Godly Leadership – Joseph The Prime Minister

grainAfter twenty six painstaking years, Nelson Mandela was released from prison on February 11th 1990. Just over four years later, following South Africa’s first fully democratic election, he became the President of our country. The story of this remarkable man is told in his book “Long Walk to Freedom”. As the story goes; the many things Nelson Mandela suffered, the injustice, the humiliation, the loneliness, did not make him bitter. He learnt to forgive others, even his prison guards, and became the catalyst for reconciliation within the nation. In four short years he went from prison to being president. He became a symbol of wise & humble leadership.

Joseph in the book of Genesis also found himself as a just man who was unjustly sent to prison, but his rise from being a prisoner to Prime Minister of Egypt; one of the major civilizations of the time, was nothing short of miraculous. A mere thirteen years earlier, he had arrived in Egypt as a 17 year-old slave, a foreigner not understanding the culture or speaking the language. Now virtually overnight he was brought from a prison dungeon and elevated to second in the land. No one except the Pharaoh had more power & prestige.

I’ve always loved the story of Joseph; and as I watch the political turmoil at play in this season, I find the story so much more relevant. I believe that as Christians, adopting the “I don’t care who is president, as long as God is still on the throne of Heaven” stance might sound great, but it’s actually the worst attitude we could have at a time like this. Some even believe that the church should not interfere in matters of the state. “Let church be church and let politics be politics. Let’s live a quiet life and not offend anyone” the say.

What I want to know is: why did God not adhere to this rule throughout the Bible?

Why did God keep raising up His own people to meddle in political affairs?

I know that we are in the world, but not of it, but we are called to be the salt and the light too. If we are there, but have no discernible indication that we are affecting the environment around us in a radical and revolutionary way for the Kingdom we represent, then we are not affecting the world the way a stadium floodlight should affect a dark and dingy alleyway. Matthew 5:14 says “You are the light of the world–like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.” We cannot be hidden!

As I read the story of Joseph in Genesis 41, I note that Pharaoh was the ruler of the land. He wasn’t a follower of God per se and in fact, most people worshiped him as if he were a god himself. Admittedly, most African presidents today still suffer from this “God-complex”.

Pharaoh had two very troubling dreams that nagged him until he could find someone that could interpret them. Many Christians would not object that a Christian may be called to be the spiritual advisor to a head of state in order to provide spiritual guidance in the same way that Billy Graham has done for every President of the United States of America since World War II. Joseph provides this service by interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams. In v 28 he told Pharaoh, “God has shown Pharaoh what He is about to do. Seven years of great abundance are coming throughout the land of Egypt, but seven years of famine will follow them. Then all the abundance in Egypt will be forgotten, & the famine will ravage the land.”

I look at the news today and anyone with a fair understanding of economics has declared that South Africa is on the brink of a financial crisis. Recent actions that have been taken by the head of state have impacted foreign investor confidence so dramatically, that it is likely that the cost of living is about to sky-rocket as inflation and interest rates start to rise. We are looking at a crisis and the prospects don’t look great as most countries with a negative credit rating take an average of five to seven years to recover. My Zimbabwean friends have started taking bets that South Africa is headed towards the same fate as all the other failed states in Africa that cannot sustain its own people.

Pharaoh was given a similar prognosis. Egypt was headed towards a famine. But notice, Joseph had more than an interpretation for Pharaoh. He had a plan as well. When God shows us something he usually intends us to do something about it. We need to apply wisdom to the knowledge that we possess. We need to act upon God’s Word. God had shown Joseph what was going to happen and Joseph urges the Pharaoh to appoint someone to take action. There is not even a hint that Joseph thought the Pharaoh should appoint him. He simply shared his suggestions with calmness & dignity. “And now let Pharaoh look for a discerning & wise man and put him in charge of the land of Egypt.” (v 33)

Pharaoh struggled to find anyone on his advisory board with the insight and foresight that Joseph had just displayed, so he decided that Joseph should carry out the task of managing the crisis that they were about to face as a nation. He would have to carry out the duties of both Minister of Agriculture and Finance to ensure that Egypt will survive the famine.

Joseph immediately went about the work to which Pharaoh had appointed him. His primary interest was in getting the job done as unto the Lord, rather than taking personal advantage of his new position at the head of the royal court. He recognized that his wisdom and discernment were gifts from God, but nevertheless that he still had much to learn about the land of Egypt, its agricultural industry in particular. As the senior administrator, Joseph’s work touched on nearly every practical area of the nation’s life. His office would have required that he learn much about legislation, communication, negotiation, transportation, safe and efficient methods of food storage, building, economic strategizing and forecasting, record-keeping, payroll, the handling of transactions both by means of currency and through bartering, human resources, and the acquisition of real estate. His extraordinary abilities with respect to God and people did not operate in separate domains. The genius of Joseph’s success lay in the effective integration of his divine gifts and acquired competencies. For Joseph, all of this was godly work.

Godly leaders are adequately skilled for the job.

Godly leaders are adequately equipped for the job.

Godly leaders are endowed with insight and foresight into the area that they are called to in order to make wise decisions and to avert negative outcomes.

Godly leaders are tried and tested.

Godly leaders are backed up, elevated and promoted by God.

During the seven lean years that followed, Joseph dispensed grain to the Egyptians and other people who were affected by the widespread famine. To create and administer all this, while surviving the political intrigue of an absolute monarchy, required exceptional talent.

After the people ran out of money, Joseph allowed them to barter their livestock for food. This plan lasted for one year during which Joseph collected horses, sheep, goats, cattle, and donkeys (Gen. 47:15-17). He would have had to determine the value of these animals and establish an equitable system for exchange. He would have to operate like a modern day commodity trader. As people came from far and wide, Egypt became a massive stock exchange market.

