Dawn of the rainbow: Will African clerics parade their true colours?
Exposed. Scandalised. Nauseating. A roller-coaster of emotions was evident as the hypocrisy of persons presiding over grandiose religious systems was unmasked this week. First came Pope Francis. Bishop T.D. Jakes followed shortly thereafter.
The religious establishment across Africa was rendered limb, too numbed by the unfolding events to respond coherently. Catholic faithful were left confused by the bombshell from the papacy that it would henceforth allow clergy to bless homosexual unions. While many did not understand whatever was intended by the word “bless”, the ramifications were understandably far-reaching.
However, it was the scandal involving Bishop Jakes that shook social media platforms the most. It is alleged that the leader of Potter’s House – whose sermons are followed religiously by a worldwide audience – had been a regular participant in gay parties at which he enjoyed intimacy with multiple men, and that he was also a paedophile.
Around East Africa and elsewhere on the continent, millions of people who subscribe to various Christian denominations and hold such western “men of God” in awe will be going through a crisis of sorts as they seek to make sense of these events.
After decades of listening to the denominational hierarchy denouncing homosexuality as sin, the highest voice in the Catholic hierarchy has found that it is, after all, a practice worthy of blessing. After this pronouncement, how will any Catholic condemn something that qualifies to be blessed?
That cognitive dissonance is worsened by the case of Bishop Jakes, whose booming voice and stage antics persuaded many undiscerning Christians that he genuinely loved God, yet it has now been revealed that he was leading a double life all along.
Of course, it is always a good thing when people come out from their cocoons to reveal their true colours. That way, they cease living a fake life in which they propagate in public what they never hold dear in private. It is an open secret that numerous Catholic clergy entertain all sorts of gay as well as heterosexual relationships, including with children, while purporting to be celibate. The denomination has often had to pay dearly to keep matters hushed.
Homosexuality versus polygamy
With greater freedom in countries around the world, it is no longer necessary to lead a double life. Clerics like Bishop Jakes would be well advised to declare their stand and invite to their fold all those who agree to enjoy Christian communion with the LGBTQ community. Unfortunately, the allure of money is so strong that it eventually leads to the kind of unfortunate scenario now facing the bishop.
The gradual acceptance of homosexuality in the church should also serve to disabuse Africans of the notion that their church practices are dictated solely by scripture. Rather, western cultural influences play a major role. White weddings, clergy vestments, church buildings, and a lot more practices reflect pagan and western cultural influences. Same with the gradual acceptance of homosexuality, something that could not have been imagined only a few years ago.
It is paradoxical – and an irritating mark of western hegemony – that while arguing in favour of blessing homosexual couples, western-based denominations still frown upon aspects of culture dear to Africans, such as polygamy. From a biblical perspective, it would be difficult to justify homosexuality while regarding polygamy as sinful, exposing western churches’ hypocrisy in promoting their own cultural preferences at the expense of those of other societies.
It is therefore upon the faithful to disengage themselves from this religious colonialism and decide what traditions to uphold that are in accord with scripture and not inimical to morality, without looking to western religious leaders for direction.
In the meantime, it is to be hoped that across East Africa and beyond, more religious leaders will abandon their hypocrisy in financial and moral issues. If they don’t, their day to be exposed will surely come.
𝐈𝐬𝐚𝐚𝐜 𝐌𝐰𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐢 𝐢𝐬 𝐄𝐝𝐢𝐭𝐨𝐫 𝐨𝐟 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐎𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐥𝐞.
It would be difficult to justify homosexuality while regarding polygamy as sinful, exposing western churches’ hypocrisy