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THE TEN ‘I’s THAT BREAK THE HOME (8)

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As October 1 draws near

 MIND AND BODY with  Rev. Fr. Vincent E. Arisukwu

EFFECTS OF INSINCERITY IN MARRIAGE

Insincerity has numerous effects on the marriage institution. Its effects are felt by the individual who becomes the instrument, by the partner or immediate family members who become the direct victims of lies, by those around the insincere person and by the marriage itself. Let us take the effects one after the other.

 

Loss of self worth: Self worth, self integrity, self respect, self regard or self esteem is something every individual cherishes. Many early theories in psychology suggested that self-esteem is a basic human need or motivation. Psychologists define it as the reflection of a person’s overall emotional evaluation of his or her own worth; a judgment of oneself as well as an attitude toward the self. The American psychologist Abraham Maslow described two aspects of self esteem: the need for respect from others and the need for self respect. According to him, respect from others entails recognition, acceptance, status, and appreciation, and was believed to be more fragile and easily lost than inner self-esteem. Going by that premise, insincerity depletes a person’s self worth in both the family and community. In marriage, it makes a person lose her dignity and respect. The moment a person is perceived to be insincere in marriage, his/her reputation begins to drop. If she is a wife, she loses her trust and confidence from the husband, mother in law, brothers and sisters in law and begins to receive bashings from all corners. She is tossed around like rag, insulted by both great and small of the family members. An insincere husband also is a cheap person in the face of his in-laws.  The insincere person’s negative reputation also affects the impression of others about his/her spouse. Sometimes the partner is not taken seriously since he/she is believed to be a potential liar because of his/her daily contact with the spouse. The insincere husband/wife can rarely be consulted in serious matters in the family. He/she lacks integrity.

 

Inner sadness: “Sin”, the bible maintains, “speaks to the sinner in the depth of his heart” (Ps. 36: 1). Christ’s injunctions are, “If you make my word your home, you will be my disciples; you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” And He continued, “In all truth I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave. Now a slave has no permanent standing in the household, but a son belongs to it for ever. So if the Son sets you free, you will indeed be free” (John 8: 31-36). The greatest sadness is the sadness of the soul, inner sadness. While thinking of the impression others might have of a liar, it is worse to conceive of the harm which the insincere spouse does to himself. He/she lacks inner peace. He gets scared always. He is afraid of the next moment. He is always apprehensive of what may happen if his mountain of lies collapses. The insincere partner sleeps with one eye open imagining what would happen if the lies fail him. When for instance we wish someone to sleep like a baby, it means literally to say to the person, “Have an uninterrupted sleep”. The reason is because babies harbor no ill thoughts and fear nothing in their sleep. Fulton Sheen described the experience thus, “Children do not have this duplicity because they are natural and it is acquired. If their mother tells them to tell a stranger at the door that she is not at home, they will invariably say, ‘My mother told me to tell you that she is not at home” (Sheen, F., Way to Inner Peace, p.77). Those who harbor lies in their hearts and conceive it for their marriage partners do not know inner peace. They are tormented by an internal sadness.

 

Inconsistency: A major characteristic of lie is inconsistency. Because it is always concocted and manipulated to suit the liar, lies are usually rehearsed several times to avoid any leakage. The insincere spouse is always inconsistent in his/her dealings. His statements are always filled with gaps and loopholes.

 

Fear: Since the insincere person is not sure of the security of his statements, he is always afraid. For instance, a wife who told her husband she was going to Lagos while she went to Abuja is afraid of certain factors that might intervene to soil her game. Let us presume that her journey would be safe. She is however afraid of the chances that some persons who know her could spot her without letting her know and the tendency to intimate the husband may not be ruled out. Imagine also the situation whereby a woman connives with the family’s mechanic as an avenue to extort money from the husband. At some point the mechanic started making strange demands from her. She was infuriated with the young man and threatened to relieve him of the opportunities of working for the family. The mechanic in turn threatened to expose her before the husband and told her emphatically to choose between throwing him off or facing the troubles of the husband coming to know she’s been ripping him off through some unorthodox means. The said woman was in dilemma but you could guess what the likely action would be as the better alternative in such dicey situation.

