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A Theology of Men as Care-Givers

Introduction:

“Stigma, shame, denial, discrimination, inaction and mis-action (SSDDIM) are six related evils that continue to either frustrate or slow down our HIV&AIDS prevention, care, and treatment, and impact mitigation efforts” (Gideon).

Seemingly, it is women who feel the shame and isolation of blame and stigmatisation. Insufficient action on the side of communities does not help purge the pain of SSDDIM.

Active participation and involvement of men such as ministers or pastors, elders, deacons, traditional leaders, political leaders, fathers, brothers and boys is long over due. If men can lead by example, by caring for the sick, caring for women and the girl child, perhaps a transformed and fairly equal society may emerge sooner than expected. The ‘Good Samaritan’ in the Bible (Lk. 10: 25 – 37) went out of his way to help and care for a wounded person. He transported him to a place of care. And he paid for his care – a person he did not know at all. Can’t we take and example?

In a nutshell, this document seeks to address the question of the understanding of what being human is and means. It goes on to make a contribution in discussing issues of various inequalities and injustices continuing in society. In some places scriptural references are mentioned.

Theology of Equality and Gender

Women and men are co-substantial, co-equal and co-existent just as the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit are in the God-head in the Trinity. Women and men are created in the image of the same God, as one flesh and one spirit (Gen. 1: 26 – 29; 2: 7, 23). Women and men are made of the same material substance. The choice of gender and human sexuality or sexual orientation is not a human privilege – meaning humans have no privilege of choosing their gender from conception.

Being human precedes what gender people are given from conception. In other words humans are human first before their given gender and sexual orientation. Gender is not essential to being human. All actions and thoughts informed by gender to define what is human are theologically baseless.

Views that gender is worthy of being male against the worthlessness of being female which are informed by traditional culture and theology must be challenged. Men must wrestle with the idea that gender does not define what is human, but the principle of life or the Image of God does. Platforms created for Men’s Forums must take this debate towards the transformation of culture and theology possible.

Gender, socio-political and religio-cultural inequalities

Historical socio-political and religio-cultural inequalities between men and women persist and if society is not transformed these inequalities may continue. In some
societies (e.g. South Africa) means are made to close the gap between male and female inequalities through legislation, political appointments to positions of leadership, education, workshops, dialogues and consultations. In some communities debatable as it might be it is perceived that religion and culture continue to be misused to suppress women (I Cor. 11: 3 – 16; 14: 34 – 35). Women in many cases are excluded in crucial decision making political structures, in churches, in traditional leadership and so on and the scriptures like the ones mentioned immediately above are used to justify the suppression of women in churches, society and governance structures.

“What about gender issues in the time of Jesus? His society was patriarchal; male and female roles were sharply differentiated, with women’s roles centering on the family and home (Eph. 5: 22 – 24). A woman who could not have children felt deep shame as in I Sam. 1: 12. Widows were especially vulnerable. Divorce was easy for the man (icmdahivinitiative. Additions mine).”

“A rabbinical (Jewish religious leaders) custom was to thank God daily, as a man, that you had not been born a woman, slave or foreigner. Religions leaders were not permitted to speak to women in public; religion did not value women’s spiritual contributions. Jesus broke with these assumptions and traditions. He extended honour and respect to all women. Women experienced the power of His miracles. He taught that women were equal to men in the sight of God. Jesus taught that women could also receive forgiveness of sin and the gift of salvation by grace. Jesus taught that women can be his followers and fully participate in the Kingdom (sic) of God. In an era where women could not be legal witnesses Jesus caused that they be his witnesses (Lk. 24: 9 – 11)(icmdahivinitiative. Additions mine)).

Jesus challenged these Jewish religious structures and beliefs. Jesus accommodated women in His ministry and did not discriminate against them. Inequalities between men and women embedded in historical rationale and legitimating male oriented stereotypes must be continually challenged. Men and women must look for better ways of living together in peace, love, harmony and prosperity. Where hick-up come up, both men and women must find constructive and peaceful mans of resolving their differences and challenges.

Theology of care and equal access to opportunities in the context of HIV and AIDS

The manipulation of women by men through control of the means of living must be overcome by empowering women to become economically independent. It is in God’s plan that humanity must work for a living and not be denied the opportunity to do so for both men and women. Structurally, the quest for involvement and activity of women in the mainstream of the economy and meaningful participation of women in political decision making positions is being realised in a visible way. Masculine economic structures must be transformed to accommodate women and their lifestyle. Women must not be disadvantaged in fulfilling their God given way of living. In the Bible there are women who were business people and others exploited by men to make money and they got nothing (see Acts 16: 14 – 22ff).

Men and Unfaithfulness

The perception that men who have many mistresses are heroes while women can not do the same and have praise must be challenged. In the context of HIV and AIDS among many methods of preventing new infections the message of fidelity must go through. We just need to keep on spreading messages of prevention including one of faithfulness. The typical cultural proverbial “Isoka” (a man with many mistresses) must be challenged at least at a debate level and at most at practical level. The Isoka must be isolated and challenged. Those who support the practice of Isoka must loose the debate and be encouraged to seek faithfulness between men and women.

