The ancient city of Ibadan. The city of Ogunmola and Oluyole also happened to be the city that prophet Abodunrin chose that fateful day in 1991 to inscribe on my youthful mind an important lesson about God. It was the Christian Easter Lenten season and it was at the Zoological Gardens of the University of Ibadan that the hitherto unknown prophet appeared, dressed in red garment, clutching a bible in hands. Somehow our “wannabe” Daniel got himself into the Lions’ den, a move made to re-enact the famous biblical story. Quite as expected, his story did not end in the same way that the biblical Daniel’s ended. What we know for a fact is that despite Prophet Abodunrin’s recital of all the famous and not so famous biblical passages and promises of God, including that in Gen 1:26 where God made man as ruler over all animals, in the twinkling of an eye he was no more. Even his blood was licked by the Lions after they had devoured the meat that the good Lord had graciously provided to them.
Did this event make God a liar? No, not at all. Does it mean that God’s promise in Psalm 91:13 is of no effect? No I don’t think so. What I learnt that day was that the Bible is contextual and a need to be very wary of those who teaches and take the Bible as definitive for all situations, that biblical teachings are absolutes.
I am the Lord, I change not says Malachi 3:6 and, using this verse, many would have us believe that God’s approach to a particular event or issue will be the same. Well, to such people I have only one question to ask – How come David was not punished for eating the shew bread while both Kings Saul and Uzziah were punished for offering sacrifices and burning incense to the Lord? After all, the three of them did things that were reserved only for priests, the Levites, to do? Some will argue that the difference is Grace. Let’s hold our thoughts on this, just for now, we will come to this later.
I hate to admit it, I disliked Barack Obama! When he won the election as the President of America, I had a sweet and sour taste in my mouth, I could neither swallow nor vomit. Why? Because I love Jesse Jackson and was convinced that he deserved the office much more than Barack. I grew up in the years of Jesse’s democratic push to become a candidate for the prestigious office. He had pushed for it, first in 1984 and again in 1988, unsuccessful in both attempts. He had everything I wanted the President to be. So when Barack won, I asked why this green horn and not Jesse?
Well, I was wrong, I admit it. Barack was no green horn. He didn’t just spring up from no-where to win the coveted seat. Unbeknown to me then, he had painstakingly planned it, investing in himself, in people and gaining the needed experience and trust to be whom he became. Not only that, he already had in the public domain, his philosophy of faith – an Obama’s version of Karl Marx’ the Communist Manifesto, his number one national bookseller the Audacity of Hope.
Years have passed and we have witnessed eight years of Obama’s presidency followed by two years of that of “our man Friday”. In the very first years of his presidency, my distaste turned into a fanatical liking for the man Obama. The following years of Trump have even transformed my fanatical liking into a cult worship. I reverence the man.
I had come to the conclusion that, except by chance, I may not have the good luck to meet the man. I had thought of taking a trip to Chicago and camping out at his popular restaurant, MacArthur’s, but sooner concluded that it would be a futile attempt. Even if he were to visit, the Presidential guard would form such a formidable wall around him that I would still not come close to him. Well, I settled on buying his books with the intent that by reading what he wrote, I may have a good insight into his composition as a man. There is no better way to get to understand the man than to read his thoughts, his word on marble, so to say. It was in Abuja, on 19th Oct 2011, that I picked two of his books – Dreams from My Father and the Audacity of Hope. While I had taken time to read “Dreams from My Father”, the cares of this world had not provided me with the ample chance to read the Audacity of Hope till now. Well, I am now into the closing chapters of the book and, so far, I have not been disappointed.
Not until now, I should have said. And the disappointment? Well who in his right frame of mind will look the multitude of Bible believing, Church going, Bible carrying Christians in their eyes and tell them that their famous evangelical hero’s letter to the church in Rome is obscure? No one else but Barack, and he did it with great gusto. A sort of look me in the eye gusto that says you can take a jump into the ocean if you don’t like my words.
Unfortunately, he has a convincing reason to hold this position. The same position that has caused me a great re-thinking of my faith and what that faith means? I am having a re-birth and I have gone through a deep conscious evaluation before deciding to make a U-turn, one that may cost me a host of friends and surely will make many doubt if I am a Christian after all. I am now with the lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transsexuals, trans-genders, intersexes and the queers (LGBTQs). Judge me not yet, keep calm and take time to read through my social awakening, one akin to that of Paul on his way to Damascus, persecuting the church.
