September 15, 2015 by Kambili M.A. Chimalu
I solemnly swear that I have nothing against religion and/or religious people … wait, can I swear? Is that Biblical? I have made it clear on numerous occasions that I have nothing against religion so long as it is confined within its own space, never allowed to interfere with the governance of the country. However, even within its own space, I become militant when religion is used as a weapon/tool to enforce draconian edicts on unwilling and helpless people.
What has got me up in arms again you may ask? It is the recent dress code guidelines prescribed by the Lagos Diocese of the Anglican Communion.
I will start with the obvious: men get only three rules, while women have the distinct honor of being bound by eight. Both sets of rules are equally reprehensible, but if they must proclaim edicts, the least they can do is be fair to both genders.
I will start with the rules binding men. First, they tell the grooms that they cannot appear with “plated hair, bizarre hairstyle or artificial dreadlocks.” What is “bizarre hairstyle?” If a groom decides to color his hair blonde, red, green, etc. is that bizarre? Does the fact that it is not my personal preference make another person’s choice of hairstyle bizarre? Those with natural dreadlocks are told that they must provide proof, but I am confused as to what that means. What is natural vs. artificial dreadlocks? Does natural mean that the groom has had dreadlocks from birth? Is bringing baby pictures of the groom as a dreadlocked child what they mean by proof? What if the groom locked his hair as a 25 year old man? Does that mean his dreadlock is “artificial?” Also, men are admonished against wearing earrings and bizarre necklaces. Again, I ask, what does bizarre mean?
After the men, they turned their full attention to women: gowns must not expose upper region of chest or any part of back [are women supposed to wear turtlenecks now? Is the area directly beneath the shoulder blade part of the area that must never be shown?]; sleeveless gowns exposing armpits or breast region are out [on a scale of Mr. Ibu’s stomach to Don Jazzy’s nose, how sexually distracting/appealing is an armpit? Are people (men) going to fly into a sexual frenzy if they, gasp, catch a glimpse of a woman’s armpit?]; the standard of the church shall be FULL GOWN. No short or mini gown [Now, this right here is one of the most infuriating parts. What do they mean by full gown? When was the law requiring that all wedding gowns must be dragging on the floor passed? If a bride wears a modest knee-length wedding gown, has she run afoul of the church?]; no gown with slit, front or back. No use of detachable jackets. [what is wrong with a slit? So, they don’t want women exposing their armpits and then they ban the use of jackets? Is that not one way brides comply with their ridiculous rules?]; brides and bridesmaids must cover their hair, the bride with veil and the bridesmaids with scarves, turban, or hats [The wedding of Prince William and Princess Catherine, which was officiated by the Archbishop of Canterbury himself, saw bridesmaids without any sort of head covering. I did not hear that those bridesmaids were barred from entering the church].
In addition to the groom and bride, the bridesmaids and groomsmen were not left. Everything mandated for the groom and bride are applicable to them as well, but the extra jaara added for them is that the members of the train are not allowed to process in or out of the church holding hands. I will wait while you throw up as a result of this level of drivel and insanity. Is holding hands with a member of the opposite sex now considered fornication? Why must the innocent act of holding hands be banned as a result of the corrupt minds of some holier-than-thous?
This level of drivel one may attempt to stomach, but the insanity that is the “compulsory examination of the bride’s wedding gown, with suggested alterations as deemed fit by the priest’s or dean’s wife,” is too much for any sane human being to tolerate.
Our problem in Nigeria is that most of us are extremists by nature. Anything we do, we do in excess. So, when this extremism and a belief in one’s own moral superiority are combined, rules like those in that list are born.
We are even “out-churching” those that brought the religion to us [at the barrel of a gun I might add]. The problem with this is that the few people in authority often proclaim their personal views and preferences as the law of the land. They assume that they are holiness incarnated. These same people forget that Jesus mingled with tax collectors [the lowest of the low], prostitutes, lepers, and all other rejects of society in his time. What kind of clothing do these people think the prostitute was wearing? I have never read that Jesus denied anyone entry into the temple as a result of personal appearance.
These holier-than-thous can not let go of their self-glorifying, Pharisee-like sense of superiority to realize that they are doing the church more harm than good by prescribing all these absurd rules. The priest’s duty is to officiate his faithful’s marriage ceremony, not dictate what she can and cannot wear to her own wedding.
TO ALL SANE HUMANS: Wedding in a church, especially one as restrictive as this, is not compulsory. The certificate the church gives you is the same one the Registry will give you. Heck, have an outdoor wedding: beach, garden, backyard, etc. If you must wed in a church, find one where the judgment and sense of superiority is not so apparent and stifling.
Image Credit: “Judgements” by Rosea Lake.