Men and cultural regard of women as Izingane (Children)

The classical categorization of women as children must be addressed in the men and gender theological and cultural debates and discussions. In the world where HIV and AIDS is widespread, men and women can do better by treating each other as adult and behaving likewise and so jointly cooperate in safe sex and together fight the scourge of HIV and AIDS. Persistent has been the cultures and theologies of keeping a woman at her place, in the kitchen. And resilient has been the theologies of ‘a woman is made for a man thinking’. These theologies and cultures promoting the idea of the inferiority of women must be challenged. In the context of HIV and AIDS women must be emancipated to participate in civil life and church leadership structures and have their voice heard when matters of human sexuality are debated and discussed even on an academic level.

Men and Women, Theology of Sex and Sexuality

Infection and being affected by HIV does not remove human sexual desire. People infected and affected with HIV must not be deprived from sexual activity. People infected and affected by HIV must be encouraged to practice safe sex. Human sexuality must be practiced in the best interest of the entire humanity. Sexual activity considering that the whole of the human body is sexual should not be confine to conjugal actions. All human loving and sexual activity must be done with mutual respect and full consent. Men must learn to respects the views and feelings of women when it comes to consensual sexual intercourse (I Cor. 7: 1ff; (5) – do not deprive one another except with consent for a time).

Turning the structures of oppression to become tools of freedom

The idea that men are superior and women are inferior, negative in most cases as it has been when it comes to helping in the fight against HIV and AIDS must be changed to carry positive messages about the pandemic. Traditional structures must be challenged to transform in the age of freedom and human rights; while we do so indeed, the Men’s Forums should be helping men to begin to be positive and helpful in fighting HIV and AIDS as men in leadership today.

Gender Freedom, Human Rights and the Constitution

Especially in the traditionally conservative cultures and theology, it has been muted out that the new Constitution which enshrines the Bill of Rights for all and

promotes equality of men and women before the law and in all walks of life, like access to education and employment opportunities has emasculated men. With more debate and mutual education and enlightenment, men are beginning to realise that some tenets of patriarchal structures were indeed oppressive to women and that there is a need to transform and change for the well being of all. Human rights and the Constitution which promotes equality between men and women must be use effectively to enhance the struggle for the freedom of all human beings. The freedom of men is intertwined with those of women. Without the freedom of women men cannot be totally free (Gal. 3: 28ff – there is no difference between men and female in Christ Jesus).

Freedom of the interpretation of scripture

Women are core players, or fellow players in the game of life and sex. Women are not just victims of circumstances. Women are also making choices in life. In the context of masculinity, men, gender and HIV and AIDS women are making choices as well. Women are bringing their own hermeneutic and value to theology and human sexuality. And the principles of health and healing found in the scriptures hold and are relevant to both our contextual theologisation and evidential findings of empirical scientific inquiry. In summary, clean living, clean behaviour, clean environment, clean water, clean food, clean sex, clean relationships, clean hands, clean clothes an clean habits are a partial answer to the combat of HIV and AIDS”.

On the other hand the interpretation of scriptures has always been for the advantage of men and direct disadvantage of women. Contextual reading of the scriptures changes this male side reading and interpretation. The scriptures must be read with the consciousness and acknowledgement that they are masculine text. Special consideration must be taken to deliberately include women in the reading and interpretation of the scriptures. If such inclusion is not possible such scriptures should be noted as tenaciously masculine.

“The challenge of HIV and AIDS, in inference is related to the texts of disease and healing in the scriptures. HIV and AIDS is not the virus nor the syndrome found in the scriptures. HIV and AIDS is our modern challenge”. We can only relate the virus and the syndrome in inference to the scriptures. What we are learning here is that we are beginning to do a theology of HIV and AIDS, and care more and more.

Sources

Edwards, Phil (2008). How Does Ethics Relate to Theology, Pastoral Care and Current World-view.

Kalmina-Zake, Dana (sa). Pastoral Care and Protestant Theology. Latvia

Lester, Andrew D (2005). Angry Christians: A Theology for Care and Counseling. In Anglican Theological Review, Fall 2005 by Clrke, Jody H. Louiseville: Westminister John Knox Press.

Gideon byamugisha@yahoo.co.uk

Icmdahivinitiative www.findarticles.com/p/articles

www.boston.com/news/health/articles

www.ezineartharticles.com/?ntegration -of-Psychology-and-Theology-Christianity

www.religion-online.org/show article.asp

www.ascensionhealth.org/ethics/public/issues

www.biapt.org.uk/2003.shtml

Produced by KZNCC Advocacy Office.

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THEOLOGY OF LAND

Introduction

The land and state of Israel are intricately related, one cannot examine the covenant of Israel with God, if no account is taken of the place of land. The basic idea is that the land is Yahweh’s land (Ps. 24:1).

The Land belongs to God

In Genesis chapters 1-2 we see how a relationship between God, people and the earth develops. He is the creator who made everything from nothing and has ownership rights over everything he created. We can observe that;

  • Creation is seen to be good.
  • Humans were created from the dust of the earth, in the image of God and were given the responsibility to rule over the rest of creation.
  • Israel’s place in the plan of God

Throughout the book of Joshua chapters 13-19, land is first and foremost an inheritance given to Israel by Yahweh, a gift to be passed on from generation to generation. The idea that God owns the land has not only theological significance but also sociological meaning. Land in Israel was not conceived of as private property; instead it was a trust or “loan” administered by Israel on behalf of Yahweh. Land was the inheritance of the tribe, and the tribe apportioned the land to the families. The plot each family received was their participation in the tribal inheritance.

  • Each family enjoyed lasting rights to the use of the land, but never a

commodity that could be bought or sold for private gain. Their portion was family property and they managed it on behalf of the entire tribe.

