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Banning Homosexuality is “straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel”

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David Bahati, a Ugandan MP, influenced by three American evangelicals seeking favor with God by spreading their bent version of Christianity, introduced a parliamentary bill to deal with the around half a million gay people in Uganda. The bill would ban all forms of homosexuality, jail homosexuals, and hang the most persistent. The Archbishop of Canterbury along with many people from around the world objected, and the bill was suspended. It has reappeared and again disappeared, but plainly the movers of the bill are working hard to get it accepted as a motion, and passed by the Uganda Parliament.

Alan Wilson, an Anglican bishop, writes about this bill in the UK Guardian. In the face of the attempted evangelical take-over of the Anglican Church, bishop Wilson stands squarely as a Christian, on the ground that the Ugandan bill contravenes basic Christian teaching, and those Christians who are supporting and indeed pushing forward the bill, are not one iota Christian.

The bill treats homosexuality as monolithic—it is one wilful Christian error, and, moreover, it is a western import to the formerly distinct sexuality of east Africa, ignoring the martyrdom of 25 young men by Kabaka Mwanga in 1886. Worse, the bill violates basic principles of justice, including the human rights of its victims defined by the UN. Apparently accepting this, some promoters seem ready to reject the UN declaration to clear the way for it, rather than surrender “their queer-bashing law”. The bill will turn Anglican vicars into agents of the state, and forbid them from listening to gay Christians, as the 1998 Lambeth conference committed the whole Anglican communion.

It is not a question of liking homosexuality or otherwise. Bishop Wilson notes that Jesus had friends, like Nicodemus, who were Pharisees. Nevertheless, Jesus frequently criticized Pharisees, though he had similar ideas to those of the Pharisees in significant matters. After all, they were all Jews. Jesus generally did not object to what Pharisses wrote, but did object to their own way of interpreting it in practice, their lifestyle. Regarding them, he taught:

Do what they say, not what they do.

Their basic teaching of the Mosaic law was valid, but they had the idea that they could help prevent pious Jews from inadvertantly breaking the law by building around it “a wall” of lesser specific laws that were easier to comprehend and remember. As Wilson puts it, “Pharisees saw themselves as God’s minders”.

It was counterproductive. The Essenes thought it a theological error to hide the law behind a wall. What God had intended, they thought, was that Jews should understand the law itself, its meaning and importance and obey it as it is, not that God’s law should disappear behind a wall to make it, in some sense easier not to break. It meant their lesser precepts became paramount, yet there were far more of them, and ultimately their intention was far from clear to ordinary Jews. The basic law of God was compromised, Wilson says, because seemingly pettifogging subsidiary laws became regarded as inviolable, and apparently pointless, when their original purpose was not adequately explained.

For example, Jews were supposed to bathe in sufficient water to cover a man, but the Pharisees specified a minimum measured amount that would suffice, hoping to ensure that every Jew could not inadvertantly break the law. But before long pious Jews began to think the precise measure, meant to protect the actual law, which was vaguer, was what was important to God, and so had to take tedious care to measure out the right quantity of water! Jesus, who was most likely an Essene himself, called this “straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel”.

Cherry picking the few Bible texts that could be interpreted as saying anything about homosexuality, the Ugandan bill strips them of their context and imposes them harshly in a way that would be disproportionate for serious crimes.

Straining at a tiny but contentious gnat, it swallows a sociopathic, genocidal camel.

The Ugandan bill is unchristian and uncivilised. It criminalises a few people and threatens their lives. The civilised world must urge that Uganda’s honorable members of Parliament will be decent enough to see it is wicked. If it were to become an act of the Ugandan parliament, it will violate not only the golden rule, “as you would that people should do unto you, do likewise to them” but also Jesus’s summary of the whole law, “love God and love your neighbor”. The secular Christian regards God as a personification of society, He stands for all your neighbors, so loving God implies loving your neighbor, but Christ made it clear in his sermon regarding the Judgement on the Mount of Olives (Matthew 25:31-46) that is what his Father meant by it.

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Written by mikemagee

15 May, 2011 at 9:33 pm

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