Black Pentacostal Church Leaders, Rev. Eugene and Jacqueline Rivers, Talk Marriage and Fathers During Brigham Young University Campus Visit

The Reverend Eugene F. Rivers III shakes hands with Emily Reynolds, assistant director of BYU's Wheatley Institute, after Rivers and his wife, Jacqueline, background, spoke at the Varsity Theater in the Wilkinson Student Center at BYU on Oct. 22, 2015. Rev. Rivers is the president of the Seymour Institute on Black Church and Policy Studies. Tad Walch, Deseret News
The Reverend Eugene F. Rivers III shakes hands with Emily Reynolds, assistant director of BYU’s Wheatley Institute, after Rivers and his wife, Jacqueline, background, spoke at the Varsity Theater in the Wilkinson Student Center at BYU on Oct. 22, 2015. Rev. Rivers is the president of the Seymour Institute on Black Church and Policy Studies.
Tad Walch, Deseret News

Practicing celibacy now will make single BYU students better parents and marriage partners in the future, a black Pentecostal couple said during a campus visit last week.

“Young people do well to prepare for a successful marriage and enhance their marital union by the practice of celibacy prior to marriage,” said Jacqueline Rivers, executive director of the Seymour Institute for Black Church and Policy Studies. “What you do now is important to the quality of marriage later.”

BYU extended an invitation to Rivers and her husband, the Rev. Eugene F. Rivers III, to visit Utah and deliver the seventh presentation in the university’s Faith, Family and Society lecture series after LDS Church leaders developed a relationship with over the past year.

The couple issued a passionate warning rooted in their own dire experiences with — and statistics about — the retreat from marriage, the failure of fathers and the disintegration of families.

“Both the loving relationship between the man and the woman and the nurturing of children are enhanced when there are two things in marriage,” Jackie Rivers said. “The first is mutual fidelity between the husband and wife; sexual exclusivity is paramount in the sexual relationship. The second is permanence. …

“These qualities of exclusivity and permanence between husband and wife produce emotional security and stability that are conducive to childrens’ well-being.

Those principles call for the practice of self-discipline before marriage, she said.

“Attaining the ideals of exclusivity and permanence that foster childrens’ well-being requires the exercise of self-restraint in marriage. In this way, marriage is consistent with the spiritual disciplines that ought to be practiced by those who are single.”

Jacqueline Rivers comes from the black Pentacostal charismatic church tradition, and the Rev. Rivers is the pastor of the Azusa Christian Community. They met as students at Harvard, where they started the Seymour Institute for Black Church and Policy Studies.

Married for 29 years now, they spoke from what they called devastating personal and black experience about the importance of strong, traditional marriages to children and societies.

The breakdown of the family among African-Americans is such a bellwether of future trouble in the rest of American society that it is a national security threat, said the Rev. Rivers, who grew up in a fatherless Philadelphia home and joined a gang at age 12.

Both urged BYU students to stand up for traditional marriage.

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SOURCE: Deseret News