  • The land was an inheritance and was required to be used in ways faithful to

Yahweh. This meant that the laws of the Old Testament accounted to the administering of social justice in the community.

  • Thus in Psalms 16:5-6 & 142:5 “portion” is equated with Yahweh ‘Gods’

presence.

  • Leviticus: 25, family land that had been lost was to be returned to its original

owner in the year of Jubilee.

  • The Law also required that debts be pardoned (Deut. 15:1-3) and that Hebrew

slaves and bonded servants be set free in the year of Jubilee.

  • Deuteronomy 24: 19-22 stated emphatically that a part of the harvest be left

for the poor.

Managing the land involved social justice so that ancient Israel could stay united. The land and promise

Understanding Israel’s taking of the land as the fulfilment of God’s promise is important throughout the book of Deuteronomy. From the first mention in 1:8 through to the last words of Moses in 34:4 God states “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; I will give it to your descendents”. Brueggeman (1978:48) asserts that “Deuteronomy reflects early that Israel cannot and does not need to secure its own existence, for it is done by the same “One” who gave manna, quail, and water.

The land as a gift

Wright (1990) develops the theme of the land being a gift and draws out several important implications for Israel.

  • Firstly the land being a gift was a declaration that Israel depended upon God and that therefore God was dependable (2004:85-86). There was no sense of righteousness on Israel’s part.

“It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going to take possession of the land; but on account of the wickedness of these nations” (Deut.9:5).

  • For Israel the land is the means by which other promises are also to be fulfilled, every aspect of material and economic life is attached to this (Deut.8:17-18).
  • The land gift reflects Israel’s unique relationship with God as his treasured possession (Deut.7:6-7).
  • Wright (2004:88) denotes that as a consequence of God fulfilling his promises, “Israel knew that they were the people of Yahweh because he had given them the land. This theme or relationship or more particularly a covenant relationship is central to understanding the significance of this gift.

The land and covenant

Wright (2004:85-86) is of the view that entering into the land is not “entry into a safe space but into a context of covenant”. Davies (1989:364) is in agreement and states that “it was clearly an integral part of the relationship established between Yahweh and his people”. Deuteronomy 28 confirms the terms of this covenant relationship. Clement (1968:57-58) summarises;

“Because the God who gave the land is the God of the covenant with its laws, there is a relationship between the land and the moral demands of God. It is not surprising; therefore, that the threat of losing possession of the land and its fruits is the fundamental punishment that is envisaged should Israel disobey. Possession of the land is the sign of Israel’s nationhood and the continuing evidence of the goodness of God. A breach of the covenant is naturally seen to have it’s consequences in expulsion from the land, which is gods special gift”.

He develops this theme further and argues that the moral behaviour of Israel not only affects their continuing possession of the land, but could lead to the ‘desecration’ of the land itself. Mayes (1979:78) suggest that the land is the place which “Israel cannot possess unless she obeys the law”. von Rad agrees and asserts that “Israel is to observe the commandments in order that they may enter the good land”. In Deuteronomy from the Ten Commandments (5:1-21) to the various social laws, the link between being “careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may greatly increase in a land flowing with milk and honey” is affirmed further in chapter 28, where God declares “obedience leads to blessing and disobedience to cursing”

Land and families

Our knowledge of the Israelite system of land tenure is dependant entirely on the historical account of Joshua and Judges. Aharoni (1967:231) is of the view that “the biblical account clearly describes the exact delineation of the tribal boundaries in earliest times”. Wright (1947:49) in agreement with von Rad (1996:86) accepts that the land in Israel was divided and owned on a tribal basis. He further introducers the word “kin group” as a semantically appropriate name for these groups who played a key role in the system of land distribution in Israel.

  • The “kin group” function was primary economic, it existed to protect and preserve the viability of its own extended families through mechanisms such as the redemption of both land and persons that were in danger of passing – or those that had already passed.
  • This function can be found in Lev.25, it did not own land collectively in its own name, nor did it usurp coercive power over its family units but acted as a restorative and protective organism.
  • The “kin group” however consisted of smaller family units called “fathers – houses”, Judges 11 appears to denote an area of land which had its place in the larger “kin group”.
  • Sociologically the “father’s house” was an important small unit in Israel, it was also the primary group in which individuals found identity and status. Judges 6-11 and following explain how Gideon a married man with children lived and worked on his father’s land that was Gideon’s “father’s house”, 6:15.

The Old Testament law clearly protects the family and its land and defines Israel’s understanding of their relationship with Yahweh. Whenever Israel slumped into anarchy and greed, God would raise up a prophet to warn and denounce their actions to safeguard the basic socio-economic pillars in which Israel’s relationship with Yahweh rested – the family and its land.

Social laws and social systems of the Pentateuch

There are laws in place which warn individuals about the consequences they could face should they disobey the social laws which govern them.

  • Hence the right to the land of Israel and the future prosperity of the inhabitants depend on the social laws and social system of the Pentateuch.
  • The Pentateuch teaches that all are equal and that one may neither exploit nor be exploited.
  • The social systems in place guarantee everyone’s personal and material independence within the community, supporting those who are in need.

God and Jewish property rights

The occupation of the land of Canaan forms the Jewish land theology. The scripture is clear that the earth is the Lord (Ps.24:1), but man has been given dominion to rule over God’s work (Ps.8:6). There are nevertheless clear limitations on an individual’s exercise of those rights with regard to his relationship to God, his family and other people (Lev.25:23-28).