In South Africa, qualified individuals are exiting the government while those who don’t have a positive record are retained and promoted. Excellence is no longer the standard, connections and favors are. Smoke and mirror tactics are devised to confuse the masses, so that instead of having a common cause, they fight each other over racial lines. All while livelihoods are literally at stake. Life savings are at stake. How is a righteous man to leave an inheritance to his children’s children when all that he has worked for is wiped off the stock markets?

In times of uncertainty, the mandate upon every Christian is to pray for the land. We have to speak the things that we want to see over this land. We have to exercise dominion as kings and priests and make decrees and declarations in the spirit realm. Most of all, we have to heed the promptings of the Holy Spirit to rise up and also act apostolically. If He did it before, surely it can be done again.

God is with us.

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Taking a stand for Life…

And so it was, that when all of creation was just six days old, God set out to create a being in His own image and likeness…

A divine being that existed to bring glory to Him in a way the sun, the moon and the stars in a billion galaxies, for lightyears into eternity ever could.

A being that could worship in a way the sweet song of the nightingale, the majestic roar of the lion and the resonating call of the massive blue whale couldn’t match…

This being could create realities in its mind and speak them into being, like only God can.

This man would carry on his person, the seed for man-kind.

To crown this masterpiece, He fashioned a woman, and her womb would be the conduit out of which man-kind is translated into the earth.

In Genesis 1:28, God speaks a special blessing over the first man and the first woman to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it”. With those words, He had set in motion His plan to fill the world. The world was Adam and Eve’s inheritance to fill.

Jeremiah 1:5 ESV

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

I look at that verse and it amazes me that God recognizes us as beings that exist in a realm somewhere in eternity even before our parents have even conceived us. At the point of conception, He already has a purpose for our lives.

Before my daughter was formed in the womb, He knew her…

Before she was born, He consecrated her and appointed her to fulfill a mission on this earth.

People who are unaware of this argue if a fetus is even human at all.

If they are all just an indiscriminate ball of tissue, why would you think twice about just ending it all and scheduling an abortion?

The problem is that we do know for sure. The science is there. We just wish we didn’t know.

At the moment when a human sperm penetrates a human ovum, or egg, generally in the upper portion of the Fallopian Tube, a new entity comes into existence. “Zygote” is the name of the first cell formed at conception, the earliest developmental stage of the human embryo, followed by the “Morula” and “Blastocyst” stages.

The zygote is composed of human DNA and other human molecules, so its nature is undeniably human and not some other species.

The new human zygote has a genetic composition that is different from any other human that has ever existed, including that of its mother (thus disproving the claim that what is involved in abortion is merely “a woman and her body”).

This DNA includes a complete “design,” guiding not only early development but even hereditary attributes that will appear in childhood and adulthood, from hair and eye color to personality traits.

It is also quite clear that the earliest human embryo is biologically alive. It fulfills the four criteria needed to establish biological life: metabolism, growth, reaction to stimuli, and reproduction.

The zygote acts immediately and decisively to initiate a program of development that will, if uninterrupted by accident, disease, or external intervention, proceed seamlessly through formation of the definitive body, birth, childhood, adolescence, maturity, and aging, ending with death. This coordinated behavior is the very hallmark of an organism.

We know that if you take an emergency “contraceptive”, it’s not a contraceptive at all…

A contraceptive prevents conception. That pill operates in that one week period when conception has already taken place, but the embryo has hopefully not implanted itself in the lining of the uterine wall yet. It prevents it from implanting, and that cuts off the further development of that embryo.

Medical Science has established that the cardiovascular system is the first major system to function. At about 22 days after conception the child’s heart begins to circulate his own blood, unique to that of his mother’s, and his heartbeat can be detected on ultrasound. The baby is already an individual, with his own blood type.

At just six weeks, the child’s eyes and eye lids, nose, mouth, and tongue have formed.

Electrical brain activity can be detected at six or seven weeks, and by the end of the eighth week, the child, now known scientifically as a “fetus,” has developed all of his organs and bodily structures. If you had to give birth then, you would see a fully formed human being.

By ten weeks after conception the child can make bodily movements.

Expectant parents can see the development of their children with their own eyes. The obstetric ultra-sound done typically at 20 weeks gestation provides not only pictures but a real-time video of the active life of the child in the womb: clasping his hands, sucking his thumb, yawning, stretching, getting the hiccups, covering his ears to a loud sound nearby — even smiling.

Fetal surgery is a common procedure nowadays, and includes the separate provision of anesthesia to the baby. These procedures include shunting to bypass an obstructed urinary tract, removal of tumors at the base of the tailbone, and treatment of congenital heart disease.

The validity of human life before birth is scientifically indisputable. These are value-neutral facts in spite of whether you are pro-life or pro-choice.

Pro-choice feminist Naomi Wolf, wrote a ground-breaking article in 1996, arguing that the abortion-rights community should acknowledge the “fetus, in its full humanity” and therefore abortion causes “a real death.” If they were to argue for abortion, it was better not to do so under the premise of telling women that what they are carrying isn’t fully human.

Kate Michelma was the long-time president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, which is a national organization that advocates for and provides comprehensive information on reproductive rights in the United States. They primarily engage in political action and advocacy efforts to oppose restrictions on abortion and expand access to abortion.

Kate recently acknowledged that “technology has clearly helped to define how people think about a fetus as a full, breathing human being.” She had to acknowledge that.

Psalm 139:13-16 ESV

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

Despite stating these facts, abortion remains unlike any other issue debated today.

Millions of American women have aborted a child, and the pain, loss, and emotional need to justify what was done, both on the part of the mother and on the part of her loved ones, is strong and deep. Despite what science proves, people have an emotional need to assert that it is not murder and there was no life inside of them.

