The sexual dilemma of widowhood within the HIV and AIDS pandemic : a pastoral approach within the Apostolic Faith Mission Church (A.F.M.) in Zimbabwe

Ndlovu, Chazani (2013-03)

Thesis (MTh)--Stellenbosch University, 2013.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The current situation around widowhood sexuality is unspeakably painful. It has been established through literature review in this study that widows are the most neglected group in many societies. In Zimbabwe the unprecedented rise in the number of widows has been caused by the proliferation socio-economic, political climate coupled with the devastating effects of HIV and AIDS pandemic. HIV and AIDS pandemic has caused unimaginable suffering among all segments of society in Zimbabwe but impacts more on women and girls. HIV has increased the number of young widows in the country. This is the group which is still sexual active and they are in the church in quest to find meaning in God. The study also explored how the patriarchal society and religious norms control and manipulate women‟s sexuality. The church and the community views sex and sexuality issues as private matters. Hence, the dilemmas of widowhood sexuality are created by widows‟ failure to publicly and or share their challenges with church leadership. However, it was made clear during the study that the quest for sexual meaning becomes a challenge due to the complexities caused by HIV and AIDS pandemic. The challenge shown in this study was how to do theology and be a church where we accept that all theological formulations and institutional designs are influenced by their context. Therefore, could it be moral for the church to teach that widows embrace other sexual alternatives that are less risk to contract or transmit HIV; such as masturbation, use of sex toys and vibrators? Can these help widows reduce their sexual tension and evoke pleasure? If such or more suitable means are availed by the church how should widows be enriched to live meaningful in their faith in God? For the church to teach widows to say “no” to sexual intimacy outside marriage sound irresponsible and unrealistic to prevailing statistics of widows and their ages in church. However, the dilemma is for them to engage in sexual intimacy without creating other existential issues leading them to live in guilt- feelings and in the process lose their meaning in their God. Is the church willing to look closely to widowhood sexuality in this era of HIV and AIDS pandemic? The HIV and AIDS pandemic challenges the church to formulate policies and reframe pastoral theology in a way that is relevant to allow widows discover a God who can be compassionate and trusted to give meaning in suffering.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die huidige situasie in verband met weduweeskap en seksualiteit is onbeskryflik pynlik. Dit het duidelik geword uit die literatuuroorsig in hierdie studie dat weduwees die mees afgeskeepte groep in baie gemeenskappe is. In Zimbabwe is die ongehoorde styging in die aantal weduwees te wyte aan die groei in die slegte sosio-ekonomiese en politiese klimaat tesame met die verwoestende gevolge van die MIV en VIGS pandemie. Die MIV en VIGS pandemie het ondenkbare lyding veroorsaak in alle areas van die gemeenskap in Zimbabwe, maar dit het 'n groter invloed op vroue en jong meisies. MIV het veroorsaak dat die getal jong weduwees in hierdie land gestyg het. Dit is ook die groep wat steeds seksueel aktief is en hulle kom na die kerk in 'n soeke om betekenis te vind in God. Hierdie studie ondersoek ook hoe die patriargale gemeenskap en sy godsdienstige norme vroue se seksualiteitbeheer en manipuleer. Die kerk en die gemeenskap beskou seks en seksualiteit as 'n private aangeleentheid. Die gevolg is dat die dilemma van weduweeskap en seksualiteit geskep word deur die weduwee se versuim om haar uitdagings in die openbaar of by die kerkleiers bekend te maak. Dit het egter gedurende hierdie studie duidelik geraak dat die soeke na seksuele betekenis 'n groot uitdaging is as gevolg van die kompleksiteite wat veroorsaak word deur die MIV en VIGS pandemie. Die uitdaging wat met hierdie studie beklemtoon word, is hoe om teologie toe te pas en 'n kerk te wees wat aanvaar dat alle teologiese formulering en institusionele ontwerpe ook deur hul konteks beïnvloed word. Is dit derhalwe 'n morele probleem vir die kerk om vir weduwees aan te beveel om seksuele alternatiewe te ondersoek wat minder risiko's inhou vir die opdoen of oordra van MIV; soos masturbasie, die gebruik van seksspeelgoed en vibrators? Kan hierdie alternatiewe metodes weduwees help om hul seksuele spanning te verminder en seksuele genot te ervaar? Indien hierdie, of ander geskikte metodes, deur die kerk benut word, hoe kan weduwees verryk word deur betekenisvol tot hul geloof in God te leef? Vir die kerk om weduwees te leer om “nee” te sê vir seksuele intimiteit buite die huwelik klink onverantwoordelik en onrealisties as die heersende getal weduwees in die kerk en hul ouderdomme in ag geneem word. Die dilemma is egter vir hulle om seksuele intimiteit te beleef sonder om ander eksistensiële vraagstukke te skep, wat hulle dwing om saam te leef met skuldgevoelens en in die proses betekenis in hul God verloor. Is die kerk bereid om noukeurig te kyk na weduweeskap en seksualiteit in hierdie era van die MIV en VIGS pandemie? Die MIV en VIGS pandemie daag die kerk uit om beleide te formuleer en pastorale teologie te herdefinieer op 'n manier wat relevant is tot die ontdekking van 'n God wat medelydend en betroubaar is en wat betekenis kan gee aan lyding.

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