Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Incorrectness of Corrective Rape

The Incorrectness of Corrective Rape

Eudy Simelane. Zoliswa Nkonyana. Salome Masooa. Sizakele Sigasa. Thokozane Qwabe. Funeka Soldaat. Duduzile Zozo. These are just a few of the many lesbians who have allegedly been raped and or murdered in townships around South Africa in attempts to ‘cure’ them of their sexual orientation.

Corrective rape is the violent act of raping a homosexual person (usually a lesbian) with the intention of converting them to heterosexuality.

“They tell me that they will kill me, they will rape me and after raping me I will become a girl. I will become a straight girl.” - Zakhe, 23, Soweto.

There are no official statistics for corrective rape in South Africa, but according to Luleki Sizwe, an organization which helps rape victims in the Western Cape, more than 10 lesbians are raped or gang-raped per week in Cape Town alone.

In this article, I will attempt to show that corrective rape is incorrect for at least two reasons.  (1) It is inconsistent, (2) It is incompetent.

The Inconsistency of Corrective Rape

The apostle Paul, in the first chapter of his letter to the Romans, writes about the wrath of God being revealed against all ungodliness.  He argues that God shows His wrath by giving people who suppress the truth in unrighteousness over to their sinful desires:

26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonourable passions.
For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 
27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women
and were consumed with passion for one another,
men committing shameless acts with men
and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

If Paul had stopped writing at these verses; we might be excused for concluding that sins of a homosexual nature are the only sins that are abominable in God’s eyes, but the apostle does not give us that liberty.  He continues:

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God,
God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 
29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice.
They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 
30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 
31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.

Paul declares that ‘all manner of unrighteousness’, not just homosexual sin, is as sign of God’s wrath being revealed.

If corrective rapists were consistent in their hatred of sin, they would be just as vehement against gossiping, faithlessness and disobedience to parents as they are against homosexual sin.  I have never heard of any corrective punishment being administered to polygamists or heterosexual fornicators.  Instead, those who commit such sins are praised and encouraged by the same people who condemn homosexual sins.

This is because instead of viewing sin from the consistent lens of God’s word, the corrective rapists view sin from the inconsistent lens of African Traditionalism.  Instead of consistently defining sin as all that is ungodly, they inconsistently define it as all that is ‘un-African’.

The Incompetence of Corrective Rape

Not only is the practice of corrective rape inconsistent, it is also incompetent.  That is, it is utterly powerless to cure its patients.

Those who attempt to correct sinful homosexual behaviour through corrective rape are attempting to accomplish what only Jesus, through the gospel, can accomplish.  “… [the gospel] is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” – Romans 1:17

It is the violence of the cross, not the violence of corrective rape that has the power to change the hearts for homosexual and heterosexual sinners.
It is the meek strength of the dying God-man, Jesus Christ, not the masculine strength of the killing men, which can subdue sinful hearts.
These men can murder lesbians all the daylong but no amount of lesbian blood can purify anyone’s heart.  Only the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, can purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

Furthermore, through corrective rape, some of these men attempt to give sexual pleasure to lesbians, believing that upon realising what they have been missing, the lesbians will turn away from a life of homosexual attraction.

But it is only those pleasures that are found in God through Jesus, not the pleasures of heterosexual intercourse, which can ravish, satisfy and wean souls away from sinful behaviours, homosexual or otherwise.  Whatever pleasures can be derived from sin are fleeting and unsatisfactory at best. Only in God is there fullness of joy and pleasures forever more.

In conclusion, allow me to reiterate that I do not believe that homosexual sinners are worse than heterosexual sinners.  Scripture’s testimony is consistent.  All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God!  Only the gospel is powerful and competent to save all who believe; homosexuals and corrective rapists, this writer and his readers.

Mandla Gqada

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

God’s reintroduction of Himself?

After having so many various opportunities to share the Gospel in the townships of Tembisa, there are a number of things that become acutely clearer to me that wouldn’t have been if I had not undertaken to serve the Lord by presenting the Gospel to unbelievers - things like the spiritual deadness of man, his hardness of heart, the seriousness and degree of man’s unbelief towards God and man’s disregard for the person and Godhood of Jesus Christ are inescapable when sharing the Gospel. 

