You think Romeo and Juliet; I think Judas Iscariot. You may think me unromantic and weird; but I just feel that that guy may have had a chance if he stuck around to ask Jesus for forgiveness. After all Peter denied Christ thrice, right? A lot of you may not agree but I can’t imagine Jesus saying to a repentant Judas, “Away from me thou hellish apostle”.
Well, maybe I’m just biting on a kernel only theologians can chew; so I’ll just veer off and talk about empirical stuff.
Now did you know that the leading cause of death among teenagers and adults under 35 is suicide- and that more men commit suicide than women? That’s right. The same act that claimed a certain follower of Jesus Christ 2000 years ago is still the leading killer of young people in the twenty-first century.
Suicide- simply put- is the act of intentionally causing one’s death and is more commonly attributed to despair as well as a host of other factors such as alcohol and drug abuse as well as mental disorders.
I wouldn’t want to bore you with the niceties and complexities of the causes and forms of suicide. But I feel obliged to bring to the consciousness of young people what may kill some of their friends if not them!
And what better way to illustrate this reality, than bringing to your knowledge real young people who fell to suicide?
In this edition; we fondly remember Justin Fashanu (1961-1998) who was a top Nigerian-British footballer.
To illustrate just how talented he was; Justin is in the Guinness Book of Records for being the first black in football history to command a transfer fee of One million Pounds Sterling.
He plied his trade in more than twenty clubs; including Manchester City and Newcastle United-where he kept banging in goals game after game until he rose to the prominence of being at one time- the most expensive black footballer in history.
But in 1990 after his big money transfer, Justin Fashanu became the first prominent English footballer to come out open with his sexual orientation. He gave an exclusive to THE SUN with the headline; “£1m Football Star: I AM GAY”.
In that same exclusive he claimed to have slept with a couple of married men including a married conservative MP!
It caused a stir- a great stir- as many of his team mates and fellow professionals denounced him and his confession. But the most significant denouncement came from his elder brother; John Fashanu; who publicly disowned him.
As if the drama wasn’t enough, only eight years later; Justin was slapped with an arrest warrant in the US for sexually assaulting a seventeen year old boy. But when the police came to his apartment in America, they learnt he had returned to England.
On the morning of 3 May 1998, he was found hanged in a deserted lock-up garage in London. His suicide note read that he and the seventeen year old boy had consensual sex. Whatever the truth was- or is- we may never know.
What we know is that suicide ended the life of this illustrious footballer; whose death caused even greater hullabaloo than episodes of his alleged sexual escapades.
By the foregoing; I do not seek to judge Justin Fashanu’s decisions but to propose a philosophy of faith to all young people. Just like Frank Liszt would say;
“Life is a long and bitter suicide; and only faith can transform this suicide into sacrifice.”