Paschal turned to George and said with a bright smile, “Well, look who’s here! George Emoefe, what, in the devil’s nuts, are you doing back here, away from Sunday School?”
George smiled at him, a tad self consciously, and said, “Well, Sunday School is long over. So it’s safe to say that I did not cut class to come hang with you guys.”
A few chuckles broke out in the room as Biola said, “I saw him the day before yesterday at Obalende, on my way back home from work, and we got talking” – he lifted his shoulders in a careless shrug – “and so, I asked him if he would love to hang with us today.”
“And you said yes?” Ekene said dramatically, his widened eyes trained on George. “You said yes to hanging with poor sinners like us?” The smile on his face took the sting off his words.
George gave a small laugh. “Oh come on…” he started.
“Oh, have you backslidden?” Paschal interjected with a smirk.
“Leave it to Paschal to blurt out the first thing that pops into his mind,” Jonathan said with a chuckle.
“Hey, I’m just saying what is on everybody’s mind,” Paschal said, spreading his hands with a shrug, and dividing a look around the room, before turning back to George.
In one accord, our stares collectively fell on George, and there was a slight expectancy in the atmosphere as we waited for his response. Even Biola, I noticed, seemed as though he was waiting with bated breath for what George’s answer would be. That made me wonder fleetingly what the two ex-lovers had talked about when they met two days ago, to make my friend, who had sworn to hate his former lover’s guts, to invite him back to our inner sanctum. Had George somehow given him the impression that he was open for reconciliation?
My unspoken question was answered with George’s next words. “Of course not… I haven’t backslidden.” He gave an awkward laugh before adding, “I’m just here as a friend –”
“Isn’t there something in the bylaws of Christianity that prohibits that from being so?” Biola cut in. There was a slight waspishness in his tone, one that attempted to mask the unmistakable hurt I heard in his voice. I realized then that he had hoped. In spite of what happened in the past, he had allowed himself to feel hope at George’s reentry into his life. That hope must be dying a slow death now.
“Prohibit what from being so?” George asked, oblivious to Biola’s mounting ire.
“You, a new recruit for the heavenly race, from hanging with us, condemned to hell, whether we like it or not,” Biola said archly.
“Speak for yourself o,” Jonathan cut in with a jocular tone. “Me, I’m a candidate for heaven.”
He, Paschal and Adebola were chuckling as Yinka added with his characteristic tongue-in-cheek attitude, “Besides, didn’t Jesus come to this world to become BFFs with sinners? If you ask me, I say George here is right on point with his ministry.” Turning to George, he added, “So what else, pastor? Now you’re here, are you going to be preaching to us about the repentance of our sins?”
“If you are,” I interjected, “please, dear God, let it be such sins like the one of sleeping practically osho free with any guy you invite from a different city to yours, and sending him off without proper reward for his efforts.”
The others sniggered. Paschal scowled at me.
“No,” George answered, “the sin is that of homosexuality.”
A collective groan rippled over the room as Eddie said with a scoff, “Of course, he’s still one of those. Biola, please, where did you find this guy?”
“I must be cursed,” Biola said coldly, “because I’m wondering the same thing myself.”
“Oh, come now –” George started.
“If I’d had the slightest inkling,” Biola interrupted him, “that you were still on about this conversion of yours that attempts to make people like me feel like shit, I would never have asked you over here today.”
“I gave my life to Christ, Biola,” George said flatly. “It’s not a fad. It’s a decision I took for as long as I may live.”
“Well, good for you,” Biola fired. “Have you fucked a Sister Christiana yet?”
“Oh stop, Biola,” Eddie scoffed. “Abstinence is another thing they preach.”
“Hey, Edidiong,” George said sharply, “that attitude was uncalled for.”
“What did you really expect would be our reception when you made your intentions clear upon coming here today, I’m curious,” I said then, drawing George’s gaze my way. “Because the last time you tried to get us to repent” – I added finger quotes to the word – “I don’t believe that was much of a success.”
“Yes, George,” Eddie added. “We were too much in love with dick then to listen. And we’re still too much in love with dick now to listen.”
“Preach it, sister!” Ekene hollered.
There was a smattering of laughter from everyone, except for Biola and George, who stood with expressions that showed how untouched by amusement they both were.
Then George said coolly, “The difference between sins like lying and homosexuality is that homosexuality never admits it is wrong. And gay people just dwell in sin as if since Jesus came and forgave our sins, we do not have to admit sin is sin. We are forgiven, so what does it matter?”
