Given the international uproar the Anti-Homosexuality Bill has raised, one would be forgiven to imagine Ugandans have no opinion on the issue. In fact, I read an article in an online magazine, Christianity Today, which credited the anti-homosexuality debate in Uganda to Evangelical American Christians who visited the country earlier last year and applauded Uganda for its resistance to homosexuality. Like Bishop Zac Niringiye aptly put it, such implications are extremely disrespectful (and I would add) racially charged. To suggest that our sentiments and opinions on issues are shaped entirely by what the West preaches to us is just another example of how patronising developed countries can be.
Even more patronising are the various Western governments’ comments on the issue. Instead of trying to engage Uganda in a civil, respectful discussion on the merits and demerits of the Bill, they have proceeded in the best way they know how; threats of cutting aid and diplomatic squabbles. Barack Obama, who has continuously dodged the issue of gays (trying as usual to please both conservatives and liberals) had the audacity to pronounce the Bill inconsistent with “the tide of history”, whatever that meant. Sometimes I feel that this Bill should pass, if only to shut down such arrogant utterances.
But that’s just a feeling and he that allows passion to override reason achieves nothing but isolation and irrelevance. My more important concern is this; what should be a lay Christian’s reaction to the Bill? Or rather, what does this Bill require of me as a professing Christian?
Personally, I find that it puts me in a very difficult position of opposing its passing while having to defend my faith against the Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) rights movement. The Bill as it is contains more hatred for homosexuals than respect for the Ugandan culture and traditional family it seeks to protect. Furthermore, it includes the death penalty, an act I am compelled, both as Christian and human being, to object to. Life, regardless of how criminal and wretched, is divinely given and therefore should only be divinely taken.
My greatest opposition to the Bill however, lies in its infringement upon free will. As a journalist and Christian, I am convinced that God’s creation of and respect for human free will is one of the most distinguishing aspects of human beings. Throughout the Bible, God is faced with the dilemma of loving a people who not only defy Him, but reject the very things that would grant them life. And so Adam and Eve eat the forbidden fruit, the Israelites turn away from God to worship a golden idol, the Pharisees call Christ an abomination and for good measure, God Himself is crucified by His creation! We humans have the uncanny tendency of rejecting life-giving paths in favour of destructive ones. Yet it is amazing that regardless of how pathetically profane humanity became, God never once revoked our ability to choose to do evil, even when it cost Him His Son. Homosexuality is by all measures abominable to God. No bible-reading, spirit-led Christian denies that. But then, as abominable to God are other acts. Revelations 21:8 stipulates that the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters and liars are condemned to hell. The God who demands sexual purity from us also demands honesty and unwavering faith.
So why will we let our politicians get away with lying to us about valley dams and kill the homosexual? Why will we let our pastors get away with adultery and turn our wrath on two unbelieving males who happen to knowingly choose to do the abominable?
Let me be clear here, I do not rather that everyone be granted the freedom to do evil in the name of free will. All I am saying is that the way of Christ has never been legalism and now is not the time to start. Christians now, as always should strive to uphold morality in society through prayer and persuasion, not compulsion and the fear of a death penalty.
Whatever legal backing we would need in the fight against homosexuality is already provided in the Constitution and Penal Code that outlaw and penalise same-sex marriage. I reject as false the idea that homosexuality has become such a national pandemic that it demands further parliamentary legislation on the issue. I further reject as untrue the notion that as a Christian, I must support the Bill. While I continue to speak unequivocally against homosexuality and other moral evils plaguing this nation, I believe that Christ and not a flimsy law is the answer to homosexuality. And before I am branded a liberal Christian, one would do well to remember that it was Christ, not the Pharisees that pardoned the adulterous woman. It is Christ, not the law that invites all who will dare to believe, murderer and saint alike, into everlasting life. If we are to be called a Christian, may it be said that at such a defining moment in our nation’s history, when faced with the choice between supporting or opposing legislation against homosexuals, we rejected both and instead chose the higher way of Christ crucified; love.
Mr Muhanguzi is a Christian journalist and apologist