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Ifeoluwapo Odedere: Unflushed Toilets and Religious Doctrines

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After reading my previous article on BellaNaija, a friend asked for my opinion on certain church doctrines and the adherence by members. More specifically, she asked about the Catholic Church’s stance on contraception. Here’s how she put it: ‘My parents are catholic and the Catholic Church frowns at contraception. But my parents have only three children, so I know that they did not adhere to this doctrine.’ At that point in time, I did not know what to make of it – ‘Hypocrisy’ was the only word that came to mind. It wasn’t until two weeks ago that I finally got my answer and it came from an unflushed toilet.

I was at the doctor’s lounge of one of the leading hospitals in Lagos (or so it seems) and I decided to make use of one of the restrooms. Now this is the restroom for doctors – the principal champions of health and hygiene – so you can understand that I let my guard down when entering the restroom. What greeted me however, when I opened the door of one of the restrooms, was too graphic to describe – a fetid odor of feces mixed with decomposing urine of varying concentrations slammed my nostrils just in time for my eyes to behold the toilet bowl, which was almost filled with brown mass. Gosh! I screamed and slammed the door shut. I opened the door of the second restroom. This one was slightly better – It was filled with golden-brown concentrated urine; the odor was manageable. Holding my breath, I quickly emptied the contents of my bladder into the toilet bowl, contributing my little bit into the commonwealth of decomposing urine. So assaulted was I by the ordeal that I immediately ran outside for some fresh air.

Now here’s the catch, a colleague came inside the lounge five minutes later and after exchanging greetings, he proceeded to use the restroom.  A part of me wanted to discourage him from using the toilet but then, I felt he should be allowed to make his own decision. So I watched him go in and instead of running out, he spend a considerable amount of time in there and later came out as though nothing was wrong. We carried on with our conversation as though nothing happened – even though we both within ourselves knew that more than one person had contributed to the contents of the toilet bowl. About thirty minutes later, another friend repeated the same process. No mention was made of the deplorable state of the toilet. Just the usual Let me use the restroom and the coming out as though nothing happened in there. It was amusing to watch.

Later that night, a thought hit me. The quest to look good and appear perfect has caused the church to become a gathering of hypocritical zombies. Like my friends in the lounge, many Christians engage in acts that defy the tenets of the church denominations to which they belong – mind you, these tenets are specific to each denomination and do not necessarily reflect the what the Bible says. And because of the need to appear normal, we carry on as though nothing happened. The truth however, is that everybody knows what happened, they only have subscribed to an ‘invisible’ oath of silence – the kind of judgmental silence that says Oh, so even the most holy Jane could do that or Even Steven couldn’t resist that sexual advance. And what makes it more difficult for anyone to bell the cat is the fact that pointing out these defects automatically fingers you out as a culprit of the same offense – and like I mentioned earlier, Christians love to appear perfect.

So there you have it, the answer to my friend’s question of why Catholic parents have ‘controlled numbers of children’ and no one asks questions, even when their doctrines require questions to be asked – because a lot of people are doing it!

But then, it’s not only restricted to the Catholics alone. You will find this kind of behavior in any place where there is a culture of zero tolerance for errors, where people love the collective feeling of appearing perfect. And it’s the reason why Churches don’t address the issue of sexual education among teenagers even though there are rising cases of teenage pregnancy both in the church and outside it – they do not want them exposed at an early age.

Our society also experiences the unflushed toilet effect when we go to meet our rich senator uncle who doles out hundreds of thousands of Naira per visit. We gladly accept the money and sing his praises but deliberately refuse to ask questions of how exactly he makes that money – because asking that question makes us realize that he is probably living beyond his means and we’re unwilling to confront the fact that we are the beneficiaries of a corrupt system.

As I round off, let me also state that you’ll also find this kind of behavior in communities and institutions that have insensible and unreasonable laws. Traditions that are difficult for all but those devoted to the tradition to implement. And trust me, you only need to spend five minutes joggling your memory before you find abundant examples of such institutions around. The amusing thing is that such laws almost always fail and sometimes their failures make it into news headlines. So why do such laws and traditions still thrive after twenty centuries of man’s sojourn on earth? It’s simple. Because like those colleagues of mine, those who are in position to challenge the ‘law’ breakers are themselves breaking the ‘law’.

The End.

Notice how I have implicated my colleagues and subtly excluded myself from the story.  It’s just human nature.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Handmademedia 

Ifeoluwapo is a Brand Strategist and the Author of Musings of an Analytical Mind. He loves to challenge conventional thinking and is a firm believer in the coexistence of aesthetics and quality. Connect with him - @ifeodedere

46 Comments

  1. Scared homosapien

    May 23, 2015 at 9:28 pm

    Ka Chineke mezie okwu!

