(Unforgivably long; but cant help it - like I said in my last post, it's an article that was published some time ago, so can't cut anything out ... )
Three days ago, I had a combustible argument in school. Against an `army' of 4 highly intelligent students, and two not-so-intelligent ones, I made my case for the rights of every human being to their sexuality.
One interesting thing I noticed was that whilst all of them were united against my argument, all of them had completely different reasons for opposing me… that should interest you, the implication being that when it comes to the issue of sexual rights and sexual freedoms, everyone already has a stand before desperately seeking ways to defend that stand.
To anyone who has followed my views over time, my somersault in principle as concerns this issue would be something of a shock, remembering the deliberate bile and calculated passion with which I tore at the Anglican Church for ordaining a gay man as a Bishop last year.
The gay bishop...
But since that time I have grown as a person, and I have learnt to listen to other people with other life experiences and to always look at the larger picture.
Now, in the course of the argument referred to above, one in the latter group informed me that God hates gays and that was why he destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. That really got me thinking, and pushed me into picking up my bible and reading through it again, in case I missed something…
What really happened in the cities of Sodom & Gomorrah? What I have discovered is that many Christians have deliberately misconstrued, misinterpreted and misapplied the story and its morale simply to support a misguided campaign.
Did God destroy Sodom & Gomorrah because of homosexuals? N-O! And this I recently discovered to my eternal chagrin. Having done some biblical research on this issue, even against the backdrop of the fire-and-brimstone stand of US Evangelicals (we call them Pentecostals) who now want to consume America with their brand of `righteousness', I have realised that there are a lot of contradictions in their propositions – which, unfortunately, I used to accede to.
Now according to the bible, God sent His angels to destroy the two cities because "their sin was great". No sin was singled out.
Indeed, before the men got to the house of Lot and were harassed by Sodomites, they had already intended to destroy the cities. Do you remember that God and Abraham looked and looked and couldn't find even five righteous men in the whole city? Does it mean then that everybody in that city was engaged in the sin of homosexualism? Think about that …
Let's move forward: when the angels got to Lot's house, the book of Genesis reports that the `men' of the city "compassed the house round, both young and old, all the people from every quarter" and said to Lot, "bring (the men) out, that we may know them."
Now, apart from the fact that the bible has so obviously explained the composition of the mob by qualifying the sentence with "all the people", it is standard etymology of the bible that it uses the generic word "men" for both the male and female gender. It is therefore obvious that by "men", it meant the people i.e. men and women of Sodom and Gomorrah as it had already qualified in the same sentence.
And if you still are not convinced, then remember that Lot first offered his daughters to the men of the city. If they were homosexual men, pray why would he give them his daughters for a session he must have known they wouldn't be interested in?!
Indeed, what becomes obvious is that, because it was a gender-mixed crowd, he was offering his daughters to be slept with by the men in the crowd. Because the people insisted on getting hold of the men in his house … by whose authority do we insist then that the angels were going to be raped by fellow men, and not the women in the group as should logically be presumed?
And even for those who say the angels blinded the `men' because they were gay, does it mean that if the assailants were women, the angels would have been happy, and would have then accepted? Does that make any sense to you?
It is abundantly obvious that the people of Sodom were only looking to perform depravity by any means – and not homosexual-specific sins. They wanted to defile the strangers in the city for some perverted reason – and it obviously would have made no difference to them if the strangers were male or female.
The book of Jude re-emphasises the point when it says: "Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner gave themselves into fornication …" The sin was fornication, not homosexuality …
It is important to state clearly that my point isn’t necessarily a claim that there was no homosexuality going on in those times, or that it is not a sin that God frowns out, what I am instead doing is give a lie to the obvious fallacy that God destroyed a whole city ONLY because of homosexuals!
As I have already noted, even if the men were homosexual, God had already decreed to destroy the city before they approached the angels, he didn't make the decision because of their subsequent actions. Their "sins were great" so "he was wroth".
