Life has its own mysteries, and living in Uganda as a human rights defender has exposed me to different mysteries. As I have always said, a human being deserves better and must be treated humanely. That said, I find it disturbing to hear a church minister/priest/ pastor preach hate as opposed to love.
ENTEBBE, UGANDA. by KOWA KAY (firstname.lastname@example.org). JULY 29, 2016.
The other day, one of Uganda’s church ministers echoed renewed sentiments in emphasizing that to be gay isn’t normal. And I wanted to ask him, if I could, is being born disabled normal or not normal? And I really would want to understand who defines normal and what does the God whom we all seek say about the differences in humankind (the majority of Ugandans subscribe to a particular religious sect). Is there a way to justify that God loves one person and not the other? Is not the God we seek the most benevolent and all knowing and the Creator of human differences?
Hearing some religious leaders speak about homosexuality, or broadly-speaking about LGBTI issues, one coils in his or her skin. Most of this rhetoric works very well at keeping the LGBTI community away from churches as most churches preach against the lives of LGBT people.
My wonderment at the church’s preaching against LGBT people, however, is disturbingly curious. In the old days of African traditions, and before civilization when man used his ignorance to define ‘normal’, many African Albinos, as most books suggest, were thrown in forests because they were seen as abnormal. There was always a worry when twins were born, and to date, most families still do rituals to cleanse twins. Anyone born with a disability would be viewed as punishment to the mother who was always seen as the cause of ill omen that befell the household.
Luckily, Christianity came preaching peace and acceptance to these anomalies. Many who had been victims flocked the churches as the most effective protection against hate and abandonment. Such reflections on the early work of Christianity in Africa make me wonder if churches in Africa today have lost their sense of direction. Churches have drifted away from togetherness to something I cannot yet lay my understanding on.
It was, therefore, a great relief during the workshop with Other Sheep Uganda in Entebbe, on July 23, 2016, that my heart settled in relief knowing there is a voice of tolerance, a voice of hope and a better way to approaching the unknown. As I write this, I am following a Whatsapp chat that insists that homosexuality is a Western idea and should not be allowed in our African communities. Most of these individuals tend to use the Bible or religion to call for hate, segregation and neglect. Yet, when you read between the lines there is no circumstance in the Bible where Jesus segregated, hated or neglected a race for being different.
Most of the passages in the Bible that are often used to spread hate against the LGBTI community were explained further by the Other Sheep delegation and with close reference to Rev. Jeff Miner and John Tyler Connoley’s book The Children Are Free (TCAF): Reexamining the Biblical Evidence on Same-sex Relationships. (Click here for the book TCAF, and related material, on line.) There is a clear indication of misinterpreted scriptures and when read clearly, and without bias, the truth of life for all can be understood. I won’t say much here. I would just ask everyone in doubt to read Scripture with openness and seek the truth themselves.
However, as I understood the issue of homosexuality and religion and what I learned from the workshop with the Other Sheep and the explanation delivered by Rev. Stephan Parelli, the Baptist minister and Director of Other Sheep, and Jose Ortiz, made me realize that there is no hate in the Bible for the gay person. If there were, then it would be clearly scripted out undoubtedly. The priests I have heard speak before, and all the controversy about homosexuality, is merely the opinions of those individuals that want to seed hatred in their followers. To hate, discriminate, segregate, violate and isolate against any human race, or an individual, only makes us the present day Sodom and Gomorrah that Lot tried to fend off from harming the two. Lot tried to protect against hatred and violence. God loves me and God loves peace, tolerance and kindness, respect and understanding. The very nature of anyone calling for hate and exclusion on gay people, in the eyes of the Lord, is being hateful, intolerant, arrogant, and selfish. I believe God wouldn’t want us to live in hate.
In conclusion, the good in any human being is his or her will to protect the vulnerable, the marginalized and the needy and, most of all, the segregated. Do we still see this love in our present day churches? Most church ministers have been vocal to crucify and condemn gay people as spoiled, perverted and not fit for our society. What a shame. God loves us all.
Click here for Facebook photos of the 2016 Other Sheep workshops in Uganda.