  • The year of Jubilee is paramount in Israel’s dealing with the sale of property by an impoverish Israelite.
  • This also includes the recovery of the property by a kinsman redeemer. God is clearly concerned about the land of individual households as well as their welfare.
  • Should an individual fail in supporting his household after using the land as security for loans, he and his family is in danger of being sold into the service of his kinsman, not to be treated like a slave, but as a dependent labourer (Lev.25:28).

Land, God and women

In the case of women, one find that wives were simply property in the absolute sense

– chattels of their husbands. Wives were commonly bought…………………… a bondservant and

a wife were of much the same value; they had no right to own land.

  • Bennet (1900:847-849) depicts wives as a man’s property and was absolute subjected to his authority. However in Numbers (27:1-11) in the case of Zelophehad’s daughters (36:1-12) where daughters inherited land (in the absence of sons) they were instructed to marry men within the “kin group” of their father. In this way tribal territory would not be diminished.
  • Brichto (1973:44) emphasises this point and the importance for the sake of the ancestors, of the convenience of the family on its own land. The evidence he presents makes it possible to imagine a regular redistribution of the ancestral land, with its burial places.
  • In Ruth (4:10) states Boaz’s intention to “perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance
  • There is also the prominent fact that the mother was to be held in high esteem and honour. Her position within the household had its clearest expression in this respect. However in widowhood her position changes and her only recourse were directly to Yahweh himself (Ex.22:23-24).
  • Any women who by her own action and design has repudiated her own marriage relationship and thereby set herself “outside” or “beyond” the bounds of her family is left destitute Snijder (1954).

She literally turns her back on the “covenant” of her God and becomes an alien in the sense of one “outside” the community of those eligible to claim and enjoy the relationship with Yahweh – which was undoubtedly a kind of “death” Wright (1990:94).

Men are warned against having an affair with “out – of – family” women. If he does he will be cut off from the privilege of sharing in the land with the rest of God’s people. In short he “has no sense”, he destroys himself (Prov.6:23) Brichto (1973:1-54). Roberson Smith further explores the concept of marriage and is of the view that the husband does not own the wife as a piece of property, but owns her sexuality. His analogy fits the land issue, as an Israelite did not strictly own the land but its fruitfulness; the land itself belonged to Yahweh. Similarly, in marriage the husband have exclusive rights to her sexuality and fertility and certainly children born in wedlock, these were regarded as his property. It denotes the exclusiveness of the marriage bond in respect of the husband’s sole claim to his wife’s sexuality and fertility (1885).

Conclusion

Modern rural communities are less rooted in the land. This is the case because there are fewer farming jobs and ownership does not always imply working the land. There
has been a shift in the rural population profile, with more suburban people and more double home owners in the countryside. There are huge “Naboth” (1Kings:21) issues for farming families. They are often sitting on a fortune in land, but can’t make a living out of it. Farmer’s children often do not want to farm, but there are emotional implications in selling up – a duty to distant ancestors.

  • How do we reconnect with the land in a realistic way for our modern communities?
  • How do urban people respond to the theology of the land in their urban communities?
  • How do you build communities who lose local services and new rural people who have a privatised concept of rural life?
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Thematic Development of a Theology of Care in the Context of HIV and AIDS

“The researcher proposes the use of a spiritual model in dealing with PLWH in the Plateau Mission Hospital because this will help to address some of the unresolved theological issues that come to the fore when addressing matters concerning the health and illness of people living with HIV and AIDS. The researcher does this with acute awareness of the importance of integrating other approaches in the care and support of PLWH. For a holistic approach to be effected, the social development, medical, psychological and holistic systemic approaches to care must be considered. The holistic systemic approach used by the biomedical personnel and other caregivers should regard the person as a relational and social being acting within a cultural context. On the other hand, the biomedical model serves us with accurate diagnoses and sophisticated methods of treatment within which modern medicine is practiced. Similarly, the psychosocial model considers the influence of the social environment not only to the challenges that PLWH face, but also on the care they should receive. However, research has shown that there is an increasing need for holistic care in health care systems. This calls for the inclusion of spirituality within the developing bio-psycho-social approaches in addressing health and illness, particularly for people living with HIV and AIDS, in order for them to attain holistic healing” (SuneTd,

Maters’ Dissertation).

” The philosophical framework is found in an integration of two paradigms, namely social-constructionism and postfoundation-alism. The article concludes with a research case study from the HIV/AIDS context. Practical theological research is not only about description and interpretation of experiences, but it is also about deconstruction and emancipation. The bold move should be made to allow all the different stories of the research to develop into a new story of understanding that transcends the local community. According to the narrative approach, this will not happen on the basis of structured and rigid methods, through which stories are analysed and interpreted. It rather happens on the basis of a holistic understanding and as a social-constructionist process to which all the co-researchers are invited and in which they are engaged in the creation of new meaning” (Muller, J.)

