By James Wanjik
WHAT a role to be in? Minister of Community Development is now seen as a minister of home affairs! Why? Because it says perpetrators of gender based violence were men and victims were women. Perhaps but we are seeing men being demonised. It seems male violence is well reported. Female violence on the other hand might not have been well researched. It means we need more discussions to find root cause(s).
No doubt violence is real. We all have collective responsibility to address it. But, noting media publicity of a group of men being put issues of violence, what causes them, and how to address them, we think more discussions were needed. This commentary is an attempt to contribute to the discussions. We are using biblical perspective to understand violence, and what spiritual and moral lessons could be drawn, to address violence in general, and gender based violence in particular. Marriage and families are probably the best place to start this discussion. All biblical references are from The New American Bible.
In relationships, particularly marriage, we see or expect relationship of trust. Why being in relationship if there was no trust? Trust is a character ethic. It comes from love expressed in respect for life and human dignity. On Sunday, 29 October 2017, we heard Gospel of Mathew 22: 34-40. A teacher of law put Jesus Christ to the test on what law was the greatest given the 10 commandments and 613 norms the Jews had. Jesus Christ said, love. This is the appropriate response of Jesus Christ;
“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it. You shall love your neighbour as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”
In simple illustration we could say God is love. In His loving kindness God created us in His image and likeness. We are in turn made for loving service of our neighbours. In doing so we glorify God.
Papua New Guinea is a Christian nation. The first place to review violence in general or gender based violence in particular is our Christian values. What values are important in relationships, marriages and families? The basic unit of society being church or government is the family. In families we find father, mother and children. In PNG extended family is real and do have influence on life. We will keep to nuclear family to simplify our discussions.
We find in a family at least 3 levels of relationships. Father and mother, father and children, mother and children, and all three in one as a family. The Bible tells us what these relationships are to be. Ephesians 3: 14-20 tells us to find our bearing in God of life and love. The inner man must have faith in God and allow knowledge of God to light his path and guide his actions. Without God man will be led astray.
In Colossians 3: 1-17 we see how a person with God in his or her life behaves from one who does not. One without God would live in idolatry of immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire and greed. The manifestation of the idolatry are; anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech. Lie is forbidden. These are of old, earthly and dead spirit. It is evil.
Life is in God Father through Jesus Christ. In God of life we find love. Love is perfect bond of unity. Peace then is a result of love. And with love we will have compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, forgiving each other.
In Colossians 3: 18-21 we see Paul’s specific advice to families on proper relationship;
“Wives be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them. Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.”
Families are challenged in many ways. In places around the world laws were enacted to change biologically determined descriptions to politically motivated descriptions. For instance, now we hear of parents as opposed to father and mother. Gender neutral is name of the game. Boy or girl are replaced with children or pupils in schools. Toilets are where differences have been blurred and compromised. America and the West are probably the most confused on moral issues. These are mentioned because they do influence change.
Law is not God. It is a set of norms developed by authorities governing behaviour. In America law is everything. Americans are becoming too legalistic on moral issues. This very error is now seen at our own Community Development Ministry. Gender based violence is bad. But why compartmentalise violence? Is violence not violence? How sure are we women were not violating men? Do women respect and submit to their husbands? By the same token, do husbands love, respect and trust their wives? And how are they treating their children? What are the causes of violence from spiritual and moral stance?
Feminism is a good thing for self-confidence. It is probably not a panacea for all manner of human rights. Human rights also come with obligations. What obligations do human rights entail? Many arguments we see on feminism are on human rights and very little or none on obligations. Without making any judgement on right or wrong of feminism as a human right it is important to say human right is a right available to all human beings. Who is a human being? is a core issue.