In God's eyes, adultery is just as bad as homosexuality, being a liar is equal to being gay. Fraud and blackmail, which are crimes a good many of our `ministers of God' will be found guilty of, is just as bad as men sleeping with men. Where then do we get off with this silly notion that our sins are more acceptable to God than the sins of another because of the gender of our fornicating partners?
In James, the bible makes the point clearly. In the 10th verse of its second chapter, it informs us that: "For whosoever shall keep the whole law and offend in one point, he is guilty of all!" Is there need for further proof?
Of course, having failed here, the self-appointed defenders of God will accelerate to the new testament and put Apostle Paul on the witness stand: in his letters to the churches, he strongly condemned homosexuality. True. However we must remember that he also advocated that women should cover their hair in church, women should not speak in church and many other such controversial and somewhat rigid measures which we Christians have correctly explained away as advice or informed opinion, rather than law.
In legal terms, those writings are equivalent to opinion juris, rather than lex: they are rightly regarded by Ministers of the bible as the opinions of a respected Christian, rather than law laid down from the heavens, which is why they are not adhered to! Following that line of thought, it follows that the apostles only opined about gays and many other such sundry issues; and never said their writings were binding as law or were direct inspiration from God.
I do not intend to belabour the issue.
In America, a pastor – man of God, supposedly ordained to preach the message of salvation - was forced to apologise for saying ON THE PULPIT that he would commit murder if a gay man touched him. Again, there is a Christian website called godhatesfags.com, but it is more likely that the ones He hates are the people who built that site: the kinds of people the Book of 1st John refers to when it says: "If a man says, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar!" It continues: "He that loveth not knoweth not God." Period!
As I write, I remember that a valid point supporters made for the gay bishop last year was his record as an exemplary priest whose life showed forth the fruits of the spirit, and that his sexuality was a negligible, and therefore irrelevant, part of him. Indeed, I am tempted to say that it would be more palatable to have as a priest that kind of a bishop, whose parishioners would so staunchly defend, than the many pastors here who talk down at their members and add nothing positive to their lives.
What the bible advocates is that our lives should be a signpost that will draw others to Him and to righteousness. With the kind of bigotry, bullying and hatred we show, when our lives do not even follow the scriptures' more basic tenets, do we show the love the bible preaches when we say, "I would stab anyone that is a fag!"?
Get a life! What gives you that right? Is it better then to be an adulterer who abandons his children and steals government money than a gay who lives his life morally and legally? On what sane, rational basis would anyone make that conclusion?
I have had the rare opportunity in the last couple of months to come in contact with gay people, and I have read up on many others: the shocking revelation I got was that 90% of them would immediately change the situation if they thought they could – some have indeed tried very hard to, and failed.
Yet some have attempted suicide out of frustration, juts because the rest of us have decided to bully them, just the same way albinos, fat people, and minorities in general have been derided and bullied over centuries. But these people are neither evil, irresponsible, nor are they deviant - they are normal people just as much in search of salvation as I am from my sharp tongue.
It therefore becomes very convincing the argument that God created them that way.
But even if it is a sin, did God appoint any of us His law enforcers? Isn't He that made the law from heaven, who created the earth and all that is in it strong enough to see it to an end? Does he force anyone to follow his laws? Didn't he place in the same garden the fruits of good and evil??
Indeed, when Jesus was on earth, do you remember him force anyone to be holy? Didn't the saviour eat with sinners to the chagrin of all the `holy men' of Israel? When that prostitute ran to him and poured oil on his feet, wasn't Judas Iscariot the leader of the pack who sought to condemn her? And what did `Pope Judas' end up doing to the Master? How come we conveniently forget Jesus' reaction to people like you who sought to stone the adulterous woman brought to him? "He who is without sin …"
Jesus understood. He was pro-choice: he allowed people live their lives because he knew that any society founded on moral superiority is wont to hypocrisy, hatred and strife. In His original plan, he allowed man to make his own choices even if they would be wrong – all He did and still does is advise, solicit, persuade. In his years on earth, he absolutely detested the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, and the Scribes. He knew that their moral-high standing was one to which they had no right – because "our righteousness is as filthy rags"!