  2. Pat

    May 23, 2015 at 9:37 pm

    For some reason, I had the perfect picture of the rest room u described in my head and it “grossed me out” (I don drop grammar). 🙂 Anyway, interesting article.

    • Anon

      May 23, 2015 at 11:11 pm

      I read a line, skipped that part and moved on…

  3. bee

    May 23, 2015 at 9:41 pm

    This Is soooooo true.

  4. poison ivy

    May 23, 2015 at 9:46 pm

    Hmmmm, no be today,we start to hear about people playing religion.
    That’s how one day I decided to partake of the holy communion and I got this feedback from my in-law, in his words “why will you take the communion when you’re not a catholic”” (N/B; I am catholic turned pentecostal, needed spiritual empowerment, the winch in my village no go hear chaplet).
    His words triggered deep question like, body of christ shouldn’t be restricted, there’s no communion for Anglican, catholic or even pentecostal, you can’t tell me because am not a practicing catholic I can’t partake of christ.
    The important thing, is your countenance before the king.
    Whatever happened to One body,One church
    .

    • me

      May 24, 2015 at 6:55 am

      If you don’t believe, all your kabashing would take you no where, chaplet has nothing to do with your prayers for the winch not being answered, na your faith matter. If you really were once a Catholic, you would know that once you are not in the state of grace you can’t receive communion, practicing catholic or not. We can’t come and change our principles and traditions because the prodigal son or daughter decided to ‘grace us with his/her holier than thou’ presence. If you don’t like it pls go back to your kabashing church, we don’t have a problem with that.

    • D Main Man

      May 24, 2015 at 1:40 pm

      Exactly; AND AGAIN Chic seriously looks like she needs more than spiritual empowerment because obviously her new found church couldn’t get her the much expected help, that she’s now taking a DUAL SPIRITUAL COMBO… PLEASE ALSO TRY CELE AND JEHOVA WIT.

    • Bolu

      May 25, 2015 at 5:30 am

      Also try ‘Cele and Jehovah Witness! Lmao

    • Zara

      May 24, 2015 at 12:54 pm

      Only u can empower yourself…

  5. bruno FIERCE

    May 23, 2015 at 10:14 pm

    ” I let my guard down when entering the restroom.”

    OMG!!!!!! WHY DID YOU DO THAT.
    NEVER EVER LET UR GUARD DOWN WHEN ENTERING A PUBLIC REST ROOM, EVER!!!!!

    I don’t think u love ur self. how could u let your guard down when entering a public toilet in naija. smh.

    no matter the establishment whether its shoprite or tantalizers or wherever. never let ur guard down, always be prepared for the worst.

  6. Lapetite

    May 23, 2015 at 10:22 pm

    Oga, why didn’t you flush the toilet after using it? I’m confused?

    • aurora

      May 24, 2015 at 12:22 pm

      Exactly. I wondered same

    • Ifeoluwapo Odedere

      May 25, 2015 at 11:29 am

      Oga, there was no water… and before you ask, there was no other alternative (restroom)

  7. Laface

    May 23, 2015 at 10:25 pm

    So for ‘controlled number of children’, contraception must be used?

    • me

      May 24, 2015 at 6:49 am

      Please help me to ask him, and he is a Dr oh, does the term Billings method ring a bell, Dr teach me nonsense

    • Amama Ij

      May 24, 2015 at 1:30 pm

      He never hear say contraception and best cancer nah 5&6!

  8. nnenne

    May 23, 2015 at 11:27 pm

    Well written. You nailed it. Am equally guilty.

  9. smh

    May 23, 2015 at 11:38 pm

    My parents had 4 planned children …..and they practiced natural family planning methods….I also have only 2 planned children and I practice the same. Yes we’re catholics. Don’t start what you’re ignorant of. Natural family planning does work but takes cooperation of both parties.
    The Catholic Church will not come to your bedroom and force you to do what you don’t want to do.

  10. randommer

    May 23, 2015 at 11:46 pm

    Just a point of correction, the Catholic Church is against artificial contraception, not all contraception, because it separates the act of love making from that of procreation, thereby ‘cheapening’ the act. Furthermore it believes that one of the purposes of marriage is to have children. The Church however promotes natural family planning (abstain from sex when you are ovulating or likely to get pregnant) with the understanding that God does not give you more than you can handle. Finally, you are allowed to examine Church doctrine, canon and perhaps even dogma and disagree with it if your conscience allows you to do so.

    Instead of your friend asking you, why didn’t she go and ask her parents? Better yet go and research what the Church teaches.

    • amaa

      May 26, 2015 at 1:23 pm

      “Finally, you are allowed to examine Church doctrine, canon and perhaps even dogma and disagree with it if your conscience allows you to do so.”

      This right here is what is lacking in the PC. Once a man MOG speaks its final. if you you dare raise any objection they throw out the overused mis understood part of the bible which says touch not my anointed………. My point is no one has absolute autonomy to the bible read it and understand it for your self ask questions and challenged the pulpit for learning purposes . Do not just swallow and regurgitate.

