ECONOMIC AND SOCIO-RELIGIOUS CHALLENGES FACING 21ST CENTURY CHRISTIAN FATHERS (2)
OUR society has the tendencies of tainting our religious beliefs. St Paul told us: ‘we are in the world, but not of the world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, and ye may prove what is good and acceptable and perfect will of God,’ Rom. 12v2. It is true the world may exert some negative pressures on us, but as Christian fathers, we should stand our grounds by being renewed and transformed in the mind. St Augustine offers us a piece of advice: ‘we have to live uneasily in this world because we are citizens of heaven.’
However, we have these challenges starring us in the face. They include:
Childlessness:- Usually, it is the joy of every father to have children who will succeed him when he is gone. The bible says: ‘Lo, children are a heritage of Jehovah; `and’ the fruit of the womb is `his’ reward,’ Ps. 127v3. When a marriage fails to produce, there is a way the society looks at it. Of course, often the woman is blamed, but we know better this may not always be the truth. However, childlessness could be caused by infertility, low sperm count; one may be under a curse (spiritual) and so on. The Christian father, who is childless may find himself torn apart. On one side, the society expects him to have children, on the other side the Church wants him to be patient, to trust God, to pray and if possible to visit the hospital for proper medical checks. If he allows the society to control him, he can have children even if it means through ‘away matches’ (adultery), he could adopt which he may regret later, for if the real father shows up much later, he would then laboured for another to reap.
Let it be stated that it is always good to wait on the Lord, especially in terms of having children. Any attempt outside God’s plan, the Church views it as adultery. A testimony – I was a godfather in baptism, last week, to one of our Canons in the Diocese of Ikeduru. He got triplets after nineteen years of marriage.
Adultery:- The bible cautions us: ‘know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have from God? And ye are not your own; for ye were bought with a price: glorify God therefore in your body,’ I Cor. 6v19-20. In the world today, many men glory in the number of mistresses they have all over the place. Yes, they may be pillars and caterpillars in our Churches, yet, they live adulterous lives and God daily is wounded by this behaviour. Someone may say it is our nature as Africans, for we are polygamous in nature. But when we accepted Jesus as our Lord and personal saviour, our old self was crucified on the cross of Calvary. So, there is no room for adultery in Christian marriage.
We have scores of stories all over the place about the unfaithfulness of some Christian fathers. Some when they die, some children show up to the shame of their individual families. The society may not bother, but we should be concerned for we are not only citizens of Nigeria, but also citizens of heaven. The bible challenges us: ‘nothing impure will inherit the kingdom of God,’ Rev. 21v8, Gal. 5v19-21.
Cultural practices:- I know that Christ will judge every culture whether good or bad. But let it be stated without equivocation that there are some cultural practices that are not bad. On the other hand, there are some that should be condemned giving to the time we find ourselves in the 21st century. Some in the bid to promote cultural practices have relapsed into idolatry and occultism. We had some Christian fathers who may have tacitly acquiesced. In such a situation, we can see an inter-play of ‘religious syncretism’ at work. But God warns us: ‘for thou shall worship no other god: for Jehovah, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God,’ Ex. 34v14. Any practice(s) that will not promote a healthy relationship between us and our God should be jettisoned. God should not be competing with any other god(s).
Habits like drinking, smoking:- Some people will copiously quote what Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy: “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities,” 1 Timothy 5:23. To all intent and purposes, this ought not to be a general rule for indulgence into drinking. Many refer to this passage during their attempts to justify drinking intoxicating or alcoholic wine. But what’s odd to me is that regardless of how much one intends to drink, he/she attempts to justify it by quoting what Paul told Timothy. How odd it is that they correctly quote Paul’s advice, and then it is conveniently explained away, corrupted and twisted to suit their own fleshly desires.
Corruption:- It is everywhere whether in the offices, educational sector, politics or even in the Churches. As Christian fathers, we should not allow the world to set the standards for us. Instead we should encourage honesty, hard-work, merit, commitment, devotion and what have you.
We are not proud to note that Nigeria is seen as one of the most corrupt places in the world. This implies that some of our fathers may not be too clean. People may say the end justifies the means but for the Christian father ill-gotten wealth should be avoided. The Bible says: ‘for what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul,’ Mark 8:36.