sn't it amazing that those who laugh at fortune tellers often take these so called men of God seriously? The history of the Christian Church is characterised by repeated misjudgements of trends and their inability to catch up with civilization. In 1536 William Tyndale was strangled, and then burnt at the stake. His crime; attempting to translate the bible (which was then only in Greek and Latin) into the English language. In 1384, a hundred and fifty years before Tyndale, John Wycliffe who also attempted to transcribe the same Bible into English only escaped the same fate because he died before his case at the Vatican was settled. Thirty years later, when his Bohemian protégé (Jan Hus) was caught and burnt at the stake, the Vatican also declared Wycliffe a heretic and ordered that his remains be exhumed and burnt at the stake and his ashes cast into the River Swift. Today we carry the Bible about in thousands of different languages without any inkling of the long fight that took place against our own Christian Church to make this possible.
Even my poor mother in the village now can recite endless passages in her Igbo Bible and would likely not believe me if I told her that the Christian Church once tried everything including killing many of their own just to prevent her from ever reading the bible in her native tongue. Galileo was tried by the inquisition, found vehemently suspect to heresy, forced to recant, and spent the rest of his life under house arrest. If not for his friendship with the pope and the forceful recantation, would have certainly been burnt at the stake for heresy. His crime; discovering that the earth rotates around the sun, which was at the time contrary to the church's believe that the earth was the centre of the universe. During the inquisition that lasted nearly a hundred years, many people, mostly women, were burnt at the stake for being witches or for practicing witchcraft. More than a million people lost their lives across Europe and culminated in the celebrated wipe-out of most women in the town of Salem in the US. The irony is that today, most westerners have realized their mistake, their foolishness, and would be the first to laugh when you tell them that someone is a witch. I can go on and catalogue endless atrocities that have been carried out within the Christian Church, all in the name of God, but I should leave that for another episode.
Today in Nigeria and especially in the Catholic and Anglican Churches in the Southeast, I see a similar trend, draconian rules, mostly targeted at women members, to keep them from ever joining the 21st century. These rules are often carried out in the guise of attempting to stop or eradicate indecent dressing in the church. For the record, I am against indecent dressing inside the church or indeed anywhere. But most of the things I see have nothing whatsoever to do with indecent dressing. These are just a bunch of unnecessary rules designed to oppress women. Those who sanction these rules may not see their actions as such, but that is exactly what it amounts to. I just don't understand why in 2013 a woman wearing a well-tailored pair of trousers should be considered to have dressed indecently, and as a result prohibited from entering the church.
I do not and perhaps cannot understand why in 2013 a woman must be forced to cover her well-made-up hair before she can enter the church. I will never understand what the colour of a woman's contact lenses has to do with her faith in Christ Jesus, or why her extended eyelashes should make her to be treated as a prostitute inside the house of our Lord. Sadly, our Catholic and Anglican Church leaders in the Southeast have become like the Pharisees, judging the outward appearances of mostly women church members. I sometimes wonder if these church leaders ever cared for the souls of these women that they are so bent on forcing to tow the line. Every now and then I get a chance to worship at one of these new and upwardly mobile churches, where I would observe very well dressed young ladies lost in worship, under the anointing, and definitely unencumbered by the mandatory two-story katamkom headscarf of the Catholic and Anglican Churches.
Jesus Christ did not care how you are dressed, whether you are a tax collector, or a prostitute. It didn't stop his followers from trying to prevent certain seekers from coming close to Christ. One lesson for all of us however, is that Jesus always overruled his followers in all those instances. After Christ, when Paul began converting the gentiles into the Jewish faith under the new doctrine of Christ as the messiah without first being circumcised, many Jews among his followers and the leaders at Antioch rejected his efforts. Ultimately he had to take his case to the Jerusalem Council before James and Peter among others. Many of our spiritual leaders cling unto the old laws to justify these obnoxious rules. Jesus Christ and men around two thousand years ago did not wear trousers so no one can prove to me that trousers were exclusively made to be worn by men. If we have to go by some of these Jewish laws, how come men are not being forced to wear their beards always as required in the Bible? The truth is that we are no longer under the Law.
We came to Christ by faith, saved by faith lest anyone should kid himself. If we must go by those Jewish Laws, then I cannot accept the priesthood of any of our present pastors for none of them is from the tribe of Levi let alone a descendant of Aaron. Of course, they have all become priests because Christ brought His Grace, which has made their priesthood possible. And now, those who bask in the abundant Grace of God can no longer extend that same grace to the women of their parish because they are clinging unto the laws of Moses. I have read the Pentateuch carefully (the 5 books ascribed to Moses) and there is nothing in it that prevents a woman from wearing colour contact lenses, or eyelashes or even wearing trousers if it makes them feel good about themselves. As long as those dressings are not indecent, it is only their heart that matter before God. Many of those wrapper wearing, katankom wearing, and subdued souls that sit next to their husbands every Sunday like pictures on the wall may not be better Christians after all.
Why must we continue to constrain our women in the name of God? No, it is not right, and quite frankly I feel no sympathy for those women that continue to put up with these nonsense. After all, every bishop or priest here in the Southeast has at one point or another worshiped outside Nigeria. If not, I'm sure they have worshiped at a church in Lagos or Abuja, where these rules no longer apply. Are those churches in Abuja and Lagos no longer part of the Catholic or the Anglican Church of Nigeria? The only difference, I suppose is that Lagos and Abuja have become more civilized and like their counterparts in the western world have seen the light. I can only hope that those who are in charge of affairs in the Southeast would also see the light sooner. But indications are that they are nowhere near and would rather continue to wallow in darkness and the oppression of their female members all in the name of God. Like everything else, even this shall come to pass someday.