We’ll be exploring several of the reasons why the Prosperity Gospel (PG) is so prevalent in South Africa. The first cause we’ll address is absentee fathers, or, single-parent homes.
Surveys show that South Africa has among the highest number of single parent homes in the world. In fact, according to a recent study, children from South Africa are least likely to live in a home with two parents. Only about 36% of South African households have both a father and a mother.
It is most likely even worse in the rural areas because so many men and women leave for Joburg and other big cities to find work.
Why do single-parent homes lower a culture’s defenses against false teaching like the PG? First, Scripture warns us that charlatans and false teachers will prey on women. “For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions” (2Tm. 3:6).
Just a quick glance at South Africa churches, laden with mostly female voices, shames us into knowing that men have abandoned their posts. The biblical model is that, should a teacher teach heresy behind the pulpit, the woman can return home and talk to her husband about it (1Cor. 14:35). “What did you think about the sermon, honey?” Instead, many men in South Africa see Sunday as a time for drinking, not thinking.
This isn’t to say men aren’t deceived by false teaching. They certainly are. But women are by nature more merciful than men and often lack the fortitude to resist the constant onslaught of false teaching. In some ways, women are more easily fooled then men. Adam was not deceived, but Eve was (1Tm. 2:14).
But notice what kind of women are fooled. They are “gullible” (NKJV) women “loaded down with sins.” Because they’ve been stricken with such emotional and spiritual guilt over past sins, they are easy prey for preachers who present themselves almost as a kind of spiritual “daddy” and husband.
Second, single-parent homes are generally much deeper in poverty than two-parent households. Women that are unemployed or who have little income become desperate. They need deliverance. They need a breakthrough–a miracle. This is exactly what the PG preachers offer.
The guilt sits squarely in the laps of South African males. We need men of courage who will protect the ladies from unsound doctrine. We need men of faithfulness, who will never think of touching a girl inappropriately until they are married. We need men of honesty, who will reside with one woman for one life–no matter the cost or difficulty. We need men of learning, who are so immersed in their Bibles that they can sniff out a false doctrine immediately. We need men of authority, who will not cower to their wives but live as the spiritual leaders in their homes.