 

Infection of children: The Igbo adage holds that the kid watches the mother keenly as she consummately chews her cud. The same applies in family situations. A father or mother who habitually tells lies unconsciously corrupts the children. The scripture says, “Train up the child in the way he should go, when he grows old he will never depart from it” (Prov. 22: 6). The worst thing a man/woman could do would be to indoctrinate their children in the vice of insincerity. The first danger is that the same parents would be the principal victims of such evil from their children. Then they will end up proliferating lies in the society since such habit would not end up in the family.

 

Corrosion of marriage: When at the exchange of consent the couples promise to be true to each other, the implication is that anything on the contrary simply negates the promise of fidelity and sincerity. Insincerity destroys the fabrics of marital union. It corrodes love, trust, mutual understanding and affection. It breeds mistrust and attracts shame to the family. The insincere partner can indeed be unfaithful.

 

Tension: Any relationship that is anchored on lies is always filled with tension. The couple who lives in lies lives in tension. The Psalmist echoes, “Those who chose other gods increase their sorrows” (Ps. 16: 4). This is the situation of the man/woman of lies. Such a spouse is afraid of calls, afraid of the contacts the partner makes as any of these could implicate him before the partner. He/she lives in constant tension.

 

Insensitivity: In every relationship, especially in marriage, there are tiny actions we might consider insignificant. That’s why some lies or acts of insincerity may also be regarded as minor and unharmful to one’s partner. For instance, a lady could dress in an unappealing manner and appear before the husband. By the taste and standard of such lady, she imagines that she is really very attractive and scintillating. She emerges before the husband expecting him to say, “Wow, you look good!” It would be most unfair for the man to condemn outrightly the woman with such high expectation. The man could acknowledge her at that time but find a way to make her understand that the dress she was putting on was not the one he admired for such occasion. Similar things happen also in the taste of a woman’s food. These do not mean that the man was being insincere. They rather portray his sensitivity and accommodation. This is not the same as when a woman for some reasons begins to pilfer from the husband and forms the habit of telling him lies. Often times all the inmates of the home become suspects while actually the mother of the house is the culprit. It can also happen that a woman cooks up stories to suit the husband with regard to her whereabouts and does that repeatedly given the husband’s strictness. The danger here is that such “minor” lies can make the person lose sense of the gravity of telling lies. It can lead to general insensitivity or loss of the consciousness of sin.

 

Hatred from God: God hates lies. The case of Ananias and Sapphira is a typical example of the consequences of telling lies. Insincerity is unfairness and injustice. The Psalmist depicts God as saying, “I act with integrity of heart within my royal court. I do not allow into my presence anyone who speaks perversely. Whoever acts shamefully I hate; no such person is my friend” (Ps. 101: 2-3). In the book of Proverbs we are meant to understand that, “there are six things the Lord hates, yes, seven are an abomination to him; Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that plots wicked schemes, feet that hurry to evil, the false witness that utters lies and one who sows dissension among brothers” (Prov. 6: 16-19). A man/woman in the habit of insincerity to his/her spouse lives in sin. It is cheating as well offence against love and justice. God hates sin.

 

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The Data of Forgiveness

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The Universal Character of Salvation

The most important ingredient in today’s media economy is data. The amount of data available determines how much and how long we can work or play on the internet. Currently, many of the service providers offer unlimited data plans but we know that those “unlimited” plans are not always unlimited. Sometimes, your download speed can get slowed down when you cross a certain point. Today, however, Jesus gives us the divine model of an unlimited plan. It is the unlimited bundle of compassion and forgiveness which never gets slowed downed shut down for maintenance. The theme for this week is that we must learn to forgive without limits no matter the injury committed against us.

