This is arguably the hottest topic in Nigeria right now. The only story that may compete with this, is the discovery that America is actually the “United States of Nigeria”. Although we would later get around to this discovery, for now, let’s leave Hillary Trump’s land, and focus on the meeting between Pastor Adeboye and the keypads of a Nigerian generation.
So Pastor Adeboye of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) had a programme in his church, and opened his mouth to speak, and his words triggered outpourings of vitriolic bile and enchanting love from an array of internet users. By the way, I’m a Christian but not a member of RCCG. This article simply captures my thoughts on this week’s social media storm.
Here’s a recap of the pastor’s words. Ladies should not marry a jobless man—a contractor should have evidence of previous contracts. Guys should not marry a lady who is lazy and cannot cook. Guys should not marry a lady who cannot pray for one hour. Guys should not be deceived by female choristers—some are devils. RCCG pastors should not keep beards like Al Qaeda operatives. RCCG pastors should avoid allowing tribalism into the church.
In response to these words, many persons went online to lambast the 74-year-old Adeboye, some even going as far as calling him a fool. In return, some others, led by those who call him “Daddy G. O.”, responded with outpourings of love for him. As usual, with any issue in Nigeria, this resulted in online chaos and exchange of insults between the two camps. For once in the past year, “Adeboye” trended more than “Buhari”.
So what’s my own in this? Well, actually, nothing. I’ve gotten used to watching Nigerians insult themselves online. As a proper pervert, I happily view online fights where foolishness is displayed unhindered. However, since I have as much internet rights as the fighters, let me say it as I see it.
The uproar over Pastor Adeboye’s words is underpinned by a generation drowning in political correctness, coupled with reduced “real” interest in Christianity, and hatred for “rich pastors”. Earlier, I wrote an article about the effect of political correctness in this present generation. Political correctness says, “don’t tell me what’s in your mind if it doesn’t agree with what’s in mine”; essentially plugging off any opposing view. For years, managers in corporate circles have been touting the benefits of increased diversity in corporate boardrooms, providing diverse perspectives on issues. However, while the boardroom seeks diversity, the world out there wants a form of unity that is essentially a disguise for programmed robots.
To be clear, Adeboye has every right to his opinion; same with thousands of Nigerians who can afford cheap data costs, but are a disgrace to the educational system. The constitution, no matter how flawed it is, guarantees everyone the same rights. That’s why I can pen this article without fear of anyone. Political correctness is making us forget that as humans, we are different. For Christ’s sake, even identical twins have different views on some issues. Adeboye did not only use his right to own opinions, he said those words inside his church, addressing his members.
It is unfortunate that people would choose to drink Panadol over another person’s headache. He was advising his members. It wasn’t a command. The only command was to his pastors—about beards. To the best of my knowledge, military officers have a rule about beards. Several organisations have rules about dressing. Adeboye asked his pastors (employees) to dress in a certain way, and we are all offended? Even companies that force their female staff to wear high-heeled shoes have not received this amount of abuse.
Talking about abuse, this week’s uproar shows the “Christianity” of some of Nigeria’s Christians. I won’t talk about Muslims or atheists, or those of other affiliations, since we would likely have diverging beliefs on issues. However, with respect to Christians, this week’s drama was shameful. It showed that many Christians are only Christians for the purpose of filling forms. Let me state that I personally feel that “touch not my anointed” is misused by many pastors and some religionists. However, I don’t need to quote the bible to say that love encompasses respect. If those so-called Christians had an iota of respect, it did not show in their online comments. This applies to both sides of the divide. Beyond respect, the Adeboye issue also showed that many Christians do not “actually” accept the teachings in the bible. They just mouth them in religious fashion. Someone said we should marry a girl that can pray for one hour, and we’re deeply offended.
On the issue of one-hour prayer, I think the outburst may be the result of pricked consciences. People saw “one hour” and realized that their best is a thirty-second sprint before long journeys. That was enough to get the herd to attack. While a Christian may argue about timing, I don’t expect a praying Christian to marry someone who doesn’t pray. It’s quite simple. If you love football, and then marry someone who despises football, there’ll be trouble someday.
Although I have once gotten into trouble for calling a lady a “feminist”, I’ll use that word here to cover those whose anger was kindled by the “cook” aspect. Coming from a Nigerian perspective, this shouldn’t be an issue. If the wife cannot cook, then the husband must know how to cook (and cook everyday), or they’ll buy takeaways every day or get a family assistant. The three non-wife options introduce potential for future trouble. Adeboye didn’t say the wife must cook every day. In fact, he said something about “you cannot afford to be eating out all the time”, meaning he recognises that cooking may not be every day. He also did not say husbands should never cook, or that wives should sit at home as expert cooks. His phrasing about work even implied that would-be wives already have a job. We just took one advice and drew several conclusions with blunt pencils.
Coming to Pastor Adeboye, I think he could have used better phrasing. At least, that would have assuaged the feelings of the online hit mob. He could have said husbands and wives should cook together, pray together, split bills equally, etc. He could have added the caveat that his advice does not apply to everyone; that it’s different strokes for different people. Better still, he could have just ditched the unnecessary advice and simply said “love is all that matters”. That may have satisfied my generation that was weaned on romance novels and idealistic soap operas. However, since the guy isn’t a professional politician, he simply said his mind. Simple advice one cannot give again.
Let me conclude with this popular quote: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”. If we can temper political correctness, and allow people to speak their dissenting opinions freely and civilly, we would benefit like the corporate boardrooms from increased diversity. It’s sobering to think that this entire episode is over a private advice.
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