“The narrative or social-constructionist approach on the contrary forces us to firstly listen to the stories of people struggling in real situations, not merely to a description of a general context, but to be confronted with a specific and concrete situation. This approach to practical theology, although also hermeneutical in nature, is more reflexive in its approach and method. It takes the circular movement of practice-theory-practice
seriously and brings it into operation. Practical theology, according to this approach, indeed becomes part of “doing theology” and takes the social- constructions, within actual contexts, seriously. The practical theologian in this case, is not so much concerned with abstractions and generalisations but rather with the detail of a particular person’s story” (Muller, J)

” The following quote from Pattison (in Willows, D & Swinton, J (eds) 2000:42) gives expression to this approach to practical theology:

Pastoral theology (practical theology – JM) at its best, like cultural anthropology, is probably a small scale enterprise, which pays minute attention to particular situations and is more remarkable “for the delicacy of its distinctions not the sweep of its abstractions” (Geertz 1991, p 25). It needs to pay minute attention to seeing and understanding a particular phenomenon and to listen before moving into carefully chosen words. Contextually and situationally sensitive HTS 60(1&2) 2004 295HIV/AIDS, narrative practical theology pastoral theologies will be modest in their claims and assertions. This is a welcome feature amidst the past grandiosity of many theological enterprises which have sought to control and order the world rather than to understand it and to set particular individuals and communities free.” (In Muller, J)

” This is why I am not writing a practical theology with reference to HIV/AIDS, but a practical theology, developed out of HIV/AIDS. It is the particularity of a practical theology that gives it life” (Muller, J)

“In practicing this kind of practical theology, I feel connected to both the paradigms of postfoundationalist theology and that of social-constructionism. These two paradigms developed in different fields, both aiming at the same objective though: a third way, a way out of being stuck in modernistic or foundationalist (fundamentalist) science and theology on the one hand, and the fatalism of some post modernistic approaches, on the other” (Muller,

J).

“Although HIV/Aids is a worldwide phenomenon, the challenges they pose are always related to the particularity of peoples, cultures and spiritual traditions as well as the broader political and economic contexts that impact on behaviours, attitudes and social values. Here the author presents a practical and prophetic theological response to the challenges of HIV/Aids in Papua New Guinea—which have reached epidemic proportions. In particular, he explores how healing must not only be concerned with those who suffer the disease but needs to include the healing of communities, churches, gender relationships and the wider society. [Editor]” (Phillip Gibbs)

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Theological Foundations For Democracy

THEOLOGICAL FOUNDATIONS FOR DEMOCRACY

The Rev Herbert Moyo

University of KwaZulu-Natal – School of Religion and Theology

Background

Politics affects and defines the life conditions of all citizens in a given State. Since the church takes care of the life of people also questions of politics belong to the responsibility of the church. Individual Christians have to relate to politics, and they raise the questions to the church on how they should relate to the state authorities and contribute to the political sphere and the church should give orientation and guidelines. There is also the issue of political casualties, which the church is taking care of such as victims of political violence, victims of poor delivery of services, corruption and tribalism. The church should not only take care of the casualties it should be proactive to avoid the casualties. For example in the story of the good Samaritan, if people continued to be robbed and beaten on the Road to Jericho, it will be wise to set up a hospital along the road for victims but it will even be wiser to stop the robbers from victimising travellers. For the church to be meaningfully involved there is need for the church to give sound theological and biblical foundations for her actions. (Luther’s theology is not systematic theology, it is generally biblical exegesis and as a good Lutheran what I call theology might be to some mere biblical exegesis)

Churches, cannot remain indifferent in Southern Africa where there is growing abuse of human rights, corruption, non-delivery of services, use of state institutions for personal gains, tribalism, pseudo democracies, growing unemployment and retrenchments and life presidency are threatening constitutional democracy. Good examples are Zimbabwe and Kenya. Despite the above misdemeanours many African governments base their legitimacy to govern on the liberation struggle for colonial independence. The liberation struggle is over and now the former liberators are the rulers and that creates new problems. This is especially important when governments coming out of liberation struggle, change and become autocratic but are still claiming authority by appealing to their contribution to the liberation of the people. The church in many African so called independent states is saw the oppressor in terms of skin colour and now they are not able to fight oppressors of their on skin colour. Some churches such as the Lutheran church claim neutrality, which is a fallacy because neutrality supports the status quo.

In instances where the churches raise political questions the State appeals to the Two Kingdoms Doctrine and Romans 13:1-7.

Bishop Ambrose Moyo in a foreword to the book by Ross: Gospel Ferment in Malawi: Theological Essays says: “…the church in Africa may be the only sign of hope in the
midst of all the suffering, extreme violations of human rights, and genocides…What contribution can the Christian churches make towards social justice and participatory democracy?” (1995:3-4).

What is the theological basis for the church’s support for a constitutional democracy? How should the church relate to the state in a constitutional democracy especially where temporal authority becomes a villain that consumes the very people it is supposed to protect? To answer this there is need to answer the following sub-questions:

What are the connections between Christian theology and constitutional democracy? How does Christian theology justify its choice of democracy over other forms of governance?

The major problem is the gap between democracy and theology:

The bible (the basis for my theology) is an ancient document[1]

  • From 2000 BCE to 200CE
  • Period of Emperors and kings
  • God is seen to bless those in power

Democracy is a modern concept

  • Roots are in Greco-Roman period
  • Emerges with the French and American revolutions
  • Belief in God is not necessary to make it work

Can we relate theology and democracy?

THEOLOGY
DEMOCRACY .Politics

.Political parties .Parliament .Presidents .Elections .Human rights

.God .Jesus

.Holy Spirit .The Church

.Faith .Bible

The word ‘democracy’ does not appear in the bible

  • The concept of democracy did not receive much attention from theologians for 1500years
  • The practice of democracy is not found in many churches

How do we get from theology to democracy?

