We have yoked a lion : the 7th commandment and human dignity in Africa

Van Zyl, Danie (2012)

CITATION: Van Zyl, D. 2012. We have yoked a lion : the 7th commandment and human dignity in Africa. Scriptura, 109:119-132, doi:10.7833/109-0-129.

The original publication is available at http://scriptura.journals.ac.za


It is argued that the prohibition against adultery and related extra marital sexual acts in pre and early Biblical times were not aimed at such acts per se, but at stabilizing relations and protecting the their ethical function was enhanced by making these part of cultic purity regulations. In the post-Old Testament period and especially in the early Christian tradition, sexual restraint to the boundaries of marriage became key in denoting the uniqueness of faith commitment. Since the medieval period through the Reformation and especially in its pietistic off-springs, adultery came to be viewed as one of the main ‘sins’ of humankind. In reaction to this, since the sexual revolution of the mid sixties of the previous century, extra marital sex became a commodity to proportions of idolatry. In traditional African communities there was a very open and relaxed view and practice of extra marital sex. The introduction of Western pietistic missionary teaching on sex on the one hand and the disruption of traditional culture through westernization and lately by mass media, disrupted sexual stability to disastrous proportions in many African communities. In African Christian communities, sexual purity is usually valued highly but seldom practiced. The unrestrained practice of sex and the consequential damage to human dignity of women and children in particular, cannot be redressed by simply preaching the seventh commandment loader. It will have to go hand in hand with redressing of social relations.

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