Examining the social, religious and cultural discourses on "maleness" and its possible influence on domestic violence in South Africa: A critique of some expressions of evangelical theology.
Owino, Kennedy Onyango.
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My journey in writing this dissertation has been both intellectually and emotionally challenging keeping in mind firstly that I am a male scholar (an “outsider”) responding to issues related to maleness, the abuse and oppression of women. Secondly, that I have a personal “sacred story” of the effects of abuse and violence in the home where I grew up; and thirdly, that am strongly a conservative evangelical by faith. However, these three aspects interplay in contributing to my motivation of seeking for a mended world especially for professing Christian women within the evangelical context. The focus of this study is: Examining the social, religious and cultural discourses on “maleness” and its possible influence on domestic violence in South Africa: A critique of some expressions of evangelical theology. The study argues that the predominant social, religious and cultural discourses portray some expressions of evangelical theology. It maintains that our distorted perceptions of God (how we have imagined God as “male”)—hence maleness, has influenced male paradigm of domination among partners. As a result, this has possibly influenced and contributed to domestic violence (DV), abuse and oppression of women within some evangelical context in South Africa. Hence, the prevalence of abuse and oppression of women in the evangelical context, the battle for the humanity and dignity of women as human beings created in God’s image and that female and male are equal in God are motivations that made me pursue this study. Having evaluated the theology and the inherited evangelical traditions, it becomes certain that transformative praxis that counteracts abusive and oppressive ideologies against women among evangelicals is imperative. To achieve this, the study has used an already published case study on interviews conducted among Christian women in the Full Gospel Church (FGC) in Phoenix, Durban. This has been used to facilitate theological observations. In seeking to answer its research question the dissertation examines and critiques the predominant discourses portrayed as some expressions of evangelical theology in chapters four, five and six as analysed from the said case study. The study achieves this purpose by engaging a theological reflection as its methodology through applying a “feminist theology of praxis” as its theoretical framework. Hence, the study proposes alternative evangelical theological discourses and resources for transformative praxis as its focus. The findings are tentative and require future empirical research. Arguing that “Theological statements contain as much truth as they deliver practically in transforming reality” (Sölle quoted in Ackermann 1996:42), the dissertation concludes with addressing the implications of this study by proposing practical ways for transforming men, aiming at deconstructing abusive and oppressive male paradigms.