  11. Miss Pee

    May 23, 2015 at 11:46 pm

    Great article. However, it is something everyone does. It is called the self-serving bias in Psychology. We’re usually bias when something favours us and we tend to overlook the wrongs; my point is I do not think you should place so much emphasis on Christians. It is not a Christian problem but a human race problem. At the end of the day, no one is perfect and we are all work in progress. Thanks for such an inspiring article- making us see sense in something we never even consider as we go about our daily lives.

  12. tunmi

    May 23, 2015 at 11:57 pm

    The greatest invention, to me, is the toilet and the sewage system. Why didn’t they flush? Where is the water? Did they wash their hands? All kinds of gross

  13. cindy

    May 24, 2015 at 12:26 am

    Must I follow all the doctrines of a church? To me doctrines are just unnecessary religion that segregates the church. I follow the scriptures and the leading of the Holy Spirit. The only time I make it a point of duty to follow church doctrine is when I hold a position then I know I’m being obedient and giving to ceasar that which is ceasar’s.

    • bruno2

      May 24, 2015 at 6:13 am

      Cindy the child…. over 80percent of your comments demostrates your childishness… it would be a shame if you are actually an adult.

    • bruno2

      May 24, 2015 at 6:18 am

      Unlike being born in a country, joining a particular church is a choice. My question why would you choose to join one and volontarily be a rebel… really, if you dont like it, why did you join? See God called different people to oversee different people, their modes may be different but the chief aim of the church is one….

    • krasavitsa

      May 24, 2015 at 10:59 am

      @ Bruno2, there really was no need to call @Cindy a child. You could have aired your disagreement with her opinion without putting her down. That my friend, is maturity.

    • cindy

      May 24, 2015 at 11:13 am

      @bruno y r u here again? U r not a christian na. Are you stalking me now? Read my comment again if you are confused cos you obviously didn’t get my point.

    • bruno FIERCE

      May 24, 2015 at 2:05 pm

      who dey stalk this one, who u be. u wish I
      would reply ur comment.
      the funniest part is I am not @bruno2.
      u are a typical christain hypocrite. u hand pick
      what suits u from the bible and u disregard
      what u don’t like in the bible.
      look at u opening ur silly mouth and saying u
      follow the scriptures.
      so why are u wearing clothes made of different
      fabrics. mumu

    • cindy

      May 24, 2015 at 4:33 pm

      Errr….maybe I ommitted the 2 but I wasn’t talking to you. If you knew you weren’t the one, you could have hust ignored. Did one of my comments affect you so much? Awww…..baby pele ehn. Everything will be alright. And pls if you are a Christian, you’d know that reading the bible takes a lot more than reading english lines. Understanding is key, that which you can’t do with the help of the holy spirit. If you read the bible to nitpick and criticize, of course you’d be this confused. My dear go back to mummy abeg??

  14. nwa nna

    May 24, 2015 at 2:44 am

    @writer, I noticed that you never mentioned in your article anything about washing your hands after using the toilet before running out for fresh air! Lol…
    Not to take away from the article but it frigging bothers me to no end whenever in naija that people use the toilet & don’t wash their hands (male/ female).
    Heck I even asked an employee at a lounge while visiting for soap to wash my hands after easing myself because there wasn’t any & he had this bewildered look of disbelief on his face like who you be sef? 😐

    • Ifeoluwapo Odedere

      May 25, 2015 at 11:31 am

      @Nwa nna… my focus wasn’t on handwashing (though that’s important), maybe because I thought that it goes without saying that people should wash their hands after using the restroom.

    • Brown

      May 27, 2015 at 4:40 pm

      And you must have blessed someone with a hand shake. *shudders*

  15. nikky

    May 24, 2015 at 3:38 am

    This is a clear case of denying reality. Just like the un flushed toilet human beings are often in denial that some of out tightly held traditions are unrealistic to uphold but it’s safe not to talk about it. Not talking about something that is so painfully obvious will not make the problem go away it will make these unattainable and unacceptable things we do become the norm.

  16. ChicadimplesNG

    May 24, 2015 at 7:48 am

    Brilliant piece but, the situation you presented here is not peculiar to Christians, its a human thing. Most public rest rooms ,apart from the privately managed ones have issues with hygiene. Its either no water or no soap ,or both!

    • nnenne

      May 24, 2015 at 10:59 am

      Allow me to use this opportunity to give a shout out to the staff and management of Enugu local Airport. I flew from there on January 9th .Their rest room was flushable, had toilet tissue, hand soap, electric hand drier, plus two young ladies , cleaning intermittently, replacing toilet tissues as needed and spraying air refeshners too.

      My hope is that they will continue to do that everyday. They really surprised me.

