The issue of homosexuality and same-sex partnerships has become an even more urgent issue in South Africa now that the General Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church has voted to permit those in same-sex relationships to serve as ministers. The synod also voted to permit same-sex unions to be blessed in Dutch Reformed churches.
Thankfully the decision won’t be forced on churches. Each individual Dutch Reformed church can decide for themselves their stance towards those who practice homosexuality in same-sex partnerships. Many of those who are pleased with the synod’s decision equate discrimination towards those who practise homosexuality as essentially the same as discrimination towards black people under apartheid. For them the synod’s decision has been a great moment of liberation to be celebrated.
However, homosexuality is not the new black. According to the Bible, differences in culture and ethnicity are part of God’s good creation and are to be celebrated – even as we are united in Christ. Homosexual activity, on the other hand, (like all other sexual immorality) is not part of God’s good creation, but sinful and dishonouring to God. Ministers and denominations that say otherwise are not being loving towards those who practise homosexuality because they are endangering their souls by giving many a false assurance of a lifestyle pleasing God.
Reports state that more than 64 000 women are raped and sexually abused in South Africa every year. About 25 000 children are raped and abused annually. Our country was deeply shocked by the violent gang rape and mutilation of Anene Booysen a few weeks ago, who subsequently died of her injuries. What’s even more traumatizing is that this is not an isolated incident – rape and gang rape are common occurrences in South Africa.
The rise of dysfunctional homes, absent parents, drug abuse, pornography and drunkenness obviously plays a huge role in creating a social environment where sexual violence is common and familiar. The question our country is asking at the moments is, How do we stop rape? This of course is a complex question that must have an integrated approach that must include social cohesion, family relationships, good sex educational, strategic interventions, and creating a culture of respect for others, especially women and children.