The suspension of John Kumuyi demonstrates the triumph of dogma over doctrine, norm over scripture and prejudice over Christ's prescription.
It is no news that John Kumuyi, the second son of Pastor W.F. Kumuyi, got married to his wife Love Odih on June 15, 2013 in Jamaica. It is no news that the couple were suspended by the leadership of the church because of the wife's make-up and dressing at the wedding.
I struggled within me whether or not to post this on my blog because I do not want to say anything that may affect the ministry of Pastor W.F. Kumuyi because he is a good, sincere and god-fearing man. But then I looked at the larger picture of the body of Christ and the pain that the leadership of Deeper Life has inflicted on the young couple as a result of their suspension, I came to the conclusion that this issue should appear on my blog.
To start with, Deeper Life Bible Church holds on to certain doctrines and practices that are questionable. Some of their doctrines and practices are spelt out below:
1. A female cannot shake the hands of a male Christian.
2. Members could not previously watch television because was said to be the Devil's box
3. If you are a polygamist before you got saved, you have to divorce all your wives except the first one to make heaven even if all the wives had children for you.
4. No birthday celebration.
5. You must marry only a deeper life member.
6. No beating of drums or dancing is allowed in Deeper Life?
I do not claim to know everything about the Bible. I have studied the Bible prayerfully and with the aid of Bible dictionaries, concordances, commentaries, maps and (original Greek and Hebrew texts to find out the meaning of difficult passages) since the Lord Jesus Christ saved my soul in 1986. I cannot find scriptural support for some of the practices of Deeper life Christian Church.
For example, the Deeper Life's doctrine that a sister cannot shake hand with a brother does not have a Biblical basis. The Bible says give one another holy kiss (on the cheek not on the mouth consistent with the culture of the days in which it was written) Romans 16:16.
Pastor W. F. Kumuyi should explain to the body of Christ why his female members cannot shake the hands of male Christians.
Some members of Deeper Life could not own or watch televisions because they previously said that it was Devil's box. Was this what Pastor Kumuyi taught them or what they inferred from his teaching? Happily, Pastor W. F Kumuyi now appears on television and this issue now appears moot.
On polygamy, if the polygamist puts away his second and other junior wives, is that not divorce? Does that not violate God's statement in Malachi 2:16 that he hates divorce? And are these wives that are put away permitted to remarry? If they are not permitted to remarry, Deeper Life needs to tell us why. If they are permitted to remarry, Deeper Life needs to explain why. Why should a polygamist put away his wives that he married before he was saved when the Bible says that every person should remain in the situation he was in before the Lord calls him. I Cor. 7:18-20. And what will be the status of the children of the second and other junior wives of a polygamist after the latter puts away their mothers? Are they bastards? Are they legitimate? And if the polygamist dies, should the children of the second and junior wives participate in the distribution of the estate of the decedent polygamist?
Where is it written in the Bible that a person should not mark or celebrate his birthday?
Where is it written in the Bible that they should not beat drums or dance in the church?
Where is it also written in the Bible that a Deeper Life Member cannot marry other Christians? Does that mean that we cannot find any Christian in other denominations that is good enough for a Deeper Life member to marry? Is Deeper Life Christian Church a cult because all the characteristics of a cult are present in Deeper Life?
Coming back to the issue that prompted all this. John Kumuyi and Love Odih did not violate any scriptures in conducting their wedding ceremony. Love Odih did not expose her private parts the way she dressed. Their transportation by a limousine is not sinful because the use of limousine in most countries during wedding is a standard practice. It did not indicate affluence or aristocracy or abnormality. What they violated are Deeper Life's traditions or norms or regulations which Deeper Life Church ignorantly elevated to the status of Christian doctrines. The prejudices and preferences of Pastor W.F. Kumuyi are simply not the doctrines of the Bible. The doctrines of the Bible are those taught by the Apostles of Christ in the Bible and Our Lord Jesus Christ during his earthly ministry.
Pastor W.F. Kumuyi teaches that Christian women should completely abstain from the use of jewelry, make-up and expensive clothes. There are only two scriptures that directly address that issue in the New Testament. 1 Tim. 2:9-10 and 1 Pet 3:3-4.
The best Bible commentators all over the world interpret the verses to mean that Christian women should not place too much emphasis on their outward look. They are unanimous in their view that the passages do not teach complete abstinence. The Greek texts and the history behind them are in accord. Finally, if the two passages are to be interpreted literally, like pastor W.F. Kumuyi does, they will lead to absurdity. For example, 1 Peter 3:3 says "whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting of hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel."
Notice the italicized portion of that passage. It says " putting on of apparel". According to the dictionary, "apparel" means "cloths". So if you say that the Bible completely forbids plaiting of hair, wearing of gold, it also forbids wearing of cloths. You will be saying that Christian women cannot wear cloths. This is the kind of absurdity a literal interpretation of that scripture will lead to. I respectfully disagree with Pastor W.F. Kumuyi on his total abstinence doctrine.
Love Odih, the wife of John Kumuyi, is an attorney at law in Jamaica. She obtained her law degree from a British law school. She could have been convinced before her marriage based upon her own personal study of the Bible, that the Bible does not teach total abstinence from the use of make-ups, jewelry and expensive clothes but moderation in the use of these things.
I believe that the letter of apology sent by the couple to the leadership of Deeper Life Christian Church after the fact was just to pacify Pastor W.F. Kumuyi and his Deeper Life Church but not out of conviction that they did anything wrong. After all, I examined the pictures of Love Odih posted on the web before the wedding, they clearly showed that she was not in the habit of dressing like a Deeper Lifer before her marriage to her husband. And her father cannot reasonably claim ignorance of that fact. Additionally, Pastor W.F. Kumuyi was present at the wedding ceremony and did not postpone the tying of the knots before the wedding vows were exchanged. Silence in the circumstances amounted to a waiver of their rule. The only objective explanation of his conduct was that he did not want to interrupt the marriage. If that was the case, he should not have allowed the leadership of his church to suspend his son and his daughter in law after the wedding.
My sympathy is with John and Love Kumuyi. Their parents and church members have used their tradition to to turn the couple's honeymoon to mourning-mood. Christians should not accept things taught by popular pastors without independently studying the Bible to see if the things are correct. Acts 17:11.
I have to give credit to Pastor W.F. Kumuyi for his stance on holiness and purity and for his exemplary lifestyle. He is one of the very few Generals of God in Nigeria. He is an Iroko tree in the Kingdom of God in Nigeria. He is considered by many to be a very honest and sincere pastor. It is just that some of his teachings on external dressing and practices cannot be objectively reconciled with scriptures. Deeper Christian Life Ministry needs a paradigm shift towards teaching people to obtain righteousness through Christ rather than by works. Our works of righteousness are like filthy rags.
Yours in his vineyard.
Dr. David Akintimoye