interview. After analysis of the data, the findings therefore, are presented as follows;
It was discovered by the researcher that childless wives suffer in the hands of their husband‘s relations, these women were totally disrespected and treated as outcasts as presented on table 7 that shows the mean of 2.87 as the highest. The findings on the growth of the church in Benue shows that when couples procreate, the church also increases its membership; reversibly, the church suffers numerically as shown by the highest mean of 3.31 in table 11. From the findings of this study, it is recommended that, major stake holders in the Christian community should lead in a crusade against ungodly cultural tendencies like reproach, condemnation and shame that sometimes left these couples with no option but withdrawal from the public on account of their childlessness.
Distressed and dissatisfied life from childless couples should be discouraged through the use of biblical teaching in church sermons, workshops and seminars. The NKST church in Benue state should also provide medical information and or assistance to the childless couples from time to time.
1.1 Background to the Study
The command by God to Adam and Eve at creation is to increase and multiply. In Genesis 9:1, God make child bearing one of the essential and blessed part of marriage. However not all Christian marriages are blessed with a child or children. Seen in biblical times certain marriages were childless (Genesis 20:18; Levticus.20:21 & Luke 23:29). Childlessness is a serious challenge and life stressor among childless couples in the Nongo u Kristu u iSer u sha Tar (NKST) Church in Benue State.
The knowledge about the command by God to procreate fashion the affected couples wandering whether they are truly loved by God or not. In Genesis 1: 28 ―God blessed them and said to them, be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it‖. This command was given to the first family established by God. The family therefore is the oldest institution on the surface of the earth, dating back from the time of creation in the Garden of Eden.
In Genesis 2:18 God said ―it is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him‖. Children are legitimately brought into the world through the family hence, it is through the marriage platform that procreation takes place legally. Therefore, it is the general expectation of every married couple, that it is blessed with a child or children. Child bearing is good and parenthood is celebrated by many cultures and societies hence the Psalmist says: “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord. The fruit of the womb is his reward. Like arrows in the hand of the warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them . . .” (Psalm 127:3-5a). It is important to note that “God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive the full rights of sons” (Galatians 4:4). That is, God chose to use the process of procreation to bring his Son into the world, through the virgin (Mary). It is with this biblical position and understanding that childlessness becomes very painful and stressful for the affected couples. The teaching of the bible is very clear that children are blessings from God and childlessness is seen as a curse. As recorded in the Bible, Abraham and Sarah, Samson‘s parents, Hannah and Elkanah in the Old Testament and Elisabeth and Zechariah in the New Testament experienced childlessness and suffered humiliations of various kinds.
The desire to have children arises from both the biblical and traditional world-view and value system where children occupy a very important place and are greatly cherished in the family. This desire to have biological children is however sometimes, impeded by one reason or another. Mbiti (1969) notes that it‘s God who gives children. Therefore conception in the African mind, is thus, not merely the result of the coming together of a man and a woman during sexual intercourse, but rather, it is the result of blessings from God and the ancestors. Every individual is the outcome of human act, God’s creation and ancestral blessing. Procreation is from this standpoint, taken as a central requirement of marriage while childlessness is abhorred.
The researcher observed that in some societies in Nigeria, marriage and procreation are synonymous. Marriage is not fully consummated until the wife has given birth. Among the Tivs for instance, the husband of a childless woman is constantly asked by his people whether his wife is ‗good‘. Meaning that, a childless woman is not a good woman and can only be traditionally and culturally good when she has children. For these reasons, in most African societies, unhappy is the couple that has not been blessed with a child or children. Childlessness is a common problem in Benue State among Christians in the
NKST Church as most couple feel so frustrated, confused and in some cases such couples doubt and question the power of God: this situation can be so challenging that it affects the faith of the Christian couples.
Generally, Benue State where this research is carried out is largely a Christian community with over 250,000 members from the NKST Church, and approximately one percent (1%) of childless members (NKST secretariat, 2017). No doubt therefore, that when couple experience childlessness, it increases frustration, doubt, discrimination and humiliation which eventually leads to separation and divorce. Failure in addressing problems of childlessness may bring about decline in the zeal the people have for the
Lord and doubts may take over the mind of childless couples in the NKST Church in
Benue State of Nigeria.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The pain associated with childlessness is a concern throughout the world and particularly in African societies. Children are regarded as great treasure to their parents, relations and the immediate community. Childless couples are constantly under stress, frustration and disappointment. They loss respect and most times suffer ridicule. They are always tensed and sorrowful. Childlessness causes constant fights, misunderstanding and suspicion in the marriage and sex becomes unfulfilling. Infertility is a serious problem in the Nigerian context because must often marriages are threatened with divorce, separation and polygamy.
Report from NKST Church Women Fellowship Conference (2016) shows that the number of childless couples is tremendously on the increase in the Church. The church as part of the larger society is affected hence the need for this research. The church is made up of Christian families, therefore, when Christian homes are united, the Church is united but when Christian families no longer live in peace, the church is affected, and one of the problems that brings about disunity in Christian families is childlessness. Childlessness among Christian couples causes physical violence, psychological violence, marital instability or uncertainty, social isolation and deprivation of different kinds. Childlessness can be very traumatic for couples.
