‘Sex is an art. Have fun, play around.’ That’s the advice of a controversial South African pastor.
Japhet Ncube profiles the man of the cloth who uses shocking sermons to save troubled marriages.
ASouth African pastor is shocking religious leaders and stirring controversy with sexually explicit sermons.
While he has kept the nation’s tongues wagging, Agrippa Khathide has also become the most sought-after pastor in the country.
Here’s a typical Khathide statement: « I want my wife to be a respectable and dignified woman but when we get into the bedroom, she has to be a b****. »
Such statements trouble some of his peers.
« He is too direct, » complains the Reverend Selby Khumalo, of the same church. « For younger couples, who are his target audience, the preachings are popular, but with the old school he is too direct and goes against the Bible, which doesn’t talk of sex as directly as he does.
« The language makes Christians very uncomfortable. »
But the 43-year-old Khathide, a veteran of the Apostolic Faith Mission Church, will not back down, arguing his sex sermons have a sacred mission: to save marriages.
He is immensely suited to do that — not only is Khathide a qualified theologian, but he has also been a marriage counsellor for 20 years.
« Church leaders still consider sex to be taboo, » he says. « But many marriages are collapsing because of the silence. Many married couples face problems because the sex is neither up to scratch nor existent. The church can help change that. »
Khathide is so popular that he has opened a telephone hotline for couples in need.
The Sowetan Sunday World, the country’s fastest-growing weekly newspaper, has even enlisted his services as a columnist. Khathide calls his widely-read column « SexTalk ».
The newspaper’s editor, Charles Mogale, says the decision to take Khathide on board was taken « after we realised the language he spoke was important for our young, sexually active readership ».
Even though he only started in July, the response from readers has been overwhelming. « I can safely say it is one of the most popular columns in our paper, » Mogale says.
Khathide has also appeared on Phat Joe Live, the popular TV show on the independent e.tv channel, and on the educational youth show, Take 5. He also appears on radio programmes, giving sex tips.
That’s not all: Khathide raised eyebrows when he booked six couples into a posh hotel near Johannesburg in late June to put what he preaches into practice. The couples had won a night at the four-star hotel during a contest on Khaya FM, a popular private radio station in Johannesburg.
« The women told me they had done what they had never dreamt they’d do with their husbands, » the preacher reported. « I keep in touch with them even now and they tell me they are happier and that sex now has a whole new meaning to them. »
He has released a tape recording of his explicit sermons, called Talking to Married Couples, which sold more than 20000 copies in its first month. He has also published six books, including Bone of My Bones, Building Functional Marriages in Africa and Youth Power.
He is raising eyebrows with his message that sex belongs to God — and it should be lots of fun.
« The spiritual purpose of the album is to (put) sex into its rightful place, » he says. « Sex is God’s property. We are redeeming it. It doesn’t belong to the devil.
« The human body is capable of pleasure, » he continues. « As a godly person, you don’t have to view pleasure as demonic. »
On sexual equality, he states: « I am saying women should be taken as equals in sex. A man as the head of the family is there for the woman, and not the other way round.
« A man has to satisfy his wife’s needs, including the sexual ones. I sleep with my wife until she’s satisfied, » says Khathide, who has been married for 22 years and has five children.
His wife quips: « You can’t say he doesn’t practise what he preaches; not with five children. »
His tape tackles subjects like foreplay, premature ejaculation and weak erections — all against the backdrop of « amens » and Biblical quotations.
Khathide says he bases his arguments on the Bible’s account of Adam and Eve, who were naked in the presence of the Lord: « It is possible that God visited them and found them having sex because they were both naked. »
« Those who have spoken to me say some form of healing has come into their marriages, » he claims. « People are overjoyed that these things can be spoken about in public without shame. »
His tips include adventure, innovation and experimentation: « There is not one style for sex in the Bible. »
Khathide also tells men to be faithful to their wives and encourages women to initiate sex — « Wear sexy, revealing lingerie. »
He instructs couples to be artistic. « Sex is an art, » he says. « Have fun, play around. »
Some are shocked by his frank sermons.
« According to our culture and morals, the content is a bit heavy, » renowned actor and gospel music producer Tshepo Nzimande said. « It is direct and to the point in an uncomfortable way. »
Rev Jonathan Mkhwanazi of the Zion Christian Church says Khathide is taking sex education too far.
« In the church we address couples in private; we don’t preach good sex to them in packed halls, » he said. « Some of the words he uses are too explicit for black Christians … the language is just too hard. »
But other pastors support Khathide’s taboo-breaking activities.
Pastor Vusi Radebe of the sprawling Leondale township near Johannesburg thinks Khathide’s message gives « a new dimension in breaking traditional barriers, leading to openness in sex ».
But, Radebe admits, when he first heard the sermons he could not believe the content. « I had to pinch myself. »
Malehlohonolo Khambule, a former teacher, also approves. « The tapes can teach people who have been exposed to marital sex at an early age but don’t have much knowledge. »
Khathide admits it was difficult deciding to go public with his sermons. « I’ve agonised over my image and the thought of being seen as X-rated, but I am now sure what I did was right.
« Who said sexuality and spirituality should be separated? » — Gemini News
*Japhet Ncube is a magazine journalist based in Johannesburg. He regularly writes for publications and news agencies in the UK.