Going From Good To Awesome!

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Dear Sheepish Shulamite subscribers,

I haven’t blogged here in a while because at the beginning of this year I migrated to a different part of the blogosphere. The blog is called Mukoko and it’s where I’m using my voice these days. Check it out here: http://realmukoko.wordpress.com/

For a while I tried to run two blogs at the same time but I’ve finally decided to go all in! Mukoko is a blog about relationships, faith, sexuality and culture and we’ve already had some great conversations.

I’m really excited to connect with you more so please subscribe! Subscribers will also get access to some exclusive content, freebies and

If you liked this blog then you’ll enjoy Mukoko, have a quick looksy and tell me what you think. Here’s the link again: http://realmukoko.wordpress.com/

Do you have any comments or questions? Email Zola at realmukoko[at]gmail[dot]com

Law & Religion :: How Chris Roper’s Article “Christianity is the enemy of Christianity” Completely Misses the Mark

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Should religion influence the law in South Africa?

In a recent speech by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng his answer was yes, religion should influence law. In response, Chris Roper wrote a piece titled "Christianity is the enemy of Christianity" for the Mail and Guardian religion should not influence law.

In this post I consider some of the issues that Roper raises. My conclusion is that his argument against religion influencing law is simplistic and misses the mark. I advocate a more balanced approach.

Which Christianity is going to turn up?

Ah, Christianity. The religion that helped bring you, inter alia, slavery, colonialism, apartheid, Rwandan genocide, Ugandan homophobia, and fellating choirboys. To be fair, it’s also the religion that helped bring you the end of slavery, the downfall of apartheid, the ongoing battle against colonialism, priests dying bravely while fighting injustice, countless humanitarian interventions in disaster areas…”

As a basis for his argument that Christianity is an enemy of democracy, Roper asserts that historically,Christianity has been used as a justification for unjust political systems, violence and hatred. He highlights the fact that Christianity has had a positive influence on history too. His point is that history teaches us the benefits of religion and warns us of the dangers. Essentially, his point here is that the problem with allowing religion to influence South African law is that we cannot accurately answer the question “which Christianity is going to turn up?”

He makes a powerful point but asks the wrong question. The question we should be asking here is, “Which Christian will turn up?” Christian beliefs or Christian morality are not the problem, history tells of the positive influence Christ’s teachings have had. The problem is their misapplication by evil people and erring Christians. It is the problem that every belief system faces – the corrupt nature of human beings. We can never know which Christian will show up- the abolitionist that was William Wilberforce or the slave owning “Christians” who would claim Christ’s name but bear no resemblance to him.

Whose morality system will win out?

“If the chief justice has doubts about the equivalence of the morality of various religions, we already have the seeds of conflict in his convergence of religion and law. Whose morality system will win out?”

In his speech, the chief justice states that laws that are influenced by a dominant faith can sometimes result in “the extinction of smaller religions.” The point that Roper makes is that in a country like South Africa where there are different religions with distinct ideas about morality, any law which is influenced by one religion’s idea or morality is in danger of conflicting with another. In that situation, he asks the question: which one will win out?

My answer to that question is: the right morality should win out. By “right” I’m not talking about the ideas of morality that appeal to people of a particular political persuasion. What I refer to is morality that transcends legislation or rules of society.

We cannot avoid a conflict between different ideas of morality. Disagreements about what is morally good abound, even amongst those who consider themselves non-religious. In spite of this, we must pursue a standard of morality, even the Constitution acknowledges this. Equality is to be desired over inequality; dignity over indignity; and freedom over slavery.

It is no mistake that the moral philosophy upon which the constitutional principles of equality, dignity and freedom find their origin in Christian thought. Starting with Genesis, embodied in the Middle Eastern Christ, taking root in the minds of Western thinkers and then us.

Missing the mark

“When Chief Justice Mogoeng presided over Jacob Zuma’s inauguration last Saturday, did he look at his “What Would Jacob Do?” bracelet and wonder at all how the moral compass of Zuma’s avowed Christianity led us to the excesses of Nkandla?…All I can think of is Mark 12:17, “Render to Zuma the things that are Zuma’s and to the Gupta’s the things that are the Guptas.”
Roper’s argument is that the true nature of all religions is that they “always eventually devolve into their worst possible manifestations”.

