Church Picking On Gays
By Byron Buckley , Contributor
ALAS, PRIME Minister Portia Simpson Miller has named her Cabinet, notwithstanding the fear and hysteria expressed by some clergymen during the recent election campaign, about the possible inclusion of homosexuals in her administration.
Indeed, the overwhelming political mandate, in terms of seat count and geographic spread, given to Mrs Simpson Miller and her party is perhaps a rebuff to those who sought to vilify her position that she would appoint persons to Cabinet positions based on merit rather than sexual orientation.
It is shameful and scandalous for a Christian to support the victimisation (beat the B-man) and discrimination (job denial) of homosexuals and any other groups of persons.
The Christian community in Jamaica is grappling with the dilemma of how to embrace homosexuals while not condoning their sexual orientation and lifestyle.
Why do Christians regard homosexuality as an exceptional or grievous sin?
It is in a Christian's 'DNA' to object to homosexual practices. After all, homosexuality runs counter to the natural principle of procreation established by God. Copulation by Adam and Eve (not Steve) ensures the continuation of the human race. In underscoring this point, God, through Scripture, has regarded homosexuality and bestiality as morally reprehensible.
unnatural, sinful and inimical
Throughout Old and New Testament Scripture, God has expressed displeasure at men and women engaging in unnatural sexual acts with persons of the same sex. The Bible has even come out against men behaving effeminately. Importantly, the Bible forbids other kinds of sexual immorality, including fornication, incest, divorce/adultery and prostitution. Indeed, St Paul told Christians at Corinth that persons who practised homosexuality, adultery and idolatry, among other sins, would not enter God's kingdom.
So, the Church is on message in its opposition to homosexuality. And this article is not a call for the Church to abandon its teaching and stance against homosexuality as unnatural, sinful and inimical to procreation and family life as designed by God.
However, this is a critique of the Church's extreme and selective attitude towards homosexuality and those who practise it - which is contrary to Christians' mission to share the good news with ALL.
New Testament writers refer to homosexuality as part of sexual immorality in general. So to be consistent, the Church should oppose, with equal energy, adultery, fornication, wife-swapping, incest, paedophilia and the high rate of broken marriages. The Church can't cherry-pick its favourite sin to oppose. Homosexuals see straight through this double standard and ask, 'Why discriminate and victimise us?'
What's the real reason Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed? Although Christians often point to the destruction of these cities as caused by rampant homosexuality, there is reason to believe the practice was one of a suite of sinful behaviours that God found offensive. The Hebrew prophet Ezekiel explained the iniquity of Sodom and Gomorrah as pride, fullness of bread (material wealth), abundance of idleness (hedonism), lack of care for the poor and needy, haughtiness and abominable (homosexual) practices.
So, again, Christians have chosen to take their own meaning or emphasis from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. A more apt message to take away is that as a society, we should ensure that material prosperity does not cause us to descend into an orgy of immorality and sensuality. We should also ensure that we take care of the disadvantaged, the poor and needy. This is why Christians should never be found in the position where they are supporting harm being done to anyone - especially with the Church's dismal record during the Crusades and the transatlantic slave trade.
The transformative mission of the Church requires it to display a higher standard of behaviour towards homosexuals. Christians should be leading the way generally in protecting the welfare of homosexuals. Christians can't join the rowdy chorus of 'kill or beat the B-man.' The challenge for the Church is to establish a caring and grace-filled environment that enables it to share the transformative gospel with homosexuals as well. Jesus Christ came to heal the broken-hearted and set the captives free - in short, to transform lives.
The Church cannot be selective about who it ministers to, nor can it place boundaries against groups - such as homosexuals - as if they are beyond God's love.
I believe while there are persons who have accepted their homosexual orientation, others have not. This is where the Church has a mission to offer counsel and healing. But a condemnatory stance by the Church will only drive away such persons who are likely to be befriended by the wrong crowd.
The homophobic (I deliberately choose this word) reaction by some church leaders and Christians is tactically foolish. In the grand culture war and cosmic struggle between good and evil, Christians must secure victory with the weapon of love, which will bring transformation to individual lives.
Maybe Christians have adopted a hard line against homosexuals because, in the case of Sodom and Gomorrah, God destroyed, rather than mercifully saving them.
But that's not the full story: Sodom and Gomorrah could have been saved if there were enough righteous people there! In the final analysis, no matter how repulsed Christians are by the haughtiness of some homosexuals, we should leave their fate to God.
In the meantime, we anticipate the PM carrying through her campaign promise to debate and review the law against buggery, allowing legislators to vote according to their conscience and upon their constituents' advice.
No doubt, the voice of the Church and faith-based community will be heard. After all, Jamaica is a pluralistic society as well as a robust democracy. And I prefer this to a theocracy.
Byron Buckley is an associate editor at The Gleaner. The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the newspaper. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
January 8, 2012