There are some things that are just unbelievable when you first hear about them. But a greater shock comes upon discovering that almost everyone believes that those things are true. I recently experienced this kind of shock. For it was the first time I heard about the concept of ‘spirit husbands’ and ‘spirit wives.’ These are sometimes called ‘night husbands’ and ‘night wives.’ Pick your poison.

My wife and I were driving home one evening. I turned on the car radio and tuned to a local radio station. A preacher was speaking on a live radio programme. He was evidently campaigning for an overnight prayer meeting, scheduled to take place at his church. Yet what I found absurd was that his panacea for everyone who called in was the same. For he repeatedly replied, “Come to our overnight prayer meeting tomorrow and receive your deliverance.” However, this was not the worst of it. He told every woman who shared marital problems that they had ‘spirit husbands.’ These spirits were supposedly behind all their domestic woes! I had never heard of this and thought that the man was crazy.

Well, I am the one who was in for a shock. The following day I was talking to some theological students from a densely populated township in Lusaka. And they were actually surprised that I had never heard about this phenomenon. It was common talk where they lived and ministered. So they took some time to enlighten me.

What are ‘Spirit Husbands’ and ‘Spirit Wives’?

The belief is that when your marriage is breaking up due to a husband who seems to have lost interest in you, or you have serious gynaecological problems, or you are having miscarriages, it is because you have a spirit called a ‘spirit husband.’ These spirits cause problems for us in the spiritual realm. Such is also the case if you are getting on in years but remain unmarried. If this is the case you have a ‘spirit husband’ blocking other men. Thus, it is claimed, you need deliverance in order to have a wholesome and healthy marriage.

Dreams often merely express our wishes and fears

Usually, the diagnosis involves being asked about your dreams. If you have dreamt of yourself swimming (for the most stubborn ones are marine spirits), or missing your menstrual period, becoming pregnant, breastfeeding, vomiting, going shopping, having sex with a man who is not your husband, having a miscarriage, getting married, or about to get killed, then this is sure evidence that a spirit husband has entered into your life. You need deliverance. The “Man of God” will often tell you that you are dreaming about having sex with someone other than your husband. You might deny this. If you do he will claim that your spirit husband wiped it out of your memory. It is something like demonic manipulation or memory loss.

Spirits or Spiritual Immaturity?

As usual, there are many who are ready and willing to testify that they were delivered from such spirits. The “Man of God” prayed for them to be delivered from their spirit husbands. Since then their dreams have returned to normal and their marriages are back on track. For those who were not able to find a spouse, after the deliverance sessions they are now happily married.

There is no effort to show them that it is the sin in their lives that is destroying their marriages

Sadly, many of these marriages could have been salvaged through proper Christian marriage counselling. These are the ones who suffer quietly and are told that they lacked faith if they did not have a breakthrough.

Of course, this teaching is gender neutral. Men with marital problems are also being taught about ‘spirit wives’ and ‘night wives.’ However, it is most often women who fall prey to such nonsense—as was the case that evening I first heard about it on the radio.

4 Criticisms of Spirit Husbands & Wives

What shall I call this teaching? What can I say about spirit husbands and wives, which is in vogue today here in Africa? It is nonsense. Here are four reasons why:

1. Unbiblical

None of this is in the Bible. We have gone right back to the dark ages where people believed everything that priests said without ever comparing it with what the Bible teaches. As in the dark ages, the stories that are doing the rounds are larger than life. Spirit husbands are changing shape and showing up in all kinds of places. Even when these false teachers use the Bible, they rip it from its context. One teacher appealed to Matthew 13:25, “But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.” From this verse he taught that spirit husbands come at night to sleep with women.

2. Superstitious

There is a superstitious view of dreams that is totally unhealthy. If I am lusting after someone, I am likely to dream romantically about him or her. Likewise, if I am struggling to conceive a child, I will probably dream that I am pregnant. If I am longing for a job, I will dream of the day I get that hoped-for job. So too, if I have longed to meet former president Obama, I am likely to dream about having a meal with him and his wife, Michelle, at the White House. Dreams often merely express our wishes and fears.

3. Blame Shifting

This teaching fails to handle moral issues the way the Bible handles them. Those involved in sexual sin are told that a spirit spouse is to blame. All they need is deliverance. Responsibility is shifted from them onto some powerful spiritual force. The Bible, however, calls people who are guilty of sin to repent. God urges us to find forgiveness through faith in Christ. He also commands us to pursue holiness with the help of the Spirit.

Many of these women and men who are being counselled to seek deliverance from spirit husbands and wives could be unregenerate. They need to be saved by the power of the gospel. Yet, there is no effort on the part of these spiritual teachers to show them that it is the sin in their lives that is destroying their marriages. If the Lord were to save them, he would give them a new power to enable them to joyfully live in honour of their marriage vows and obligations.

4. Ignorant of The Bible’s Teaching on Marriage

There is a failure to counsel people with biblical principles of marriage. Women who were calling in to that radio programme to talk about constant fights with their husbands were not being asked whether they were observing the biblical blueprint for healthy marriage relationships. Husbands ought to love their wives as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25). Wives ought to submit to their husbands as the church submits to Christ (Ephesians 5:22-23).

Instead of pointing them to passages of Scripture such as these, the “Man of God” would go straight to telling the women that they had spirit husbands and needed deliverance.

They are blind and they are leading others who are blind into spiritual and moral ditches

Let me say it again, this teaching about spirit husbands and wives is utter nonsense! It is yet another lie of the devil that is being peddled by deceptive leaders masquerading as spiritual teachers and preachers. They are blind and they are leading others who are blind into spiritual and moral ditches. Any teaching that is not based squarely on the Bible is not worth listening to. It is nonsense!