These sad realities lead to a growing desire on my side to present the Gospel with much clarity. But even after presenting the Gospel one is always faced with a sense of the inevitable, and that is, unless God reveals Himself in a special way to a person he or she will remain in a state of unbelief towards God.

The fact of the matter is this, God is Holy (pure and set apart) both as Spirit and Person, and as a result of our sinfulness and corruption we cannot come to know Him unless He reveals and reintroduces Himself to us in a special way.

God has and does reveal himself to us in a number of ways. For instance He has shown Himself to us through His Handiwork in creation. This act of God revealing Who He is to us in creation is termed as His general revelation by theologians. It is considered to be general because it involves and includes all of mankind who are born into this world - mankind also bearing the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27) reflects and resembles who God is in their conscience as well (Romans 2:14-15). God created us to be like Him in a restricted and finite way, though God Himself is transcendent and infinite. This general revelation is also God’s revelation because God and not man does the disclosing of who God is, in and by using providentially the things He has made. We however can point each other to such evidences in order to try convince each other about the existence of God. God’s general revelation is a fact that the apostle Paul brings up in his letter to the Romans when he writes:

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, namely His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse (Romans 1:19,20).

Though what we can see of God in ourselves and others is very limited in every way possible because we are not God, it is general revelation of God that leaves us without excuse when it comes to knowing God while disobeying His laws. It also shows that any person who lives in continual disregard of God, both in action and moral thinking is in actual fact supressing the truth they know about God (Romans 1:18). Such can be the extent of man’s hatred toward God.

It is God revealing Himself in a special way that can keep a person from remaining at enmity with God. It is also this process of God revealing Himself afresh to sinners in a fallen world that theologians term as God’s special revelation, that I sometimes choose to call God’s reintroduction of Himself.

The means by which God has purposed to carry out His special revelation of Himself to man is the Holy Bible. The Holy Bible is perfect and authoritative in all its parts and contains details of what needs to be known and believed about God in order to be saved from sin, Satan and eternal death. The Scriptures tell us about who God is and even reveal to us things about Him that we cannot make any sense of or even explain in human terms e.g. God being man while remaining God - things we just have to believe and live out by the faith that God gives us. It is in the Holy bible where we come to learn that God went a step further in revealing Himself than just what we can see of Him in creation. We come to see that to some past generations of a particular nation God spoke at many times and in many ways by a number of men whom He appointed across a certain time period, men whom the Bible refers to as the prophets (see Hebrews 1:1). It is these men, that the Bible teaches us, that God spoke to through visions, dreams, stormy winds, fires and clouds. God even spoke to them in personal appearances as an Angel of the Lord (see Genesis 15, Isaiah 6, Genesis 28:17, Genesis 12:1-3, Exodus 34:5-7, Numbers 12:5-8, Job 38, 1 Kings19:12, Exodus 3:2, Genesis 16:13).

From the prophet Moses onward the revelations of God have been preserved in written form, writing that ended with a group of men that the Bible refers to as the Apostles, men whom Jesus Christ being God appointed to complete in writing all that is needed to be written about God as authoritative and directly from Him with regard to our redemption (2Timothy 3:16-17).

Special revelation is also different in that it points us to Christ who is the Son of God. He is also the very reason why God did not cast man into eternal ruin at man’s first sin, a reason that God the Father wanted to show off to His creatures and not just keep to Himself. Jesus is the image of the invisible God (Colossians1:15), the centre and purpose of all creation (Romans 11:36). It is God’s Holy Spirit that convicts and enables us to believe these truths about God and the Godhood of Jesus Christ that we find in the Scriptures (1Corinthians 12:3, Romans 8:16).

It is in Christ that we see God taking time and care to reintroduce Himself to His fallen creatures that are too caught up in rebelling against Him. In Christ we learn afresh what it was that God intended for our good in creating us, that is for us to be with Him and glorify and enjoy Him forever. Jesus is the aim and pinnacle of all revelation. This means that any revelation regarding man’s salvation from sin, Satan and death that points to anything but Him should be avoided and regarded as being false. 

