One question that does not seem to go away on the radio program I participate in is on spiritual husbands and wives. So today when someone called in to ask whether it’s true you can be married to a spiritual husband/wife, I decided to do a bit of reading on the teaching. This was because while I have head the teaching and I have been asked questions about it I always brushed it off as ridiculous and another consequence of African Traditional Religion in the church. However, it has now become clear that this is a very popular teaching among many Christians, particularly in the charismatic/Pentecostal movement. So what is the gist of this teaching and what is ridiculous and disturbing about it?
The teaching about Spiritual Husbands
The best and fair way to understand and represent a teaching is to let the people who believe in the teaching present and explain what they teach.
Erica Joseph is widely quoted by many proponents of this teaching as does Dr. Itiola in an extract from his book saying “Sexual experiences with demonic spirits are very real even in this day and age. I have personally taken both men and women through deliverance, that have experienced this and some became bound by the spirits of Incubus and Succubus. I have personally taken both men and women through deliverance, where the witch or warlock has actually, through the use of astral travel, seduced them, having sexual relations with them as they slept, with them thinking it was only a dream. This having been done through the utilization of "Familiar" spirits.” The said demons even have names! They are called Incubus and succubus. 
On another site the author eloquently exhorts the readers to be weary and alert about these spirits.
“Are you experiencing difficulty in your life, marriage, or relationship? Has God revealed to you the root cause of your problems? Do you see or have you seen snake(s) in you dream? Have you seen yourself swimming in the river or dreamed about sleeping with someone? Do you eat in your dreams? Do you have sex in your dreams?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, your problem is most likely rooted in spiritual husbands or wives also referred to as marine spirits. These spirits are the most destructive, very wicked and hate union, marriages, progress with perfect hatred.”
Furthermore, we are told by Sam Udoubak in an article titled “What to know about spiritual husbands and wives” gives us the signs of spiritual husbands and wives and states things like “sexual relationships in dreams, hatred of marriage, being jilted by serious partners, missing one’s menstrual period in the dream, pregnancy in the dream, breast-feeding a baby in the dream, having a family in the dream, shopping with a man/ woman in the dream, seeing a man sleeping by one’s side in the dream, sudden Hatred by earthly spouse, serious gynecological problems, having a miscarriage after sexual dreams, dream marriages, constant wet dreams, late marriage or no marriage at all”
What is their biblical basis?
As far as my research went, I only came across one verse in the articles I read that was used to argue for the biblical basis of spiritual spouses namely Matthew 13:25 which says
“…but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away.” It is important to note that Matthew 13:25 is a verse in the middle of the parable of the wheat and the tares which when read in its full context will say:
“He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn” Matthew 13:24-30
Now at face value we can at least agree that this passage is at least talking about the kingdom of heaven since verse 24 clearly tells us “he put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared….” and that it is talking about some form of punishment and reward for those who do evil and good respectively. Another thing worth noting is that you need some serious creative ability and mental gymnastics to notice spiritual husbands and wives from verse 25.
What is disturbing about this teaching?
What has become very clear to me is that this teaching is based on African Traditional Religion (ATR). This is so because ATR strongly believes everything that happens in the physical is the work of spirits (good or bad). Therefore if you have a dream it is not just a mere dream, there is meaning to it. If you are barren, single, miscarriage or whatever difficult to a mind raised in ATR it is the spirits. For example if you have a dream where your grandfather is telling you something, you take whatever he said to mean his spirit was passing you an important message. In the event that evil spirits are attacking you, the solution is to go see some form of medium who will intercede on your behalf to deal with the spirits.
This is the teaching that has now come in the church where everything is blamed on all kinds of spirits and demons. It is no wonder that this teaching has caught fire because it is our playground as Africans. In this instance the medium is not the witchdoctor but the man of God who will deliver you from the spirits.
The other problem with this teaching is that it rejects that authority of scripture. Instead of letting scripture be the rule of faith and practice it has instead elevated the experiences of people. So what you find in most writings is one verse with a lot of testimonies of people who have been “delivered” from such spirits and nothing of the bible says. And when they actually quote a verse it the most scandalous abuse of a passage taking place.
Furthermore, some of the symptoms for knowing if you have spiritual husbands/wives are actually sins the bible addresses and by blaming them on the spirits, you are actually refusing to take responsibility of your sins. If a couple is constantly fighting for instance it because of sin in their hearts and not because of some spirit under the sea. While some of the symptoms are natural issues that are really beyond you and are in God’s hands. I.e. having children, miscarriage and singleness etc.
The teaching of spiritual husbands is biblically unfounded, logically inconsistent and totally disturbing. It is the fabrication of deceptive false teachers who are workers of the devil and we need to heed the warning of Paul to the Colossians when he says;
“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.” Colossians 2:8-10