You may not make heaven if, as a male Christian, you keep a facial hair-luxuriant beard, goatee, or Hitler-style moustache. Female Christians may also be handed one-way tickets to hell if they wear hair extensions, permed hair and jewelry. You probably would end up in Hell’s bakery if you are blinged up once in a while or regularly. Fondness for anklets and nose rings may entitle women to being used as firewood for hell fire.
The above, with the possible exception of the last two-special category offences, represent the position of Pastor WF Kumuyi of the Deeper Life Bible Church, whose members have been, along with those of Mountain of Fire Ministries, Apostolic Faith Mission and Seventh Day Adventist, the most pristine Christians I know of. In dressing, that is.
These edict-level instructions are contained in a video I just watched. In it, he warned his followers listening to him that their chances of ending up as barbecue in hell will be greatly enhanced if they keep Taliban-style beards or any at all, are mustachioed, wear hair extensions, perm their hair and wear jewelry.
He said nothing about having peroxide blond hair or one of many colours like that of the revoltingly bonkers Portable of Zazu fame. He was equally reticent about women afflicted with hirsutism, a condition symptomized by growth of hair in places they are not commonly found. But I believe they fall under the same category.
Women with moustaches, stubble as well as those with hairy chests exist, which means that their reliance on depilatory creams and tweezers, may be a highway to hell. We were told-and believed-when young that women with facial hair were witches.
Kumuyi and his church have been known to be glamour/vanity-averse since forever. He made the church in his own image: staid, prosaic, studious. Other Christians, especially those with flashier, rock star leaders and are more boisterous in orientation, view Deeper Life and its members as doleful and lusterless.
Kumuyi once issued an edict, since repealed, against television viewing. The church has always eschewed the use of jewelry, but I did not know until a few months ago that it is against facial hair.
“The appearance of the world, the cosmetics of the world could become a god. Wanting to look like the world and dress like the world and be acceptable to the world rather than unto God, could become an idol, a strange god. The appearance that people have in the world, growing beards and moustaches could become gods.
“The church is not talking about that. And since the church is not mentioning that, you say ‘I will test the waters. And I wear my beard, and I will wear my moustache…. The hairdo and the perming and the things that the worldly people cannot do without. When that becomes so important that you are saying ‘if the church ever talks about that, I am looking for another church, another assembly’. That thing has become a god,” said Kumuyi to those who may want to disagree with his church and quit.
I believe that these forbidden symbols of individual expression must have, over the years, occasioned a dip in Deeper Life membership. Old people are not likely to be bothered. Young people, however, do not want many strictures. A little over a month ago, a Deeper Life member, possibly wearing a beard the size of a Russian Orthodox Church priest’s, wailed on Twitter about his prized beard being shaved at the entrance of the church before he was allowed into the service for his own wedding.
“Still hurts till now, on my wedding day, that I got the greatest shock of my life right there in the church, this was shaved. They didn’t start the wedding till I shaved. They said I can’t get to heaven wt dt beard. I’m a leader,” tweeted the guy with the handle @Emolad_.
I have always wondered why, despite the clear lack of explicit biblical instructions, preachers elevate personal preferences/aversions to the status of doctrines. The one on facial hair comes across as such. Well, almost.
Some 15 years ago, I read a book that devoted a few chapters to similarities between the Bible and Quran. The author, a Muslim mocked for his elaborate facial hair, argued that the Bible prescribes beard-keeping as an obligation for male Christians. His claim is backed by Biblical verses. Leviticus (19:27), which says: “You shall not cut the hair on the sides of your heads, neither shall you clip off the edge of your beard.”
This appears to suggest that male Christians should wear facial hair to rival Sheikh Abubakar Gumi’s.
Samuel 10:4 also supports him, saying: “To cut off another man’s beard is an outrage.” This is similarly reinforced by Leviticus (21:5), which states: “You shall not shave your beard for the dead with a baldness on the top, and they shall not shave their beard.”
Old Testament instructions, no doubt. But so are tithing and first fruits. More important is that I have found nothing indicating, however faint, that being bearded may make a Christian hell-bound.
How much of a god can one make one’s beard? I honestly do not know. I believe that Kumuyi pays attention to his suits and other apparels like bearded men do their facial hair. The Bible says nothing about perming, most likely because it did not exist at the time it was written. Same goes for hair extensions. I would think that Kumuyi, like most people of his age and attitudinal profile, are wired to be averse to open expression of modern individuality, difference and personhood.
I am a bit old school, pretty square and as such, I am put off by men wearing earrings, dreadlocks, bangles, necklaces, agbalumo-sized rings on fingers as well as tinted hair. I also find nose rings, waist chains, anklets and hair colours other than jet black off-putting in women.
In December 2018, I attended a wedding at Christ Apostolic Church in Barnawa, Kaduna, where the best man complained to me that he was forced to take off his necklace just as non-CAC female guests were told to peel off their jewelry before they were allowed into the church. Those who refused stayed outside where they sulked all through the service.
Does the Bible contain explicit anti-jewelry instructions? I do not think so. Genesis 4:53 says: “And the servant brought forth jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment, and gave them to Rebekah: he also gave to her brother and to her mother precious things.”
Those items were unlikely to be for use in the kitchen.
Song of Solomon 1:10 is loud on how jewelry can enhance appearance.
“Thy cheeks are comely with rows of jewels, thy neck with chains of gold,” it says.
Isaiah 61:10 seems to approve the use of jewelry by the bride and bridegroom, saying: “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.”
Years ago, while my colleague and friend, Ademola Adegbamigbe, and I interviewed Pastor Wale Adefarasin, I asked him about the appropriateness of the use of jewelry by Christians. The question was inspired by me noticing that he wore two rings almost as big as golf balls.
During the interview, facilitated by the recently deceased journalist, Michael Awe (rest his soul), Adefarasin said-I believed and still do-that the Bible does not forbid the practice. I pushed, citing Moses’ rebuke of the Israelites for building a golden calf to worship and the punishment he meted to them, grinding their gold to dust and asking them to drink the suspension made from it.
The preacher, elder brother to the more famous Paul Adefarasin, replied that Moses took the action he did because the Israelites had made gold their god. The point he tried to make and Kumuyi also sought to make -rather poorly – was that gold had replaced Yahweh in their hearts. But Christians can also obsess about Scrabble, chess, checkers (draught), crossword puzzles, Sudoku and many lifestyle habits. One has to wonder why any or all of these are not marked “Prohibited” as they could provide a one-way ticket to hell. Too many things and made up and retailed as doctrines, I believe.
Pastors pretending that they have a divine warrant to approve of marriage partners, prescribing church weddings and christening newborns are made-up things.
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