A soaring and contentious debate continues to linger between the LGBT community and the church. The argument goes like this: the Christian community [at least some of it] believes that homosexuality is unnatural and this is based on the fact that God, in the garden of Eden, created Adam (male) and Eve (female) and instructed them to reproduce and fill the earth (Genesis 1 verses 27 – 28). This is taken as a benchmark for relations between any two people – in the Garden of Eden; a heterosexual relationship was the order of the day, as it should today. The church further throws spanners in the works and argue that if homosexual relations were part of creation, God would have also/instead created ‘Adam and Steve’ which He did not thus making homosexual relationships foreign to creation and unnatural. On the other hand, the book of Genesis chapter 1 verse 27 says so God created man in his own image. For the LGBT community and especially those who are affiliated with the Christian faith this works as a counter attack. A gay person might ask ‘if I am created in the image of God then why am I gay since many have portrayed Him to be a gay, lesbian and bisexual hating God’?
There are numerous other verses in the bible that speaks about the inherent sinfulness of homosexual relationships such as Leviticus 20:13 that say that if a male lies with a male as with a women then they have both committed and abomination and they shall be put to death. 1st Corinthians 6:9-11 speaks about those who will not inherit the Kingdom of God and includes those who practice homosexuality. Romans 1:26-28 speaks about both men and women exchanging natural relations for those that are contrary to nature and how God gave them up to dishonourable passion. 1st Timothy 1:10 speak about sexual immorality and homosexual practices as contrary to sound doctrine. Jude 1:7 speaks about the sexual immoralities and unnatural sexual desires in Sodom and Gomorrah and how the inhabitants of those cities were punished by the wrath of God. There are other biblical scriptures that speak about unnatural sexual desires and that they did not go unpunished. These scriptures have served as strong ammunition and reference point for the church and the Christian community at large.
As a devote Christian I do not dispute the writings of the bible, however I do believe that the way those scriptures have been used has not to be in the best interest of people. Let me perhaps clarify here that this article is not an attack on a certain group, but to convey my personal opinions about this issue. In most cases, scriptures about the sinfulness of homosexuality have been used to instil fear in the hearts of people, particularly those who identify themselves as Christian but who are also gay. They are threatened with the wrath of God and they are assured that they will never see the kingdom of God if they stay in their homosexual ways. Although this may work for many and it may in fact propel some to ‘convert’ from homosexuality to heterosexuality, for others it makes them question their self worth and their position in the larger scheme of things. For others it compels them to re-interrogate their identity and more often than not plunge deep once more into confusion and uncertainness. For others, it forces them to ask question such as who God is and how He feels about them as gay Christians. It makes most feel judged and condemned to eternal suffering. And still it throws others into deep despair.
One cannot help but to ask himself to what end and for what purpose are the Holy Scriptures used – is it used to convince homosexual people of their sinfulness with the hope of converting them from their unnatural desires so that they see the kingdom of God? Or are the scriptures used to defend the status and image of the church and the Christian religion, is it a means to saving face? Or are the scriptures used to oppress, marginalize and discriminate against a certain group of people that are seen as deviating from traditional standards and values?
I cannot argue the first two but I can argue the latter. It is no secret that the LGBT community has faced a lot of opposition from diverse institutions including politics, religion and cultural groupings. As diverse as these institutions are and perhaps as conflicting as they may be at time, they have however not failed to unite under one mandate – and that is to uproot homosexuality wherever it grows. In other African countries, this uprooting takes on more fierce and frightening forms such as imprisonment and/or death which are deemed as just and fitting. It cannot be denied that religion in general and the church in particular has a played an important role in influencing national policies regarding homosexual relations in many different countries. No longer does the church go on witch hunts like in ancient Europe, now it goes on gay hunts. I am not attacking the church of God, as a Christian and a God fearing young man I can never do that, however I am merely challenging some of the preaching of the church with regard to this issue.
Still I am not defending homosexuality, however it is just to speak out and ask questions when a certain institution (not only the church) starts to use its knowledge and resource to promote the oppression of a certain group of people.
One needs to ask whether the condemnation from the church is just or not. For the LGBT community, the church has never been a place of refuge. In the church, a gay man can never be himself lest he be stared at with the judgemental and condemning eye of the entire church service. The church does not do ‘unnatural’ but only natural. Homosexuality is a foreign to the church as it claimed to be foreign in Africa. In my opinion, this is not a reflection on God, but a reflection on people who translate and put into effect biblical scriptures. It is very much surprising that homosexuality has taken on the spotlight more than other practices that the bible condemns such as sexual immorality (which, contrary to popular belief does not only apply to homosexual people but also extends to heterosexual people as well), adultery, murder, making false statements about one’s neighbour, etc.
Compared to homosexuality, other sins that the bible lists are taken as just minor deviations and almost always pardonable unlike homosexuality which is said to be a sure ticket to the fiery depths of hell. In some churches heterosexual couples can date, cohabit and have premarital sex and no one will say anything nor condemn it, but if an obvious gay guy walks into the church all eyes will be on him, God forbid should he walk in hand in hand with his partner!
So is this condemnation really necessary or constructive? I do not think so. I think that it fosters intolerance and prejudice. I think it fosters hostility against those who identify themselves as gay or lesbian and I think it creates a context where it is okay to look at homosexual individuals as less than people and thus undeserving to be treated with fairness and equality that everyone else is strives for. I think that this condemnation and use of fear tactics mostly serve to drive people away from Christianity and religion in general. I am not prohibiting the preaching of the word of God, in fact all people should have an opportunity to hear it and then make their own decisions, but I do prohibit the use of the word of God as tools of oppression and prejudice towards a minority group. I do prohibit the ridiculing and insulting of other people all in the name of God. I do prohibit using the word of God to create intolerance and hatred of a group of people by another. I do prohibit the marginalization and the denial of rights of a certain group of people just because they do not exactly fit within the bounds of what is considered natural. I do object to the condemnation of the LGBT community!