Others can agree that the unborn are biologically human, but in terms of the law, they are not to be recognized as a legal person before they are even born, so they cannot be murdered in terms of the law.

Well, we’re either persons or property; and you would really be trying your utmost best to relieve your conscience if you would call a human child a piece of property just to protect your right to eliminate them.

Another thought-pattern is that it is just patriarchal and barbaric to put laws that force a woman to go through with a pregnancy, because what if that woman is raped?

What if there is something severely wrong with the child and they would just have a very low quality of life if you continued with the pregnancy?

Or what if the woman’s health would be severely hampered by her going through with the pregnancy? Like if she had a life-threatening illness or if she was a mere child herself and giving birth could put her life at risk?

The Guttmacher Institute is a research and policy organization committed to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights in the United States and Globally. In the last 25 years, Guttmacher has conducted two major studies asking women why they chose abortion and their answers have remained basically the same:

  • Only 7% of women report that their abortion was because of a health reason or a possible health problem with the baby
  • Less than half a percent report that their abortion was because they became pregnant as a result of rape.
  • 92% of abortions in America are purely elective — done on healthy women to end the lives of healthy children.

Let that sink in for a moment… That’s almost all of them.

The Guttmacher Institute is pro-choice. These statistics come from the abortion industry’s own research group.

Another argument is that if abortion is not legalized, desperate young women would fall prey to backstreet butchers to perform these operations in conditions that would endanger the pregnant woman or they would try to do it themselves, with catastrophic results.

However, the experience of other countries shows that restricting abortion does not cause a rise in maternal deaths.

  • Despite its tight abortion restrictions, Ireland has the lowest maternal mortality rate in the world, according to a study by several agencies at the United Nations
  • Malta also has substantial abortion limitations and yet has among the lowest maternal death rate world-wide, lower than the United States.
  • Data compiled by Polish government agencies shows a marked decrease in maternal deaths once abortion was made illegal.

I worked for a local NGO that was advocating for the sexual and reproductive rights of women as their basic tenet.

I believe in women’s rights because I believe in Genesis 5:1 -2 that says “When God created man, He made him in the likeness of God [not physical, but a spiritual personality and moral likeness]. He created them male and female, and blessed them and named them Mankind at the time they were created.”

This means that there is no gender that was created in more of an image of God than the other. Therefore, I don’t believe in higher or lower ranking human beings. I believe that headship is a matter of purpose and authority, not ability or worth. I believe that submission is a matter of honor and respect, not worthlessness.

Reproductive rights, described broadly, means having the political freedom, economic resources, and information that allows you to understand how your body functions, protect it from disease, and control how many children you have and when you have them.

The modern “pro-choice” movement is desperate to protect the image of abortion as positive and pro-woman.

I beg to differ.

If sex was sacred and valued… If it was something people planned for, waited for and committed for, like the Bible suggests, we’d have far more people in the kind of relationships that could support child-bearing and rearing like God intended.

But this is the world…

So I think second best would be education, empowering the girl child so that she can make better choices and the free availability of contraceptives.

When I saw all the women that took part in the march, a day after Donald Trump’s inauguration, fighting for amongst other rights, the right to abort, I couldn’t stop wondering what had ever happened to all the other forms of birth control.

When he signed the anti-abortion policy that cuts off all tax-payer funds from going to NGO’s that advocate for or perform abortions, the outrage was as if no other form of birth control exists and that all over the world, women would just fall pregnant and have no way of preventing it from happening.

Condoms, pills, injections, patches, the rhythm method, abstinence…. All are suddenly not optional.

Establishing legal limits to the current “absolute right to abortion” will mean much fewer abortions, and that is to the good of women, children, families, and society, because I believe that the frequency of abortions is a symptom of something gone terribly wrong in society.

I believe that women deserve better than abortion.

We need to address the root.

There is a pro-woman, pro-life organization called Feminists for Life which says abortion is a reflection that society has failed to meet the needs of women.

I mentioned Kate Michelman, the former president of NARAL Pro-Choice America earlier in this article. She proclaimed abortion to be “the guarantor of a woman’s right to participate fully in the social and political life of society.”

But pro-life feminists believe this turns feminism on its head because it says women don’t have an inherent right to participate in society, but one conditioned on surgery and sacrificing their children.

Let that sink in for a second.

If women don’t sacrifice their unborn children, they will not and cannot get ahead in society like a man can…. The same man that impregnated her and most likely abandoned her.

No women should have to abort her child to participate fully in society, because that in itself is a failed society.

A million child sacrifices in America alone per year are made on the altar of economic freedom and autonomy…

I have a personal friend that had to abort because she was involved with a man in her teens who turned out to have a WHOLE Family…. She was taken advantage of. She had to think about the fact that she needed to go to university… make something of her life… She grew up in the church… the stigma alone of her ordeal….

I can’t imagine it.

But she can’t forget it.

It’s hard to let go of things like that.

There are brave women coming forward in ever greater numbers to speak out about how abortion was not an act of empowerment but the result of abandonment, betrayal, and desperation, and how it has negatively affected their lives.

And there you have it…

I was on Facebook today, on a pro-life page. The topic was, “How old would your child be had you not aborted them?”

The comments section was overflowing with stories of regret, of torture and grief and how some found solace in giving the unborn child a name. Many of them knew the exact age the child would be. They remembered that day like it had just happened and would do anything to change it, because many years after that, their perspectives had changed and the circumstances around why they had made that decision had changed too.

