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Keep the vulgar out of the church
29/12/2013 00:00:00
by Learnmore Zuze
 
 
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LAST weekend I was a participant at a friend’s wedding. Hours trickled and eventually the Master of Ceremony extended time to accommodate speeches from relatives and friends of the groom and the bridegroom. The speeches came in all sizes and shapes - hilarious, boring, short and long. I recall the last speaker. He was a lively and comical old man whom I had a chat with shortly before the proceedings. He struggled with his step from the pews as he made his long walk to give the speech. The excitable and youthful MC strode towards him to hand him the microphone. Surprisingly, the old man declined the offer instead saying that the microphone would “distract” his speech as he drew laughter from the audience.

The MC again asked him to come up to the pulpit so that he could speak from the raised platform. “That place where you are standing my son is holy and sacred. You do not just venture there unannounced” was his laughter-drawing response again. The old man had a funny way about him but I fell in love with his realization that the pulpit is sacred. His appearance and demeanor smacked of an old man from the deep jungles of rural Zimbabwe yet somehow he retained the sense to know that the pulpit deserved respect. One would have expected ignorance from him. The MC tried in vain to persuade him to come onto the raised platform but the old man went on to give his ‘rib-cracking’ speech from the floor.

As most of us grew up we were taught of the importance of reverence in the house of God. The presence of God has always been revered. Songs are still sung which emphasize that people should tread softly in the sanctuary. Eating or sleeping was viewed as shameless audacity in the sacred house. To put it mildly, the skimpy dressing found in churches today was unthinkable. Nursing mothers were to sit outside or occupy a place of their own. Today, the reverence which characterized the pulpit or the church is slowly but surely sinking into oblivion. I was drawn to this topic after I came across a popular video of one Zimbabwean preacher. The incredible video has gone viral on the internet. The preacher makes a mockery of the pulpit by churning out vulgar language in his sermon. For a moment I thought it was a comedy imitation of a sermon but I was to recognize the bishop who appeared in the video as a “respected” man of the cloth.



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What even defied all logic was the rapturous approval he received from the church as he spoke obscenities right from the pulpit. Imagine a preacher who talks of and demonstrates a sex position from the pulpit only to try and condemn the same. I could not help but shake my head in total disbelief. I was to get the shock of my life as I started on a path to investigate this tendency in churches. My search reminded me of my primary school teacher who was very fond of the phrase, “fish out of water” This was our teacher’s way of saying that one had done the unexpected or one was simply at the wrong place or in the wrong group. There are things that naturally you would not expect to see in certain places. One would not expect to see an owl comfortably perched on a tree during the day.

My jaw dropped when I came to the realization that the use of this unrefined language has taken root across the country. Not one or two preachers are using the pulpit this way. It appears that a number of pastors are failing to draw the line between their authority in commanding the flock and the reverence required of them in the House of God. There is a woman preacher who uses the pulpit to admonish women and her teachings (which are heavily laden with sexual innuendoes) have been the subject of controversy. She teaches women on how to please their husbands in bed and in some instances presents the message in skimpy attire as a way of putting her point across. While I do not wish to dwell on the content of her teachings, I found her raw use of vulgar language demeaning to the reverence that the church deserves. There is yet another Manicaland preacher whose entire sermon is made up of references to human excrement. All the examples in her sermon will end up with references to the toilet or feacal matter. This abhorrent practice is becoming widespread in the country. Consequently, fellow preachers have not spoken against this practice which continues unabated.

Indeed, God gave mandate to men and women to guide and lead the flock. However, it is important for ministers of the Word to realize that they are not exempted from following laid down precepts in the house of God. The bishop or preacher is still human like any other member of their flock and has to observe reverence in that House for it is God’s House. It is the very reason (of inappropriateness) that Jesus Christ chased away people who were engaging in untoward practices in the House of God (Mark 11:15).Jesus asks the same question today, “Is it not written: My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations?” Moses, in the Bible, was even asked to remove shoes as his feet were stepping on holy ground. Apostle Peter counsels, “If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God.” (1 Peter 1: 11).Bishops should not engage in uncouth language not befitting of servants of God. Leadership roles do not give pastors or preachers exclusive rights to do as they please in the sanctuary. They are not exempted from exemplary Christian living and standards.

It is important, my friends, that we all give the pulpit a dignified face. Remember this is the last hour. Take heed that no one deceives you.

You can e-mail Learnmore at lastawa77@gmail.com


 
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