Wolfram Kistner reminds us, “The society and religious or ideological community or cultural group which has contributed towards shaping the mind of the offender shares in the responsibility of the offence and is in need of repentance on its part and forgiveness on the part of God and the victims with the view of facilitating a process of healing and taking precautions against religion of the offence.”
While we all are offended by the derogatory comments of a senior member of the clergy and political fraternities we must pause and equally ask who makes up the community in which such offense thrives?
We warrant not just holding Mehana accountable but we must do so also of the community that embraces these comments regardless to whether that community protest being a formal or informal, institutional or ad-hoc, private or public.
On the most recent alleged comments attributed to the Methodist Cleric Vukile Charles Mehana who serves as ANC Chaplain General.
While the investigation continues we may assume whatsoever we want to. The subsequent response from both the Methodist Church leadership Bishop Siwa and the ANC joint acting spokesperson Zizi Kodwa confirms action predicated on the revelations. That action is concluded in this that Mehana is sanctioned not to officiate at the January 12 event.
We have known for an elongated period of time that oppression is evidently not only a black and white race thing, it’s also a gender issue, in which women remain the equivalent of the black identity in which a testosterone charged male fits the white identity. It manifests in naked patriarchy and misogyny. Let us then first deal with the claim of betrayal level against the one who made the private conversation public. Whatever the intentions, the moral obligation remains to be true to the cause for justice. That cause demands from all of us to be honest and call out injustice anywhere. If racism should not have secret privilege neither should sexism be allowed such privilege of privacy.
Proverbs 27:5 is still right for insisting “ a public rebuke is better than secret love.” In that spirit I am obligated to publicly say fellow Rev cleric Mehana is out of order not just for his remarks but for his beliefs on the subject matter.
He must explain to himself and to those he share a Methodist Tradition as to how he ever hermeneutically understood and homiletically expounded on the undeniable Text of Galatians 3:28 that reads “ There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ”.
The Methodist theologian clearly does not take the Holy Writ serious. He equally struggles to give content to the ANC’s notion of working for non-racial, non-sexist and democratic SA.
We must at all times strive to be consistent in what we hold up as our faith convictions. We dare not be silent to speak up against all forms of oppression. The church must lead in this regard less because of choice but because of obligation. It must then be our duty to help each other where we fall short in the proclamation of justice. For when we red card racism yet proves tolerant of sexism we have failed to appreciate how intertwined these two are and the damning and destructive these are in a history of humanity. In the words of Martin Luther King Jnr, “ injustice anywhere is still a threat to justice everywhere.”
Ours cannot be to uphold one while we publicly condemn the other. The emancipation of women from the shackles of patriarchy and misogyny is no less real pressing and tangible than our cause to call for liberation from racist ideology and praxis. The church still has the role to red card wrong even if it comes from the hallowed spot of the Christian Pulpit. Thus in a timeless tradition of speaking up the objective is never just to condemn but to assist through rebuke with the hope of penitence that the offender may repent.
To all fellow female clerics you are in no less sense less human, less equal, less esteemed and less called to prognosticate the Gospel of Jesus Christ Your gender does not automatically render you of less design, stature and ministry. We will not be silent when you suffer injustice. We dare not be silent because your struggle is our struggle.
We therefore, pray our colleague sees this moment as redemptive for the intention of justice and the doctrine of righteousness. A pensive moment of deep reflection to augment behaviour since there is always hope for change.