Religion, like any other political system (Marxism, fascism, etc.) springs up at first and eventually degenerates into a corrupt, murderous and self-serving monster. He argues that “secularism is designed to protect religious freedom, whereas religion is designed to oppress other religions” and admits later that these are "gross oversimplifications".

Naturally, he could not be expected to bring every fact and detail surrounding the subject of the role of religion in law-making. The problem with Roper’s article is that it results in a distorted conclusion.

Firstly, he fails to identify the real problem or, in his words, “the enemy” – the enemy here is fallen or corrupt people, not religion.

Secondly, and linked to this, his argument breaks one of the three laws of logic –the law of non-contradiction . Here’s what I mean:

The basis of Roper’s argument is the statement “Christianity is the enemy”. If it is true, it cannot be false also.

Christianity cannot be the enemy and the friend at the same time; this is what the law of non-contradiction says. At the beginning of the article, he provides historical evidence for his argument – slavery, colonialism, and apartheid- all of these proof of enemy that is Christianity. In the same breath, he says the opposite – the end of slavery, colonialism and apartheid – proof of the friend that is Christianity. It is illogical – surely both cannot be true?

Roper’s statement fails this test of logic because it is a “gross oversimplification”. He can learn a thing or two from Christ’s words in Mark 12:17 which he quotes tongue-in-cheek. Timothy Keller in his talk “Arguing about Politics” discusses Christ’s answer to a question about whether it was religiously lawful to obey the laws of the state regarding taxes:

“He doesn’t do what they ask him to do, which is to give a nice, simple answer… When He’s asked a question about [a Christian’s] relationship to the state, when He’s asked a question about our relationship to politics, he doesn’t give a simple yes or no answer… It’s a balanced answer, it’s a nuanced answer."

Oversimplifying the relationship between religion and law is a big mistake. This is how Roper misses the mark. Like Christ did, we need to take a balanced approach to this question. Christianity is not the enemy. The enemy is sin which lives in people, enemy that was vanquished by Christ’s death on the cross.

Should religion influence law? What do you think?

Thanks for reading.

Shula

You can read the original article by Chris Roper "Christianity is the enemy of Christianity."

I wrote this article with the help of people of some very smart people:

T Keller, “Arguing About Politics” available at http://sermons2.redeemer.com/sermons/arguing-about-politics

JP Moreland “What Are the Three Laws of Logic?” Apologetics Study Bible at 1854.

RD Moore “What Does the Bible Say about Human Beings?” Apologetics Study Bible at 795.

AJ Schmidt “Has Christianity Had a Bad Influence on History?” Apologetics Study Bible at 274

Tempted to Touch :: To what extent are women to blame for men’s lust issues?

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Let’s set the scene: A woman walks into a bar in a tiny skirt and top that leave very little to the imagination. Every man’s eyes follow her across the room. Five seconds later, everyone goes back to what they were doing before. Except one guy. He approaches her table and offers to buy her a drink. She says she’s not interested. He says this is a bar and it’s just a drink. She thinks that’s a logical answer and agrees.

Hours later they’re walking out together when he thinks, Is one night worth it? He decides that it’s not. He asks if he can call her cab. She laughs, calling me names already? We’ve only just met. She assures him that she’ll be fine and walks away. He drives home, crawls into bed and kisses his wife goodnight.

• My question for you is: What if things had gone further? How much responsibility should the woman take for the temptation that this man was facing? Give it a think, revisualise the scene and make your case.

Here’s the most common argument I’ve heard. The woman is a temptress, look at the way she was dressed. She was clearly trying to lure a man. She was in bar on her own, maybe she was even a woman who walks the streets. No man can resist that kind of temptation, sex is too powerful.

You’ve probably heard this argument in another context, maybe in discussions about modesty, even debates about how to prevent rape. Women who dress inappropriately are the reason why men struggle with lust issues. Therefore if women dress appropriately, men’s lust issues will be eliminated. Had the woman come into the bar all covered up she wouldn’t have caught anyone’s attention, let alone a married man’s.

