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I made an observation.

Mediocrity is often associated with two entities. Africans. And religious folk. But I speak from the religious perspective of the Christian faith.

The average African, homeland  bred or in the diaspora, is religious. Or at the very least, ‘spiritual’.

This causes one to wonder; is the African nature the origin of mediocrity or is religion the origin? Is the African mediocre because he is religious or just because he is African? Has religion made mediocrity out of Africans or was it Africans who infiltrated religion with their own innate smallness?

Well, I observed the religious population of other races, particularly American Caucasians (I still speak from the Christian perspective), and I realized that it is the same story. American christians also struggle with mediocrity, and as a result they are not as powerful/influential, in the matters of secular state as the non-religious folk are.

The Bill Gates, Warren Buffets, Steve Jobbs, Mark Zuckerbergs of America are not religious. A good number of them are even atheists. Yet…they continually churn out so much excellence that christians find shelter in. Christians use internet for ministry and give testimonies in church of how they acquired iPhones and cars manufactured by the ‘heathen’.

These matters are worth thinking about, don’t you think?

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2Ch 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, AND TURN FROM THEIR WICKED WAYS…

The ‘wicked way’ implies both evil in morals and evil in the things of nature. (Strong’s H7451). That is, the wicked way does not only refer to morality, but it also means living without adhering to the principles in/of nature. That means, for example, you may be a person who forgives others, but if you are a lazy person who is not diligent in your work, you are wicked.

Matt 25:26  His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: 

To pray while you flout all the principles that make life work is wickedness. It is the way of twistedness; the way of ‘anyhowness’.

And christians, we do ‘anyhowness’…a lot.

Oh, we pray and walk in love…but we pay no mind to principles of nature. We neglect science. We neither propound it nor do we encourage reliance on it. A person who praises science is deemed un-spiritual.

Call for a prayer meeting or a miracle conference and Nigerians will throng the place. Call for, say, a health seminar and the same people will be nowhere to be found. We prefer miracles to instructions. We would rather pray than live right. It’s easier.

We fail to realize that living a life of responsibility is what will yield godliness in us. Because, indeed, you are godly (God-like), not just when you forgive, but when you are healthy.  Lack is not godly. Poverty is not godly. Please note that I did not say these things are sin. Not everything that is not godly is sin. To not be godly largely means to not meet up with the divine ideal, and some examples of this may be sin against God while others are not. Sickness is not godly, but it is not sin.

The blessing is commanded on us so that we may be blessings to others. Thus, we are godly when we are prosperous so much that we can give to others who do not have.

So then, if christians are not being blessings to their world, it only makes sense to presume that they themselves are not experiencing The Blessing. You cannot give what you do not have. Thus, if you are not giving it, it is because you do not have it (yet).

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This is why I criticize the christianity of Nigerians the way I do.  It is not rocket science to discern that christians who have not yet been able to figure out how to make a developed nation out of a decaying country like ours are not living the blessing yet. There is something terribly wrong with the christainity we practice in this country!

The Blessing is that which overflows. It is that which flows out of its carrier into the environment and makes things better. “The blessing of the Lord makes rich.” “How God anointed Jesus Christ with the Holyghost and power and He went about doing good” (Prov. 10:22, Acts 10:38).

That blessing that only solves personal problems cannot be the true blessing. Those are mere bread crumbs. That which only produces a car for you, while the road on which you will ride it remains rickety is not the blessing. It just cannot be! That kind of faith that does not invent anything, but that can only help you ‘claim and receive’ that which another person invented, cannot be the best brand of faith that there is. It is an ill. I will explain what I mean.

It is this ill that has affected God’s children since the beginning of time. That ill where once you are aware of the existence of a God, you immediately enter laziness and complacency mode. The ‘let go and let God’ mode. The religion mode. Not the faith mode. Not the God kind of faith. Religion is when a person is so obsessed with acknowledging some power greater than himself that s/he gets lost in that acknowledgement and forgets to do anything else that is equally important. Religion forgets to take responsibility. It forgets to respond to the ability of that same Higher Power that lies in them waiting to be tapped. The spirit of religion often presents as devotion, but it is actually laziness. It hides its complacency in ‘trust’ in the Divine.

But the spirit of faith is different. It takes responsibility. It says, “if it is going to be, it is up to me.” It looks at mountains and says, “I am going to move you from here to there”. And because she says so, the ability of God within her is released and the earth has to respond.

The spirit of faith is why Cain would leave the presence of God and go ahead to build a city. Think about that!

