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Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Dear COZAites, this is not loyalty! by Wole Olabanji

I wish you would see the childishness and hypocrisy in all of these. When the story breaks about a married lecturer who sleeps with a student, no one goes around telling us how wonderful he is at teaching calculus… I have deliberately stayed out of the discussions around the scandal that broke over Pastor Biodun’s alleged adulterous relations with a former member of the church because I am learning that sometimes, all the facts don’t add up to the truth. There are dimensions of reality which transcend observable fact and when we focus exclusively on the facts we often miss the truth that God is showing us.
I am still not interested in dwelling on the subject of what went on between the two of them. The strange picture that forms in my mind as I watch folks yelling their varied opinions at the duo is like two slaves being auctioned at a very rowdy flea market.
I, however, think it is unwise to remain silent over the very strange and I believe misguided efforts by some members of COZA to create a counter-narrative that is clearly targeted at overwhelming the small fire of the scandal with the avalanche of encomiums that is being poured on Pastor Biodun.
Let me say upfront that as a brother in the faith, my deepest wish and prayer for the two people involved is that they find full restoration in God after this period of fiery trial. They can draw strength from the fact that other believers of even higher ‘stature’ have fallen lower and by Gods abounding grace have been lifted from the dung hill of sin. Besides, seeing as I am also daily working out my salvation, I fully appreciate that proviso in the scriptures which says, “If we sin, we have an advocate with the father”.
Moreover, God has formed the church in such a way that “if one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honoured, all the parts are glad” (1 Cor 12:26 NLT). Therefore, anyone who really understands the body of Christ will know that when one falls, all hurt.
However, the loud chorus of “I Celebrate You Pastor Biodun” with which we are being inundated tells us that folks are really swimming in a ‘level of grace’ reached only by people drowning in licentiousness. I am quite worried by the overt effort all over social media to do ‘damage control’, by trying to burnish the image of ‘our’ pastor by pointing to the fact of the great preacher, pastor, leader, even husband that he is.
To use the words of the bible…
The Apostle Paul wrote (1 Cor 5:1-2) to the Corinthian Church about the sexual immorality that was reportedly going on among them and charged them to mourn in sorrow and shame rather than act with pride as they were doing. Rather than shamefully go to your closet to pray for a brother and sister who have fallen into sin, you have rather trooped out to write eulogies about your pastor and to proclaim how knowing him (not knowing Christ) has been the best thing that has happened to your lives. In all of this “I CELEBRATE YOU PASTOR BIODUN” that has rent the air accompanied with rock-star like pictures of him; some even showing him hugging his beaming wife, you have missed the point entirely.
I wish you would see the childishness and hypocrisy in all of these. When the story breaks about a married lecturer who sleeps with a student, no one goes around telling us how wonderful he is at teaching calculus; we see his action for what it is; a failing that needs to be corrected.
Unfortunately, for many, the real concern is not for the man but for yourselves. Your straining to canonize him is an unconscious effort to reduce the ‘mud’ that this throws on you by reason of your association with him.
It is quite shocking to find that some of you who in time past have rightfully mounted a crusade against those who use their privileged positions to get into inappropriate sexual relationships with people in their care have now turned around to CELEBRATE YOUR PASTOR. What has changed? Where then do you get the moral temerity to challenge those who make aso ebi to attend court and CELEBRATE Bode George or Ibori?
The height of it for me was one cheerleader saying that “disloyalty is doing nothing while Stephen is being stoned” in allusion to people’s response to some of the criticisms that have come the way of Pastor Biodun. This analogy is just sad; to equate being martyred for the gospel to being vilified for falling into sin is quite honestly desecrating the memory of a martyr. What the bible says is… “…you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong.” (1 Pet 2:20 NLT)
Am I judging the brother? No. Am I exonerating the sister? No. I believe that it takes two to tango and as the bible says “temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away” (James 1:14 NLT). Importantly, we also learn from scripture that God’s grace (no matter its level) doesn’t lead us to sin but rather makes a way of escape out of every temptation and will not allow us to be tempted above what we can bear. (1 Cor 1:13)
I make this point because through the history of the phrase “let him that is without sin cast the first stone” and no less in this case, many have exploited it to conveniently shield themselves and others from taking responsibility for their actions. While Jesus did say this to the crowd of hypocrites who wanted to stone the woman caught in adultery, many have carried on as though rather than “go and sin no more”, what Jesus said to the woman was “GO, I CELEBRATE YOU”.
What I think ought to happen in this case is that people who really care about Pastor Biodun and Sister Ese should spend their time praying for them, and for the church elders to rise up to the occasion and deal with the issue as the bible clearly prescribes. This is not the time to try to counter the people who are gathering stones to throw by bringing out garlands and shouting I CELEBRATE YOU. There is time for everything and this certainly isn’t the time to CELEBRATE PASTOR BIODUN FATOYINBO.

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