In fact, had she stayed home, all of this could have been averted.

In our scenario let’s assume that his lust was triggered by her dressing. There’s an important point to note here. His lust, her dressing. His lust. Her dressing. I’ll spell out my point clearly:

In this situation, he is responsible for his lust. She is responsible for her dressing NOT his lust.

Every woman knows what it feels like to be the object of a man’s lust. As soon as you begin to blossom into a woman, you notice the lascivious looks, they’re checking you out. Half the time I’m mystified at their fascination because I am looking pretty ordinary. Emphasis on ordinary, not pretty.

I want to take my cue from Jesus and talk to the men and not the women for once. Men, the root cause of your lust is not outward, it is inward:

"What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean’. For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery… All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean’." Mark 7: 20-23

There you have it. Is there room for talking about the way that women and men dress? Sure, but that’s not at issue here. The point is, any solution to a man’s (or any person’s) lust issues must begin with the inside, not the outside. Telling women to dress appropriately won’t deal with the problem, it just covers it up under high necklines and long skirts.

And hey, maybe if he’d stayed home, all of this could have been averted, wouldn’t you agree?

Thanks for reading.

Shula.

The #1 Reason Why You Are Undateable

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Occasionally, someone will send me a Facebook message with a question that’s been bugging them. Why do bad things happen to good people? Are traditional African beliefs incompatible with Christianity? How come I’mstillsingle?

That last question is the toughest one so far and people ask it in different ways but they’re all asking the same thing: is there something that I’m doing that makes me undateable? After suffering a painful rejection (unrequited love y’all) I asked myself that same question. And this post is the fruit of some observations I made about myself and my friends.

There are many reasons why people stay single for a really long time or for all of their lives, many of which are out if their control, I don’t dispute that. But in my process of deep introspection, peer reviewed academic research and statistical analysis, I’ve found that the number one thing that makes people undateable is

Over- spiritualising the process.

You could be doing it without even realising it; maybe you don’t see it because you surround yourself with people who are doing the same thing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a guy or girl tell me that they believe that God brought Eve to Adam so they’re waiting on God to do the same thing for them. Taken to its logical conclusion, we should all be wearing fig leaves and waiting for God to bring us clothes made of animal skin.

That’s just silly.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe that the dating process is a very spiritual thing. And I believe that God should be at the centre of all that we do, including dating. But just as no one expects God to deliver an Economics degree into their lap, knowledge of financial markets included; you shouldn’t expect God to drop off a boyfriend to your doorstep, with roses in hand.

Today, I want to bring the process down to earth and apply some practical wisdom to the process. I think there are things that we’re all doing that may be hindering our dateability, do you see yourself in any of these?

1. You’re a serial friendzoner.

This is you if you have a friend that your friends say is just perfect for you but you insist that he’s "just a friend" or "just a brother". Well, hello, great marriages are built on a foundation of friendship!

2. You can’t relate with the opposite sex.

If you’re a man and the closest you’ve come to relating to a woman is asking the till operator for cash back, then you’ve got serious problems. You need to start getting comfortable with relating to people of the opposite sex.

3. You’re waiting for Idris Elba/ Ryan Gosling to propose.

I used to have a ridiculous list of things that I applied when I was considering a guy. I was always weighing a guy up against the mental picture I had in my mind. Eventually, I had to let go of him because he didn’t exist and he never would.

4. You’re still nursing a broken heart.

If you’re still recovering from a break up or a rejection, you’re going to struggle to be open to pursuing a new relationship, probably because you’re not over the other guy or girl. Your focus should be on getting healing.

5. You have a fear of rejection.

This fear manifests in different ways. Maybe you project a false persona because you’re afraid that people won’t like the real you. Or you avoid getting close to people because it never ends well. At the root of this fear is an identity issue.

Do you agree with my observations? Which one of these have you identified in yourself? I know that I’ve only scratched the surface and probably brought up many questions. That’s great, leave a comment and we can start a conversation!

Thanks for reading.

Shula.

Dear South Africa, Rise and Take Your Place

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In 1994 South Africa held its first national election. Today, 20 years later, South Africa has the second biggest economy in Africa and yet it has been described as one of the most unequal societies in the world.

