God has always been a part of my existence—perhaps even my pre-existence. I was conceived while my father was studying for his master’s theology degree in America’s Bible Belt Region. As my ears developed in utero, some of the first sounds I heard were probably my mother‘s prayers and my father’s sermons. A few hours before my mother went into labor, my father had preached at a pre-Thanksgiving chapel service. They had plans to attend a Thanksgiving dinner, but I had plans to make my grand appearance on planet earth that November. I was born in a now defunct Christian hospital in Oklahoma called City of Faith.
As a toddler, along with Sesame Street (my mother tells me I quarrelled with Big Bird and the entire cast because I was certain they were getting the alphabets wrong); I spent my days watching cartoons like Psalty—a blue singing songbook that led a children’s choir with Charity ChurchMouse. My parents also spent time reading the Bible to me, teaching me how to pray, and explaining foundational Christian precepts. My father led me to say the salvation prayer (a rite of conversion to Christianity common among Protestant Christians) when I was about 3-years old. For some reason, I pleaded with him not to tell anyone about this.
I was 4-years old, when I learned that allegiance to the Christian faith could have consequences. At this point, my parents had moved to a coastal city in southeastern Virginia called Virginia Beach, where they both gathered more ministry-related degrees at another Christian university. I had been playing by a lake behind our apartment complex with a friend, a Caucasian boy called Joshua (or Dashua as I called him), when he said something to the tune of: “You’re a Christian right?” I nodded my head. “Well, walk on this lake! Jesus walked on water, so you must walk on this lake!” When I refused, Joshua pushed me in the lake, and ran away. A man who lived in the complex, was grilling some meat on his deck, when he saw me drowning, and jumped into the lake to save me.
Not long after my brush with death, my parents moved to Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city, to begin a church. When I began to attend elementary school, my Mother taught me that a well-brought-up girl should never leave home without making her bed; and my Father instilled it in me that a Christian should never leave home without “having devotions.” Having devotions meant setting aside time to read the Bible, say prayers, and sing praise and worship songs. While we had devotions as a family, both parents stressed the importance of one-on-one time with God. It was at this point my troubles with God began.
You see, right from the start of the Bible—I saw women being treated differently. I was about 6-years old when I started having my devotions. I also learned about the Bible in school. Nigeria is a very religious country, and most primary and secondary school students at the time were required to study either “Christian Religious Knowledge” or “Islamic Religious Knowledge.” I figured the punishment that Eve (the first woman in the Bible’s narrative) got was fair game, because she had disobeyed God (although I wished her punishment hadn’t extended to all women). My real frustrations began as I made my way through Mosaic laws. Mosaic laws are the laws that God gave Moses, the leader of ancient Israel, to guide the theocratic state, and can be found in the first five books of the Old Testament (collectively called the Torah). As I made my way through Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, the Mosaic laws that governed women troubled me greatly. I was probably about 7 or 8 years old when I wrote in the margins of my Bible during my devotions—God, why don’t you like women?
[TO BE CONTINUED!].