“Don’t be snarky, George,” Biola rejoined. “It doesn’t become you. And isn’t Christianity supposed to be about pious talk and behaviour?”
“Christianity is not that boring, Biola,” Yinka said, his lips twitching.
“Really? That’s brand new information.”
“On a more serious note,” Ekene cut in, training his stern gaze on George, “I take exception to the fact that you think I can’t be gay and Christian –”
“No, you cannot,” George said. “Homosexuality is a sinful lifestyle, and just like every other sin, you need to get out of it for your salvation to have any real meaning.”
“You people that keep saying this are getting exhausting,” Eddie heaved, lifting his laptop from his laps to the sofa and getting to his feet. “Being LGBT is not about making choices, nor is it a lifestyle.” His lips curled with disdain over the word. “Going to bars every night, or wearing tattoos and piercings everywhere, and exercising daily are lifestyles. Eating well is part of a lifestyle. Being gay is an orientation a person is born with, just like left-handedness. We don’t call that or red-headedness or being an albino a lifestyle, do we? So why would you call orientation a lifestyle? If anything, religion is more of a lifestyle than being gay. Being born with a disposition to be gay is not about making a choice. The only choice we have in the matter as gay people is whether or not to act on it. That’s all. If we choose not to, we still are gay, and we still have the attraction to the same sex – this doesn’t ever change. So you need to understand these things. I know this won’t change your mind one iota. But at the very least, be educated enough to stop calling being LGBT a choice and a lifestyle. It drives me crazy to have to keep hearing that.”
He lifted a hand and jabbed a finger in George’s direction before continuing, “You religious people–”
“Christians –” George countered.
“Religious people,” Eddie maintained. “You are the ones who keep most of the LGBT community from ever finding a relationship with God whereby they feel comfortable knowing Him and working out their issues with Him for themselves, whatever those issues may turn out to be. And even if they would eventually want to try to ‘pray away the gay’, which I personally believe is a waste of time and will NEVER happen. I’ve known far too many who tried that and lied for a while, got married, had children, and then got caught with a person of the same sex and ruined everything because they hadn’t been honest about the fact that they were – are still homosexual. I haven’t seen where God seems to care to change homosexual people – ever.
“However, back to my point – religious people tend to turn us off to the notion of Christianity more than anything else. Know that, understand it, and seek a way to change it.”
“We do that by telling you what you do is sin?” George returned with a faint sneer.
“Oh go fuck yourself, George,” Eddie shot back.
“He might have to,” I said, “considering he can’t get it up for Sister Christiana, and doesn’t want to give it up for Brother James.”
There were some sniggers in the room at that.
“Say whatever you like,” George said, “the contention that homosexual behavior should be not be accepted as right by Christians is a very real one. If, for example, some who claim to be Christ-followers beat up robbers because they believe robbery is wrong, that does not mean that robbery is somehow justified.
“Consider a heterosexual husband who is tempted to engage in sexual activities with various women he finds attractive… This is not uncommon. This temptation may be considered genetic, as many like you consider homosexual attraction to be. This knowledge, however, will do little to soothe the deep feelings of betrayal his wife may feel upon learning of his affairs. What ought a husband, if he is a follower of Jesus, do in such an instance? Resist the temptation! So feelings alone arising from some biological source do not justify us in the eyes of God, nor in the eyes of man in many instances. Thus it is imperative to differentiate between homosexual temptations and homosexual behavior to understand the wisdom of the scriptures: control every thought we cannot, but controlling our voluntary actions is a different story.
“In First Corinthians, chapter six, verses nine to ten, Paul wrote: ‘Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.’ Can you see someone who truly has the love of God in him or her continuing in an adulterous affair, as I referred to above, after coming to know Him? What about someone who never stops taking other people’s goods? Don’t you think the Spirit of the Lord would be grieving strongly in such people’s hearts, if indeed they were His? Note the apostle’s warning. Do not be deceived. Why would he write that? I suggest that perhaps it was easy to want to push these sins aside then, as it may be now, saying that really, it’s alright, you were just born that way!”
“You are equating adultery, a man who has made a vow to a woman, with a person having sex with another person?” Eddie queried in a furious tone. “One is committing a sin, the other is not. A gay person does not have to resist the temptation that is a part of every living thing.”
“Saying homosexuality is second nature to you is just an excuse to be weak,” George snapped.