One of the values that the democratic state of South Africa is founded on is universal adult suffrage, the right to vote. Accompanying that right is a responsibility on every South African to elect representatives who are committed to establishing the kind of nation that the Constitution envisions.

Throughout scripture, we are reminded that leaders must rule justly and the demand that leaders be held accountable for how they exercise their power is both constitutional and biblical. But scripture goes even further, giving every person (not just the government) a mandate of social justice:

“If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed Then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.

The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.

You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.”

Isaiah 58: 9b-12

Today, my prayer is that the empowered would exercise their power not just to vote, but also to heal the sick, feed the hungry and clothe the naked. My hope is that South Africa would rise and take its place in our great continent.

God bless Africa,
Let her horn be lifted high.

Shula.

Girls, Guns & How To Solve the Problem of Dangerous Guys

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On Thursday 26 April this story about an alleged shooting that took place on the Rhodes University (RU) campus was reported. Two lives were lost in the deadly incident, including that of a 21 year old female RU student. 

Since the story broke many have expressed their views on Facebook and Twitter, most expressing shock and disbelief. I’ve also come across photos of the student and although I don’t know her personally, I recognise her face and I know many reading this do too (RU is a small enough university).

This incident highlights so many issues that have been raised recently. Particularly the issue of violence against women as well as the prevalence of gun violence in South Africa. All of these are conversations that must be had! In the midst of all the debate and commentary, I’ve been trying to figure out what the right response is. Have you been trying to make sense of it too?

Right now, my response is grief.

Because she was a daughter, a sister and a friend to someone
Because she had her whole future ahead of her
Because she is more than a criminal investigation or a trending topic.

Someone out there feels her absence in a non-intellectual, non-political way. And I just want to take a moment to honour that and this woman who is gone too soon.

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Photo taken in Grahamstown, South Africa

Shula.

10, 000 Reasons Why Celibacy is Sheer Agony

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Celibacy, by shooeygooey

People like Meagan Good (and the Jonas Brothers?) made celibacy look cool, but you and I both know that it is so hard! And here are the reasons why:

##1 People think you’re crazy.

University was a major eye-opener for me. Everyone was having sex. Picking someone up at the club for a one-night stand wasn’t weird and if you had a boyfriend then obviously you were sleeping together. When you reach a certain age, being the celibate one or the virgin seems crazy and weird. But hey, dead fish go with the flow.

#2 You’re constantly assaulted by images of almost-naked women and men.

There’s a TV show that’s dedicated to showing women in bikinis washing cars, even running marathon episodes- why?! On TV, online, on billboards, in magazines – sex sells and it is everywhere. Keeping your mind free of lustful thoughts is near impossible.

#3 You feel panicked at the thought of being within five metres of your crush.

Someone must invent a word for that thing where your eyes are involuntary drawn to someone who is across the room, especially when you’re pretending that you’re completely oblivious to their presence. It’s infuriating. Social contact with super-hot humans really does damage to your powers of resistance.

#4 You have regular occasional meltdowns in private.

You’re at a wedding. Your buddy and her beau just made their vows to each other – beautiful. You excuse yourself just after the best man’s speech to go to the bathroom. As you look down to wash your hands you see just how un-ringed your ring finger looks. And just like that something is in your eye and you’re sniveling and trying not to go into the ugly cry.

#5 Sermons about sexual sin feel like they’re targeted at you.

You know that you know that you know that there is no way that the Pastor could know the temptation that you’re facing right now. But why does it feel like he’s been looking straight at you the whole time and saying everything that you needed to hear? You can’t say ‘Amen’ lest you sound too interested in the topic, you can’t be too quiet cause that’s really suspicious.

#6 You’re the victim of “He wants to be a priest/ she wants to be a nun” jokes.

Chastity has it’s benefits – zero risk of: STIs, pregnancy or the kind of false intimacy that having sex with someone you’re not in a legal commitment with can create. But people have a way of making you feel like a fool (at best) or a religious fanatic (at worst) for choosing not have mind-blowingly awesome sex with the person you’re married to.

#7 Your spirit fails you at the thought that Armageddon could come before you’ve done the deed.