We need something in between theology and democracy to help us to create a relationship. We have find Values, Middle Axioms and principles that can create a relationship between theology and the inner logics of a constitutional democracy.

  1. If the following Christian values/principles:
    • Responsible government
    • Human value
    • Dialogue
    • Sin
    • Justice
    • Freedom
    • Peace
    • Truth

are critically analysed alongside the inner logics of democracy they can be used as a bridge or middle axioms between theology and democracy.

  • Responsible government

Government is given by God. Responsible government should be accountable to God and God’s people. It holds us together to protect the weak and restrain the strong as well as provision of s common vision and effort. We are also commanded to pray for and respect political authority. This where governments despite abuses of human rights appeal to Romans 13:1-7. Romans 13:1-7 instructs Christians to obey temporal authority because it is instituted by God, when should I obey even if I do not agree and when should I disobey? If temporal authority becomes a villain that consumes the very people it is supposed to protect, for how long should the church continue to obey as suggested in Romans 13:1-7? Who is authority in a constitutional democracy?(The president, the people, the judiciary, the executive or the constitution.)

Human value

Human beings are created in the image of God, and filled with God’s breath with gifts and talents. Jesus died for each and every human being, God knows each person’s name and the heirs on their head. It is only in a constitutional democracy where government is obliged to respect the value of each person and create conditions in which they flourish as equals with others.

Dialogue

God communicates with humans and human beings communicate with one another. We have opinions, creative ideas and emotions. We find fulfilment in using our gifts and talents in society, we want to participate in the direction of our society by having our say. According to Steve de Gruchy: “A key way in which Freire describes dehumanisation is the experience of being an object in the history of the oppressor. The goal of humanisation is the task of becoming a subject in our own story. This affirmation of people as subjects is rooted in the Biblical understanding of people being made in the
image of God.”[2] Through dialogue in the political discourse we become subjects of our own destine. This can be achieved through a constitutional democracy. Dialogue therefore means that the form of government must listen to what people are saying, and provide opportunities fro them to have their opinion taken seriously.

Sin

For all the good things about us we still struggle with sin. Everyone struggles with sin-the rich and the poor, strong and weak, educated and non-educated. Corruption, manipulation and delusion are well known forms of sin in society especially among the rich and powerful. The effects of the sins of the powerful are much greater on society. Sin therefore means that the form of government must recognise that no group of people is perfect, and therefore ensure that the rulers are held accountable. Constitutional democracy demands accountability at all levels of society.

Justice

God is a God of justice. God desires justice to be done to the poor and the weak. Justice involves respect for each community and each person. Justice is blind to race, sex, religion, age, political opinions etc. Government must be just to all its citizens and protect all of them from injustice.

Freedom

God desires and works for the freedom of all who are not free. Human beings need freedom in which they can use their gifts and talents. In God we are free from, but also free for participating in God’s work. Constitutional democracy can provide for freedom in which human life and livelihood can flourish.

Truth

God is a God of truth. God deals truthfully with us and desires that we deal truthfully with one another. Untruth, or lying, is the basis of much suffering and injustice. Ideology is when untruth is believed as the truth.

Peace

Gunter Krusche in Lutheran Identity and responsibility in and for the world argues that the church has an earthly responsibility for a peaceful world order because it is the symbol of the peace of God.

Concluding remarks

The bible does not teach us directly about democracy but the above values tell us what the best form of government should be. This points to the direction of democracy as system of government that takes the above values and principles seriously.

Theologically we need to promote the key values on which democracy depends. Hold our leaders accountable on these values, teach the values to others and possibly practice these values and principles in our churches.

We looked at 8 core Christian values that contribute to our understanding of governance.

  • Responsible government
  • Human value
  • Dialogue
  • Sin
  • Justice
  • Freedom
  • Peace
    • Truth Responsible government should
      • Be accountable to God and God’s people
      • Respect the value of each person, and create conditions in which they can flourish
      • Listen to what people are saying, and provide opportunities for them to have their opinion taken seriously
      • Recognise that no group of people is perfect, and therefore ensure that rulers are held accountable
      • Itself be just towards all its citizens, and should protect all against injustice
      • Enhance the ability for people to discover, share and hear the truth
    • Provide for freedom in which human life and livelihood can flourish.

When we affirm democracy in this way, we remind ourselves that this does not mean only one model of democracy can be supported by Christians, such as American democracy, European democracy etc. All forms of democracy are accountable to the 8 key values.

In this way we can contribute to building a democratic society.

Grace and peace Rev H Moyo

[1] Adopted from a presentation by Prof Steve de Gruchy in 2004 in a Theology and Democracy workshop at Epworth school in Pietermaritzburg.

[2] De Gruchy, S. 2001. Critically analyse, from a Christian perspective, Freire’s understanding of the process of humanisation. http://hs.unp.ac.za Accessed on 02/03/04.

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Theological Aspects of HIV and AIDS in the Context of Human Sexuality

Theological Aspects of HIV and AIDS in the Context of Human Sexuality, Use of Condoms and Prevention: An Ethical Reflection – A Prolegomenon

26 January 2009

Dr M L Ngoetjana

Introduction: Please let us theologise. Somehow, Christian theology that is worth the label must refer to Biblical texts. Otherwise we confine systematic theology to mere philosophizing and reduction of faith is disregard of the Bible. We need to be encouraged that there is a backing from other human disciplines which testify to the unfathomable wisdom and foreknowledge sincerely found in Christian scriptures. This means that theology is not a lone voice of irrational people who believe without reason and scientific evidence as our world requires today. This rudimentary paper attempts to sincerely support the scriptures on health which have been scientifically authenticated.

