Some Jehovah’s Witnesses have decried the restriction on them not to marry Christians of other denominations. Members of the church are barred from marrying Catholics, Anglicans, Baptists and members of all Pentecostal churches, among others.
According to the Witnesses, marrying non-members is seen as immoral and contrary to the teaching of their church. Thus, such union is strongly discouraged and attract religious sanctions. Any defaulting member who marries outside the congregation is excommunicated and treated as a non member.
Some of the members, especially the unmarried ones, who spoke with P.M.NEWS but did not want their names mentioned, expressed concerns that they have limited choices to make as they cannot marry outside their church.
They said as a result of the marriage restriction, many of them could not marry on time or are forced to marry spouses they are not compartible with in the church.
Confirming the marriage restriction, a senior teacher of the church, Elder James Etop, told our reporter on Sunday that the decision was taken in line with Biblical injunction and members of the church have obligation to comply with it or not.
He said the church cannot compel its member to obey the directive but would not attend such wedding or honour the union.
Etop explained that Jehovah’s Witnesses and members of other churches do not share many fundamental beliefs and if members are allowed to marry outside the church, their faith would be affected.
He said there are many contradictions between the teachings of Jehovah’s Witness and other churches, including issues about heaven and hell fire.
Etop said other churches believe that when they die, they would go to heaven contrary to the teaching of Witness, who believes that Earth is the paradise they would inherit when they die.
“For instance, there is nothing like hell fire as propagated in many churches. Hell fire was mentioned just as an illustration by Jesus Christ when He was saying the parable of Lazarus and the rich man in the Bible. If a member marries such a person who believes in such doctrines which is against the teaching of the Witness, it will definitely affect his or her faith.”
Meanwhile, there were reactions from some leaders of other churches on the marriage restriction.
They said such teaching by the church was like turning the Bible upside down.
Pastor Frank Osemele of God’s Hand Delivery Ministry and Prophecy said such teachings are strange and contrary to the Biblical teaching.
He said once one believes in Jesus Christ and the Bible, such a person is a Christian and therefore segregation among Christians is not what Jesus taught His followers. He also said there is Hell Fire and quoted the Bible in Revelation Chapter 19 verse 20 and Revelation chapter 20 verse 10 to support his claims.
Osemele urged that such teaching should be disregarded by members because it was only meant to cause confusion among Christians. Prophet Jide Ogunshola of the Celestial Church of Christ also advised members of the church to disregard such teaching because it did not come from God.