By Thembela Matthews Nkuna

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Lead (us) now or later?


Just by reading the Bible one can clearly see that God is the one who raises up and appoints leaders. From the leadership of God the Father within the three Persons of the Trinity (a mystery of the divine triune fellowship), to the designated headship of Adam over Eve, along with the conquests of Moses and Joshua heading towards the promised land, right through to the ascension of Christ into the heavenly realm, we see the vital role leadership has been given by God to fulfil His purposes. It is undeniable that God has chosen to use leaders to conduct His work of extending His Kingdom from this world to the next.

However the big questions surrounding church-leadership in the mind of many a church man are:

When are leaders identified and appointed?

How old should they be before taking up office? (Should they be young or just elderly?)
The answer to such questions and others like these is more simple to state than to embrace. The answer simply is: God will provide these leaders at His appointed time. They could be young or elderly, timid or brave, eloquent or stuttering and even healthy or sick. The list is long and varied and can be substantiated by looking at different biblical characters that God appointed to lead. No infirmity or weakness was and is to be considered as a hindrance when God’s blessing and favour are present.

Graciously God provided the church with two offices namely deacons and overseers / elders. The latter are involved mainly in the spiritual leadership of God’s people, whereas the former undertake to lead the administrative and practical duties of the church. Nonetheless, in both cases the spiritual wellbeing and standing of an individual is what makes them a worthy occupant of either of these two offices. It is men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom the apostles appointed to the business of the church.

It is true to say that youth brings with it much folly and it is always preferred not to have a young inexperienced leader, as such was the case when Rehoboam squandered his father Solomon’s work when he replaced him as king. Yet it was the boy Samuel who took over from the old man Eli and later anointed the young boy David to be king instead of Saul. It is also the apostle Paul who himself was called from his youth, who insists that no-one despise the young man Timothy’s youth, but instead goes on to comment on not appointing a recent convert who is spiritually immature to a position of leadership. One can go on into details and mention the lives of the naive Joseph, the ambitious Elisha and the emotional Jeremiah who were all summoned from their youth, but time would fail us to do so. Ultimately God became a baby boy in order to become a man and stunned His teachers with His brilliance as he grew in both knowledge and stature. Even the Lord Jesus was Himself a young man of 30 years when He started His public ministry.

Let us not underestimate our enemies namely sin, Satan and death, though defeated by Christ on the cross: the battle for our King and our promised land must be fought by those whom He will appoint. It is often the youths that are deployed and stationed on the enemy’s fronts during a time of war, who later go on to become the generals that are competent to wage wars. It was the young Joshua who was amongst the spies that surveyed the promised land and its inhabitants, who later succeeded Moses in order to lead the campaign of destroying and wiping out the enemies of God.

Just as in a 4x100 metre relay race when the next recipients to handle the baton can be seen from a long way off, so the same can be said of those who will occupy roles of leadership within the church. Those who are to lead are in the church already if not yet leading in it. If the church is to have and continue to have leaders they must be groomed while the day is still called today. The more experienced leaders we have the better. If youth is seen to be a weakness, then let the church be quick to recall the Lord’s words which state “when you are weak, I am strong”. It is the church that must diligently ask, seek and knock to the Lord through prayer so He can provide for her current and future needs through whatever leadership He appoints.

 We are called to walk by faith, depending entirely on Him, because we never know what God intends to do next and may require of us in order to accomplish His purposes. We must be ready and trained to serve in leadership or whatever area He desires. There is no doubt that there is a dearth of leaders in the church of Jesus Christ in South Africa, both in townships and rural areas alike.  

By Thembela Matthews Nkuna

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Church Planting in the Townships

Church planting in the townships is one of the main things at the heart of Township Reformation. We believe that the church is a mission station and a sounding board for the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Since most of us are from the townships, we long to see the true gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ proclaimed to our brothers according to the flesh. We have been severely grieved to see the church being infiltrated by false teachers and charlatans.  Considering the fact that a majority of South Africans live in the townships, it should be a great concern that townships have few biblically sound churches.