It is why his (Cain’s) descendants, heathen as they were, were the only ones in that generation who came up with inventions. But the descendants of Seth, wrapped up in the spirit of religion, only worshipped God, with no corresponding evidence of this God in their immediate environment (read Gen.4:16 all the way to Gen.5:32).

It is why even without the blessing, Esau found his way to prosperity much earlier than his brother, Jacob. Yet it was Jacob who was carrying blessing. This same spirit of faith God acknowledged at the Tower of Babel (Gen.11).

Paul and King David, it appears, were the few Bible characters who found the healthy balance between grace and diligence; the presence of God and principles; signs and wisdom.

The spirit of religion shows in our prayers. We say, “Oh God, a little effort and an enormous harvest, let that be my testimony!” And He answers. So, we keep getting only ‘miracles’ that is characterized by little effort, leaving those who do not know how to pray, but know how to put in a lot of effort, to perform the real miracles. Or have you not realized that Facebook, Google Map, are miracles? Or is that operating software on your smart phone that you prayed for not a miracle?

Oh, it’s a miracle too, that God gave you that car. But the greater miracle is that a human being like you thought it up and manufactured it so that you can ‘believe God’ for it.

And yes, it’s a miracle that Africans keep obtaining visas to migrate to developed countries. But the real miracle is that those countries we run to were once upon a time like the one from which we are running now and it was human beings like ourselves that sat down and figured out how to build their own countries to be the wonders that they are today.

It is not their genius that makes us appear mediocre, it is our own complacency. They had, and still have faith. We have religion.

 

 

So, what does the Bible actually say about marriage? What did God say?

Gen 2:24; Therefore, shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

In the past when I read this scripture, the only principle I saw being put forward was marriage. But now I see in this verse of scripture another principle that is equally—if not more—important than the principle of marriage.

 Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother…

God spoke first about the principle of adulthood. What is this about?

It is destined that every offspring should outgrow the direct tutelage of their parents and begin to make their own decisions. It is a phase of life that every human being is supposed to get into. A phase where parents take the backseat in the life of the individual and s/he begins to acts autonomously, independent of parental control (or the control of any elder at all), bearing full accountability for his/her actions.

This principle applies to both male and female.

Another scripture;

Pro 22:6; Train up a child in the way [he] should go, and when [he] is old, he will not depart from it.

Maturity first, then marriage. Maturity not necessarily meaning chronological age, but self-sufficiency. Independence.  Emotional, intellectual, financial, and spiritual independence.

After that He talked about marriage.

and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one (echad) flesh

Mat 19:4-6  And He answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that He which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and [He] said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they two shall be one fleshWherefore they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder

Two people with independent thought make a decision. No rings, no priest, no church, no parents. It is the two that become one. God does not do the joining …directly. It is their joint decision that God honours. Thus, God’s joining is actually a function of what the two people first did. I don’t know if that makes sense? I will try to explain further.

It seems God attributes great power to agreement.

Gen 11:6 And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one (echad), and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do

Amos 3:3; Can two walk together, except they be agreed? 

Mat 18:18-19  Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. 

The two are joined because they decide to cleave to one another. Not because the parents do any giving or receiving. Not because a priest comes to bless them. Not because they exchange rings.

The fundamental principle here is agreement.

The agreement of the two of them. It is strictly between two of them. Once they agree, God also agrees with them and they are joined. There is nothing religious about this. It is all about principle. Just like with any other principle like faith or thermodynamics, whoever applies the principle of agreement will get the required results. That is, any two people, a man and a woman, who come to an agreement of being exclusively committed to each other, irrespective of whether or not they know God, are married. What God honours is the agreement between the two people, not their religious inclination.

With their mutual agreement they activate a divine principle. It is not only the marriage of christians that are valid in the eyes of God.

So…

Parental consent and/or blessing is not a requirement for a valid marriage in the eyes of God. That is culture. That is human tradition. It has nothing to do with God.

Another thing;

… and they two shall be one flesh.

It is not the man marrying the woman. It is the man and the woman marrying each other. It is two that become one. The joining involves the active participation of two people. People often make the assumption of some divine ideal that it is the man that God ordained to initiate the marital relationship, because He said, ‘a man shall cleave to his wife’. Well, if we decide to look at this scripture that way, then every other assumption that that logic makes room for should also be acknowledged. That means we should also honour the assumption that the man cleaves to the woman and makes a new home with her and her family. After all, it is not written that she will also leave father and mother.

