What is the cause of the unbelievable levels of violence in South Africa – specially in terms of rape and murder – what men do to women and children in our country? Our society and the public media, including the government, is debating what’s behind this, trying to isolate the cause of this pandemic of violence. What are your comments?
17 year old Anene Booysen’s recent savage gang rape, disembowelment and murder, hit the international headlines – similar to the gang rape of the young woman on a bus in New Delhi, India. The hardened policemen who attended to the grissly scene of Anene’s murder were so traumatised that they needed counselling therapy. Since then, more brutal gang rapes and murders have been reported in SA. What rage drives men in SA to do these demonic acts of evil?
Another SA tragedy made world headlines this weekend: the alleged murder of beautiful Reeva Steenkamp by her lover, the internationally celebrated para-olympian Oscar Pistorious. Shock and horror! Disbelief! Everyone is asking, “WHY?” An insightful report from journalist David O’Sullivan points to alleged patterns of anger outbursts, see @702David. po.st/4ePbnn. Why this alleged brutal murder by such a successful man – a celebrity with the world at his feet?
Our ANC government says rape and violence is a serious social problem. Their answer is: men must be educated to respect women and children, to treat them properly. Many people are saying many things, trying to make sense of this orgy of rage, offering all sorts of explanations and solutions – from stricter gun control to castration for perpetrators of rape.
Will that address this social crisis? Superficial diagnosis leads to superficial solutions, radical diagnosis cuts to the root of the problem, leading to radical healing and long-lasting solutions.
2000 years ago a young Jewish rabbi, Jesus of Nazareth, gave an incisive diagnosis to this particular issue, and to the human condition in general. He taught that anger, if not resolved, leads to contempt and even hatred, which in turn results in rage, violence and murder (see Matthew 5:21-26). In his teachings on being human – on living life as God’s image bearers – Jesus FIRST addresses the issue of anger and forgiveness (reconciliation), in his ‘Sermon on the Mount’. It’s THE foremost issue in human relationships – in personal morality and social reality. Just think of it: if all the unresolved anger were taken out of human relationships the world would be an entirely different place.
Jesus deals with the problem of anger ahead of lust – lust as in sexual sin and brokenness – the use and abuse of others for our gratification (see Matt 5:27-30). Rape is not about sexual lust per se. It’s about violence due to unresolved anger, stemming mostly from deeply broken masculinity in terms of disempowerment or powerlessness. Rape is one of the oldest weapons in human history – along with murder – used by so-called men to humiliate, punish and destroy, for feelings (and reasons) of power and control.
Anger is not the problem. Anger is a God given emotion, a ‘neutral’ feeling that tells us something has gone wrong, something has upset us. It’s what we do with anger that becomes moral – right or wrong. We can choose to:
a) respond to anger by disclosing it and resolving what caused it, as Jesus taught (called ‘forgiveness and reconciliation’), or…
b) we can react to anger by suppressing it and eventually imploding (called ‘unforgiveness and bitterness’), and/or…
c) we can react to anger by venting it and exploding (called ‘contempt, rage and violence’).
Both b) and c) are sinful because they damage human beings, ourselves included. The ‘s-word’ has become politically incorrect. But SIN is not an irrelevant religious category by an oppressive pedantic god. Whatever undermines and destroys human dignity is sin because it violates God’s image in the name of self-serving power and control. At root it is the human presumption that we can live life without God – we don’t need him – we can control our own lives and “do it my way” (as Frank Sinatra sang). The root problem in SA is that we’ve rejected God in the name of postmodern liberal political correctness. We’re paying an enormous price for it.
Unresolved anger is extremely dangerous the longer it’s left to itself. It’s an open invitation to demons – yes, literal evil spirits – to invest and torment the person, driving them beyond all rational self control in moments of lust and rage. The result? Rape and murder. Our society is increasingly at the mercy of demons driving men to do more and more evil.
What’s the solution? Personally, I’m ashamed to be a man in SA today. My gender associates me with all the so-called men who violate women and children every 28 seconds – from molestation to rape, from psycho-emotional violence to physical murder. We men – ALL of us men – need to do what the young rabbi from Nazareth repeatedly called for wherever he went, in every village, town and city: REPENT. That is the root of the remedy in SA. Repentance is not an outdated religious concept aimed at oppressing people with feelings of guilt. It’s actually a matter of life and death, of the future survival or destruction of our nation. The choice is ours.
To REPENT is to humble oneself before God and all others, openly acknowledging our profound spiritual bankruptcy and broken masculinity as men, turning from our wicked ways, crying out to God for mercy, as we beg for forgiveness from the women and children of this nation. We have to face the fact that something has gone wrong deep in the male psyche and ultimately only God can help us. Denial has to be broken. Why must it take incidences as Anene Booysens and Reeva Steenkamp to get the attention of the nation? What about the 100 000s of other women and children who did not get to the national headlines, let alone make international news?
Just imagine what would happen if the first or leading male in SA, our President Jacob Zuma (who was tried on a rape charge, but was acquitted), stood up by kneeling down before God and the nation, putting on sack-cloth and ashes, because of the crying shame of what men do to women and children in his (our) country. Imagine if he called all men to do the same, on a set day of confession of male sins against women and children, a chosen day of public humiliation and repentance, of fasting and prayer. It just might be that God would listen and have mercy and intervene and help turn men from their sins, heal their broken masculinity – their perverse need for position, power, control – and restore our land to safety and security and peace and harmony (it is no wonder to me that more and more opposition parties are led by women, including Mamphela Ramphela’s new opposition party. What is this saying, symbolically, to our nation?)
And if our President won’t do it, then who will? Whether he does it or not, all men who say they follow Jesus must lead the way. We must repent before the nation, publicly if possible, crying out to God for mercy, asking the women and children for forgiveness, calling ALL men to repentance and healing by God’s intervening grace.
May God indeed have mercy on me, Alexander Venter, on Oscar Pistorious, on the young men who raped and murdered Anene Booysens, on all of us men in this beautiful rainbow nation called South Africa. God bless Africa.