This workshop seeks to bring all those concerned about the state of our townships with regards to the advancement of the gospel through the planting of healthy churches. Churches that would be centered on the uncompromised gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. There have been signs of an awakening among young people, albeit on a small scale, to the true teachings of Scripture about God’s sovereignty in all things including salvation. God has been pleased to use all sorts of means, including internet sermons of men like Conrad Mbewe, Paul Washer, Al Martin and John Mac Arthur to name a few, to bring this awakening about.

What has been an issue though is that these young people struggle to find churches that teach biblical truths in their townships. Many have to travel long distances to suburban churches to find faithful preaching.  It is at the heart of Township Reformation to see this issue being attended to. Our deepest prayer is that God would raise a generation of young men that would dedicate their lives to seeing healthy churches being planted in the townships, to seeing like-minded churches in affluent areas rise to the occasion and support township church planters and also plant there themselves.

This workshop will be focusing on the present state of our townships. It aims to look at the biblical imperatives of church planting, as well as at the challenges faced by those who have led the way of planting in the township. We will also hear the view of suburban churches on what are the challenges they face as they long and seek to go across and plant in townships.

If this resonates with you in any way, you are welcomed to join us on the 12th of April 2014.   

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Father to the Township Fatherless

I can still remember my teenage self running down the street, escaping from the clutches of a violent man. I run past my home. Not because the night is so dark that I can’t find my way home.  Not because the violent man’s punch to my face has blinded me.  I run past my home, aiming for my next door neighbour’s house because there is a father in that house, and in my desperate plight the house next door promises more safety and security than my fatherless home…

In hindsight, I believe that the Lord used this and many other experiences of my fatherless childhood to deepen my longing for a father to such an extent that the good news of adoption into the heavenly Father’s family, through Jesus Christ, would be so appealing to me that it would be one of the many strings with which the Lord would draw me to himself.

And I believe that in His sovereignty, God has ordained that many of his elect in the townships experience the sad reality of fatherlessness, so that when they hear the good news of the Fatherhood of God through Jesus Christ, they will be drawn to Him, as the One who can satisfy their longings for fatherly love, security, guidance and provision.

This article is not written to celebrate the scourge of fatherlessness in the townships as a good thing in and of itself, neither is it written to excuse those men who have only the power to make children, but not the patience to mould them.

But I believe that God is in absolute control over everyone and everything and therefore nothing comes to pass unless He ordained it before time began. So this piece is written as a feeble exploration of some of the reasons why God, in His wisdom and sovereignty, ordains fatherlessness for some of his elect.

God often deprives us of our heart’s desires, so that we can come to Him for their fulfillment

Consider Abraham; at 75 years old he was a sonless man with a barren wife, in a time when childlessness was seen as a curse. I can imagine him earnestly praying to his father’s gods, believing that some day they would answer his desperate cries for a son.  But by age 75, he must have given up all hope and reconciled himself to the thought that his name would forever be forgotten. 
This is why when the LORD reveals Himself to him and promises to make him the father of many nations, the words fall on Abraham’s ears like fresh water on parched lips. How can he not find this God appealing and worth following, when He promises to grant him abundantly more than that which he has been longing for his whole life?

In the same way, God sometimes deprives some of his elect the blessing of having good earthly fathers, so that when they hear the gospel of the Fatherhood of God, having experienced the loneliness and helplessness of fatherlessness, it becomes to them like a fountain of water in the desert, and they are irresistibly drawn to Him.

Therefore we must not neglect to proclaim this often forgotten blessing of adoption in our endeavours to present the gospel in the townships.  We must sound the ultimate call to khumbul ‘ekhaya. We must faithfully hold up this facet of the diamond of the gospel in all its lustre and glory, and trust the heavenly Father to make its allure effective to call His fatherless children home.

Having experienced the joy of being delivered from the pain of fatherlessness, will not those who have been adopted into the heavenly Father’s family become more sensitive to the plight of the fatherless in their communities?  Will they not be moved to act out this glorious spiritual adoption by physically adopting those who are orphans among them? Will this not in turn have a positive impact on the social ills which are the result of a lack of good fathers and father figures in the townships?