He was a rebel. He hated the very idea that whoever did not conform to standard was ostracised, especially when those who were doing the ostracising were no better! The Creator did not fight sinners, yet those He created think they should! They insist on defending God better than Himself! And yet they piously take the front pews in church and imagine that they are saner than Osama bin Laden …
In fact, this whole homophobia thing makes no sense to me! Why are we so annoyed by the kind of sex two consenting adults have? What sort of fundamentally flawed sense of moral superiority makes us think we have a right to assault and condemn a lesbian or a gay man? Tell me, how does what any man or woman do in the privacy of their bedrooms, without forcing anybody, or harming anyone, actively affect your life or mine? And what makes us have the right to tell a man he must sleep with a woman simply because you and I are attracted to women? And how come we don't have commensurate disgust for such other "unnatural" sexual acts as masturbation, oral sex, and anal sex?
I cannot understand this HYPOCRISY in the Nigerian society, and even in more liberalised ones, as the American elections have shown us. The Church in America has not ceased to gloat that it gave George Bush victory based on `solid moral values' just because he hates gays … but does that really make any sense?
Does it make sense that the church celebrates giving victory to a murderer and a liar? Are you aware that certain American pastors (having decided that Bush had a `moral agenda' after he promised to amend the constitution to ban gay marriages) lied to their gullible members that Bush found Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq, just to get congregations to vote him?
Leading the global hypocricy battle...
Does it mean that being a murderer is better than being gay? So, Bush walks into Iraq, kills the innocent children of poor women, makes children fatherless and ruins thousands of lives all in the pursuit of petro-dollars, and somebody thinks because he calls the name of God, he is holy and has high moral values? In any case, have we forgotten just how much Osama an his teammates invoke the name of God?
In fact, I have severally asked, what qualified George Bush (Jnr.) a better Christian than Kerry? Doesn’t Kerry believe in God? Has he been shown to ever have an unconscionable and evil heart? Does the fact that when asked about gays, he answered, "we're all God's children" make him inferior morally simply because George Bush carries the bible on his head, while John Kerry probably carries his in his heart?
You cannot imagine how irritated I get when, here in Nigeria, I hear our band of hypocritical churchgoers, who fast for seventy days but still inflate contracts, round-trip in banks and tell lies in the course of government work, rejoicing that "God won the election for Bush". I heard one of these say the reason why America has succeeded thus far is because God is mentioned in their anthem. And then I wonder what happened to the "So help me God" in our own pledge? So how come Nigeria keeps moving resolutely backwards?
Indeed, are there any churchier people anywhere in the world than here - in the world's third most corrupt nation? And what has our religiosity, God-ism, and `high moral standards' done for us? Has it reduced the cases and incidences of rape, incest and child abuse our nation is riddled with?
This is one of the rare times I have spiced my writing so strongly with religion; but I have decided to write this piece from a Christian perspective so as to prove that one can be a Christian and still be liberal – with respect for the rights, freedoms, and choices of other beings just as our Perfect Master, Jesus, had. To show that these people do not understand the bible that they preach.
Even if I am a born-again Christian who believes that being gay is a sin against God and against the body, what I do know for sure is that the bible doesn't ask us to hate gays, and neither does it tell us to stop them from being gay. All it asks us to do is persuade and convict any who has gone ‘astray’ – and to live our lives in such a way that will re-enforce this message.
Of course, these remain biblical issues, and if anyone has superior arguments, I await them. But for me, I am unequivocal about my principle: that we must allow consenting adults to live their lives - as far as they do not harm us, or anybody.
And to those rabidly against this principle, I again ask the simple question: what is the basis even for our regarding someone as less than human simply because that person doesn't have sex the way you and I do?