“It simply galls me when people like you play God,” I seethed, cutting off Eddie, who looked like he had a nasty retort for George. “First of all, it is not within your human ability to deduce whether or not homosexuality falls within the moral bounds of Christianity. Leave it to God.
“Secondly, you can read and follow to a capital T all of the scriptures your mind can soak up, but that doesn’t allow you the ability to judge anything related to another individual, in practice. Leave it to God. Remember, God did NOT write the bible. The bible is full of bias only because of the simple fact that it was written by humans (more specifically men), who are naturally flawed to some degree.
“Thirdly, you know NOTHING about God’s perception of the human condition. You’re not God. Leave it to God to decide instead of trying to put words in God’s mouth. Christianity is based on other older religions. The idea of God just keeps getting passed down from millennium to millennium. So, to me, written scripture is only one interpretation of what God is. I find that God is much bigger than a rule book of human experience. I find God to be accepting of gays only because I find God to be extraordinarily loving towards His creations in general.
“And lastly, I will pray for you in your journey to understanding. At this point in society the argument against homosexuals is nearly as frivolous as the previous arguments of slave ownership or woman’s rights. Generations later, we wonder how it could have been. The same thing will happen with homosexuality and the world will be a better place for it because everybody deserves a shot at life and life everlasting, period.”
“The bible is flawed, is it?” George said, with his brows lifted. “Do you believe in the story of Jesus?”
“Of course I do,” I flashed micro seconds before I saw the trap.
He pounced then. “So how can you say the bible is inaccurate? Because if what Apostle Paul said is flawed and wrong, then why should we believe any book of the bible, even the one that tells us about Jesus? Take the whole bible or none of it, because it is super hypocritical to believe only what you want from it. That’s not leaving it to God.” The sardonic tone of his voice stung me.
He barreled on. “And you also know nothing about God’s perceptions, so don’t try to make anyone else feel bad about that. Also, they did not put any words in God’s mouth; really they just stated what He already said in the bible, which is either all lies or all truth. It can’t be both. You can’t redefine what Christianity is. If you want to believe in something different than what it is, then call it something different. And prayer is not meant to be used as a sneer. So please don’t say you’ll pray for someone you obviously can’t stand, because what’s the point of praying for that person when you don’t actually want what’s best for them, but rather for them to be just like you in your beliefs?
“And comparing the opinions of those who are anti-homosexuality to the ones of slave owners is horrible and totally inaccurate. Slave owners were brutal and cruel. The person who speaks against homosexuality is not trying to be either of those and is not suggesting that kind of mind-set to anyone! There is a difference between not accepting homosexuality as okay and straight up persecuting homosexuals.”
“Tell that to the Nigerian public,” Eddie interjected, “those homophobic lot who set up, beat and lynch members of the gay community, under the guise of stamping out what is not right with God. No matter how you want to dress it up, persecution of the gay community is a second-in-command to anti-homosexuality. So, the next time you want to climb your pulpit and preach on a controversial issue such as this, perhaps you could start by preaching love and acceptance to those who hate others simply because of who they have chosen to love.”
“Look,” Adebola spoke up for the first time since the verbal altercation began, his voice soft and intended to sway, “we all have our truths. For each of us, our beliefs in what mandates truth will dictate how we see the world, what we accept and how we will choose to live our lives. If I tell you that my truth should be your truth, I’m disrespecting and trying to control you. And vice versa.
“But one truth that should be universal is, no one should claim to perfectly understand God’s will. Our understanding of God should be consistently evolving by not only reading the scriptures, but also earnestly praying and seeking to understand God’s will in this world. Something as great, powerful, and almighty as God will never be understood completely by us imperfect humans, and we should be humble enough to know that.”
