Thursday 18 January 2007

When religion and sex collide


This is a general write-up addressed to no one in particular, however, there are many who in their perfection and completeness forget the frailty of man and problems others face, because many of us are hardly within the standards of the kind of moral conduct that they would attend to, when it comes to offering help.

If the leader of one of the great religious movements chose his audience by those standards, the Pharisees, Sadducees and scribes would be dancing into heaven through the wide gates, the mind boggles.

Doing good illegally?

He walked into this building and there was this woman who was bent over double with what in old-times was called an infirmity as the story goes, she had taken all sorts of treatment completely expended her fortune, it did not look like she was being aided by any of the officials in that building.

He looked upon her and having the solution to her problem gave her succour through healing and the officials railed in rage, about the fact that he had broken one of the cardinal rules, he was exasperated, this lady has been in that condition for 18 years, that did not matter. The rules had been broken.

Another day, a man with a withered hand (paralysed), literally, unsightly was told to stretch out his hand and in doing so his hand was healed, once again, the officials of the establishment were incensed, if not incandescent with rage, they planned to kill him for doing that good deed.

Another time, the officials themselves caught a woman in adultery, this time rather than follow the rules as they know how to, they brought this woman to the man, to see how he would deal with it. Their rush to condemnation and judgment contrasts with his slow and determined consideration to mercy and forgiveness.

The poison of religion

I am not going to be flipping Bible pages to buttress any of the points I raise here, rather the Bible scholars know where these stories are and they can very well quote chapter and verse of these stories and pontificate, I will not preach to the converted.

But, I have to raise this because it highlights issues that have plagued us for centuries, religiosity and fundamentalism that sacrifices men to traditions, cultures, rules, moral codes and ideologies when compassion, mercy, kindness, consideration and love are what matter.

In light of the kind of commentary that Overwhelmed Naija Babe got regarding her sex post, it is interesting to note how many of the pious, religious, Godly and loving custodians of the Word of God, protectors of societal morals had much to say about the person and her actions, contrast that with the absence of any encouragement, advice or ordinary comment when the issue of sexual child abuse came into focus.

Sabbath made for man

In the stories, I allude to at the beginning of this blog, in the first two cases, the officials; religious authority of the day, learned in all matters of religious service and decorum could took umbrage with Jesus Christ about healing people on the Sabbath.

Indeed, there is a commandment that the Sabbath is a day of rest and many respect it as a day in which no work is done, but if that work is bringing healing to people who are suffering, the commandment is not invalidated, but a higher rule applies, Sabbath was made for man and not man for Sabbath.

As in one situation, Jesus riles the Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes about their attention to the detail of the law but no concern for the people and asked which of them would not deign to save their livestock if perchance any fell into a well on the Sabbath.

In the same vein, I remember when a protégé of mine was being coerced into a situation that was a marriage that was not working, I took that stance that whilst marriage is a sacrament and much should be done to help a marriage work; marriage was made for man and there is no reason to sacrifice man on the altar of marriage regardless of the strong views people had.

The gallows enthusiasts

However, as evidenced in my third story, these selfsame keepers of the rulebook who cannot countenance anyone being compassionately allowed favours of mercy on a day of rest are quick to bring to condemnation those caught in their frailty of sin, when in fact mercy and kindness is what is required.

Indeed, sometimes, one should count ones blessings and in the process, it is possible to see that things are better for you than the other man, but you do not gloat; in some cases, you have exercised more discretion, better judgment, exude the highest values and offer the most consideration in your comfort zones, it however does not give the position to sit in judgment over others except if you are a civil judge.

More so, what is most irksome is the busybody approach to these issues; none of these beautiful people can resist the urge to get involved in a negative way in the delusion that they are doing something good. Unfortunately, their contributions create discord, exacerbate conflict and magnify rancour, they can never observe the damage they are causing from their entrenched positions and it is definitely not proselytising.

Preaching to the despicable

I live in Amsterdam, legendary for its tolerance, of which the more holy crowd would call permissiveness; we have homosexuals, prostitutes and deviants a-plenty. A good few as kids were probably fervently religious, doing all the rules demand; however, their religious organisations could not help them when each of them discovered they had sexuality or morality issues.

Rather than engage and counsel, they were castigated and cast them out of the fold, a place to which none have returned because the pulpit rarely calls in the people who need help in those matters, rather, it is more convenient to bash from the pulpit the ills of society in order to consolidate those you have, than go out in the streets and spread the compassion of Jesus to those who by all means need succour.

Soft issues like homelessness and poverty are easy, how about those that make the preacher’s face contort into a hideous mask of disgust and disdain, can you really preach to the despicable by your standards and show enough compassion to bring the power of the Almighty to bear on those circumstances to rid people of drug problems, “so-called” sin-based diseases and so on?

Have you preached the gospel lately?

The people outside the fold are in a need of a message quite different from the one they are getting – convicting them of sin or condemning them for their actions is not part of the job description of any learned proselyte; that is the job of the Holy Ghost.

It says, preach the gospel and I have heard no gospel since this sex talk broke out, rather, I see Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes, Pastors, and Scholars of the Bible, purveyors of religion, the religion that kills.

Like Jesus said of some, they are mistaken, they know neither the Scripture nor the power of God, albeit appearances can really be deceptive as the complacency of the saints leaves their fellowman out the realm of the joys they presumably enjoy.

In the end, when religion and sex collide, humanity is sacrificed on the altar of rules, mercy is becomes intolerance and kindness becomes abuse. None of the participants end up the better for it; surely, that is not the gospel.

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