There are a lot of problems that are associated with the childlessness. The social and cultural factors attached to children make childless couples to go through various healthseeking or fertility-seeking processes. As they desire to fulfill the obligations of marriage increases, both the man and the woman experience intense pain, anger and frustration, sometimes basic family issues suffer as both couple withdraw from the regular husband and wife communications. In the mist of these, they are constantly struggling so hard to protect their relationship. At some point they express desire for emotional connection/interaction at one moment and another moment they emotionally withdraw this. Childless couple may not be enjoying their marital relationship, by continually shifting blames leading to malice and other forms of marital discord. Medical decisions most times are not easily made as sometimes one partner may not be in support and this causes depression in the couples. The normal menstrual period for a woman creates anxiety between the couples as they anxiously wait, the woman will miss her period and be pronounced pregnant.
The researcher is a clergy and has personal experience of counselling several families affected by the situation of childlessness. Their frustration, anger, loss of faith and bitterness expressed by the affected couples within the church is a cause for concern and has prompted him to undertake this research, with the hope of finding out the implications of the condition of childlessness among Christian couples on NKST Church in Benue State.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The main objective of this study is ‗‗Comparison of implications of childlessness among Christian Couples of the Nongo u Kristu u iSer u Sha Tar (NKST church) in Benue state, Nigeria while the specific objectives are to:
- investigate the implications of childlessness on the social life of Christian couples in NKST Church in Benue State Nigeria;
- find out the psychological implications of childlessness on Christian couples in NKST Church in Benue State Nigeria;
- determine the implications of childlessness on the economic life of Christian couples in NKST Church in Benue State Nigeria;
- assess the implications of childlessness on the moral and religious life of
Christian couples in NKST Church in Benue State Nigeria;
- investigate the implications of childlessness of Christian couples on the growth of the NKST Church in Benue State Nigeria.
1.4 Research Questions
The following research questions are raised to facilitate the success of this study:
- what are the implications of childlessness on the social life of Christian couples in the NKST Church in Benue State of Nigeria?
- what are the psychological implications of childlessness on Christian couples in NKST Church in Benue state of Nigeria?
- what are the economic implications of childlessness on the life of Christian couples in the NKST Church in Benue State of Nigeria?
- what are the moral and religious implications of childlessness on Christian couples in NKST Church in Benue State of Nigeria?
- what are the implications of childlessness of Christian couples on the numerical growth of NKST Church in Benue State of Nigeria?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
The following hypotheses were formulated to give direction to the investigation:
Ho1 there is no significant difference in the opinions of male and female respondents on the social implications of childlessness of Christian couples in NKST Church in Benue State of Nigeria.
Ho2 there is no significant difference in the opinions of literate and illiterate respondents on the psychological implications of childlessness on Christian couples in NKST Church in Benue State of Nigeria.
Ho3 there is no significant difference in the opinions of the employed and unemployed respondents on economic implications of childlessness of Christian couples in NKST Church in Benue State of Nigeria.
Ho4 there is no significant difference in opinions of rural and urban respondents on the moral and religious implications of childlessness on the life of Christian couples in NKST Church in Benue State of Nigeria.
Ho5 there is no significant difference between the opinions of youth and adult respondents on the implications of childlessness of the Christian couples on the numerical growth of NKST Church in Benue State of Nigeria.
1.6 Significance of the Study
This study will be significant to childless couples, intended couples, church ministers, counsellors, the general public, and academics in the following ways:
To the childless couples, it could help them to appreciate that people are concern about their plight even in the academic sector. The result could be a road map for their understanding on how to deal with the challenge(s) of childlessness. They will be sensitized on the adverse implications of using ungodly means to resolve the situation. Couples that are blessed with children would also understand from this research that, childbearing is a gift from God.
Intended couples would also benefit from this study in the sense that it could be an eye opener? They would be exposed to the causes of childlessness such as premarital sex, abortion among others which can be avoided while they are still single. Furthermore, additional precautions shall be given as recommendations.
This work is hoped to be a good reference material to the clergy. They could use the findings of this study for several purposes and different forums. It could be used to sensitize these groups of individuals in special meetings such as workshops, seminars and personal visitations. Again, the clergy can use it as church sermons on the need to respect and encourage childless couples.
The counsellors could use this to make people to realize the challenges being faced by childless families and understand the extent to which childlessness has destabilized many Christian families. The findings and recommendations would serve as counselling tips with their clients. They are to identify those in need of their services and offer the best advice.
On a general note, the general public could benefit from this research because the problem of childlessness is not limited to particular countries or religions. It is experienced by many couples all over the world. So it could benefit couples in other country and religions. Childlessness can be experienced by anybody irrespective of his/her status.When someone reads a book that is written based on this work, the proposed book of this nature would generally be helpful.
This work would serve as a reference document that other researchers can use to advance the course of academics in Nigeria and beyond. Future researches could consult and make reference to it as it adds to the literature. It is expected that lecturers of institutions could recommend this material to their students who may also see it in their libraries.
Clergy men can also make reference to the work or material.
1.7 Scope of the Study
The challenge of childlessness isa universal phenomenon. For this study, the focus was on childlessness among Christian couples in NKST Church in Benue State, Nigeria. Benue State has twenty three (23) Local Government Councils with three (3) Geopolitical zones. The research covered all the three zones in the state. This research concentrated on the implications of childlessness on the social, psychological, economic and moral life of Christian couples on the NKST in Benue state. Benue State is chosen because the researcher is a minister in the church and an indigene of Benue state. He is aware of the challenges as a minister or clergy who live with these childless couples. Again, NKST Church can be found in other states of the country,therefore, the findings can be generalized to childless couples in the Nigerian church and beyond.
COMPARISON OF CONSEQUENCES OF CHILDLESSNESS AMONG CHRISTIAN COUPLES OF THE NONGO U KRISTU U I SER U SHA TAR (NKST CHURCH) IN BENUE STATE, NIGERIA