But we don’t do that. We acknowledge that what God said was that two will become one, so it has to mean that they will both leave to form a new unit. Thus, if it that is so—and indeed it is so—that just as he will leave father and mother, she will also leave; then, the divine order is that man will marry woman and woman will marry man. And…woman can initiate the relationship and man can initiate too. God has nothing to do with chivalry and the whole man-hunts-woman-idea. Ruth initiated her relationship with Boaz. The female was not made to be given away to any man. She is made to find her own man, just as he would also find her, and the two will give themselves to each other (in the presence of family if they so choose).

Now we talk about third parties. In laws. He cleaves to her and she cleaves to him. He does not cleave to her family, and she does not cleave to his. We say in Nigerian culture that the wife belongs to her husband and his family. This is wrong and completely anti-God. Marriage is not between the woman, the man and his family. The woman does no belong to her husband’s family. The man and woman belong to each other. The union is strictly between two people. No third parties.

Finally, God did not say, the two shall become him or the two shall become her. He said, the two shall become one. In other words, the two shall become a new, neutral one. Therefore, if there will be any compromises, it should and must be from both sides. God never instituted that kind of marriage where the woman loses herself, while the man remains intact.

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So, there we have it. The principle back of it all is agreement between two adults. Two autonomous people. That is the only thing God instituted. It is very simple; so simple we miss it. So simple we belittle it and decide to complicate it with so many other unnecessary rules.

Does that mean it is wrong to have all these other things and people involved? No, not at all. Only that we must never forget that every other thing aside the mutual agreement and I mean, every other thing, is an extra that the inclusion/involvement of them is subject to the preference and choices of the man and woman involved. They are not needed per se. The man and the woman hold the exclusive rights to decide if they want rings, parents, party, fancy clothes, etc. This is why marriage is for people who have become adults; independent in thought, emotions, spirit and economic might. The adult can exercise his and her God given rights without guilt or manipulation from third parties.

Women, do not just be found. You too find. Why? The hunter is the one in control. God has made man and woman to both be the hunter and the hunted. The two balance each other out and the risk of oppression and tyranny is cancelled out.

What we have today in popular culture is the curse in Gen. 3:7. Women are too needy of men and men take advantage of that to misbehave with impunity. It was sin that birthed patriarchy. That is, that practice where if a woman has no man she feels inadequate. It is why a woman will be desperate to marry, and will marry a clear vagabond of a man. It is why women constantly disgrace the precious image of God that they are, reducing themselves to the base behavior of cat-fighting in public over a man.

This is why Paul taught mutual submission. Paul read Genesis. It is what is written in Gen. 2 that he was talking about in Ephesians 5.

 

 

A Caucasian woman is about to be married to a Nigerian man. Her father, however, is appalled by the African tradition of bride price/dowry. He says it is demeaning, that she, his daughter, is not some item put up for auction sale, to be acquired by the highest bidder.

She gently ‘corrects’ her father’s notion, and educates him on how there is really no price. The money paid is such an insignificant amount and it is only a symbolization of how, to the receiving family, i.e. the family of the male, the woman is valued, and so because she came to them at a price, they would not take her for granted.

It worked. Her father and mother were won over when they finally saw the apparent ‘charitableness’ of this strange tradition. Their daughter would be treasured and cherished. What’s not to like about that?

But…

There are actually many things wrong about this tradition. Very wrong and troubling. The whole practice hinges on many faulty ideologies, many of which take root from traditional church doctrines, which in actual fact have no sound scriptural basis.

Let’s make some observations;

One; there is only a bride price. There are two people being joined, but only one, the woman, is being ‘valued’. Why? Is the man worthless?

Two; small amount or large amount, as long there is a price being paid, something definitely is being sold/bought. And if it is bought, then it is owned by the buyer.  Not only the man pays the bride price, his family too does. So, the married woman is owned by him and them.

Three; the price is paid for the woman/bride by the man and his family to the family of the woman. The woman is in the middle of it all.  Her family on one side and her man’s family on the other. One is paying, the other is being paid. One is family is giving, the other is receiving. The whole day is about an exchange of ownership. Of a person. A person is being tossed from one side to the other like an inanimate thing. Ultimately, she is regarded as one who has no agency of her own.

There are some cultures where it is the woman who pays the price. But… it is still just one person making a payment. So, the imbalance remains. Either the woman pays to be owned or she is paid for to be owned. The problem is not the price as much as it is about how many people are paying and what the payment signifies.

