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Pistols and Repentance

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When I was 17, I got a girlfriend. The relationship divided my four older siblings along two lines: some who felt I was too young and would be corrupted by it, and those who thought it worthwhile. In the first camp were two of my older brothers, and in the second, my sister, and my oldest brother who saw himself as a philanderer. He’d had his first sex around that age and saw in my move a manliness that aped his own, especially because my girlfriend was considered by most of the boys who lived in our gated estate to be a great beauty.

The sibling to whom I was closest at the time, Joseph, was in the first camp, however. His objection stemmed mostly from his religious devotion to pre-marital celibacy. Like most southern Nigerian families, we were devout Christians. When he saw that I would not break off the sinful union, he withdrew from me.

To draw Joseph back, I decided to join the group in the church with which he was most involved. The evangelism group of the church consisted of the most devout. They went out every Saturday evening to take the gospel to the doorsteps of the unsaved, knocking on doors and standing on street corners. Even though we had not had sex — my girlfriend was a Muslim who wanted to have sex only after marriage — I felt indelibly stained by the kissing and humping we did behind the stairs of my side of the estate and in other covert spaces. I hoped my brother would see that though I had a girlfriend, I was still a believer.

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