Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Opinion: Davids, Jezebels, Nathans and the need for accountable men

Bigger issues at stake
The events of the last week that exploded into a scandal about sexual impropriety by a mega church leader in Nigeria has churned out commentary from all viewpoints that one is almost suffocated with analysis.
One recurring refrain has been the way the lady has been excoriated, abused, vilified, condemned, called names and much else.
Again, regardless of the truth of what happened between these consenting adults as some would put it, consent is the least of the issues at play in this matter.
Where are the Nathans?
It is without the doubt that many Nigerian Christians hold their leaders in trawl, they are dumbstruck, star struck, mesmerised, stupefied, hypnotised into a false sense of humility played out as respect, we would literally do anything to be in their good books than incur their wrath.
This in my view lays the foundation for what happened afterwards like in the biblical story of David and Bathsheba where King David laid eyes from his balcony on the lady having a bath, consumed with lust he acquired the woman, killed her husband and feigning empathy, took her into his harem to become his wife.
A sense of accountability was only met when Prophet Nathan visited the king, and by way of a story that called the king to order and in the process, the king repented and found redemption, and though the first child of that tryst died, Bathsheba was the mother of Solomon.
Again, if indeed the lady’s story finds true, the church is desperately in need of a Nathan because if one were to paraphrase something about interactions amongst men and between men and God, one must ask how anyone can suggest they are accountable to an invisible God if they are first not accountable to visible humankind up their chain of authority or sphere of influence.
A Jezebel for every Ahab
What I find even more irksome is the “Daughters of Jezebel” moniker that trails ladies who have been caught in these trysts leading to the apparent downfall of religious leaders as if these leaders bear no responsibility for their lapses.
For every Jezebel there is an Ahab, and though the biblical story suggests Jezebel a Phoenician princess led her husband, the king of the northern Kingdom of Israel astray, Ahab had the choice of who he chose or agreed to marry, he cannot be exculpated from his decisions, and he is documented as being one of the most debauched kings of Israel. As king he was a slave to what he allowed except if he was a dunce and an idiot.
Who men are
I have the following statements to make regarding this perspective.
Men have to own up to the responsibility of being able to control their urges and responses without placing the onus on women. This pertains to the many ways we attempt to regulate women in terms of views, dress, means, independence and opportunity to make up for our shortcomings.
Every time you use the phrase "Daughters of Jezebel" you are suggesting men lack self-control and are no better than animals. There are many examples of men who probably should have known better who have allowed themselves to be ruled by their basest instincts and then blame others for their failings.
We must stop subscribing to the idea that men are weaklings, lily-livered and devoid of character, principle or virtue. Men are more than capable of standing sure, it is a choice they can make if they will to do so or it is one they decide not to do if they believe they will not be found out.
Like the old Genesis story, Adam was not tempted, he freely went along where he could have been more discerning; he was irresponsible. Responsible for protecting his wife from influences if he stood up for what he was called to do, there is a mutual coexistence reinforced in marriage for the good or for the bad – choices abound.
Why let them lead?
If our religious leaders are so easily led astray, why on earth should we allow such unprincipled lascivious to men lead us? That is a big question, not so much that these men are infallible but if they exercise authority as if they are infallible without embracing their humanity, then we must demand a higher standard of moral rectitude of them, and they should be expected to act as such, failing which they must recuse themselves from leadership.
Character is the external expression of an internal virtue, if you don't have it, external stimuli would dictate what you are. What we end up doing is what we innately have in us as a makeup of our personality and character, we cannot be persuaded to do what we are not predisposed to doing from nature, nurture, experience and influence – that applies to religious leaders too.
Know your limits
Returning to that Indian protest placard, "It's a dress, not a Yes." If you don't know the difference, you have issues. This is succinct in defining how men react to external stimuli, the dress holds no message to anyone apart from those who have allowed animal instinct to rule over better judgement, there are no two ways about regardless of what you believe.
Fundamentally, if anyone must be so concerned about the apparel of women, it is best to restrict control and representation to those within their immediate sphere of influence of close relations, every woman on the street is not everyman’s wife to be curtailed, coerced, scolded and domineered – know who is really responsible to you and who you are responsible for.
It goes without saying that the pastor has a case to answer, either by denying the allegations with vehemence or accepting that he has erred in contrition, step down from the pulpit and make peace with his family and the flock. Silence whilst this scandal swirls with even more revelations by others is untenable, and it is intolerably hubristic to expect that this would just blow away like an ordinary storm.


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