Tue | Aug 22, 2017

We are all God’s children

Published:Saturday | October 29, 2016 | 10:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

The Bible teaches us that knowing the truth makes us free (John 8:32). I believe this acknowledgment applies to human sexuality as well. Members of the clergy in Uganda are gradually changing their attitudes and moving towards understanding the diversity inherent in human sexuality.

During my recent visit to Jamaica, I discovered that people are often biased against LGBTQI people, using Bible passages to bitterly attack them as sinners. Clearly, LGBTQI people in Jamaica are stigmatised.

At Montego Bay Pride, which I was invited to attend, I heard a medical student speak up against homosexuality on medical grounds. He claimed that LGBTQI people carry sexually transmitted infections.

I remember thinking that as a future doctor, he should be more concerned about teaching people how to prevent and treat disease rather than promoting the misconception that LGBTQI people spread disease.

I was also saddened to see a young gay person who had been severely tortured because of his sexual orientation. Unfortunately, discrimination and violence against LGBTQI people are often backed by church leaders.

I believe that the remedy to all these misconceptions is education. In Uganda, my organisation, St Paul's Reconciliation and Equality Centre, tries to educate the clergy and others by offering workshops and seminars, where we discuss diversity among human beings.

Next week, for instance, we will be facilitating a workshop on the role of religious leaders in a diverse world. We plan on including human sexuality among the diversities explored in the workshop.

For those who would like help in understanding the various passages in the Bible that are often referred to as anti-homosexual, there are some great books, one of which is my own, In Defense of God's Children. Another book that can be consulted for some guidance is God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships, by Matthew Vines.

I believe church leaders need to expand their knowledge of human sexuality. The Bible tells us that people perish from lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6). My experiences have taught me that there is not one, but four purposes of human sexuality: procreation, companionship, pleasure, and creativity. These four purposes need to be respected, accepted, and embraced for a person to be their whole self.

The denial of a person's complete human sexuality may lead to depression, inability to exercise one's talents, self-hate, and even suicide. A holistic person is able to voluntarily choose to be celibate or sexually active without feeling guilty.

I hope and pray that the risen Christ is able to lead church leaders to fully understand human sexuality in its entirety. But humans also have a responsibility to be masters and not self-indulgent beings with the good endowments given to them by God.

This includes the powerful gift of human sexuality, which should only be used as an expression of intimacy between consenting adults. Anything else constitutes a perversion of this divine gift and would demand the imposition of the full weight of the law.

CHRISTOPHER SENYONJO

Retired Ugandan Anglican Bishop