Finally, will these adopters not be eager to use this earthly adoption as a means to call and point their adopted children and onlookers to the ultimate, eternal, heavenly adoption, which all - both the well-parented and the orphaned - are in desperate need of?

Christ – The Real Power to the People

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Festive Season- Jesus and Township Teenage Pregnancy

It is that time of the year again, when partying, excessive drinking of alcohol and casual sex are at their highest around the world, particularly in the South African townships.

During this time of the year,  the township society at large tends to be indifferent to, or even approve of teenage drunkenness, which easily leads to careless sex and in many cases, pregnancy.  Even some of the strictest of parents tend to loosen their leash around this time of the year, all in the name of a Merry Christmas and a happy new year.

Jesus and the Samaritan woman
The story of Jesus and the woman of Samaria, found in John 4, is very instructive here.  An exhaustive exposition of this remarkable portion of scripture, though it would be edifying and soul-enrapturing, is beyond the scope of this short piece.  Suffice it to note the following:

The two main characters in this story are different.  They are different not only in the sense that one is female and the other is male, or in that one is a Samaritan and the other a Jew, or even in the sense that one is merely human while the other is the God-Man. The difference which is most instructive for our particular point of discussion is the difference in their sources of satisfaction. 

The Samaritan woman, having had five husbands and living with a man who was not her husband, had demonstrated time and time again that men were her source of satisfaction.  She had been drinking water from the muddy and shallow wells of relationships with men and after every time she had had her fill of one man, she would thirst again, and require another fill.  Hence Jesus gives her this astonishing promise:  “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give [her] will never be thirsty again…”

Jesus, on the other hand, had a totally different source of satisfaction. It was the well of pure, soul-satisfying water.  That is why when “the disciples were urging him, saying, ‘Rabbi, eat…’ He said to them ‘my food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.’”  Jesus derived satisfaction from the eternal spring of the glory of God, as demonstrated in His glorious work of reaping souls for harvest.  This satisfaction surpassed even his physical hunger and thirst: He had gone to the well out of physical weariness and thirst for natural water, but after drinking from the from the spring of eternal life, he got up from the well feeling so satiated in his soul that this satisfaction overflowed into his physical body.

What does all of this have to do with the festive season and the rise in township teenage pregnancy?
Well, much like the Samaritan woman, many of our township teenagers are thirsty.  They are drawing water from all kinds of springs.  The spring of the exhilarating thrill of being high and drunk, the spring of popularity among their peers and finding their identity in their social status, the spring of being envied for being the most beautiful and most wanted by the opposite sex, the spring of illicit sexual intercourse. They drink and drink and drink some more from these springs, but no sooner do they lift their heads up from these shallow wells to catch their breath than do they feel thirsty again.

Therefore, the same gospel promise which awoke the Samaritan woman from her drunken stupor, and freed her from her bondage to labouring for that which could not satisfy, is the same promise which needs to be proclaimed to the enslaved teenagers in our townships. Jesus stands up during these great festive days, amidst crowds with cooler boxes packed to capacity and cries out: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”

The same indictment which the Lord pronounced against His people Israel through the mouth of the prophet Jeremiah is the same indictment which should be declared to our township teenagers: My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” – Jeremiah 2:13.

As a soon-to-be father of a girl, these reflections are of particular significance to me. What should be the ultimate basis for my hope and confidence that my daughter will not become one of the statistics of teenage pregnancy?  Should I trust in my ability to be so strict that her fear of me will keep her away from boys, or should I resolve to shower her with so much money and gifts that she will not find any s’khothane appealing to her on account of these things?

No!  My ultimate hope and confidence must rest on the truth that Jesus is able to ravish her soul and thrill her in ways that no Pantsula dancer can ever hope to match.  He can speak to her a language more charming than a love proposal spoken in is’Camto (colloquial talk).

Therefore, the same gospel promise which awoke the Samaritan woman from her drunken stupor, and freed her from her bondage to labouring for that which could not satisfy, is the same promise we must proclaim to our daughters and sisters in our townships, in all its glorious facets so that they may not settle for the cheap cubic zirconias of the world’s fleeting pleasures, and instead aim for nothing less than the Pearl of great price!

Christ, the real power to the people!