The website www.afterabortion.com  established by a woman who had 5 abortions provides a place for women to help each other cope with the aftermath of their abortions. There are nearly 2.5 million posts. They tell stories of how they were coerced into aborting their children by boyfriends, husbands, friends, and family. They describe how abortion was far from being a choice. They speak of overwhelming guilt, nightmares, excessive drinking, drug abuse, and promiscuity, an inability to form or maintain relationships, difficulty bonding with later children, and other ways in which they are suffering.

Matthew 18:10 ESV

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.

Our humanity is so much more than a bunch of cells that came together…

We are in the image of God. Every life matters to Him.

Children are a blessing and an inheritance. Cherish them.

Each and every one of us was born with a specific purpose. We are a solution, not a problem.

Finally, in the words of the late, greatly honored Dr. Myles Munroe: “There are no illegitimate children… only illegitimate parents.”

In other words, the illegitimacy of your actions do not taint the legitimacy, validity, importance, worth and value of that child you are carrying.

Why Marriage Matters…

In the first week of September, a certain pastor  held a prayer night at Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand and it made the Sunday Times Newspaper, True love Magazine, became the subject of a Checkpoint investigative journalism story  and was discussed on several radio talk shows.

Pastors hold prayer meetings all the time and it hardly makes the news, or sparks heated debates on social media, but this one managed to do exactly that. There was controversy over why people had to pay to attend the prayer night, and the price of the tickets were a major source of contention, which saw Christians going head to head with other Christians over whether this is justified… Despite the fact that these people would have no qualms forking out the same amount to attend any other secular event at that venue.

The main issue is why would up to 7000 women (According to the Sunday Times Newspaper) come from all over the world to pay up to R5000 to get a special prayer for a husband?

Are women really that desperate to get married?

Feminists were probably shocked at how women had supposedly come so far and were seemingly so independent in public, and yet thousands of educated, well-to-do women who don’t need a man are in churches, on dating sites, anywhere really, looking for marriages. Not relationships, but actual marriages.

Most of these women don’t struggle to get a boyfriend or someone to have sexual relations with, but the challenge is to find one who will get down on one knee and commit to a life of loving and serving one woman happily ever after. That’s the challenge.

According to the Office for National Statistics in the UK, marriage in general is on the decline. In 2011, there were just 286,634 ceremonies — a 41 per cent free fall from 1972, when 480,285 couples tied the knot. This is a global phenomenon and people cite various reasons why this is happening.

The Mail and Guardian Newspaper published an article entitled “10 Things about Marriage in South Africa” and the first point is that the number of marriages registered in South Africa has been steadily decreasing every year since 2008.

marriage

It’s interesting that the number of weddings took a big dip in 2008, when the global recession started to bite. But unlike the economy, by 2013 the wedding numbers continued on a downward spiral.

Judging on how the invitation to the prayer night was directed mainly at women, it would seem that the idea of marriage is still a popular one amongst women who still want someone to plan an elaborate surprise proposal and present them with a big, shiny, overpriced rock. They still have fantasies of walking down the aisle in a white gown and being the centre of attraction on their wedding day. They still want to be the princess that meets Prince Charming and lives happily ever after, sharing their pictures and public displays of affection all over Facebook and Instagram.

But on a more serious note, women who identify themselves as Christians and want a deeper walk with Christ are under more pressure to marry because having multiple sexual partners is simply not an acceptable option. It’s either you find a husband or you remain celibate.

So you have all these women in church, with fully functional reproductive systems, hormones, desires, fantasies, hopes and desires showing up at church, hoping to get noticed by the right guy. He has to be Christian. He has to be educated. He has to be financially stable and family oriented. He has to be attractive and charming and romantic. So they pray and they wait…

They wait over their ticking biological clocks…

They wait as they watch all their friends hook up with one guy after the other in lustful bliss…

They wait as they see the church flooding with more women and less guys…

They wait as they see their twenties go by, their thirties, their forties? …

Most men on the other hand, have figured out that they can have their needs for sex, company, and a hot meal met without the hassle of legally binding marriage contracts, expensive weddings, commitment or church.

There are plenty of women in the world outside of the four walls of church who are giving these benefits out freely to anyone who gives them enough attention. There are plenty of women who are okay with being “friends with benefits” or “side-chicks” or “one night stands” or “live-in partners” or “baby mamas” with no possibilities of an “upgrade” in the foreseeable future.

I’m passionate about this subject of marriage and I write about it often because it is really disheartening to look around at ladies around the same age group as me struggling with issues of men treating them like they aren’t worth much because this really is an issue of economics.

The more saturated a market is with the supply of sexual content with no commitment or intimacy or meaning, the less demand there will be for marriages that require patience, faithfulness and commitment, because let’s be honest… Flings are easy. You get infatuated with someone and ride the wave until the high wears off and you start it all over again with someone else the minute your partner gets boring, or you have problems or the relationship requires work.

Now you meet someone who won’t sleep with you, requires marriage, requires faithfulness, requires spiritual maturity on your part and it all seems like this person has put way too much value on themselves… They just seem overpriced because you know you can get what you want cheaper elsewhere. You do the cost-benefit analysis and you don’t get why you should value intimacy with another human being that much.

And therein lies the problem.

I sincerely feel that my body, my time, my intellect, my hopes, my desires, my dreams, my spirit, my energy, my love, my passion and my devotion are worth marriage and nothing less.

So it’s a scary thought to wait on a Prince Charming that may never come.

You start doing the math and calculate the ratio of women to men, narrow it down to how many are Christian, how many are employed and stable… how many will find you attractive?

How many will propose?

In the African context, there are often so many hurdles that one has to leap over, before tying the knot that most people simply can’t afford to get married. There is the issue of cultural practices, rituals and expenses to consider.