In Matthew’s Gospel, today’s teaching on unlimited forgiveness comes after Jesus had told his disciples the parable of the wandering sheep, so it is plausible that some would have wondered among themselves how many times a good shepherd should go after the same sheep if it keeps wandering away. In those days, people believed that forgiveness was limited to three times only – a fourth transgression was not to be forgiven. So, by asking Jesus how many times he should forgive his brother, Peter was probably aiming to increase the limit to seven times. And Jesus makes it clear that we are to forgive others, “not seven times but seventy-seven times” (Matt. 18:22).That means we must dispense an unlimited data bundle of mercy.

In Jesus Christ, we have the forgiveness of a debt we could never pay. Sin is an offence against God and a direct rebellion against his authority and creation. The debt of 10,000 talents mentioned in today’s parable symbolizes the magnitude of the offence that sin causes in God’s eyes, but he is always willing to forgive without limits. However, we can easily cut ourselves off from God’s river of mercy when we refuse to forgive others. We end up restraining God’s mercy and putting ourselves under strict justice. To unfold his mercy without compromising his justice, God leaves each person free to choose between the two. If we insist on strict justice when we are offended, we bring God’s strict justice upon ourselves. But if we offer an unlimited bundle of mercy to others, we draw God’s unlimited data of forgiveness upon ourselves.

The secret to forming a forgiving heart lies in recognizing the evil of our sin and the immensity of God’s goodness in forgiving us. Until we see the ugliness of our ingratitude and selfishness, we will never appreciate the generosity of God’s forgiveness. Let us examine ourselves now to see how much forgiveness we are giving. Is there someone we still cannot forgive even after they have expressed sorrow for their actions? Have we judged someone too harshly because of something they said or did that we did not particularly like? How many times have we failed to help somebody because we are still dwelling on an injury that we suffered many years ago? How many times have we treated someone differently based on preconceived notions or stereotypes? These are some of the factors that shackle us like chains and that disrupt the unlimited data of divine grace in our lives. When we close ourselves off to people or dismiss them based on our preconceptions, mistaken judgments, and prejudices, not only do we make them suffer, we suffer as well.

But it does not have to be that way. Jesus came to free us from and the burden of sin and unhappiness. Forgiveness is like mercury, which runs away when it is held tightly in the hand but is preserved by keeping the palm open. When we lose forgiveness, we lose the ability to give and to receive love because love is the foundation of forgiveness. And since God is the foundation of love, whoever refuses to forgive automatically rejects the love of God. This is the essence of today’s parable and it is highlighted by the contrast between what was owed by each man. The wicked slave owed his master some 10000 talents. In gold terms, that is 350 tons and at today’s price, he owed his master USD21.8 billion. This was way more than King Solomon made in a year which was 666 talents of gold or USD1.45 billion in today’s value (cf. I Kings 10:14). So, this unforgiving servant owed his master what no individual could never payback. In contrast, his fellow servant owed him the equivalent of one talent of gold or USD2.1 million; so a man who was forgiven $21.8b could not let go of $2.1m, and his wickedness landed him in the hands of torturers.

Dear friends, forgiveness is an act of compassion which is expressed in the free choice to pardon one another’s shortcomings every day, and to also pardon ourselves for own mistakes Forgiveness transcends the fear of being wounded again; it is a deliberate act in imitation of the redemptive work of Jesus, the advocacy of the Holy Spirit, and the loving kindness of the Father. The whole point of today’s parable is that our Father in heaven will do the same to anyone who refuses to forgive others. Whoever refuses to forgive is doomed to a life of bitterness, and as the ugly trend continues, the person ends up building invisible walls of resentment around themselves, thereby blocking off not just one’s relationships with other people but with God as well. Forgiveness is not just an emotional expression or a sense of righteousness; it means being merciful not only when there is an explanation or apology, or a promise of amendment from the offender, but even when the offence is deliberate, and the offender is adamant. Forgiveness is a precious gift of grace, which does not depend on the worthiness of the receiver. Forgiveness is what we called to do, and the Lord’s grace is sufficient for us in that regard. Amen.