*Bloodcurdling scream*

#8 You worry that God will call you to a lifetime of singleness.

People keep their money in savings accounts because of the interest that they’ll earn from it. Suffer now, profit later. The one thing that makes celibacy bearable is the faith that one day, one sweet day, you’re going to hit the jackpot baby! And the one gift that you never want to find under the Christmas tree is the gift of singleness.

#9 You have to endure the embarrassment of people talking about their sex lives.

If you want to avoid getting caught in the crossfire, stay away from: elderly humans, drunk humans and humans at bachelor parties/ bridal showers. Things get awkward when people start sharing their battle stories and friendly tips. Note: Bridal showers and bachelor parties are particularly hazardous given the presence of elderly and drunk humans all in one place.

#10 You dread the thought of having to reveal your behind the scenes footage.

To stay celibate you need accountability partners. Accountability requires two things: courage and vulnerability. You need people’s help to keep you from compromising. It takes courage and vulnerability to confess your struggles to God and to people you trust. The fact that you know it’s good for doesn’t make it any easier.

These are 10 reasons and I bet you could add 9, 990 of your own. If celibacy is sheer agony then why do we punish ourselves? Why not just let go and let flow, no strings attached? I see here’s a mystery hidden in the answer to this question:

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed in us.

For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.

Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.” Romans 8: 18- 23

Bondage to Decay and Hope of Freedom

No doubt, choosing celibacy in obedience to God comes with its own form of “suffering” and “groaning”. But we need to begin to see it in its larger context and find our place in the spectacular tapestry of redemption that God is weaving. This verse reveals the tension between our bondage to decay and our hope of freedom and glory. Our physical bodies are corrupted and yet we subdue them in anticipation of the freedom that awaits us. 

As you wait in hope, remember this:

But hope that is seen is not hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not have, we wait for it patiently.” Romans 8: 24-25

Wait patiently.

Thanks for reading.



Shula

God Will Ruin Your Sex Life

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Urban ruins, Grahamstown, South Africa

Last week I spent a few days in Grahamstown, South Africa for my graduation. It was a weird experience because everything felt so familiar but unfamiliar at the same time. I found my way around easily but I still could not shake the feeling of ‘foreign- ness’. I was hit by waves of nostalgia and deeply buried memories were creeping up on me: that’s where I banked my money; here’s where I bought my stationery; and there’s where my friends and I ate on a shoestring budget. But even though I recognised those places well, they didn’t have the same significance to me, I had moved on.

Each one of us has a different story to tell about our sexual past. Some of us have moved on, others still struggle. When I talk to people about their sexual history most still have a lot of emotion attached to it, usually guilt or shame. People feel guilty when they have done wrong. On the other hand, shame is an emotion that is often attached to having a wrong done against you.

I want you to think of your heart as a city. Like any city it’s divided into different areas with buildings, streets and landmarks. Now that you have a clear picture of it, make your way through the streets until you get to the area where your sexuality lives. What have you built there and how do you feel about it? Maybe you look at this area of your city with guilt or perhaps you feel ashamed.

Depending on your sexual history you might feel happy, sad, excited, disappointed, indifferent or even thirsty (ah, the thirst). The reality is that most of us haven’t built this area of our cities well; it’s not a place that anyone would be proud of. Our buildings are a mess and we have no idea how to fix them. We want to forgive ourselves for the wrong that we’ve done. We want to forgive and let go of those who have done us wrong. We want to move past the past and not make the same mistakes.

We want to begin again but where do we start? It’s a process that’s summed up in 3 words: demolish, salvage, rebuild.

Demolish The reason why many of us struggle to move on from our sexual past is not because it’s too horrible to move past or because God’s punishing us for it – it is because we still hold onto the reminders of what we did or what happened. I call these things “shrines”.

A shrine is a place associated with a particular person or containing memorabilia of a particular person; or a place of worship.

For example: your letters from the ex that you slept with; the Facebook photos of that person that you’ve fantasized about; the deep dark secret that you keep and refuse to confront. But please note, it’s not the thing itself that’s the real problem, it’s the emotion that you attach to that thing or person and the memories associated with it.