Executive Summary: The challenge of HIV and AIDS, in inference is related to the texts of disease and healing in the scriptures. HIV and AIDS is not the virus nor the syndrome found in the scriptures. HIV and AIDS is our modern challenge. We can only relate the virus and the syndrome in inference to the scriptures. But the principles of health and healing found in the scriptures hold and are relevant to both our contextual theologisation and evidential findings of empirical scientific inquiry. In summary, clean living, clean behaviour, clean environment, clean water, clean food, clean sex, clean relationships, clean hands, clean clothes an clean habits are an answer to the combat of HIV and AIDS.

Ancient Cultures, Prevention, Sex and Medicine

”Most ancient cultures had extensive lists of medicines and procedures for treating disease. The health laws that God gave to Moses, however, did not focus on treating disease, but instead focused on preventing disease and promoting health! This is why medical historian Ralph Major describes Moses as “the greatest sanitary engineer that the world has ever seen” because “Moses recognized the great principle that the prevention of disease is usually simpler and invariably more far reaching than the cure of disease… His doctrines [in the book of Leviticus] could be summed up by the objects of sanitation today—pure food, pure water, pure air, pure bodies and pure dwellings” (A History of Medicine, vol. 1, pp. 62–64)”.

“The biblical health laws are timeless! They were valid in the days of Moses, and they are just as valid—and applicable—today. The Bible reveals that when Jesus Christ returns to establish the Kingdom of God on this earth, the laws of God will be proclaimed to the world from Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:2–4). As human beings around the globe learn to live by these simple yet fundamentally important laws, their health will improve—and the plague of disease will begin to disappear (Isaiah 35:5–7). This is part of the gospel! You can play a vital role in this incredible transformation (Isaiah 30:20–21)—if you learn the value of applying these biblical health laws in your own life today!”

Faced with HIV and AIDS is another challenge than communicable diseases of the Biblical times. The virus is sophisticated, complex, dynamic, ever changing, myriad, regional, perplexing, changing, and smart. The virus uses the very body defenses, emulates it, copies it and unfortunately works against it. The challenge confronts us with incisive ethical dilemmas. Should like it was in Biblical times confine people living with HIV and AIDS in seclude and separate places? Did not the seclusion of people living with dreaded Biblical diseases help contain the incurable diseases of the Biblical times. If we were to apply the Bible literally, we should be having seclusion areas for people living with HIV and AIDS. Will that be ethically acceptable?

Granted, it is convincing that laws of quarantine – of keeping people locked in separate camps, like those with Extreme Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (XDR), should not be imposed on people living with HIV and AIDS, but why?

Laws of Quarantine/ Keeping People Secluded

“[Besides and including Biblical times a] plague which prevailed in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries in Europe was leprosy. England, Sweden, Iceland and Norway showed alarming gains in the numbers of leprosy cases in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. But when the authorities began to institute the quarantine, in the form of segregation of leprosy cases, the plague was again brought under control.

In Norway rigid national quarantine was introduced in 1856 because of the widespread severity of leprosy. “Ninety years later the health authorities were able to report that Norway had only five percent of the number of lepers that were there before segregation. Similarly favorable reports come to us from Finland and Sweden, where enforced segregation of lepers had also been instituted,” writes D.T. Atkinson (Magic, Myth and Medicine, p. 64)”.

Shall we propose the same seclusion legislation for the prevention of the virus and the syndrome? Where did these quarantine laws come from? This same author tells us, “It is most singular that a description of leprosy, as found in the thirteenth chapter of Leviticus, could have been written so long before our time. It is to be noticed that such an accurate description of this dread malady as it appears in the Biblical narrative is not to be found in the literature of any nation for the next seventeen hundred years” (ibid; p. 25-26).

Astounding, amazing, astonishing, and confounding the case is. Why should it be, since

the Bible was divinely inspired by God who created mankind and knows and has prescribed how to deal with incurable diseases? Why can’t we simply follow what God has approved? For instance, the solution for leprosy was to seclude the infected? Why can’t seclude the HIV and AIDS infected? Why do we do it with XTB and not with HIV infected people? Is it because we are now living in a culture of relativism, human rights, democracy, and freedom? Is it because issues depend on how you look at them, that humans must not be confined or secluded, and that the majority determines the will of the people?

Isn’t it that the majority say people living with HIV must live among us, and they must not be secluded. Is it not argued that it is unethical to discriminate against people infected with HIV. So what about those who are affected by HIV and AIDS? Must we seclude them. So, let it be. We must all, each one of us be secluded. Ultimately not a single one of us must move. Impossible!

Speaking of the Biblical laws regarding leprosy, Atkinson states: “The laws of health laid down in Leviticus are the BASIS OF MODERN SANITARY SCIENCE. Moses ordered that cases of leprosy should be segregated, that dwellings from which infected Jews had gone should be inspected before again being occupied, and that persons recovering from contagious disease were not to be allowed to go abroad until examined. The modern quarantine harks back to these sanitary regulations of the Old Testament” (p. 58).

