Friday 7 February 2014

Nigeria: Another rotten church exploitation - brides without grooms

These foolish things
“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” I Corinthians 1:27 (New International Version) Parallel Verses.
I have chosen this Bible verse to illustrate what passes for religious abuse in Nigeria, where pastors get their flock to indulge in farcical gimmickry, and the flock like sheep follow the shepherd down the precipice of ignominy.
A pastor in the Winners Chapel franchise and I have written about them many times, I dare say, it was a church I did attend in the late 1980s in Nigeria, had asked all the single ladies who want to get married this year to attend church in wedding dresses.
Gowns on clowns
Pictures which I saw on Facebook were really from Linda Ikeji’s Blog, the popular Nigerian gossip rag that one must admit has one of the biggest followings in Nigeria. We are people like that.
The ladies were bedecked in bridal dresses, all without grooms just as bridal houses saw the opportunity for brisk trade, renting out dresses as zippers and corsets might have caused a fitting frenzy in the ladies rooms just before the prayers of supplication and blessing.
Between God’s tactics and man’s stupidity
This is where I have issue, in fact, I have many issues with these corruptions of the Christian message and the drama that ridicules the whole purpose of religion and much else.
The verse above clearly states, “God chose the foolish things …”, it is God doing the choosing; how that comes about is open to interpretation, but I cannot find ways to suggest that verse instructs that we should act foolishly so as to shame the wise, nor does it suggest we should celebrate weakness to shame the strong.
This reads as a tactical ploy of God that is not in the gift of man to deploy, where men attempt to do this, everyone appears foolish, and there is no redeeming factor towards wisdom apart from compounded derision.
For those brides who went to church in their bridal dresses, nothing is said of bridegrooms ready to sweep them off their feet, rather, they were wishing and hoping and ultimately being presumptuous.
Shamanist grottos in church buildings
Herein is the problem, we go to our churches broken, needing, sick and desperate, a hungry crowd open to atrocious exploitation and manipulation by people standing at the pulpit as men of God.
However, the reality is we have the mind-set of ritualism, the church building has become the forest grotto where the Shamanist priest invokes the gods with incantations and the worshippers have arrived seeking instant solutions convinced of the fame and the powers of the priests. Anointing, we call it.
Obviously, we must leave a gift for the deities, something must be given in exchange for what we desire. That gift is now passed off as a seed offering. Though never under duress, very few in need ever think they would get anything if the tray is not filled with a generous gift. Where we have little, we are overcome with a guilt complex, the widow’s mite is now too little for the church.
Sadly, this is what things have become, it is like the temptations of Jesus Christ with the Devil’s chorus, “All this I would give you, if …” Yeah, if you can prove who you are; if you jump and show off; if you bow down and worship or in churches today, if you sow a seed. It is all full of conditions when the gospel stresses the things of God are free, free, free, and free.
The women suffer, always
Then again, it is the women that take the brunt of the abuse, they are the ones exploited for their singlehood as if it takes only one to get married or women should be more desperate especially as the biological clock ticks away, and society disrespects or dishonours extended spinsterhood.
Once they get married, they are on another conveyor belt of possible exploitation if they cannot bear “the fruit of the womb” in Church-speak. The man is never once medically assessed for fertility or the motility of his sperm to clinch the deal. The onus is always on the woman.
Yet, these women who came forward were expecting to get married within the year, the possibility looms of meeting, courtship, engagement and marriage all happening in less than 12 months.
Unworkable marriages
God have mercy as the thrill and euphoria of getting hitched wears off and the man begins to wander because neither party to this travesty was compatible, but hapless and foolish victims of manipulation, exploitation and circumstance, orchestrated in church by the chief priest who proclaims – “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.”
Friends, no match is made in heaven, the match is made on earth between imperfect people and they have to work hard at it, daily tending the love and easing the hurt, it is not a fait accompli of life. Sometimes, it does not work and when it doesn’t be ready to get on with your life.
The miserable lives we live
The woman again, desperate is back in church trying to save her man from the other desires that provide him expression and satisfaction he cannot get at home. It becomes a vicious cycle where the unworkable marriage instigated by the spectacle of risibility and the hare-brained scheme of the pastor, who laughs all the way to the bank on the pains of his flock. It is unconscionable and manifestly evil, it sickens to the high heavens.
What then gives rise to wife-battering and much else? Frustrations, many frustrations. A lifelong relationship that should be given time to mature with interaction and engagement is turned into a magical trick of dead seed to tree in an instant – without roots, deep roots at that, it would die.
I think, I have written enough already. Marriage is not happiness, if you are not happy as you are, the risk of marriage bringing happiness is temporal and it would fade.

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