Before you can truly move on the shrines in your life need to be identified and demolished.

Salvage
Sometimes when a building has been condemned and needs to be demolished, a salvaging team will come in and rescue parts of the building. These building materials are not destroyed because they are still useful. The purpose of salvaging is to prevent waste. In the process of moving on from your sexual past, you need to salvage every lesson that you can from your experience. Don’t waste it.

This is important, because until you are able to identify the lessons learnt, you are in constant danger of falling into that same trap. Salvage these lessons for you but also for the purpose of sharing them with other people. Incorporate them into your story, write them down and share them with those who need to hear them.

Use your experiences, especially the bad, as an opportunity for growth. Don’t waste them.

Rebuild
This is the best part, and probably the hardest. The demolition phase is hard at first but once the decision is made you start to feel quite euphoric. Here’s what I mean: you realise that your lust issues are partly caused by the fact that you’re always watching sexy movies so you go on a movie deleting spree and cancel your Dstv subscription. It feels good! By the time you get to the salvaging stage your fire’s burning out and you’re feeling a little disillusioned.

This is the stage where you’re most vulnerable, your walls are down, you don’t have your shrines for comfort and all the looking back has you feeling a little nostalgic. After we’ve gone through that whole process the temptation is to “rebuild those things that I tore down”(Galatians 2:18), falling back into our old patterns of sin. But here’s what you need to remember:

1 God does the demolishing, by His power and not yours.

“I’m about to destroy your sacred god and goddess shrines… Every place where you’ve lived, the towns will be torn down and the pagan shrines demolished.” Ezekiel 6: 6-7 (MSG)

2 God does the salvaging; He will be your comfort and your strength.

“I, God, will comfort Zion, comfort all her mounds of ruins. I’ll transform her dead ground into Eden, her moonscape into the garden of God, A place filled with exuberance and laughter.” Isaiah 51:3 (MSG)

3 God does the rebuilding.

“I’ll compassionately come in and rebuild homes. The town will be rebuilt on its old foundations; the mansions will be splendid again.”

Jeremiah 30:17-

God will ruin your sex life. He wants to demolish those things which shouldn’t be there. He wants to help you salvage the lessons you need to learn. And he wants to rebuild your sex life into something that’s beautiful and pure.

Thanks for reading.

Shula



 

TCT :: I have no idea what to call this post about masturbation

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By Malebo Moloto

“I’m not ashamed of the things I dream,

I find myself flirting with the verge of obscene,

Into the unknown, I will be bold,
I’m going to places I can be out of control.

And I don’t want to explain tonight, all the things I’ve tried to hide,

I shut myself from the world so I can draw the blinds and I’ll teach myself to fly.

I love myself, it’s not a sin, I can’t control what’s happening.

Cause I just discovered imagination is taking over, another day without a lover,

The more I come to understand the touch of my hand…”

The touch of my hand….that what Britney Spears coons over a beat! Masturbation!! Masturbation!! Masturbation!!! What is it about that word that makes me giggle like a school girl? Most people aren’t willing to even say the word, much less have a discussion about it. But today, we are going to talk about this taboo topic no matter how much we are embarrassed, giggly or outright grossed out. Let’s talk about it and open the platform for healthy dialogue on a topic that everyone, yes everyone, wants to know about.

I’m hoping that in our conversation will lead to us having a clearer understanding of the role, or lack thereof, of masturbation in the life of Christian. I hope that Scripture will not be used out of context or become victim to personal interpretation, but that it will be a definitive and powerful source of truth. Now the Bible does not discuss masturbation, as in nowhere in the Bible is the word mentioned or even forbidden, so the natural starting point would be to define what masturbation really is. In laymen terms, it’s the act of pleasuring yourself sexually either with “the touch of your hand” or other…um, electronic methods (stay with me, I’m giggling as I write this too) and other ways that lead to sexual release in any way. Now worldly wisdom tells us that masturbation is a healthy way of life, as a single guy or girl, and even in marriage. It is encouraged as a way of self-exploration, self-love, self-knowledge, if you will.