The other day, I took the time to google the word “Lobola” and the following excerpt from Wikipedia came up:

“Lobolo or Lobola in ZuluSwaziXhosa and northern and southern Ndebele (Mahadi in SesothoRoora in Shona, and Magadi in Northern SothoLovola in Xitsonga), sometimes referred to as “bride wealth”[1] or “bride price“,[2] is property in cash or kind, which a prospective husband or head of his family undertakes to give to the head of a prospective wife’s family in consideration of a customary marriage.[1] Historically, this property was in cattle, but over time it has moved to being mostly in cash. Some people still practice the tradition of offering cattle, or even a combination of cattle and money. The primary purpose of lobola is to build relations between the respective families as marriage is seen as more than a union between two individuals. (Compare with the European dowrycustom where the woman brings assets.) Although not very common, some families even use electronic transfers and credit cards as a form of payment.”

According to the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) Professor Dori Posel “the typical bridewealth payment in KwaZulu-Natal is 11 cows for ilobolo – as it is called in IsiZulu – but the price of each cow can vary considerably.” Having done extensive research on the practice of ilobolo, Posel says that a high price raises the economic requirements for men to marry and may contribute to delayed marriage or even non-marriage among black South Africans, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal.

There is no nationally representative data on the value of bridewealth paid, but data from a regional survey for KwaZulu-Natal identifies that the average value of ilobolo paid in 1998 was R20 000 (in 2000 prices), which was more than the average annual salary of employed African men at the time.

Now let that sink in for a moment…

After lobola, you still need to have a traditional wedding, and then it’s the white wedding, which you want to be memorable.

According to professional wedding planners, Great Occasions, the average cost of a wedding in South Africa is between R70,000 – R80,000 for 80 to 100 people. However, the group notes that these going prices per head (R700 to R800) could easily escalate to R1,500 or R2,000 per person (R200,000 for a wedding).

For the same amount, though, you could get an amazing holiday with first-class flights around the world, a nice car, a deposit on an apartment or a wardrobe of designer clothes.

After the wedding, it’s the house, and then kids and so on.

All these things are expected of the man as the provider.

It’s quite a lot to take on for the average young person who is probably still starting out in his career and still paying off his student loans… So they delay marriage as much as they can.

Off course this doesn’t offset their hormones or desire to be in a relationship, but somewhere along the way, they start to view marriage as something you take part in when you are old, tired and don’t have any more options, because when you are young, you always have options.

It would seem that men have done some calculations of their own and concluded that the rewards of marriage are far less than they used to be, while the cost and dangers it presents to them are far greater.

Why?

Because ‘Ultimately, men know there’s a good chance they’ll lose their friends, their respect, their space, their sex life, their money and — if it all goes wrong — their family,’ says Dr Helen Smith, author of Why Men Are Boycotting Marriage, Fatherhood And The American Dream.

Research has proven that once a man gets married, he will basically be giving up a significant amount of time he could have spent bonding with other males so that he can spend quality time with his family. Gradually, his social circle will shrink. 

Society also doesn’t portray husbands and Dads as cool and desirable… In fact, most commercials and sitcoms portray the dad as the guy in the boring sweater, with the big belly and tired jokes. Bachelors on the other hand ate portrayed as exciting and attractive… 

Just before they get married, men are warned of how they will lose their freedom, their space and ability to just be a man. They are warned of how she will run the house and completely domesticate their wild spirits.

Research has also proven that on average, married men have less sex than couples who are currently just cohabitating.

Oh and, more women are likely to initiate a divorce than men. Also, the courts are likely to give her custody of the children and demand that she gets alimony and child support from you from that day onwards.

So i get it, they don’t want to enter into a legal contract with someone who could effectively take half their savings, pension and property when the honeymoon period is over.
Men aren’t wimping out by staying unmarried or being commitment phobes. They’re being smart.

Or are they?

So, who benefits from the current status quo of undefined open relationships and arrangements, where nobody can ever feel secure or truly known, understood or worth faithfulness?

So essentially, by the time these guys get married, there’s been a massacre of heartbreaks, soul ties, children with mothers they are no longer in a relationship with, experiences they can never erase from their minds, mental and physical conditioning and high expectations for the wife to meet.

Marriage is hard enough without people entering into it with prolific CV’s and all sorts of reservations about what might go wrong, based on past experiences. Experience starts to work against you. Experience becomes that little voice in your head that tells you that you had it better with your ex. Experience starts to remind you that you had more of an adrenaline rush when you were hopping in and out of different beds. Experience becomes those memories you wish you never made.

Marriage is hard enough without the pressure that families put on you to pay obscene amounts of money at the beginning and you start your life together at a deficit. Some cultural practices need to just take a seat if they’re hindering people from doing the right thing. We’re going through a global recession for crying out loud. People are overworked and underemployed.The high cost of marriage really needs to fall.

Marriage is hard enough without women turning equal rights into self-righteous entitlement to such an extent that there is no value to having a wife. There is nothing that says to him, “you know what, I REALLY think I would be better off married.  My life would be so much better.She’s not out to prove how little she can do and get away with it. She really has my back.”

Marriage is hard enough without divorce culture making it easy to walk out at a whim. Nobody wants to go through all that and know that it might not last. That you might make all those vows and they will still walk out on you like it never happened… That you will be reduced to a weekend Dad and a maintenance cheque.

And marriage is hard enough without the culture around us constantly trying to cheapen it and chip away at its value from every side… with wives and husbands competing with porn stars and supermodels who don’t even look like that in real life.

Marriage Matters.

Godly, loving, intimate, real, honest, enduring marriages matter.

Does expecting provision mean marrying for money?

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I was lazily scrolling down my Facebook timeline the other day, when I read a quote that said:

“There was a time in the greatest country in the world, when if you worked 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, your wife did not need to work, and you retired at age 60 with a pension. Today, 40 hours a week is barely enough to pay for rent and utilities, your wife also needs to work just so you can eat. This is a reality for over 20 million families.”