The practice of dowry/bride price payment hails from Biblical/Ancient Jewish Rabbinic tradition (Exo. 22:16-17) where dowries were paid to secure the woman’s financial welfare in the event of a divorce or widowhood. That is, the money the man pays was kept by her (or her family) for her future use. This made sense at the time because most women had no means of livelihood apart from their husbands’. That is, Dowry was a social construct for a certain period of time in history, to protect the female gender, who, as a norm, was weak socially and economically.

But now, in these times, that women are economically empowered, why do we still have this custom in practice? Girls now acquire as much education as well as boys and can be (and are) just as financially independent. Like a worn-out rag, such a tradition is of no more effect and ought to have been put away. But it still exists. And when a method exists outside of its original purpose, it is inevitable that it does so to serve other shady and abusive purposes.  It cannot be good.

The custom of dowry exists now only to serve the purpose of chivalry; a phenomenon that rests firmly on the (ungodly) notion that females are ontologically inferior to males. I will come back to this shortly.

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There are also some cultures, like that of the Caucasian man in the narrative above, where there are no exchanges of price, but there is a giving away. Again, it is not the man and the woman being given away by their families, but only the woman. Yet again, the imbalance remains, the woman is a creature that has no agency. No power. He may come and go as he wishes, but she has to be given away. She has to be ALLOWED.

Only one is ‘valued’.  Only one is given away. Therein is the advent of disequilibrium and imbalance in the marital relationship. When only one is valued, or one is valued more than the other, there will be problems.

Another thought is, what sort of value is this being ascribed to the woman that the man does not also possess? Such value that he is the hunter and she the hunted? He the taker and she the taken? Women often enjoy the privileges of chivalry, but I doubt they stop to ask questions about the true price of these so-called privileges. If… he hunts you down, takes you, pays for you, you are given to him by your father, then…he owns you. That’s it. Beware of so-called charities and privileges. They end up becoming a rottenness in your bones. They ensnare you.

The truth is, in chivalry, the value being ascribed to the woman is not one of honour and high esteem, but of condescension. Benevolent condescension in the best circumstances, while in the worst circumstances it is cruel condescension. It is because the female is perceived to be a weak, fragile thing that she is also paraded as the one to be ‘cherished and treasured’. On the surface it sounds endearing to be called fragile, but I dare say, it is a trap.

The assumption of female fragility gives birth to other baggage that are back of the oppression that women suffer today in the hands of men. It is why a woman is said to need to be taken care of by another one (the man) and needs to be owned.  She cannot own herself, because if she were allowed such autonomy, she would, like a child, make a mess of it all. That is why we hear adult women ask silly questions like, ‘I want to buy a piece of property as an investment, should it be in my name or my husband’s name?”

It is why the female, supposedly, must be led by a male, because she cannot lead herself; her weakness and fragility goes beyond her body, it reaches also into her spirit and soul. Thus, someone else needs to think for her, because, the truth of the matter is, the one who leads is in some measure thinking for the one who is being led.

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The best thing to do, I think, is that there should be no prices at all being paid. But if we would indulge tradition a bit, then there would be a price if, and only if, it were both a bride price and a groom paying. Both are valued, yeah? So they should ‘buy’ each other.

And… the price would be paid by the man to the woman and by the woman to the man. Absolutely no third party or family involvement! It is only two that are being joined and becoming one.

If there will be any weaknesses acknowledged, let both be weak; let it cut across. If there will be any strength, let both be strong. That is, where one is weak the other is strong, and where one is strong the other is weak. They balance each other out and there is no boasting or a strong one preying on the weak.

I do not go against traditions just for its own sake or petty rabble rousing. I love truth. I want to, as much as possible, do the right thing, and for the right reasons. I have a problem with dowry, giving away (amongst other traditional practices surrounding marriage), because I find that they go completely against God’s original intentions as is stated in Genesis 1 and 2 and the New testament tenets.  (P.S When I say ‘New Testament’ I do not categorically mean only the Epistles).

For one, these customs make the solemnization of marriage more difficult and complicated than the simple model God put forward in the Beginning. They have made burdensome what God made easy. Very easy. What God specifically commanded should be between two adults is now contingent on a third party or many, many third parties (in-laws, aunties, uncles, sisters, brothers and so on). ‘Giving away’ also institutionalizes the notion that the woman has no agency, but is, even in adulthood, under the strict authority and control of her father. A clear contradiction God’s words in Gen. 2:24 and other scriptures we will look into later.

Question; How can this situation be turned around?

Answer; We start to do what the Bible actually teaches.

We continue in the next post. Thank you for reading!