For me, the term “healthy sexuality” presupposes that we have a good idea of what our sexuality is and does, and I would argue that, for the most part, both our culture and church have fairly distorted models of what sexuality is supposed to look like. Part of the reason that we struggle with the question of masturbation is because we have trouble living in the tension of our desires. It’s easier to fall back into the black and white rules that we’re often offered as answers to our struggles instead of doing the hard work of encountering our desires and longing for relationship with God.

For the most part, we’ve been given two sets of rules to follow when it comes to our sexuality: it’s either we respond to it like an appetite, like hunger, we feed it; or to avoid it completely or as something to be expressed only in covenanted conjugal relationships.

This false dichotomy and both of these paradigms tend to end up in dysfunction. We either find ourselves at the mercy of our “needs” which leads to a low grade despair, or divorced from the life and pleasure that sexuality brings, living in a kind of discontented numbness.

What I’m getting at is that sexuality is not wrong, desire and sex where all created by God and it’s a beautiful thing. When thinking of masturbation, we have to think about it in terms of lust, since the word itself is not found in the Bible. Lust is a strong desire, and in this case, a strong sexual desire. It’s a strong overwhelming desire for something or someone.  It is self-indulgent as it seeks just to please self. Now since the Bible doesn’t mention that masturbation is a sin, that doesn’t mean it’s a hard and fast rule to completely say it is not wrong.

In my opinion (since that’s what this is), I am more interested in what gets someone to masturbate, more than the actual act. What’s of significance is what causes people to masturbate because we cannot simply provide a “yes” “no” answer without exploring the root of the issue.

For the manifestation in the physical, your thought life would have already taken you down the rabbit hole till it manifests itself physically.

Now, there is a school of thought that says masturbation can be done with a pure heart and mind and I respectfully disagree. Scripture tells us that, “you have heard that it was said, “Do not commit adultery.” But I tell you that anyone who has looked a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Jesus here tells us that before you even commit the act, by letting it take root in your mind, you have committed the sin. Therefore, it starts in our thought life, that is where it takes root and that leads to sin.

Also, masturbation is self-centred, as it seeks only to please self.

The issue is also the nature of masturbation. It’s all secretive and shameful and leaves people feeling guilt, even to the point of not being able to be in the presence of the Father because you have condemned yourself. The issue is that, for some people it can become a crutch in order to avoid healthy interactions and relationships with people, a way to shield them from being hurt.

For some people it is because they are lonely, bored etc. It is not as simple as saying it is about fulfilling desire and that there are no consequences because for a lot of people masturbation is an escape. It’s a way of dealing, without dealing……it comes down to wholeness.

The issue with masturbation or any other “thing” for that matter, is that it comes down to what is missing and what you think this “thing” will fill, what way do you think it will make you feel whole or complete.

So, I think that it goes beyond the act, because by already thinking it, you have already committed it. It goes to being pure in thought, heart and motive. We must make sure that our thought life aligns with the word of God and that we take hold of every thought that exalts itself above Him and make it submit to the word of God.

President George Q. Cannon, a former counsellor in the First Presidency of the Church, said:

“If a man be pure in thought, he will be correspondingly pure in action; but if he allows his mind to roam in unrestricted freedom through the various avenues of evil or to dwell unchecked upon the contemplation of forbidden indulgences, it will not be long before his feet tread those paths and his hand plucks the tempting but deceitful fruit.”

So may take on it is that masturbation is the manifestation of a sinful thought life.

What say you?

The Worst Thing That Colonialism Did Was To Cloud Our View of the Past

Standard

“No other continent has endured such an unspeakably bizarre combination of foreign thievery and foreign goodwill.” Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood

Bible

Have you ever wondered who invented glass? Somewhere in Mesopotamia, thousands of years before Christ, craftsmen made a little discovery that we now use for thousands of things. What I find most fascinating about glass is what my mother calls its “flowy state”. Although glass looks like a solid, it is in fact a liquid. It flows and changes.

History becomes much like glass when placed in human hands. It appears fixed and solid but in fact over time it evolves: a fact twisted here, a half lie printed there; the version that suits the majority and sometimes, the minority.

By now you have probably come to some conclusion about what this post is about and whose side I am taking. You might have realised that this is a follow up to my previous post The liberation struggle was about land.

