EVALUATION OF THE IMPACT OF CHRISTIAN EDUCATION ON MARITAL LIVES OF THE NORTHERN NIGERIAN CHRISTIANS(A CASE STUDY OF ABUJA NORTH DISTRICT)
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This study was carried out to examine the evaluation of the impact of Christian education on marital lives of the Northern Nigerian Christians in Abuja North District. This study was undertaken to deal with family issues and misunderstandings that could lead to divorce from a religious perspective. To achieve this objective, four research questions were formulated to guide the study. The data was collected from both primary and secondary source. The primary data were collected with the help of a well-structured questionnaire of two sections administered to married couples in Northern Nigerian Christians, Abuja North District. The collected data were analyzed with tables and simple percentages to analyze the research questions. The study reveals that the emergence of disunity in Northern Christian’s homes is occasioned by a lot of factors including incompatibility in social and sexual life, lack of marital confidence, third-party syndrome, economic disquiets, to mention a few. Consequences of marital crises were identified to include; poor mental, emotional and physical health of couples and their children, divorce, physical abuse and threat to life of partners. The study concluded with some recommendations that pastors should organize compulsory Christian education classes for both married and intending couples to reduce the rate of marriage divorce that is rampant in Christian marriages today and in the Northern region in particular.
1.1 Background to the Study
Christian education is paramount and a necessity in attaining marital stability. As it teaches intending couples to perceive misunderstanding as a normal thing that should be dealt with amicably by married couples. Christian education reveals the most important biblical perspectives on marriage and marital live in a Christian family. It unveils in a broader scope what are to be expected of intending couples right before they steps into marriage. It presents marriage and family together in form of a unique societal sphere of close relations. This unique sphere can be explained as a sphere of love, stewardship, self-denial, obedience and restoring this sphere will enrich family life at large and could provide a positive solution to the emerging crisis in marriages today. The quality of information accessed by couples through Christian Education during marriage counselling determines the level of successful marriages in various matrimonial homes (Ubogu, 2011).
To meaningfully discuss the impact of Christian education on marital live in Northern Nigerian Christian, it is pertinent that we have a thorough grasp of what marriage and Christian education are all about. Marriage is a covenant of undivided affection between a man and a woman, ordained by God for the purpose of increase of human family and the education of children. Marriage is a revocation consent which each partner freely bestows on and accepts from the other, the unity and fruitful love, which exists between them. This imposes total fidelity on partners and argues for unbreakable oneness. Marriage is the most fundamental social institution in human society. Marriage is the first school of social virtues, which, is the animating principles of the existence and development of the human family or the society (Chidi, 2012). Marriage was divinely established and instituted in the Garden of Eden (Gen 2:24) by God Himself, and affirmed by Jesus to be a long life union between a man and a woman in loving companion and for the purpose of fulfilling an innate need for community and procreation.
Christian education can be defined as the process of learning which shapes the minds, beliefs, attitudes, and values through acquisition of knowledge, skills and trainings or instructions. Since Christian Education involves the administration and coordination of programs or strategies to facilitate the spiritual growth or discipleship of believers into Christ-likeness. The impact of Christian education on marital lives of Christians in Nigeria cannot be over emphasized. Apart from serving as the lineal between theologians and Christ’s ministry here on earth. Christian education promotes spiritual transformation within the congregation by providing educational opportunities for growing in faith, deepening theological and biblical reflection, and serving others as God’s faithful people. Christian education is not simply education for education’s sake, nor is it merely driven by pragmatic necessities; rather, it is a ministry of the church. Education that seeks simply to impart knowledge or raise levels of cognition or awareness falls short of education as a clarion call to Christians. Christian education transforms couple’s character to a character that portrays Christ’s character of humility, obedience, love, honesty, patience, kindness, mercy and many others as described in (Philippians 2:5-8). With these qualities, one would be loyal to his congregation and family at large.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The primary aim of marriage is unity, complimentary and oneness. But, looking deep into what is obtainable today; it was discovered that some of the Northern Christian homes are presently in chaos and some at the verge of divorce while some are already experiencing divorce just because they neglected Christian education guidelines before entering into marriage. Wilmoth & Smyser (2010), in their studies observed that 40% out of 100% of Christian marriages today collapse within three (3) or four (4) months after the wedding, which was as a result of lack of exposure to premarital counseling, that is why the majority of them find themselves in this marital conflicts. Every home is constantly under the influence of some external and internal pressures, a condition that it is somewhat inevitable that every marital union faces the dynamics of marital crisis. Crises are therefore a common feature in every union or association of two or more persons and marriage is not immune to this. Couples engage in conflicts more often due to economic, sexual and power control. Some couples tend to quarrel over money more often than other things. Looking at what is happening in the society and in some of Christian marriages, some marriages have led to divorce while others face numerous marital conflicts because most of the couples did not seek premarital counseling (Christian education) before entering into marriage. This means that the teachings from Christian education on marriage are messages that every couple which intends to have a lasting home should not undermine because, it is important and it determines how a marriage will look like either good or bad. It is against this background, the researcher examined the evaluation of the impact of Christian education on marital lives of the Northern Nigerian Christians in Abuja North District.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
In broad terms, the major objective of this study is to investigate the impact of Christian education on marital lives of the Northern Nigerian Christians. The specific objectives are to:
- To explain and discuss the benefits of Christian education on marital lives of Christians in Northern Nigeria.