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Imo Deputy Governor’s giant strides towards revitalizing agriculture

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Imo Deputy Governor's giant strides towards revitalizing agriculture
By Joy Opara

The increasing cost of Agricultural products in Imo State in recent times has continued to be a major source of concern to the citizens of the state.

A critical appraisal of the development of Agriculture in this state reveals that successive governments had neglected this major sector of the economy, over three decades now, and this has adversely affected the revenue of government.

In line with the vision of the “shared prosperity” government of the Hope Uzodinma administration, the revolution of agriculture is among its cardinal programmes for which a high powered committee (on agricultural master plan for Imo State) has been set up.
For the purpose of resuscitating all moribund agricultural industries and facilities in the state, it is not surprising that this committee is headed by a world class Professor of Agriculture and Deputy Governor of Imo State, Prof. Placid Njoku.

The need to diversify the economy cannot be over-emphasized. It is a well known fact that there is no better and more sustainable means of diversifying the economy than through agriculture. It would be recalled that after the inauguration of his committee, the deputy governor went into action, first by visiting all moribund agricultural facilities in the state, which included Adapalm in Ohaji/ Egbema LGA, Avutu Poultry farm in Avutu, Obowo LGA, Songhai farms, Okigwe road, Owerri, ADP farms in Nekede, Owerri West. Others are Acharaubo farms in Emekuku, Owerri North, Imo Rubber Plantation in Obiti, Ohaji/ Egbema, amongst others.
Prof. Njoku in one of his speeches during the tour described agriculture as the economic base of most countries of the world. Considering the dwindling oil revenue, he said it should be a source of worry to people of good conscience that the vision of our founding fathers to generate revenue, food security, economic advancement, industrialization, employment and eradication of poverty was destroyed by successive governments.
The Deputy Governor, who not only is acknowledged as one of the greatest professors of Animal Science, a renowned Agriculturist and former Vice Chancellor of a leading University of Agriculture, the Federal University of Agriculture, Umudike, made it clear that the present government led by Governor Hope Uzodinma is desirous to return agriculture to its former glory.

The Ikeduru-born technocrat and farmer per-excellence said that the 3R Mantra of this administration namely: Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Recovery is a base for making the dream of Imo State as the food basket of the nation come true.

Noting that government is a continuum, the deputy governor promised that his committee will build upon what is already on ground by rehabilitating the ones that could be rehabilitated and bringing in new facilities where necessary to ensure that the passion of the governor towards agricultural revival is achieved.

Meanwhile, in most of the establishments visited by the committee, it was discovered that indigenes of the communities had badly encroached into the lands and converted them to personal use. Investigations by the committee revealed that agents of some past governments in the state connived with the communities to make it possible, for their personal aggrandizement.

The deputy governor, whose humility has become legendary pledged his total support to the Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma whom he described as God sent to right all that were done wrong by the previous administrations in the state. He called on all to give this administration the needed support to rewrite the history of Imo State in gold, especially the agricultural sector.

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Child Abuse: A case of betrayal of reciprocal trust

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Child Abuse: A case of betrayal of reciprocal trust
By Christian Uzoukwu

Some years ago, while as a kid, I fell out with my father due to an occasion of sheer disobedience and on that very day, I was given no food and was ultimately battered by hunger. Child abuse includes both acts of commission and omission on the part of parents, guardians as well as care-givers.

These acts have led to a lot of actual and threatened harm meted out on countless number of children. In 2014, the WHO made an estimate of 41,000 children (under the age of 15) that are victims of homicide and other related offences. This estimate, as expounded by this world body is grossly below the real figures due to the views of the society in relation to corporal punishment experienced by children. Girls are always most vulnerable to different forms of child abuse during unrests and in war-thorn territories.

Cases of child abuse can be established in some deadly human vices such as child trafficking, child labour, forced adoption as seen in the one-child policy prevalent in China. In the Asian country, women, by law are only allowed to have one child. Local governments would sometimes allow the woman to give birth and then they would take the baby away stating the mother violated the one child policy. Child traffickers, often paid by the government, would sell the children to orphanages that would arrange international adoptions worth tens of thousands of dollars, turning a profit for the government.