I want you to imagine that you are sitting in a discussion about land reform in South Africa (specifically The Big Debate on eNCA), when someone stands up and declares:

“We are the rightful owners of this land!”

Give that person a body, clothes, a voice. Let’s play for points, who do you see?

Five points for you if you pictured a middle aged, khaki clad white man who describes himself as a Boer. For those of you who saw an angry black person with a foaming mouth and a raised fist, try again in the next round! I did a quick check to see if the speaker was Leon Schuster in disguise; the rightful owners of this land?! You must be joking!

A cloudy colonial past

“The worst thing that colonialism did was to cloud our view of our past.”

Barack Obama

Many of you would not be able to read this but for the invention of glass. Some really smart people out there (no one knows when or where for sure) figured out that glass could be used to refract light into a defective eye in such a way that it corrected and improved your ability to see objects from a distance.

The further we move away from a certain point in history, the blurrier it appears. But perception is not reality and the Boer man who stood up at that debate stands corrected by history’s testimony.

I struggle to remember what I read of my continent’s history from the textbook when I was 13 years old. I know a tiny bit about the events leading to the wars of independence and even less about what life was like before colonialism, before “the men without knees” came; referring to the trousers wearing strangers.

And even with my family history, I can only squint into the past and imagine. I see my great-great-great grandmother walking down a dusty road, first as a little girl at her mother’s side and then an old woman, with many grandchildren underfoot. And then my great-great grandfather on the day he was born, the pride of his parents, I wonder: where was he laid to rest?

I ask myself what dreams they had, what prayers they prayed, the hidden desires of their hearts. I construct kraals and walls and cities breached by enemy clans. I see kings and queens, festivals and funerals. But none of it is real, it is all imagined. We lost our cultural legacy to colonialism.

The reality is that that my grandparents live in a little house on the outskirts of the city, a tiny two bedroomed unit, with a toilet and bathroom outside. I wonder how gogo must have felt when she walked through the pretty houses in the white suburbs that she worked in. And whether she wondered how “Fambeki” (Van Beek?) came to own his farmland. Could she conceive of the a day when her children could venture beyond the boundaries of the township, past the curfew, into the suburbs and buy houses of their own?

Wrongs don’t make a right

In a recent discussion about land reform one of the issues that came up was the unlawful occupation of farms and the violation of private property rights. The argument was something along these lines:

My grandfather bought the land X years ago for a fair price. We hold the title deed to the land and have held and farmed on it it lawfully for years. The invasion of our farm was illegal and unfair.

Firstly, as a matter of principle, I believe that anyone who can prove ownership of land today is entitled to protection of their ownership rights. In practice what that means is that issues of compensation become relevant when a government is implementing a land reform policy. That is the just thing to do. But before you wave your title deed around, you must ask yourself the question:

In a country where most of the people are black, how did so much land end up in the hands of white people?

After 1994 in South Africa “so much” amounts to just under 90% of the land. Do bear in mind that white people made up about 10% of the population. Various legislation was passed by the government, restricting ownership of land by black people and allocating the majority of the land and the best of the land to white people. Today, given the failure of South Africa’s land reform programme, the majority of land remains white owned.

In Zimbabwe too, most of the land was in the hands of white people. Decades after independence, the land invasions began which became the catalyst for the land reform policy.

Obama was right when he said that colonialism clouded our view our past. Because white people fail to see that their position of privilege today is the fruit of a seed of injustice that was planted generations ago. And because black people have adopted the means of their colonisers, forgetting that racism is a powerful weapon; but one that will ultimately destroy anyone who raises it against another, no matter what colour.

Africa’s past is distant, but not too distant for us to have gained the right forget that the rightful owners of this land were forced out of it by a law written in a language that they did not understand and by a people that they did not know.

There are many wrongs that must still be made right, including the issue of land. God says that those who sow in tears will reap in joy (Psalm 126:5) and in my imagination I see every tear cried by Africa’s people being counted by God and kept in a multicoloured bottle made of glass.

Thanks for reading.
Shula

This is not an academic article, it is a collection of my opinions on certain issues. If you are looking for a credible academic source of African history or current issues, this is not it.