Problems occur because people are very quick to judge and brand actions of human beings. Judgement will create reaction. Branding will divide human beings. Only branding God put were man and his partner or helper. Adam called her woman for she was made out of “her man” (Genesis 2: 18, 21-25). We have no mention of feminine or masculine until fall in Genesis 3. Only when sin entered the Garden of Eden that we see fear, shame and hiding of our first parents. And denial and blame shifting brought on curses. The curses show what would be masculine toils and what would be feminine pains. To the man, Adam, God said;
“Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat, “Cursed be the ground because of you! In toil shall you eat its yield all the days of your life. …. By the sweat of your face shall you get bread to eat,”
And to the woman, Eve, God said;
“I will intensify the pangs of your childbearing; in pain shall you bring forth children. Yet your urge will be for your husband, and he shall be your master.”
Only God will ease our curses. We now see who we are and our weaknesses. Evil entered our nature immediately after creation. The spoiler is lurking looking for opportunity to strike at man, woman and their offspring. In respect of the offspring look at the curse God put on Satan, Serpent the Devil;
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heal.”
Family bond and unity, where love, joy and peace were expected to be God’s kingdom come on earth is attacked by Satan and his demons. In Revelation 12 we see woman and the huge red dragon. In rage and anger at the woman, “the dragon … went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring, those who keep God’s commandments and bear witness to Jesus. It took its position on the sand of the sea” (Revelation 12:17-18).
In exorcism experiences in families, demon known as Asmodeus rips families apart and makes home in them. Many Christians are not well informed of the existence of evil. In America, for instance, many Christians do not believe in the existence of evil. Denial is the first sin. Adam did not own up. He blamed Eve for giving him fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. He did not say he was wrong. Likewise, Eve did not admit taking the forbidden fruit from forbidden tree and sharing it with Adam. She instead blamed Satan, Serpent, and the Devil who tricked her into taking the fruit of tree of knowledge of good and evil.
Families would know that lies open doors to evil. Lust of money and love of it lets in evil. All other sins are manifestations of evil taking root in families. Adultery will shut door with evil inside the house. Adultery is not necessarily sexual. It can be adulterating word of God too. It is and will be trouble times in families. God is the only power who is above all powers who can remove Satan, Serpent or Devil in families.
God gave us freewill. In making choices we exercise free will. If we make our choice to put God first in our lives we will let God lead us. He will protect us. If, however, we put money first in our lives, we allow evil to lead us. When evil is in our lives and homes, our families will be tormented.
The gender based violence is a manifestation of evil in the house. When we put violence to the father of the house as perpetrator, Satan, Serpent or the Devil enjoys bad consequences. We must encourage husbands of wives, and fathers of children, and heads of families, to take cue from Mark 3: 27 the words of Jesus; “But no one can enter a strongman’s house to plunder his property unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can plunder his house.”
Having been thrown out of heaven and down to earth, Satan does not want God to be glorified by families in families. We see that in sibling rivalry when Cain was envious and jealous of Abel that resulted in murder and denial of the crime.
In modern families, we see rivalries too. Can we not see old trick of Satan, Serpent, and the Devil? We hear many families share experiences of sibling rivalry and say it is normal. What is normal is Satan, Serpent, the Devil is common denominator in sibling rivalry. It is ungodly.
God is love. Cooperation is a sign of God in families. Collaboration is actively living love in families. Each member of family brings talents and skills to assist each other grow in love. This is the very purpose God created a suitable partner or helper for man Adam. We have reference points in Word of God. Can we have time to read or listen and reflect?
Quiet moments are essential. But quiet times are scarce. Our families are pounded on by noise and lots of it. Music is now a very big nuisance. Boom boxes are really headaches. Drunkenness is next. Vulgar language follows. Fights break out as a result of evil taking roots. And if not taken stock of and stopped, grievous bodily harm or even murder manifests. Our society is fast regressing into the spiral of spiritual and moral decay. Husbands and fathers as heads of their families must see reality to lead their families in love of God and neighbour.
We commend the Ministry and Department of Community Development for opening up an important issue. They could seek spiritual and moral advice from our Christian Churches for better informed advice. We are not experts in these matters. As commentators on good governance, and given our limited knowledge and experience living life on Word of God, we have probed conscience. If any feedback is to be given, please contact the author directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
May God bless all our families.