Kathleen Ndongmo

But before the ladies file down their fingernails and the boys start flexing a bicep through a marathon of self-sexing, maybe we should cool our jets long enough to look at the furore around the Pastor’s comments. 

When I was about 14, I remember seeing a girl flaunting a T-shirt that said:

“God is watching you…

Give him a good show.”

When I saw it, my initial reaction was: “Give him a good show? Does she mean pole-dancing for Jesus?!”  My second thought was: “Does she want to go to hell?!”  It seemed so sacrilegious.

Well, never mind grinding your junk against poles for The Lord, what about masturbating for Africa?  We can do that now, apparently.  Or, rather, keep doing it. Guilt-free. That is, ever since Pastor Chris Oyakhilome said it was okay.

But before the ladies file down their fingernails and the boys start flexing a bicep through a marathon of self-sexing, maybe we should cool our jets long enough to look at the furore around the Pastor’s comments.  Why so non-plussed by this totally emancipating declaration?   Is it because we grow up learning that liking sex is somehow improper? That anything sexual, covert or overt, outside of reproductive coupling, is a sin?

Of masturbation, Pastor Chris says: “In itself, it is not a sin against God.” 

But many of us are not amused, it would seem.  How come?  Perhaps because majority of us like to be pious.  “Look at me!”  “Check out my devotion to Jesus.”  “Look how tortured I am for my faith.”  “Watch me flagellate myself in an ecstasy of repentance! (Unlike those filthy fornicators.)”

There are those who rate their own closeness to God by estimating how far away others must be.  They are usually people who can recite every Bible verse ever written and tie it in to every life experience ever lived.  But how do we know who is far away from God?  Well, by judging them; imposing our own lofty standards of rectitude on them; and being silently thrilled when they fall short.  That makes us better.  Holier.  Closer to Him.

There are lots of rules about God and how to earn a place in His Kingdom.  Many of us spend a lot of time parroting them and going through the rituals. We wear our shiniest shoes and prettiest frocks on Sunday to go through the motions of praise and worship in magnificent halls filled with heaving throngs of religious revelers.  That’s the way we’ve always done it.  And the way things have always been is probably the way things should remain, right?  Radical changes in perception do not go well with sustainable faith.

Except, the God I believe in is a big-picture kind of guy.  He’s the God of salvation and good vibrations.  The God of love, love and more love, even if that makes him sound like some sort of affable hippie, surely that’s better than the rabid megalomaniac that so many Christians are addicted to. Remember David? A man full of all kinds of sin, yet God gave him a title most Christians would love to wear; “A man after God’s own heart…”

My friend, a devout atheist, likes to pose the hypothetical about a fictitious Tibetan goatherd: a man who is kind, generous and honest.  Without ever explicitly following any of the doctrines or rituals of a Bible he’s never heard of.  When he dies, because he never thanked God, worshipped God or asked God forgiveness for his sins, does the goatherd therefore go to hell?

I guess we choose for ourselves how to interpret religion.  Personally, I struggle to accept that God is some sort of trigger-happy, spiteful score-keeper; lying in wait for me to make even the slightest misstep, so He can balance it out with a hefty comeuppance.  I don’t believe He sits around in vacant churches from Monday to Saturday either, waiting for you to make his week on Sunday.

My God has a sense of humour.  He likes that cheeky T-shirt and doesn’t mind a smidgen of irreverence from time to time. He prefers the ‘Davids’ of this world.   He doesn’t sweat the small stuff. And, if a little release from me to me doesn’t hurt anyone, he’s probably going to be a ‘Father’ – my Father about that too.

My two kobos’ worth.

Over to you.

 

 

 

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