I pondered this notion for a moment and the domino effect it has on so many social issues; including marriages and the traditional family structure.

Somewhere in the back of our minds, we’re vaguely aware that we are going through a global economic recession, but we don’t realize its effects past the loss of buying power an average working wage has lately. We all just want a comfortable lifestyle for our families, but it seems the standard keeps rising every time we gaze longingly at the lives of social media celebrities, every time an iPhone is released, your child makes a friend with a cool new toy and our neighbour gets a new car. If we’re both living in the same complex, or if I went to school with that Facebook friend who is now flashing their ‘baecation’ in Dubai, we reason that we should both be on the same level, so I too should be able to afford what he has… and so the cycle continues…

The new normal keeps getting mad expensive.

We wake up before the sun to sit in traffic, frustrated and half asleep, to face a computer screen, appease people we see every day but barely know or care about, just so we have enough in our accounts for our debit orders not to bounce, get home stressed and burnt out and have to keep our marriages from falling apart and our children from turning out to be complete and utter strangers.

When both man and wife are caught up in the rat-race of making just enough to afford this thing we call LIFE, it’s pretty easy for us as a society to place an inordinate amount of value on someone’s ability to earn a lot of money.

We have somehow bought into a quasi-Marxist view of the world where we see our worth in economic terms; which is why little girls are raised being told that they are not aiming high enough in life if they don’t have ambitions of being so independent that they don’t need a man… As if a man is something a woman needs when they can’t make ends meet?

Like, “Oh girl, you can’t afford your life, you need to get a man.” Or, “Girl, you’re a senior partner at a major law firm now, you don’t need him…”

Huh?

Don’t get me wrong, the Proverbs 31 Woman was a fashion designer, a real estate mogul, owned vineyards, she was a BOSS. But it feels like it’s no longer just equity we want. This “sameness” women are fighting for almost stems out of feeling inadequate unless we are like our male counterparts and we beat them at whatever they do.

That’s never been a challenge I was keen to take up, because I believe the feminine and masculine were meant to balance each other out. I want to bring what he can’t bring to the table, and trust me; women have a lot to offer without having to compete on a male standard.

I recently heard one woman confessing that when her husband lost his job and she became the main breadwinner in the house, it gave her a whole new perspective on life. All of a sudden, she questioned if she had initially married for the financial security her husband once provided and now that he was no longer providing it, she expected him to do more housework and childrearing. After all, she would be the one who came home tired every evening, whilst he had been at home all day.

The husband is likely to be going through somewhat of a depression over his inability to make the kind of money that their lifestyle demands and he might feel that it is an extreme demotion to be relegated to doing house chores and serving his wife in the home.

She could walk out of that marriage and say “he wasn’t providing” and she has a need to be provided for.

He could do the same and say she was emasculating him and he has a need to be treated a certain way as a man.

The bible states that: “But if any man does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. ” 1 Timothy 5:8

Even in households that aren’t particularly big on the Bible, you still find that ladies generally prefer well-to-do men. Likewise, boys learn at a young age that sometimes; to get the hottest girl, you might not need good looks or to recite poetry. Sometimes you just need to have enough money.

For many years, the quaint model of two parents, with the male looking after the female, proved successful — but new studies reveal that with the rise of the feminist movement and the fact that more girls are educated and competing for top careers, husband-providers have become somewhat of an endangered species and I have witnessed plenty of pastors and marriage counsellors starting to modify their message to suit the current trend.

It used to be simple enough to preach to newly engaged couples about gender roles. Nowadays, it requires a lot of tact not to offend the bride-to-be with a degree marrying her artist boyfriend with nothing to offer, but a mixtape and a dream.  It’s either you let them work it out between themselves who wears the pants around the house, or you exercise the kind of wisdom that is now imperative for a modern pastor.

According to the “2014 State of Dating in America” report published by Christian Mingle and JDate, 59% of Christians on those dating sites said they couldn’t be bothered who the primary breadwinner of the family is. Basically, whoever is good at providing should provide.

However, the Bible is unequivocal. The husband must provide.

My father’s generation often had to work in cities that were so far away from home, that they hardly ever made it home – but their money did. They provided notes and coins that sent children to school, put food on the table and clothes on their backs.

But what the Bible means is a lot deeper than that… It requires more from Heads of Households.

The husband is expected to lead the home… a lot like a project manager.

He is expected to be a man who is purposeful. A man of vision, who approaches a woman with this vision and she gets behind it, not out of subversion or coercion, but because she believes in it and it resonates with where she also wants to be.

Call it a proposal.

I don’t know why people can accept that if you submit a proposal to a business or a financial institution, you’re supposed to know where you’re going and how exactly you’re going to get there; and yet they submit proposals to take people’s daughters out of their family homes all the time to try things out and see where they end up?

I digress.

He then starts to plan and directs resources to accomplish this shared vision. Sometimes, this does not require him to be the sole provider. It does not even require his salary to be the biggest. It does however, require his leadership and resourcefulness; his ability to make a plan. That sense that you are doing your best and you will never cause your loved ones to suffer is what makes your family feel secure.

If we look at the etymology of the word “provide”, the Online Etymology Dictionary tells us:

early 15c., from L. providere “look ahead, prepare, supply,” from pro- “ahead” + videre “to see” (see vision)

To which the Etymological Dictionary of the English Language adds:

Lat. to act with foresight, lit. to foresee”

Instead of making a man’s identity and worth based on the zeros on his bank balance, his ability to provide hinges on whether is able to look ahead and prepare for the storms of life.

