JAMB question, right? It’s something that many “modern-day” Christians have to deal with – and I say “Christians” only because this is the religion in which I was raised, so I am therefore more familiar with this struggle. The difficult task of balancing rational thought which the kind of all-encompassing belief that religion often requires…
JAMB question, right? It’s something that many “modern-day” Christians have to deal with – and I say “Christians” only because this is the religion in which I was raised, so I am therefore more familiar with this struggle. The difficult task of balancing rational thought which the kind of all-encompassing belief that religion often requires is certainly not unique to Christians alone.
I think it’s particularly an issue for young people. Call us what you like – the Twitter generation, millenials, perpetual phone pressers – na you know. The point is that we live in an age where much more information is available to us, far more easily than ever before and it is coming at us faster than you can say “Doubting Thomas”. We are flooded with so much information on a daily basis, just navigating life can feel like sensory overload. Add trying to live your life according to set beliefs, and it’s only a matter of time before conflicts arise.
Take sex, for example. Yes, that word so many of you like to discuss (according to all the articles y’all send me). The amount of sexually charged material floating around on TV, the internet and social media is pretty intense. Even people trying to sell me perfume feel the need to use an oiled up owner of a pretty prominent six pack to try and convince me whatever chemicals they’ve mixed into that weirdly shaped bottle smell good. What does a steamy wet model have to do with fragrance and deodorant, please?
On top of this constant assault on our senses, some people out there are trying to save their “cookie” for marriage, or “struggling” with masturbation. This is something I can’t go into for fear of digressing, but except you’re so addicted to fun times alone that it is negatively affecting your daily life, e.g. you started skipping school or stealing money to buy vibrators, there is nothing to struggle with. Life is short; enjoy yourself. That’s my opinion, but I’m sure many disagree and think taking a trip inside your pants is a sin. For such people, I cannot even begin to imagine how difficult it must be to stay on the narrow path when there is no shortage of sexual stimuli.
One’s attitude to sex is usually quite personal. For the most part, it’s about you and what you choose to do with your body, except you decide to join the Slut Police and accuse others of ashewo-ism. In that case, you should probably stop reading this article now and focus squarely on seeking employment, as you are clearly jobless. Moving beyond the personal, to wider world views, the relationship between faith and rationale can become even more frayed – and could even lead to very heated debates.
Pastor Sam Adeyemi is someone who might know this all too well. A tweet about mental health recently went viral, and the Twitter Brigade came for him.
Pastor Adeyemi was lambasted for reducing mental health to a black and white accusation about sinfulness, which was seen as dangerous for many living with such conditions. Yet, this tweet was only one in a series which, in my opinion, took quite a progressive approach to discussing mental health as a Christian – particularly as a Nigerian Christian.
This is in a country where the only “mental health” condition we recognise is madness, and even when we identify it, we stay FAR away from it. I don’t know anyone trying to engage with the young men and women who grow Weeknd style dreadlocks and prance around the streets of major Nigerian cities, stark naked.
Our response to mental health is simple: fight or flight. We fight with proclamations of the blood of Jesus, cries of “God forbid!” and flee with… Well, we don’t need any help with that, we just steer clear. Once people start suggesting mental health is not so clear cut, and conditions like bipolar disorder, eating disorders, depression and even stress are valid mental health concerns, we scoff and reduce them to the mere excesses of those who don belle full. In contrast, here was a Christian leader encouraging others to seek medical help while simultaneously emphasising the importance of his faith. I think that is impressive.
Still, people didn’t want to hear it. Because the mere mention of mental health stemming from sin can simply never sit well with anyone advocating for better understanding of the subject – no matter how much you clarify and explain your statement. It definitely doesn’t sit well with me, because I know my people and how selectively they cherry-pick religious statements to justify bad behaviour. Pastor Adeyemi could have said a billion other things: the fact that he attributed mental health issues to sin is more than enough ammunition for someone to flog a troubled child to death, based on suspicion of witchcraft.
There is still a divide between faith and rationality that even modern religious leaders like Pastor Adeyemi simply cannot bridge. The Bible-bashing “pray it away” types will never subscribe to seeking help for stress because “God is their strength”, and mental health advocates will never see salvation as the ultimate anti-depressant. It’s just not going to happen.
It seems many of us believe you can either have faith or rationality, and not both. As evidenced by how hard Pastor Adeyemi was dragged for the spiritual parts of his thread, despite efforts to promote healthcare awareness in other tweets, it appears we strongly believe in the “either/or” approach. Do you agree that religion and rationality are irreconcilable? Or is there room for both to co-exist. If there was ever a time to be a keyboard warrior, it is now. I want to hear from you.