  17. boohoo

    May 24, 2015 at 10:03 am

    “hypocrisy springs to mind.” who is the hypocrite here? the person who hasn’t bothered to find what exactly the catholic chuch doctine is on contraception or the one who has concluded that because her parents have only three children, they went against the church? the article wasn’t worth my time after hypocrisy.

    • aleesha

      May 24, 2015 at 10:31 pm

      Abi oh!
      The parents in question could have wanted more children, but they weren’t able to, or maybe they wanted just one but ended up with three. Jumping to conclusions without having all the facts is really dangerous.

  18. Jacy

    May 24, 2015 at 11:24 am

    nice article, this is a typical example of what is happening in Nigeria today especially in our political system where you’ll see some group of people supporting a renowned corrupt politician just for peanut at the end of the day they are the ones that will suffer, people that are supposed to be the ones correcting their political representatives are the ones encouraging them singing their praises even when they know inside their hearts that the politicians are looting them dry and doling out stipends to them, but because of the “I don’t care” attitude as written by the author we careless of their sources of income.

  19. bruno FIERCE

    May 24, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    who dey stalk this one, who u be. u wish I would reply ur comment.
    the funniest part is I am not @bruno2.

    u are a typical christain hypocrite. u hand pick what suits u from the bible and u disregard what u don’t like in the bible.

    look at u opening ur silly mouth and saying u follow the scriptures.
    so why are u wearing clothes made of different fabrics. mumu

  20. $exyD

    May 24, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    Bellanaija is an international blog therefore pls, let’s be mindful of our comments esp Nigerians.
    Now, Dr ife, there is what we call Billings method taught in Marriage class in the Catholic Church. Being a medical professional, you should avail yourself to Love and Life, a book by Léone Sweeny. I still have the book and currently, I’m on family planning using it, the billings method.
    There are places in Nigeria where their rest rooms are still well maintained however, it lies in us, to have the culture of maintenance. We shouldn’t wait for the next person to do the right thing. It’s not only rest rooms…even gutter, our environment.
    Let’s imbibe good character and pass it onto our children

  21. kwo kwo

    May 24, 2015 at 3:45 pm

    @poison ivy, u were catholic turned Pentecostal but u want visit the Catholic church and receive Holy communion. Why wouldn’t your in laws talk.
    Am catholic. i do not receive communion from any other denomination based on my belief of the sacrament. This article thou

  22. Blah blah

    May 24, 2015 at 6:29 pm

    Can you please name this hospital? So we never go there. No running water to flush? And you all are doctors. What a shame! Ewwwww. Why didn’t you flush? Did you even wash your hands? Then you go on to examine a patient. I can’t even begin to imagine the amount of fecal bacteria thriving in that hospital. Name and shame please.

  23. vivianmorh

    May 24, 2015 at 8:22 pm

    Sometimes i rily wonder why doctorines are taught and preached in churches. The bible should be our standard for living. Why cant a non catholic take communion in a catholic church? Because its against the bible or because its against our human principle? Pls lets us differenciate the bible standard frm our humanly formed standards.

    • randommer

      May 25, 2015 at 4:33 pm

      Uh people should not be engaging in what they don’t understand or have not research. How can you partake in something you don’t believe in or support? Can you go to a Jewish temple and be doing what they do there? Catholics believe in transubstantiation i.e. the communion we take is the actual body and blood of Christ – yes eating flesh and drinking blood like cannibals not a symbolic representation. No other Christian domination believes this. Furthermore, taking communion means you are one with Christ and his Catholic Church and you’ve demonstrated you understand what this means by going through catechism and first holy communication and doing penance right before holy communion during mass.. If you are not at one either because you are in state of sin, or not Catholic, or haven’t done first holy communion, or don’t believe in all our stuff, why would you want to come and receive communion in our Church?

      Any other church I go, na bread and juice I dey chop so I respect myself and stay in my seat.

      Before someone comes to task with me where is this in the Bible, the Catholic Church does not believe in Sola Scriptura. Go and google that one.

  24. hmmm

    May 24, 2015 at 9:22 pm

    Smh for some peeps. So when you are ovulating and all your hormones are screaming sex; you use superglue and hold your legs abi? I laff in swahili. I hv a catholic friend ( a nursing sister/ midwife) that insisted on using only the natural method, until she had three kids within 3 yrs. And had d 4th. Nw she is just hearing of the term ‘sex induced ovulation’. I pray it will not be late for you guys screaming Billings method

    • randommer

      May 25, 2015 at 4:26 pm

      that you don’t know the meaning of impulse control should not be anybody’s problem but yours. So celibate or abstinent women with boyfriends – what do they do? and when you’re ovulating and your man is away, you should straff the gate man? You’ve seen people here saying billings method, natural family planning worked for them – so what is it? As if the artificial contraception sef is 100%

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