By Prof Jasper Ahaoma Onuekwusi
In most human communities and especially in times of crises, when bravery, strength, courage, boldness and perhaps wisdom of some kind are needed in the affairs of the world, people often ask the question, where are the men? Among the Igbo people of Nigeria, for example, even when an only son in a family lacks the financial ability and basic intelligence to confront problems associated with family survival, his sisters equip and stand behind him so that he can make important statements and take important actions often reserved only for men. In our locality, at least until recently, women will not sell or buy land, an important property. Indeed, no matter how a women loves a men, it is still the man who will make the proposal if they must get married. If a woman does, it is scandalous and she is considered too bold. Partriachy, the rule by men, in spite of its obvious abuses in several circumstances still remains strong in many societies and organizations.
In recent times, professions and organizations often have more females than men. In church membership abroad and in Nigeria there are about ten women to one man, according to some statistics from internet sources. School, college and university enrolmentt in contemporary times are in favour of women. In spite of these pictures, people still ask the question at important times, where are the men?
Christianity, the church and the Bible have emphasized this position. The creation story as recorded in Genesis 2 verse 21-22 informs us that God first created the man and later created the woman to help him. In collaboration with man, God gave names to all creatures on earth including woman. At each point when census in taken in the Bible, the significant figure is that of men. Thus the twelve apostles were men and the seven deacons were men. At the feeding of people with “five loaves and two fish”, five thousand men were recorded by St. Luke. St John’s gospel emphasizes this issue thus “the men alone numbered 5000” (John 6:10).
Right from creation, God gave prominence to man for the purpose of keeping His glory. God created man in his own image. An image is a representation in all ramifications. In creating man, God wanted an assistant to control creation. He actually put the world and all other creations under man. In Adam, man wandered away. Man fell from his glory when he abandoned his sacred responsibility. Since then the perennial question, first asked by God himself, has been, “man (Adam) where are you?”
In God’s relationship with Abraham, He again made His intention for men and for all fathers known. God declared His purpose as Abraham saw off the angels (men) who were going to destroy a sinful society, Sodom and Gomorrah. In Genesis 18 verse 19 God said, “ I have singled him (Abraham) out so that he will direct his sons and families to keep the way of the Lord and do what is right and just. Then I will do him all that I have promised”. This is the great charge of God to all men and to all fathers. It is God’s charge for the people of the world, His charge for the continuation of His glory in and blessing to the world. But man has always erred. He has always like Adam wandered away. Sinful world, like the sinful men of Sodom who went to take the two angels from Lot for immorality, is still looking for men to corrupt and deceive. The men of Sodom and Gomorrah had asked Lot, “where are the men who came to spend the night with you? Bring them out to us so we can have sex with them” (Gen. 19:5). The quest for the destruction of the righteous has since continued but thanks to God and to the church in our times for still looking for the men. Today the search is not for ordinary men distinguished from the women by mere biological organs and functions. The church, and especially the Anglican Diocese of Owerri, is in search of men who in the world of today can face anti-Christ challenges in a manly manner.
The Anglican Diocese of Owerri never runs dry of insightful, thought-provoking and challenging topics around which conferences and synods revolve. The topic, “Where are the men?”. Is an auspicious one in a world full of effete humanity.
We live in a world where violence, materialism, hatred and money-mindedness are strong issues that destroy its peace. It is a world of marginalization and exclusion of the honest, a world that prefers mediocrity rather than merit, a world of iniquity, betrayal and barbarism. It is a world where people harvest demonic powers and use them to destroy others especially the innocent, a world where abominations exist even in the house of God. We live in a world of gang-ups against the righteous, a world that deprives and oppresses the righteous with impurity, a world in which no one immediately sees some salvation. In this world the church is crying out and asking: Where are the men? Men, specially endowed to confront evil. The church is looking for men, and women too, of strength, boldness, energy and spiritual wisdom. It is looking for men who truly love God and God loves them, and hears them, men who are righteous, men who work in the power and spirit of God. The church is looking for those who will rise up to fight evil, those who can stand against the vast majority of people who have gone astray, to proclaim the story of the old rugged cross with missionary zeal. God, through the Church, is looking for men who can bring his perfection in creating men into his business of saving the world.