“Yes, I agree,” George said. “God’s will is never truly understood by humanity. And truth is relative. But there are certain facts that are undisputable. The bible is clear on homosexuality being a sin. If you believe in God and have some belief in the scriptures, you shouldn’t ignore the fact that we are born sinners. This is the central premise of the Christian faith. We are born sinners and are unrighteous – all of us – and need Jesus to relate with a holy God. So the fact that some people believe they are born homosexual is clearly in line with scriptures and the nature of sin, like some are born liars, born thieves, born sexually promiscuous. This is the real power of Jesus, to remove the penalty for our sins and to work within us to walk uprightly before God. We don’t enter into a relationship with Jesus and become perfect, but we don’t allow our imperfection be our excuse to sin. We have to stop pretending like disagreement is hate! This is why many in the homosexual community cannot accept the truth of scripture. For them, it’s impossible for God to love them and not agree with how they want to live, but isn’t that exactly what the bible says about ALL of humanity involved in ALL sin? God loves the world, but he is in disagreement with the world about sin. Just because I don’t agree with you doesn’t mean I hate you. I believe Charles Spurgeon said it best when he said most often those who speak against the scripture are those who the scripture speaks against. Most of us don’t want anyone telling us how to live, the fact that scripture does just that is unacceptable to most, but to love God is to obey God not simply to do what we want. Imagine being in a relationship with someone who loved you how they wanted, never listening to what you say you need concerning love, what kind of relationship would that be. Many of us treat God the same, we claim to love Him but want to do it on our terms, not His. Homosexuality is a sin – Old Testament, New Testament and all scripture is God breathed, it’s His words, His will. I’m not trying to condemn anyone, but many have to stop fantasizing that God supports what He clearly does not…His words, not mine!”
He finished his words in a near-shout, and for a moment after he was done, we were all still, staring at each other, undercurrents of tension tugging this way and that.
Then Biola said in a silky voice, “You really are a changed man, aren’t you, George?”
“Yes, I am,” he replied in a voice that brooked no argument over his conviction.
“And your days of sleeping with men are firmly behind you?” Biola questioned.
“I have gotten to the point where the thought of sex with a guy sickens me,” George answered, his features contorting to relay his odium. “Where my body does not know arousal to what my heart does not believe in.”
“Good for you, really, I’m happy for your victory over such an evil carnality.” Biola’s voice was sweet, syrupy enough to put a diabetic into a coma. But the look in his eyes said he felt anything but sweet. He sat and lounged back on the sofa as he continued, “It will be such a relief to have someone around who won’t react to such eroticism that he might see or hear. For instance, if I were to suddenly start talking about the last guy I had sex with, about that moment when I placed my mouth around his dick head to suck in that beautiful cock of his. I remember slowly bobbing my mouth up and down on his rod, trying to build up to deep-throating it. Soon I felt my lips brushing up against his pubic hair, and while I was stroking his smooth rod with my mouth, I brought my hands around to his ass cheeks. I separated his warm globes, and quickly brought my index fingers to his ass hole. I started stroking his hot, moist hole while he wiggled his ass against my hands, and moved his hips back and forth to fuck my mouth.
“And then, sliding one finger into his hole, then out, and replacing it with the other index finger, I finger-fucked this guy’s delicious ass hole, making him cum a lot faster than he might have otherwise. I wanted to drag out sucking his cock, and fingering his ass, but the sucking action of my mouth on his sensitive cock skin and the thrilling feel of my fingers stroking his prostate, brought him off pretty quickly. ‘Oh, Biola,’ he said to me, ‘I’m going to come. Oh, yeah, that’s good. Oh, yes, I’m coming. Oh, oh, yeah, you fucker, suck my dick! I’m coming!’ And he came, shooting several spurts of his creamy, sweet cum into my mouth, right onto my tongue, where I could taste his hot juice.”
Biola paused, heaved a sigh and said, “It is so nice to know there’s someone who truthfully feels nothing to such gay erotica, and is a testament of true salvation.”
I have never known attraction for Biola, or reacted in anyway sexual to him since we’ve been friends. But in that moment, after listening to his very lurid narration, I could feel an uncomfortable tensing in my crotch. Yinka was smirking and dramatically fanning his face, and Paschal was making a big show of adjusting his jeans around his groin area.
However, the person whose reaction to Biola’s words interested me was George. In a few seconds before he became aware of it, the material of his trousers covering his crotch had lifted, revealing the unmistakable bulge of an erection. He gave a start when he realized the betrayal of his body, and moved to a sofa, where he sat, crossed his legs and leaned back into his seat, every move slow and deliberate, his chagrin evident under the onslaught of our stares.
“Yes, George,” Biola said then. “Your body and heart are in perfect agreement with your feelings about being gay.”
“Biola, that is not –”
“Get up and get out of my house!” Biola cut across his words in a hissing whisper.
The room was still, and the silence was held in place by the finality of that moment. George stayed seated for some seconds, time enough to will his erection to flaccidity, and then he rose to his feet and started for the door. When he got there, he stopped and turned. The unexpected sadness I saw in his eyes was reflected in his voice as he husked, “I’m sorry, Biola…”
“Don’t be,” Biola replied icily. “Just go, and this time, please stay the fuck out of my life.”
The other man nodded, pulled the door open and walked out of the room.