In primitive times, looking ahead took the form of scouting for the tribe. Men were the lookouts. As scouts, they navigated the terrain and travelled ahead (and behind) the women and children, scanning the horizon for dangers to avoid.

Men have an innate need to look ahead, to plan, to prepare, to strategize. Or in other words, men have an innate need for vision, for providing.

So wives can definitely, absolutely work and have high-flying careers. It’s totally up to them how they will make use of their skills and talents to the best of their abilities. Their financial contribution is in support of what the husband provides, because for the man, it’s actually a calling. Biblically speaking, the man is not given a choice to do it or not to do it, because he needs to account for how he provided for his home. However, his wife can support that calling on his life in any way she can.

Likewise, no matter how well a woman is doing outside of the home, ultimately, she has to account for whether it was a positive and conducive environment for her family to thrive in. If she can do both, more power to her!

Ephesians 5:25 – 30 says: Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy (that speaks of sacrifice…)

cleansing her by the washing with water through the word and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. (spiritual provision)

 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—  for we are members of his body. (nourishing and caring for – physical/financial provision)

That’s my take on it…

What’s yours?

How I met Mr. Right…

I haven’t written a blog post in years…

I think it’s been almost four whole years of silence.

And a lot has happened in those years.

For starters, I am married now…  Married to a pastor.

We share our happy home with our daughter, who is now a toddler.

I recently read through my old blog posts and I can vividly recall a time not so long ago, when this was my deepest desire in life; and lately it’s been so easy to forget that.

So I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on my journey to wifehood.

I remember that I was about seventeen years old when I heard the story of how my pastor met his wife. To cut a long story short, he wrote down a list of requirements and prayed over it.  Not too long after that, he saw her singing in a choir and he knew she was the one. They’ve been married now for almost three decades with five kids and are well on their way to happily ever after.

I rushed back home after church that day , wrote a list of my own and prayed over it. A day or two later, I went back and subtracted a few points from the list that seemed trivial. A few days after that, I had a new point that was definitely list-worthy. I edited and re-edited that list repeatedly as I prayed about the subject of marriage more, as I read up on it and listened to more teaching. The more I was edified, the more the list would be edited.

Over the years, I began to care a little less about the texture or style of his hair and more about him having the capacity to be the spiritual head of a home.

I thought less about a man who could chase riches and prayed for a man who was walking in divine purpose.

Not a man with a famous name, but a man whose legacy can impact a generation.

I no longer cared about the color of his eyes, but I was concerned about his vision and his ability to look at things with a big picture perspective.

I took stock of my life and all that God had brought me through, and I stopped desiring the perfect guy, but longed for one with a testimony. He needed to go through the fiery furnace and the raging storms of life and still come out with his faith intact.

In retrospect, that list saved me from a lot of heartache and pain, because it forced me to contemplate my motives, my needs, which qualities in both partners make a marriage work and which are really add-ons. It forced me to seek God’s heart on the matter and I took stock of who I am and how I would contribute to another human being’s life.

Three years later, I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted out of life, what I needed in a partner and what I could never put up with.When you become well-acquainted with these things, it’s almost miraculous how your eyes become trained to spot these qualities the moment the right person walks into your life.

My husband and I hardly even got a chance to date… We went on three dates and he proposed. I didn’t even wrestle with my response because there was a witness in my spirit that day that I still have today. He doesn’t tick every box on a long list of preferences, but he does tick all the right ones in his ability to seek the will of God for our lives, his ability to see reason, to sacrifice, to forgive, to humble himself and apologize, to remain consistent and focused on the things that matter, and to love selflessly…

These are the things I could not live without and I thank God I was able to value myself and what God has put in me enough to prioritize these things.

What about you?

What are the things that you could not live without?

 

 

A letter to an African Child about her Hair…

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I went through a metamorphosis of thought and intent…

I made a thorough evaluation of everything I had to give to my unborn little girl…

How would I explain the world?

How would I explain inequality, racism, misogyny?

How would I instill a sense of worth and a sense of pride when I know that she will be a black girl in a world that has never made it easy for us to be who we are and proud of it?

So I wrote this poem…

When I allow my kinky coily tresses to see the light of day
I realize that in its natural state
My natural hair is a type of sunflower… ever reaching for the sun’s rays
Each follicle rises to give Him praise
So I rock my afro like a halo in the sanctity of His loving gaze
Declaring that indeed I am fearfully and wonderfully made…

When I allow the skin that I am in to radiate in all its splendour
I realize that my skin tone is nothing less than a thousand dazzling shades of bronze, copper and ochre
The colour of raw gold extracted from the heavily pregnant womb of my motherland
The colour of infinite grains of sand, ever-caressed by the Indian Ocean’s embrace
The colour of the African Savannah, the mystic Sahara, a flame in full blaze
My blackness is nothing but a reminder that this fertile soil that has yielded the most
brilliant of diamonds and precious stones should only serve to make me bold
Because when God formed man with African soil, on our skin, the richness of His glory has left its celestial trace…

When I speak in native dialects, I turn my tongue into a dancer
With each click and rolling of my lips, I echo ancient utterances once articulated by our common Bantu ancestor…

When I sway my hips to the rhythm of an African drum-beat
I am nothing less than a flowering Jacaranda in the August breeze
Adorned in purple, I am nothing less than Nubian royalty
I come alive in these bustling Joburg streets
My tapping feet are like raindrops in the Summertime
Each atom of my body was made to thrive in the sunshine

And that is what I will tell my girl child
When she asks me why her hair doesn’t lie flat against her back
The story behind her dark brown eyes, the shape of her nose, the thickness of her lips or her hips, or the colour of her skin….
You see, my child is an African
And I must prepare her to confront and deflect every generational misconception about her genetic disposition,
every lie and every public opinion that has plagued the African with shame
About our history, about our culture and has made us wish to jump out of our skins and
embrace everything that is without and nothing that is within…

She is an African…

And she is my darling daughter, my only child…

Every atom of her body was built to thrive in the sunshine…

She is not inferior; she is more than enough in more ways than I could ever begin to count

And her spirit was meant to rise and shine in her Heavenly Father’s glorious light!