Photo by WrappedbyDesign

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This thing that people are wont to do, whereby when a (married) man does something perceived to be wrong, they immediately start to say that it was his wife that influenced him. Note this; when the man does what is percieved to be right, it was his decision, and she supported him. But when he does wrong, it was not his decision, but she definitely must have been the one who made him do it. Or, she did not do all she could have done to stop him. On her knees, of course.

But why???

Why do we keep shaming the female creation for no just cause? Why do we delight in burdening her soul sore, while the male gets away unscathed? Why the injustice?

That was how some months ago I saw a post about how a clergyman, Bishop Oyedepo, was commending his long-time associate, Bishop Abioye, for his loyalty to his ministry, which had spun so many years. And then one human being appears in the comments section and begins to spew foolishness and bile, saying, “Thank God his wife did not convince him to leave the ministry.” To which another person replied, saying, “hmm..words of wisdom”.

I was shocked. And I was grieved in my spirit. Why are christians like this?

I’ll have you know that it was a woman that made that nonsensical comment.

And no, the comment was not to commend a virtue in Mrs Abioye. It did not at all mean that she is a good woman, who is also a supportive spouse. It sounded more like, “thank God she contained the resident evil within her and did not allow it destroy her husband’s destiny.”

Yes, that is the reputation of the woman among many church folk! A resident, necessary evil in a man’s life. Because, like I mentioned earlier, she supports his good decisions, but incites his bad decisions.

That is why Christians can’t seem to stop putting up nonsensical memes that vilify the female creation, saying stuff like, “If you love him, believe in him and BE HIS PEACE.”

Don’t give him wahala, ehn…be his peace. Because to them, the woman, by default, is wahala.

Ultimately, the man takes responsibility for nothing, whenever he does wrong. It must be his wife’s fault. She must have not prayed well enough for him or she must have been the one to turn his heart away from righteousness like strange women did to Solomon. It is always something she did or failed to do. As if a man is not supposed to work out his own salvation with fear and trembling. As if a man should not be held accountable for his own actions.

As though—in counter argument—if a married man will be influenced by anyone it should be everybody else but his wife. Tell me, if a wife does not influence her husband, who should then?

His buddies? His pastor? Or the vulcanizer on the street?

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Now, it is people blaming Meghan for Meghan and Harry’s decision. Yes, I call it Meghan and Harry’s decision. Because, you see, it is their marriage, and not everybody’s. However, they see fit, they may choose to run their lives. It’s nobody’s business, really. They do not belong to society, they belong to themselves. And to lay ‘blame’, as people already are attempting to do, shows the hasty conclusion some amebos have already made about the quality of that decision. How was that determined so soon, biko? How?

And why?

Why does anything even have to be determined? If it is the right move this couple have made, time will tell. If it is a wrong move, time will also tell.

And guess what? Even if this turns out bad, it would still be nobody’s business! And it will also not be the end of them. They will rise up from the ashes of the mistake and move on from there. If anything, one should salute Meghan and Harry for a courageous move to try to live in authenticity.

Because these two chose to leave  ‘the group’ does not necessarily mean that they are in error.

People really ought to just learn to mind their own business. And how to make righteous, balanced judgements, if indeed they have to make any judgement concerning a matter that is not directly their business?

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Solomon could have said no to strange women. Samson could have said no to Delilah; Ahab could have said no to Jezebel. Joseph SAID NO. To a superior. Think about that.

Delilah was not Samson’s boss’ wife. Jezebel was not Ahab’s superior. But Joseph, who could have made the excuse that he had no choice, because of the (social) power that his assailant held, proved that humans indeed always have a choice, even if it would eventually be to their own hurt.

We can ALWAYS choose.

And because it always a matter of choice, then each one is fully responsible for their actions. You can say no to temptation, irrespective of where it is coming from; a superior, or someone you love and respect who has had a lot of influence over you. There is simply no excuse to act against your conscience. None!

A man that misbehaves or does well does so because of his own character.

Women are not tempters. Women are not that evil that men should beware of. Men tempt too. Men should beware of fellow men too. Just as there are ‘strange women’, there are ‘strange men’ too. It is the heart of mankind that the Bible says is desperately wicked, not the heart of women. Men manipulate and incite others to do evil as well. Amnon was incited to do evil by his male cousin, Jonadab; King Ahaseurus was always incited by a coven of male advisers, even unto committing genocide, but for the intervention of a woman called Esther.

Hitler, a man, incited a whole nation, to commit genocide. So what really are we talking about here?

This demonic injustice against the female gender has to stop. The shaming of women has to stop. We need to stop this evil culture of  blaming women for men’s bad behavior!

Photo By JennyWhite