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Opinion

Adeboye and other hostages of social media, By Azu Ishiekwene

What was it that the General Overseer of The Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, said that caught fire? At the recently concluded annual convention of the Church, he advised male church workers not to marry women who cannot not pray for one hour.

That was not all. He also advised them not to marry women who cannot cook. Turning to the women, he advised them not to marry lazy men and those who have no jobs.

While he was still speaking, social media was aflame. The more charitable critics told him to get over his old-fashioned ideas. Not a few said they considered his comment harmful and irresponsible. Doesn’t he know that he is a role model?

Well, my father told me the same thing and I’m not ashamed to say that I can’t remember how many times I have told my own children the same thing: don’t marry a drifter, a spouse who believes in nothing.

My father was not a Christian, so he did not use Adeboye’s exact words about prayers. But what he said about a woman without the fear of God and/or one who cannot cook would be judged a far worse heresy by today’s social media standards. My father said that a woman who does not have the fear of God is capable of anything and the one who cannot cook is badly brought up.

That’s quite harsh. But it came from his heart and I’m thankful for it. I’m also thankful that my mother taught me to pray and to cook not because she wanted me to thresh melon while my wife puts her feet up, but because she said I’ll never know what tomorrow would bring or where life might take me.

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I’m perfectly happy with my father’s advice and the lessons my mother taught me. I have shared them with my son many times.

It’s up to him to take it or leave it but I don’t know many parents who will not share life’s lessons that have worked for them – and even those that didn’t work – with their own children.

I understand that today’s world of relative morality has no place for right and wrong, only shades of grey. The in-thing – what is trending and in fashion – is to forget the past, especially if that past comes from traditional society, and to embrace the spirit of the new age, mostly defined by Western trends and standards.

There’s a variety of this relativist thinking that I find very confusing. Because the icons of this age live in the public square where pregnancy in all its sacredness is advertised as “baby bump” on Facebook and “baby shower” announces the unborn child, the voltrons insist that we can be judged only by their own standards.

We can’t say what we believe in because we have to be careful to be politically correct; we cannot hold any opinion because it might offend millions of other people who look up to us as role models; we can’t even share a private moment with loved ones, because our privacy is exactly what feeds the fly on the social media wall.

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Those who want Adeboye’s head on a platter for saying what he said in what was supposed to be a private meeting with his church workers can have it, but if new thinking is so fickle that its adherents cannot withstand anything more than the namby-pamby of their ill-digested Oyinbo ideas, then too bad. On the day when anyone really, really needs to pray – woman or man – you won’t need Adeboye to tell you how long to pray.

The old school should not relent or give up the values they hold dear without a fight.

As for the adherents of the new thinking, we know a good number of them: hypocrisy is their middle name. They will not tell their own wards and children to do what they vigorously advocate on social media. They live two lives – one for Facebook, the other for Closetbook. Fools follow them at their own peril.

Recently, a friend shared a conversation he had with his daughter with me: “Dad,” the young lady said to her father, “What would be your response if I said I had a lesbian or gay friend – just a friend.”

My friend said he thought very long and hard for a reply. He didn’t want to say something that would turn his daughter off and yet he didn’t want to encourage the relationship.

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“You will not have a lesbian friend because bad company corrupts good manners,” my friend replied his daughter. “I have nothing against people of different orientations but I also reserve the right to choose my friends, just as you do. I wish you would use that choice wisely.”

He had to walk on eggshells to say the word. That’s what the adherents of the new thinking have done to us – they have robbed us of the gift of plain speaking, but they won’t stop at making us softies. Their ultimate goal is to silence us. We are afraid to speak up for the values that we believe in, because we’re afraid to be labeled old-fashioned.

My father would not have faced this misery. It would have been inconceivable for me to even think of it, much less discuss it with him. If ever I crossed the line, he would have stitched up my mouth with stripes.

Of course, that generation had its excesses rooted mostly in superstition, fear and ignorance. But trust me, they have given more than their fair share to get us where we are. The choices we make going forward are entirely up to us.

Ishiekwene is the MD/editor-in-chief of The Interview magazine and board member of the Paris-based Global Editors Network.

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