Other striking examples of child abuse are the various forms of violence against the girl-child which involves infanticide, sex-selective abortions, female genital mutilations (FGM), sexual initiation of virgins in some African cultures, breast ironing in some parts of Cameroon – involving the vicious use of hot stones and other tools to flatten the breast tissue of girls who have attained the age of puberty. As if those were not enough, female students are also subject to maltreatments in countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is not to talk of recurring kidnapp of female students in some parts of Nigeria, as we saw in the case of Dapchi and Chibok schoolgirls.

Based on simple analysis, child abuse can be defined as “all forms of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power”.

This definition by WHO also falls in line with the definition propounded by the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, which says that child abuse are acts of commission. This commission includes “words or overt actions that cause harm, potential harm, or threat of harm to a child”, and acts of omission (neglect), meaning “the failure to provide for a child’s basic physical, emotional, or educational needs or to protect a child from harm or potential harm.

In Nigeria, most cases of child abuse have become cumbersome due to the fact that these acts of abuses are regarded as mere punishments to unruly young ones and by so doing, should be justified and doesn’t call for any further discussion and/or scrutiny. According to various statistical studies and researches, child abuse is a vast societal cankerworm and has four profound tentacles viz:

Physical Abuse: this involves undue hitting, beating, kicking, shaking, biting, burning, strangling, insertion of pepper into the eyes and pubic regions of children, maltreatments from house-help(s) and seniors at boarding/day schools, suffocating and forcing children to live in unwholesome conditions.

Sexual Abuse also includes persuading a minor into acts of sexual intercourse, exposure of the child’s private parts, production of child-related pornographic contents and actual sexual contacts with children.

Psychological Abuse of children can be seen in cases of excessive scolding, lack of proper attention that children should be receiving from their parents and guardians, destructive criticisms and destruction of a child’s personality.

Neglect of children can also lead to children dropping out of schools, begging/stealing for food and money, lack of proper medical care for minors and realities of children looking like ragamuffins.

Consequently, the causes of child abuse can be judiciously related to sex, age, personal history, societal norms, economic challenges, lack of Rights’ Protection Agencies, parents battling with traits of alcoholism and family size. These causative agents of child abuse can bring untold effects upon the society at large and these effects can be emotional, physical and psychological as the case may be, giving rise to individuals with dissociative lifestyles.

Furthermore, the treatment of individuals who have been malformed with respect to the abuses they experienced abinitio, can be a long process because it involves behavioral therapy and other forms of neoteric therapies. Treatments of psyche-related problems are not just a one-day process due to the long-lasting effects of abuses on various conscious mental activities. It is also noteworthy to point out that, prevention is always better than cure and holding fast to this true reality, entails that agencies who have the responsibility of protecting the rights of children must continue to do the needful which requires proper oversights of parent-child relationships.

To conclude this piece therefore, we must agree that untold hardships have been a great challenge for children especially in Africa and some parts of Asia. Children with long histories of abuses turn out to become societal misfits. To this end we encourage that: Children should be given a free platform to express themselves on many topical issues and issues relating to their existence.

Children should also be allowed to freely ask questions on any issue, no matter, how weird it seems to be.

Governments should make regulations outlawing societal norms and values that might amount to child abuses.

Corporal punishments by parents, guardians and care-givers should be discouraged at all levels, thereby making parents/guardians/care-givers who seem to be incorrigible, to face the full weight of justice enshrined in the law of the land.

Education system (both conventional and unconventional) in Nigeria should be able to train up young ones into becoming critical, analytical and evaluative individuals with a view of defending the vulnerable.

And again, since children are said to be leaders of tomorrow, it is pertinent to note that to secure their future, their present existence must be cherished and protected.

Christian Chimemerem Uzoukwu
08100029867 / 09025760804
Admin Critical Thinkers’ Forum.

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