"Poking thorns in the bed of roses" : a feminist critique of the Premarital and Marriage Coaching Program (PMCP) of the Diocese of Grahamstown.
Ntuli, Goodness Thandi, Reverend Sister.
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This study‟s primary motivation is the domestic and gender based violence (DGBV) that takes place particularly in Christian families and homes. Besides personal encounter that brought awareness that DGBV is for real in Christian homes, it is also affirmed by the scholars and researchers on DGBV. The study has established from the existing literature that DGBV is indeed an indisputable actuality in Christian families that leaves women with psychological, physical and emotional scars that are hard to heal. Some women are even fatally wounded by DGBV incidents. This makes it imperative for the church to revisit its church teachings particularly about marital relationships. The Anglican Communion locally and globally has taken initiatives against this violence. For instance, the Anglican Church in Southern Africa (ACSA) has raised its concerns about this violence through the prophetic voices of its leadership and a number of initiatives in different Anglican dioceses. This demonstrates that ACSA is committed to the attempts of curbing the escalating DGBV. It is for this reason that the Premarital and Marriage Coaching Program (PMCP) is investigated for its relevance in addressing DGBV during its premarital and marriage counselling sessions. This is an Anglican document developed in 2012 in the context of DGBV that has become a pestilence in democratic South Africa which raises a need for its contextual relevance. It is thus vital that its marital teachings meant for “the happily ever after” metaphorically referred to as the bed of roses, premarital sessions should conscientise the couples that the roses have thorns too. The theoretical framework of this study has been coined from the body of knowledge of African Women Theologians and is called Feminist theory of triangulation. As a lens, this theory has helped this study to demonstrate that DGBV cannot be addressed with the exclusion of gender disparity issues which have cogently turned out to be the fundamental course of DGBV. The study has also clearly indicated that without cultural and biblical hermeneutics it would be impossible to address gender sensitive biblical texts and cultural norms, particularly those that elevate men‟s superiority over women in marriage. Regrettably, the PMCP has not attempted any of these hermeneutics, yet it uses some of the scriptures that are highly contested in their interpretation in the marriage context which renders it an accomplice to the repression of women in marriage. Hierarchists might find the PMCP user friendly because it maintains the status quo and does not challenge culture, religious beliefs and gender roles that are life denying to women. On the other hand Egalitarians, whose agenda is equality which was God‟s original purpose for human creation according to Gen. 1:26-27, might be relatively upset with the document.