A lot has been said about what Archbishop Duncan Williams was supposed to have said to his congregation about women and marriage. For what he said, he has been criticized, abused, ridiculed and even insulted.
Before I get into the substantive issue, I’d like to highlight the practice of positioning reporters in church auditoriums to track sermons by pastors and file reports, sometimes with sensational headlines. For some time now, I have observed that Starrfmonline.com consistently reports on aspects of almost every sermon that is preached by Archbishop Duncan Williams and Pastor Mensa Otabil. Only their news editor can explain why they do that. On a number of occasions, I have cited reportage on old messages of Pastor Otabil that were played back on his Living Word broadcast on Joy FM. Now to the substantive issue about Archbishop Nicholas Duncan Williams.
WHAT DUNCAN WILLIAMS SAID
- The Action Chapel Founder is quoted by various news portals to have said that “It’s a privilege to be married. It’s a privilege in the time we live in when it’s seven (women) to one man”.
When a pastor preaches to his congregation, he speaks to them within the context of a long-standing relationship he has had with his congregation. The congregation, to a large extent, having known the pastor over a number of years, can relate to what he says and situate it in a particular context. For example, when he says C, they know that it is based on an A and a B he talked about a month ago. So if a media house picks only the C and places it in a different context, it could be interpreted by others that the man does not know the alphabet.
I believe that Duncan Williams has been taken out of context. Of course marriage is a privilege because not everybody who desires to get married gets the opportunity to marry. And not all who get married stay married. That makes marriage a privilege. To be fair to the man, he DID NOT say that those who are not married are not privileged. He did not say that at all.
His reference to the 7:1 ratio was not to say that men are scarce so women who are abused in marriages should not seek redress. I’ll address that shortly.
- Again, the Archbishop was reported to have said that “Sister, when you get married, be thankful and stop misbehaving because it’s seven to one. It doesn’t matter how pretty and beautiful and intelligent you are; until a man proposes to you, you are going to stay beautiful, pretty, intelligent, nice and whatever, and rotten”.
Definitely, Duncan Williams is not a male chauvinist. Neither is he an advocate of domestic violence. The implication of what he said was that, if you are blessed to be married, be thankful (to God), don’t take your marriage for granted, and work hard to keep it going. Don’t feel too beautiful or too intelligent to do what you must do to ensure that the marriage works. Don’t let your beauty or intelligence get in the way of your marriage. If anything, let them enhance the strength of your marriage. The reference to the 7:1 ration implied that other women wished they had what you have but they don’t because their paths have not crossed with their ‘dream man’. And to the unmarried women who desire to marry, how are you going to get married and enjoy your marriage if no man shows interest in you. Even if you are turning down men who propose to you, it should not be out of spite and disdain. In my own small world, I have met some amazing women whom I proposed to but they turned me down. I continue to have good friendly relations with these women. Some have gone on to marry. Others are not married yet, although they are not rotting away. Intelligence has nothing to do with whether one is married or not.
The bishop’s advice is simple: don’t let your beauty and/or intelligence make you so proud that you ruin your marriage or your chances of getting married. I see his use of the word ‘rotten’ as a metaphor to imply that pride could obstruct your marriage or success in relationships to the extent that you may get lonely and menopausal (inability to conceive and make babies). He did not mean to say that women who do not get married will waste away.
- Another statement attributed to the iconic pastor, after he made the statements above: “That’s what it is, and somebody needs to tell you because there [are] so many women out there misbehaving. You got to be told the truth. And the reason why a lot of marriages are not working is because everybody is afraid to offend women to tell them; ‘Come on girl, you got a good thing going, hold fast onto it, don’t misbehave and don’t lose it’”. He also declared that, “We get offended when the truth is said, but I have come to a place [where] I tell people that I have lost my reputation a long time ago, and so it doesn’t really matter whether you like me or you don’t like me, and I don’t preach to impress people anymore. I stopped doing that a long time ago.”
The man knew the message was not a popular one but he felt compelled to say it. Of course there is room for disagreement but it gets irritating when people who do have half the credibility he has; people whose entire ancestral and personal accomplishments are nowhere near this man’s track record, insult and seek to discredit him because he has said something they disagree with or don't understand.
Let me go off with a caveat. I am not and have never been a member of Duncan Williams’ church. I have no personal relationship with him and I doubt if he will even see this write-up. But I just felt that as a Christian, I should attempt to set the records straight. I believe many of the people who are commenting (or criticizing) him on this are doing so from an emotional perspective, rather than being objective about it.
TO THE BISHOP AND THE MEDIA
I’ve got word of note for the bishop though. After almost forty years of ministry and national relevance, the bishop should realize that his ministry transcends the four walls of the Prayer Cathedral. His ministry has become trans-denominational; thus anything that happens there is likely to slip elsewhere. I believe that for the sake of preserving the integrity and influence of the church corporate in Ghana, he should moderate his statements and explore ways to communicate without being vague and/or controversial.
As for media houses which sift five-minute lines from hour long sermons and present them under sensational headlines for attention and patronage, they should sit up and treat us to intelligent, analytical and research-based news.
I sign off with a quotation from Isaiah 4:1 –
“And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, ‘We will eat our own food and wear our own apparel; only let us be called by your name, to take away our reproach” (NKJV).
Terry Mante is a Life Coach, Motivational Speaker and Author.