Living in Bondage

Eberechukwu Obua

© Copyright 2020 by Eberechukwu Obua

Photo by niu niu on Unsplash
                               Photo by niu niu on Unsplash

Thunder will fire you.”

It’s a popular phrase here. Scientifically incorrect yet carrying the message of an imminent attack from the skies, perfectly.

Is it an insult? A curse upon the heads of my enemies? It’s a powerful polysemy.

I think about it now as I’m about to write what I feel cannot be left unsaid yet is still somewhat of an abomination in my own mind. I worry that I might say something displeasing to my own God-whose name I can’t even dare to start with a small letter-that might cause him to evoke his wrath on me from the heavens. Here I go.

It was my mission in the beginning of the lockdown to draw closer to God. It wasn’t exactly a mission I’d been consistent with, but I’d tried, regardless. “Worldly” music was quit; unholy “acts”, abandoned; verses of scripture were recited; powerful prayers throwing rocks of death at “those against my success” were screamed at the top of my lungs. Yet, the closer I got to God, the farther away he seemed.

I blame it on the surplus of free time. Suddenly, thoughts I’d pushed to the depths of my brain started floating to the surface, yelling at me to ignore them no more. I have no memory of the moment, but the topic that triggered this concatenation of convictions, I can remember as, “Who wrote the Bible?”

A seemingly easy question. The average Christian would instinctively reply, “God” and go about the rest of their day without giving it a second thought.

But it was clearly written by humans.

The truth will set you free,” yet I felt like I was bound in shackles. The truth had me at its mercy; demanding that I delved deeper into it. The truth drowned me; left me gasping for air. The truth haunted me at night, leaving a befuddled insomniac in its wake. The realization of the glaring truth slapped my mind in a different direction. Nothing was the same.

Reading the Bible as a book by humans, as opposed to the, “undiluted word of God” made its flaws difficult to ignore. Discrepancies became evident. I mean, multiple people-some of whom were strangers to each other-wrote different parts of a book that they never knew was going to exist. It’s not like they’d exactly planned for everything to make sense together. My problem with discrepancies wasn’t the ones that existed between two different books, but the ones that existed between two different chapters of the same book. Even Genesis -the most fundamental of Christian books-is guilty. The entire first chapter of the Bible chronicled the sequence of events; there was water, then, there was land and plants, followed by the heavenly bodies, birds and aquatic animals, and finally, land animals, with humans coming last. Yet, in Genesis 2:19, “Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see...” There’s also Genesis 2:17, where God told Adam that he’d die if he ate the fruit of the tree; Genesis 5:5 claimed he lived for almost a thousand years. All these were recorded in the same book that said, in Numbers 23:19,” God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?”

I’m getting dizzy.

Then, there was the question of translation. The Holy Book was taken on a roller coaster of languages, from Hebrew, to Greek, to Latin, to English, and now, hundreds of other tongues. Wouldn’t it be correct to say that the Bible has been lost in translation? Wouldn’t it also be correct to recognize that cultures and human biases played a huge role in the translation-and even the writing of- the Bible?

Some parts of the Bible are false,” was another agonizing cognizance.

So, for over a thousand years, billions of people-myself inclusive-have guided their lives, in accordance with the words of a book containing quite blatant lies and dedicated an unquestioning loyalty to it. Gosh, that was difficult to type.

Now my brain is in a crisis.

What do I do now with all this new information?” I queried myself. “I can’t just up and abandon my God. If I did, what would I have?”

The concept of a godless life is so foreign to me that I’m sure that if it could, my brain would barf at the thought of it. I tried to imagine it; the first thing that hit me was an overwhelming sense of loneliness; it was like sitting in a cold, dark room with no windows, all by myself. The next thing I wondered was who I was going to pray to; who was I going to submit my supplications to when I needed help? Who was I going to report my nightmares to, and ask for them to be sent down to pits of hell? If just a few seconds of imagination left me feeling isolated, then what would the rest of my life feel like without God? Christianity is all I’ve ever known; even before I’d left the womb, my mother was already sending prayers to her uterus to make sure I was sanctified. Sometimes, I read about people who grew up in non-religious households and could make that great decision on their own; I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t envious of them. Analysing my mind now, I wonder if I would have chosen a religion if it was an option; talk less of the one I currently practice. I’ve certainly grown more accepting of atheists in the past few months; their perspective has grown clearer to me, and I even find myself defending them occasionally. Maybe it’s because I see something in them that I see in myself. There’s something else that I see in them; something I long for yet want no part to do with.

The truth has set me free; it has removed the shackles, pulled me out of the water, and promised not to disturb my sleep anymore. Still, I remain seated; bound by an even stronger force: faith.

Eberechukwu Obua is currently in an introverted eighteen-year-old, living in Nigeria, and ,going through the horror that is med school. She hopes to be a doctor someday, only to abandon medicine ten years later for a career in marketing, or writing(whichever is more convenient). For now, she reads anatomy books by the late Keith Moore, and writes a little something, once in a while.

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