African Christian theology and sexuality

suti-0000012Some considerations

Authored by: Masiiwa Ragies Gunda

The Routledge Handbook of African Theology

Print publication date:  June  2020
Online publication date:  May  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138092303
eBook ISBN: 9781315107561
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315107561-28

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Abstract

The question of human sexuality has been a troubled and troubling topic in Christian theology, more so in African Christian theology. This chapter seeks to highlight how sexuality has been tackled in African theology, as well as providing some key insights into how African Christian theology could further research on the subject. Besides, a key focus on theology and sexuality, this chapter will also highlight some of the attendant problems that impinge on the substance of this chapter, such as the challenge on the appropriate nomenclature. The development of a systematic or academic Christian theology in Africa for Africans can be “traced since its beginning in more or less the first half of the twentieth century” during which time it “was mostly reactive and apologetic” (Van Eck 2006: 679). The development of a Christian theology in Africa by Africans was itself a realization that all theologies, no matter how they are named, are by nature contextual, socio-historically, even economically conditioned. Whereas African Christian theologians did question a lot of the theologies that were brought by Western missionaries, they largely adopted, without question, the missionary teaching on human sexuality. As observed by Kapya Kaoma (2018: 9), “religion plays a critical role in people’s comprehension of reality and the context of this study, sexuality.” The myth of “Africans do not speak about sexuality” is being widely attested by scholars now, a creation of Victorian Christianity that was brought to Africa by Western missionaries (Arnfred 2004: 59); otherwise “African traditions publicly celebrated sex—something missionaries found appalling, vile, filthy, and unspeakable” (Elphick 2012: 77; Kaoma 2018: 37). If sexuality was so regarded by Africans, it is surprising that of all the strands of African Christian theologies, none of them attempted to rehabilitate the celebration of sexuality as truly the African understanding of sexuality.

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