Saints & Ignorance!
It’s that time of the year for yet another eventful long week-end as millions of South Africans receive a much needed break from their routines and pack the roads with all kinds of transport. Some are heading home to see families, others are off to the coast for some leisure, while for Christians/believers it’s the remembrance of Jesus Christ who died and resurrected for their sins. They will be gathering in different venues to worship God, it’s the only time others find to visit church. Opportunistic politicians will also use this opportunity to visit these holly mass gatherings to mingle hoping to sway some votes for the next coming elections. But there are also those who don’t give a damn, for them it’s business as usual.
Catholics are approaching this event amid damning reports of sexual abuse by the clerics hierarchy, a move which throws the challenge to some of the fundamentals from sideline critics who look up to the church for answers in the immoral society we live in. Others in the same religious sector view it with self righteousness as if it’s something which happens only to them (Catholics) while not clearing skeletons in their own cupboards.
One of the things I noticed since I have moved to Cape Town is the dominance of Christian religion among black people. They are very vocal; in fact it forms a large part if not their entire identity. They are quick to judge others’ beliefs, sometimes without much information and often refuse to hear or reason with other opinions. I normally engage and challenge them using the same bible which is their licence to judge. But generally that’s how the Christian world operates in many sectors.
I spent over a decade of my life as a Christian, beginning from while I was a teenager at high school till it lost its meaning. I reached a point of realisation that some of the fundamentals were not what my life stands for.
The church which I was part of is one of segregated communities in the religious world. They emerged from USA and spread through out the world claiming to be the only group of true disciples who live and practise everything the bible teaches. Its leadership is dominantly autocratic, quick to be suspicious when one expresses different views and questioning most of its fundamentals. I’ve seen some hectic churches including that one that they want to move with the times but instead keep creating barriers for fear of the unknown.
I reached a breaking point from barriers and started to question and even challenge some of their fundamentals. Being an exclusive community, I regarded it as a trap that you can only date within, due to fears that someone who doesn’t belong there will wrongly influence you to taste the forbidden fruits which are regarded as the privilege of the few who have walked down the aisle.
I believe that God created life with choices for us to widen the nets and seek what will truly bring satisfaction. One of my favourite bible verse says “everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial or constructive” it appears twice in the 1 Corinthians 6:12 and, 1 Corinthians 10:23. From that verse I challenged the idea of right and wrong, instead suggested that much can be done in educating and informing members in exercising their choices with responsibility than shutting the door of options through ruling out things based on right and wrong. Obeying one group’s fundamental law limits those options.
I also grew uncomfortable of the church’s leadership relying too much on their US counterparts and their tendencies to import a lot of what’s American and expect us to follow that. I felt like it’s important for the church to develop its own identity within the SA context and its ministers should acquaint themselves more with dynamics of our diverse African cultures, without seeking to only point out the wrongs in them.
Some of the challenges faced by their members could be resolved based on the cultural context not just the bible. The other issue was that, the church has a rule which forbids women from preaching to men but it’s a common practice that a woman will be speaking under the guise that she is addressing mainly women. I questioned that on how can I claim to speak with my father in the presence of my mother if I’m not taking to both of them? I had nothing against women preaching to men but it was the contradicting action which I was against.
I also questioned the usage of borrowed material like songs which are sang in other churches, books like Rick Warren’s purpose driven life, videos of astronomers providing evidence of the universe, also looking up to other churches to create a benchmark for remunerating pastors, youth programmes etc…
Then there is the interpretation of scriptures which is the main problem to lots of Christians in this country. The majority of our people in Christian communities are illiterate. In charismatic churches were members are largely in bible studies they often quote verses out of context without establishing who is being addressed, what’s the point, how relevant is it today or to a particular incident? One of my big blunders which is the blunder of many is that people follow Christianity without questioning. When I argue with my religious Capetonian friends who seek to change me, I pose questions which confuse them or they hold on to vague answers.
People are quick to forge blind loyalties with their particular churches and set their minds to the Promised Land, believing that their path is the way to thee. Being too inquisitive is regarded as weakness, only the doubting Thomas of this world, miss the boat while seeking clarity.
It’s the nature of Christianity to look at life selectively and rule things entirely based on right and wrong without posing any question or launch an investigation to establish what may be the cause. Many don’t pay much attention to certain details unless they’re in the line of promoting the same God that some of them are competing about who is the best in representing him among the religious institution.
While love is regarded as the key, more often love is spoken of that being a practise. Others would practise love so they can do self promotion on how they’re being good people.
Fear rules the Christian world. That fear results in guilt even on natural things, fearing that they may be contrary to God’s will. Being sexually aroused is one of the natural occurrences not just to humans and it happens especially when a man is attracted to a woman. But when I was a church member I heard lots of my fellow brethrens confessing and cursing on how the devil could put them under such lustful siege.
I once blocked adult entertainment on DSTV only for it to catch up with me via the click of the mouse. It starts with desire, fighting it off with guilt. When giving in to desire I enjoyed the action but the after effects would leave me fearing that hell will break and blazing furnace will torch me alive.
When things went wrong I wouldn’t view them as part of nature, instead it would come across as the punishment for being disobedient but the habit disappeared when I stopped judging myself or fearing the worst. Fear of consequences, judgement and hellfire is the motivation for many Christians. They feel trapped by the same God because he will punish them severely if they turn their backs on the church.
Most read only the bible or books which keep them in the same route. They would criticize the work by other authors who challenge what is believed instead of using it to seek their own truth. Even the same bible encourages testing of the spirits and that is achievable through interrogation.
Part of Christians’ problem is self esteem and self efficiency. They are comfortable to belong under the Holy banner but have got nothing to show on individual capacity. And that also ties them with the church because they believe that’s where life and God is, everything else is not real.
In all this, I’m not against Christian churches or religions but I’m addressing ignorance which makes many buy into cheap tactics and remain engulfed while there’s so much more to learn. It created prejudices among black communities who find themselves in the crossfire sometimes, especially when it comes to their traditions. Many regard the presence of Christianity to exist so black people can abolish their traditions. It informs others when faced with decision making on which church to join, others leave churches coz they can not find or create balance.
Some churches can be detrimental to children who grow up there. Their parents seek to inject them with their beliefs without an option to explore the world and make informed choices. Faith is not about blind following but establishing God’s reality. Christians miss the point when they think they exist to defend God’s honour, to make rulings without establishing sufficient facts to back up their message.
Today’s society is no longer looking for new religion but a better reality. There are people who feel trapped in my similar situation, I say to them it’s time to go out and explore, expand your knowledge and help solve some of our human kind riddles.
By Authentic Views ©