Abstract: Based on ethnographic research in the Republic of Benin, this article explores how Pentecostal teachings on marriage and the management of sexual pleasure contribute to shaping converts’ moral selves. For Pentecostals, fidelity towards God, when single and fidelity between partners, once married, is presented as the ideal model of partnership to which every “Born-Again” should aspire. In the context where polygamous unions are socially accepted, Pentecostal pastors teach that a satisfactory sexual life restricted to marriage is the means of building successful monogamous unions. However, sexual satisfaction might not always guarantee marital success, especially when people face problems of infertility. The author suggests that the disciplinary regimes that these teachings promote contribute to shaping new modes of intimacy, which are compatible with societal changes but often contradict the extant social norms and ideals of reproduction. Moral dilemmas arising from this tension are the key to understanding how Pentecostal Christianity shapes the moral self. The article addresses how Pentecostals in Benin navigate and negotiate cultural continuities and discontinuities in relation to church authority and family life.
Abstract:The stigmatization of children born out of wedlock is not yet common in the rural community of Fransfontein, Northwest Namibia. Comparable to other regions of southern Africa, the birth of a child is very much valued and welcomed regardless of the parent’s marital status, and out-of-wedlock births are very widespread. However, these perceptions are gradually changing. During Sunday mass in the local Protestant church the term /ai-/gôas(b), `sin child’, is increasingly being used to name children originating from extramarital affairs of wealthy married men. This moral discourse is sustained by elite men’s wives, who fear their husbands’ out-of-wedlock children will place claims on their husbands’ wealth. The central aim of the paper is to understand these emerging moral evaluations and discuss their implications as well as creations of novel Christian spaces and new forms of distinction and exclusion.
Abstract: Drawing from extensive fieldwork in east Madagascar, this article examines the role of Pentecostal churches in assuaging gendered suffering among middle-aged women who have become vulnerable to social exclusion. It focuses particularly on two techniques that women use to manage their relationships with husbands and children: cultivated passivity and the creation of a relationship with Jesus through prayer and small acts of exchange. It argues that conversion and the practice of Pentecostal Christianity helps women less by changing their husband’s behavior than by offering them an alternative source of authority and a new set of practices through which to build valued personhood.
Abstract: In contemporary South Africa the nuclear family, made up of a husband and wife with two or three children living in a suburban area, is considered a social ideal and symbol of social and economic success. In Pentecostal Charismatic Churches the nuclear family is also held up as a symbol of success and as a sign of spiritual favour and blessing. Yet many young professional women who are members of Pentecostal Charismatic Churches struggle to find suitable husbands and marry. This paper examines why these women encounter these difficulties and how the Pentecostal Charismatic Churches in this study are opening up new social spaces in which singleness is an acceptable social state. In so doing the paper shows the complex relationship between weddings, sexuality, and economics in the life of young upwardly mobile Pentecostal Charismatic Christians.