Gender Focus with EMELDA MWITWA
A SERMON at church last Sunday on the correlation between untamed anger and domestic violence presented interesting lessons.
It was one of those unusual Sundays when a preacher would dedicate his entire sermon to domestic violence in all its facets – physical, emotional, psychological.
The matter-of-fact sermon got many heads nodding and probably hearts convicted as the preacher talked about how bottled-up emotions and failure to control anger beget violence between husband and wife, brother and sister, parents and children and worker against co-worker.
The preacher, Reverend Kangwa Mumba of Bread of Life Church in Kitwe, was visiting my local church as a guest speaker.
As an anti-gender-based violence (GBV) activist, I was heartened by the sermon which was encouraging peaceful settlement of disputes in homes, workplaces and families.
Let me share the snippets of his sermon.
Rev Mumba lamented the increasing incidence of domestic violence, culminating in the maiming of victims and loss of life.
The killing of 32-year-old Mildred Habasefu in Monze last week by her husband, who tied her hands and beat her to death, was among the infamous cases of GBV he cited.
With a message titled ‘Why are You Angry’, and Bible reading from the books of Genesis 4:3- 8 and Ephesians 4:26-27, he challenged us not to allow anger to take root in our hearts because that has dangerous consequences.
He said spouse battering, jealousy, unforgiveness and bitterness are offshoots of uncontrolled anger or rather bottled-up emotions.
“In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold,” Rev Mumba said reading from Ephesians 4:26-27.
And using Genesis 4:3-8, he shared that Cain killed his brother Abel because he was angry or jealous that the Lord had looked at his offering with favour.
The Bible records that “The LORD looked with favour on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering, he did not look with favour. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.”
The reverend said anger management is a problem for many people mainly because they fail to heed the biblical commandment to forgive unconditionally.
He observed that while the Bible urges us not to go to bed angry, couples fight fiercely, sometimes killing one’s because they harbour grudges against each other.
Domestic violence, he shared, is usually a culmination of unsettled disputes and unforgiveness, and if these issues are left unresolved, people begin to resent their spouses.
When this happens, some of the married people end up finding comfort in the arms of the opposite sex.
Men and women, Rev Mumba said, are all vulnerable to untamed anger and its offshoots. The vice looms far and wide – in homes, churches, schools and workplaces.
Some men, the preacher said, have a habit of beating their wives and they have adopted that as a way of life.
He warned such men that the usual fights may not end well one day as one partner may be pounded to death on the spur-of-the-moment.
“Be warned that one day a life may be lost and you will lose your freedom and you will regret your actions,” Rev Mumba said.
The reverend also prodded women to guard against emotional abuse of their husbands with a ‘sharp tongue’.
He said emotional violence is more painful than physical abuse because it leaves victims devastated and egos crushed for a very long time.
According to Rev Mumba, men find it difficult to forget and recover from demeaning sentiments from their wives.
He said sentiments such as ‘You are not man enough’, or ‘We have met real men before’, can shutter a man’s ego and destroy the camaraderie between husband and wife.
The point he was driving at is that women should never compare their husbands to other men who are supposedly better in certain ways.
From the emphatic manner in which he said it and the affirmation from men in the house, I suppose women who do so are kind of guilty of first-degree emotional abuse of men, if there is anything like that.
Then men were also seriously cautioned against over-reacting to provocation from their spouses with fists of fury.
“If your wife calls you a monkey, don’t over-react. That actually makes her Mrs Monkey,” the preacher said, sending congregants into roars of laughter.
The preacher also brought in another dimension of emotional violence arising from jealousy and unresolved family disputes.
He talked about how some people take offence at seeing their friends or relatives succeeding in their careers or businesses.
This too breeds resentment and could destroy relationships.
Basically, he was encouraging us to celebrate the success of others and not to fight the people who may be doing better than us.
The lesson to us, in a nutshell, was never to give room to anger because it has potential to destroy lives, relationships and property.
Anger causes people to overreact to situations, say or do things they may later regret. The reverend gave us tips for overcoming burning rage.
“Do not prolong your period of anger. Don’t keep grudges; if someone offends you, forgive and forget. Pray against the spirit of anger. Do not associate with angry people because anger can be learnt by association.”
He a l so urged those contemplating marriage to subject their future partners to an anger management test before saying ‘I do’.
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Gender Focus with EMELDA MWITWA