Before I say I do…

…Single, never been married.

…Divorced or separated.

…Widows or widowers.

…Recent college graduates or students.

…People who have emerged from same-sex relationships.

…Independent and successful professionals who are aware of the quiet ticking away of their child-bearing years.

…Any of the above with a child or two that was conceived in or out of wedlock, virgins, those who have been around the block a few times, those who made it to the block but didn’t really go all the way around it, the broken-hearted, the naïve and starry-eyed romantics, the sceptics, the love veterans who came back from the battle of their lives, the proverbs 31 wannabes, the desperately seeking, those with hobbies and ministries to keep them happily pre-occupied….

This whole list is broken down into one very simple term in the church: “The Singles” – One monolithic block of inexplicably unmarried people.

Compare the people who are a part of this list to the Pastors and Church Elders who have been married to the same woman since the beginning of time, have neat little families all loving the Lord together and looking like bright and shining examples of God’s plan for all of humanity and you can see right away that there’s a cultural disconnect somewhere between the “The Singles” and their aforementioned married counterparts.

Why?

The unprecedented explosion of single adult households that we are currently in the midst of is the underlying cause of the disconnection. It’s one of three demographic changes that the marketing research firm Yankelovich Partners is advising Fortune 100 companies to consider if they hope to “stay on top”.

Seeing single mommies, bachelors well into their forties – still dating, bachelorettes who have it all together but no-one to share it with, etc. is becoming more and more common in society and the dating pool is getting wider and wider, teeming with people who are single and ready to mingle, but quantity isn’t really the issue when you’re looking for a life-partner, quality is.

When society devalues the institution of marriage and writes off its credibility, it’s no wonder that brokenness shows up in the church. With the hands-off approach parents and elders have slowly adopted when it comes to the dating habits of today’s singles, many single adults tend to go adrift in their pursuit of a life-partner, not sure if they should even be asking for help meeting and marrying wisely for fear of looking like they’re unsatisfied, too eager, interfering with God’s divine timing, unable to produce the fruits of self-control and long-suffering etc.

One wise pastor once told a group of single adults that he was sympathetic to the challenges of “Endless Opportunity”. Because he was a pastor, father and husband, the boundaries of his day were fairly well-defined from the moment he woke up in the morning. He knew his responsibilities and the priorities he had to attend to and didn’t have to spend a lot of time deciding what he was supposed to do, when and with who.

Single adults on the other hand have so many options that are available to them each day that making the wrong choice is fairly easy. I mean, unlike a generation or two ago, two singles can hook up, decide to move in together without getting married and not even consider that they are missing out on anything by choosing not to officially tie the knot. They’ll just do everything else without all the heavy commitments.

And this isn’t going to make much sense, but contrary to popular belief, my personal belief and conviction is that as a result of this current state of affairs (no pun intended) marriage is more relevant today than ever before.

Stay with me now, I’m about to explain.

There was a time when marriage was a given due to societal norms. Now it is a choice that is made as a statement of faith in true love despite the depravity of society, a choice borne out of the conviction that the person you love deserves your faithfulness and the security of a covenant that is made before God, both families and friends, a choice that isn’t externally induced by society but internally induced by a need to follow a divine order because you value this union and want it to be the foundational platform for future generations that will be born out of it.
Whether or not it is endorsed by movies and music videos, whether or not your own parents had a successful marriage, whether or not the statistics declare that the odds are stacked up against you, you still take that step, selflessly and sacrificially forsaking all others for one when you could have as many as you want if you’re willing to buy all those drinks at the club.

What I’m realizing is that what were once good reasons to get married in my parents’ time are rapidly becoming irrelevant today. For example:

So we can live together. Many couples live happily together for many years without getting married and it’s no longer frowned upon.

For sex. Please.

Financial Security. Both men and women now have the capacity to earn the income of their choice in relation to their skills to achieve a certain lifestyle without anyone having to rely on the other.

So we can have children. Many couples who live together eventually have children out of wedlock too and that’s no longer frowned upon either.

To make our relationship official. You could achieve that by posting up on Facebook that “…. And I are now OFFICIAL” and tag all the people that really really needed to know that and proceed changing your profile picture to one of those “they’re obviously officially together” pictures.

Cooking, cleaning, etc. Get a maid.

So what are we left with?

Well, marriage makes a relationship divine. It’s bigger than you and your feelings for each other, because marriage introduces God into the relationship and makes Him an integral link between the two of you. Until they are married, a couple’s commitment to each other is a human commitment, with all the limitations of being human. We can’t predict the future, what may change in and around us, how the other partner will wrong us. But the marriage covenant elevates the commitment beyond human limitations. It makes the union sacred.

The world has shown us that marriage doesn’t work.

But of course…It’s marriage our way in our own strength through our own intellect.

Of course it won’t work.

It’s not supposed to.

Only after the wedding is your love rescued from superficiality, selfishness and temporality, but blessed with the divine imprint of eternity.

Not that this ideal is dangling like a carrot at the end of my singlehood. It’s not the reward for being a good single person, for memorising enough scriptures, for praying hard enough, for all the occasions of self-denial I have survived etc.

I’m just willing to accept this ministry if and when it comes, understanding full well that as the steward of my husband’s life, I will release Him back into Our Father’s hands one day with an account of how I served faithfully in the position of his wife with the understanding that it never really was about me…