Taking the cue from the Apostle Paul who argued Abraham to be a father of faith, Barack asked who amongst us will, in his right frame of mind, do exactly what Abraham did today. Perhaps there is one amongst us, insane enough to attempt sacrificing his child in obedience to an instruction from God that only him has heard, would the majority of us not rush him down, hold him immobile and call the cops? I can hear a few grunts but that is the truth. Let’s pause a minute and think about Boko Haram or ISIS. The report is that their fighters are promised “al Jannah” with a harem supposedly full of virgins for succeeding in converting many to Islam or killing them. Why have we not allowed them to be? Could it be because we are not bound by their faith and convictions? So if this is the popular position, why do we want to bind others by our faith and convictions? Why castigate LGBTQs?
I have heard my Pastor, Margaret Court, a very fine lady and one with enviable records both in the world and in Christendom, said times without number that she loves the sinner but hates the sin. She is not alone in taking this position, it is the position of many Christians and Pastors across the world. I was hitherto convinced of this position just as Barack must have been also, but not anymore. Simply because such a position is judgemental and hurts! As Barack puts it, it is a hurt that inflicts needless pains on people who are often truer to Christ’s message than those who condemn them. They, too, are people made in the image of God and in his true likeness.
I had often wondered why he took so much interests in legalising homosexual marriage in the United States. It suddenly dawned on me that we are all sinners and in the front of the God that we have to deal with, no sin is greater than another. Of course it is debatable if being an LGBTQ is even a sin. In saying that he was not willing to accept a reading of the Bible that considers an obscure line in Romans to be more defining of Christianity than the Sermon on the Mount preached by Christ himself, Barack opened my eyes to a different truth out there. One that I would have missed if I had not painstakingly taken a reading of Romans 1 and Mathew 5 once again.
To start with, it will be fallacious to argue that Paul did not condemn homosexuality, he did! His condemnation was brutal – he held them as being worthy of death, people to be murdered, I suppose. However, the whole discourse would have been fully settled by this portion of his Epistle had Christ not spoken to us about 30 years earlier than Paul in his sermon on the mountain. In that sermon, Christ enunciated what it means to be a Christian. In several verses he talked about those who are blessed for their actions and then he defined some sins. He didn’t mention being a LGBTQ as sin, he needed not to. However, the multitude of the sins that he mentioned and their magnitude in the church makes LGBTQ, if it is sin at all, of no greater evil than those. Remember sin is sin, no degrees of sin with God. So when Christ, God’s son, says anger without a cause (v22), speaking falsely (lying) (v11), breaking the ten commandment and teaching others to break them (v19), calling someone a fool (v22), lustful looking (v28) are sins, then we have more grievous things to resolve and spend our time on than trying to pick the speck in our brothers’ eyes while we have logs in our own. I dare those who have lusted after other women to abide with Christ’s request for them to pluck out their own eyes first and then and only then would they have gained the moral right to hound the LGBTQs, if they still want to.
When Pope Francis stood before the world in 2013 and said “if a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?” he justly summarized the approach we all should take on this issue. We are all servants of God and are responsible and reportable to God and to him alone. Cast your mind to Peter on the roof top, praying and having a vision of a great sheet being let down to earth from heaven containing all manners of unclean animals. Consider yourself as the Peter that was instructed thrice to kill and eat and that “What God hath cleansed, that call thou common?” Now also consider being Cornelius and that Peter had shown up condemning you for being a gentile. How would that have felt? Yet despite being a gentile, Cornelius was just, feared God and had a good report. So also is that bloke, your neighbour. He is just, feared God and has a good report albeit he is a LGBTQ!
In Peter’s declaration, is a very important lesson for us all, that “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that fears him, and works righteousness, is accepted with him.” It may not be a far fetched conclusion to suppose that the first baptism of a gentile might not have taken place if Peter had not forsaken his filthy labelling of the gentile? So, if we do not forsake our filthy labelling of LGBTQs, we are most likely distancing from the church many who could become heroes of the faith and then we become guilty of raising stumbling blocks before them. This is the whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness that Jesus talked of in Mat 23:27.