As surprising as it seems, I am not entirely convinced that the “right” thing to do was for the pastor’s wife to leave her husband.
On Saturday night, I imagine that many people were glued to their television screens to watch the much publicized episode of “Iyanla: Fix My Life” on OWN. For the first time since the show started, I made a deliberate effort to make sure that I tuned in because I could not believe the little bit that I had heard about what the show had in store.
Iyanla traveled to Shreveport, Louisiana to help a woman “fix” her life after her husband, a pastor, confessed to having slept with at least 20 women during the course of their 10 year marriage. The pastor estimated that about 10 of the mistresses were women who were also members of his church. The pastor had also fathered a child with one of his mistresses who was not only a church member, but was also a married woman, when he started an affair with her.
Iyanla supported the pastor’s wife through the process of admitting to herself that she wanted to leave but did not do so for two reasons. The first reason was that she enjoyed the benefits that came with being the First Lady and being held in high esteem because of her title. The second reason was that she was terrified of the unknown path that lay ahead of her if she left her husband, the church and the life that she had been living for nearly 11 years.
To me, it seemed as though Iyanla was encouraging her to tell her truth and then encouraging her to act on what it seemed she was afraid to act on. While it was very subtle, I did also feel as though Iyanla slightly nudged her towards the direction of leaving, even if not permanently. My interpretation of what Iyanla said to her was that it was obvious that she had to leave.
While I have a great deal of love and respect for Iyanla, I am always mindful of the fact that she has been married and divorced three times. That is not said to judge her, but to put some of her advice into perspective. I entirely agreed with her when she gently suggested to the First Lady that she had suffered emotional, psychological and even spiritual abuse at the hands of her preacher husband. Iyanla was right to point out that abuse is not only physical.
As surprising as it seems, I am not entirely convinced that the “right” thing to do was for the pastor’s wife to leave her husband. You don’t have to be a Christian to know that when Christians get married, they make vows to each other and among those vows, there is usually some variation of a vow to stick together through “thick and thin” and through “sickness and health”. The complicating factor here is that the pastor admitted to Iyanla that he had been molested- “penetrated by a man” at an age as young as around four to seven years old. The pastor kept that a secret all his life until he told Iyanla and that is the “sickness” that he has been living with.
It could be argued that the pastor’s adulterous ways were just a manifestation of the violation that he suffered as a little boy. He was sexually abused and then went on to abuse the woman he loved, emotionally, psychologically and, as Iyanla put it, spiritually. I am not suggesting that the pastor should get a “free pass” and neither was Iyanla but I still maintain that while it may seem obvious to some that the pastor’s wife should leave, it may not be that simple.
Being that they are Christians, I imagine that they vowed to stay together “through sickness and health”. When most people exchange vows, they make all kinds of declarations, but what most of them really mean is “I will stay as long as staying does not get too hard”. I am not saying that the pastor’s wife should stay, nor am I saying that she shouldn’t. What I am saying is that it is not as simple as it may seem and my observation is that too many people want to enjoy the “good” in marriage and will leave when the “bad” shows up; they will enjoy the “health” and won’t stick around for the healing when “sickness” shows up.
In the end, the pastor and his wife separated. The pastor went for counseling (healing). What will happen after he is “healed”, we may never know. In fact, we will never know if he will even be “healed” or if he will be a lying cheater for the rest of his life. In the end, I hope both the pastor and his wife will find peace and I also hope that they do everything that they can to shelter their children from the “sickness” that crept into their marriage.