- To determine the level at which marital lives and crisis may interfere with the religious affairs of couples in Assemblies of God Church Abuja North District.
- To help intended couples in the church to ensure a healthy, romantic and lasting marriage.
- To proffer possible solutions to marital challenges facing Christians through the adoption of Christian education concepts and theories.
1.4 Research Questions
The following questions were formulated to guide the study;
- Does Christian education and religious teachings have any significant impact on marriage?
- Does marital lives and crisis interfere with the religious affairs of couples in Assemblies of God Church Abuja North District?
- Has religious marriage classes positively influence Christian marriages in Assemblies of God Church Abuja North District?
- How does Christian education help intended couples in the church to ensure a healthy, romantic and lasting marriage?
1.5 Significance of the Study
This research will be useful to the following people:
- Ministers of the gospel who crave for lasting marriages who perceives religious counseling as parts of their obligatory duties.
- It will help intending couples who are preparing for marriage to understand some necessary things they needed to know before entering into marriage.
- Christian educators and counselors in churches would be able to pummel their efforts in the area of premarital counseling so as to save marriages.
- The findings of this study will be of great benefit to married couples from Assemblies of God Church Abuja District in improving and minimizing disunity in the home especially those Christian families experiencing marital crisis.
- Finally, the findings of this study will also attract future researchers in similar field in order to give a better understanding of the problem at hand.
Since this research is theological in nature, the main instruments used in carrying out the study were oral interview; the researcher conducted a survey of related literatures such as; a detailed survey of the Bible, commentaries, Encyclopedia, Christian Journals, books, internet, and dictionaries. Data was gathered from the following sources and libraries:
- The Evangel Theological Seminary library, Jos, Plateau State.
- The researcher’s personal library and internet.
1.7 Delimitation of the Study
This study is concerned with the influence and contributions of Christian education to marital lives of Christians in Nigeria. The study will help the married couple to know how to deal with marital challenges ranging from: lack of children, extended families interference, financial issues, and sexual compatibility and address them accordingly. The study assumes that Christian education has some interconnections with religious premarital counseling and its benefit to the church and married couples are usually lasting marriages.
The scope of the study is limited to intending and married Christian couples in Assemblies of God Church Northern Nigeria, Abuja District. The findings from the data analysis will also be useful to all churches and theological colleges.
1.8 Limitation of the Study
A study of this nature is not expected to go with certain restrains, in the cause of the study there were some factors that limited the scope of the study;
a) Availability of Research Material: The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study.
b) Respondents: The researcher was challenged by the inability of respondents to meet up with deadlines and submission of the questionnaire. The interviewer could not meet up the scheduled appointment which led to delay in its collation. However, the available data were used to present a valid work.
c) Time: The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.
d) Finance: Limited Access to the required finance makes it difficult to get all the necessary and required information concerning the study.
1.8 Operational Definition of Terms
For the purpose of this research work, the following terms will be defined as follows:
Evaluation: this is the making of a judgement about the amount, number, or value of something; assessment.
Impact: Is a change that results when something is done or happens: an event, condition, or state of affairs that is produced by a cause.
Christian: A Christian is simply someone who follows Jesus, who calls upon Jesus Christ as his or her Lord as well as Savior (Rom. 10:9).
Christian Education: Christian education is the process by which persons are confronted with and controlled by the Christian gospel. It involves the efforts of the Christian community to guide both young and adult persons toward an ever-richer possession of the Christian fellowship. It is both individual and social in nature.
Christian Education Ministry: Christian Education Ministry involves the administration and coordination of programs or strategies to facilitate the spiritual growth or discipleship of believers into Christ-likeness.
Christian Marriage: A Christian Marriage is when a marriage union takes place between two Bible believing Christians who truly want to serve the Lord together.
Counseling: It is the advice and support that is given to people to help them deal with problems, make important decisions, etc.
Marriage: Marriage is the institution whereby men and women are joined in a special kind of social and legal dependence for the purpose of finding and maintaining a family.
Premarital Counseling: Premarital counseling is best defined as knowledge and skills-based training procedure, which aims at providing couples with information on ways to improve their relationship once they are married.
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