Similarly, Arturo Castiglioni in A History of Medicine tells us, “The laws against leprosy in Leviticus 13 may be regarded as the first model of a sanitary legislation” (p. 71)” (Dankenbring, 1972 ). In simple terms, let all of us without secluding other, live positively in the context of HIV and AIDS. Let all of us know our status and live positively in the world of HIV and AIDS.

The Bible Versus Venereal Disease

“The fastest spreading contagious disease in the Western world today is venereal disease. In the United States, someone contracts venereal disease every 12 seconds! Dr. Geoffrey Simmons of the Los Angeles County Health Department predict[ed] that by 1975 the present two million annual cases of V.D. in the United States will rise to five million. But why? What is the cause?

Medical authorities frankly admit that V.D. is spread through sexual contact. Homosexuals account for nearly one fifth of the reported cases! As long as there is promiscuity, free sex, and homosexuality, there is bound to be venereal disease”.

“But the solution to this terrible worldwide curse is as simple as it is ancient: “Shun immorality! Any other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body” (I Cor. 6:18, Moffatt translation).

What does the Bible say will happen to those who devote themselves to sexual vice, who dishonour their own bodies? God says: “… their women have exchanged the natural function of sex for what is unnatural, and in the same way the males have abandoned the natural use of women and flamed out in lust for one another, men perpetrating shameless acts with their own sex and getting in their own persons the due recompense of their perversity” (Rom. 1:26-27, Moffatt).

The growing incidence of this ancient plague speaks eloquently that the solution is prevention! Thousands of years ago the Biblical standards of morality safeguarded against this plague which blights the lives of as yet unborn generations. There is no safe, reliable “cure” for this disease — except prevention. Why do millions insist on hiding their eyes from this obvious truth?

When God created mankind He said, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). If this one basic, scriptural principle were obeyed, today, the world would see the end of venereal disease. It would be totally stamped out!

The Bible, clearly, is a remarkable book. Its various portions, written from 4,000 to 2,000 years ago, speak authoritatively regarding health and disease prevention. The Bible not only gave laws of sanitation and hygiene thousands of years before the world in general stumbled across those laws by “accident,” but it also gave other fundamental principles of prevention of disease which the world still refuses to face!”

The Great Paradox

“Paradoxically, the world has come to acknowledge many of the health principles outlined in the Bible, but still refuses to acknowledge the Source. When will men cease to overlook the Source Book for good health? God’s laws were designed to PREVENT illness — to maintain vibrant good health. But the world only gives lip service to them and ignores their source. What a paradox!

It is time we admitted that thousands of years ago when pagan, Gentile nations — steeped in idolatry and superstition — were propounding all kinds of weird remedies and quack cures for illness, there was a nation free from idolatrous superstition, which was taught principles of health and disease prevention which are still valid today! What does this momentous fact mean? Just this: The Bible is no mere book of men — its authorship is divine! Biblical health laws prove — along with the proofs of Biblical prophecy — that the Bible was divinely inspired by the Eternal God!

There is a Creator God. He “manufactured” the human race. And He wrote an “Instruction Book” that goes along with His product, and tells how it is best operated. Just as any automobile manufacturer sends an instruction book along with each new automobile, so God gave us an Instruction Book — the Bible — which tells us how to live, and how to have robust, radiant health and vitality!

There is a Creator God. He “manufactured” the human race. And He wrote an “Instruction Book” that goes along with His product, and tells how it is best operated. Just as any automobile manufacturer sends an instruction book along with each new automobile, so God gave us an Instruction Book — the Bible — which tells us how to live, and how to have robust, radiant health and vitality! The Bible is the foundation of all knowledge, including the knowledge of health. If society will build on its fundamental precepts wisely and soundly, we can avoid the tragedy of increasing sickness and disease. We can begin to eliminate the terrible scourges of modern disease. Biblical laws are the keys to abundant health. They were devised for your protection and well-being. But if you break them, they will break you. Will you begin to obey those laws? Your future health — physically, mentally and emotionally — will depend in large measure on how you answer that question!”

Dialogue, Stigma and HIV Prevention: Engaging the Notion of Dialogue

It is often useful to contrast Dialogue with a more familiar form of communication, discussion. Discussion has the same Greek root as percussion and concussion, discus, meaning to throw, fragment, shatter. David Bohm likened discussion to an activity where we throw our opinions back and forth in an attempt to convince each other of the rightness of a particular point of view. In this process, the whole view is often fragmented and shattered into many pieces. The intentions of dialogue and discussion are quite different and are contrasted below.

Bible, Evil and Disease

The notion of the problem of disease correlates with the problem of evil.

AIDS in a skolopsychichal perspective (a thorn in the flesh) – the sufficiency of God’s grace

AIDS and manifestation of God’s Glory (gloriae reveletus)

On the Condom

Condom – Pleasure – Infection – aim not reached

Condom – legal and illegal use

Condom and carnal impulses – extra marital

Condom and Palliative/ soothing nature of human sexual passion

Interpretation of the Gospel in AIDS Perspective

Seeking help coming from behind and at night (Mk 5: 25 – 34, Jn. 3: 1 – 13)


References

Speicer S and J. Wilson. 2007. Exploring Solutions: How to Talk About HIV Prevention in the Church. Switzerland: Ecumenical Alliance.

Dankenbring, William F. 1972. Bible Laws — The Foundation of Good Health

Edelston, K. 1988. Countdown to Doomsday: AIDS. Johannesburg: Media House Publications

Toya, Jeran-Samuel, H. AIDS: African Perspective