Can't we all get along?
By Michael Abrahams
My fellow Jamaicans, we are now embroiled in a war. On June 2 this year, I published an article titled ‘Calling all church folk’, in which I shared my impression that "a disproportionate amount of fire and brimstone is directed by the Church at the LGBT community, while other transgressors of biblical laws receive lighter sentences".
Four weeks later, further evidence to substantiate my views was provided in the form of a large gathering in the capital of St Andrew. Two Sundays ago, the Christian soldiers were out in full force in Half-Way Tree at a mass rally, accompanied by members of the Muslim and Rastafarian militia. Approximately 25,000 gathered as Jamaica CAUSE (Churches Action Uniting Society for Emancipation) stated its case against the gay agenda and strong opposition to repealing the buggery law, going as far as drafting a petition to be signed and submitted to the prime minister.
It was surreal seeing Christians commingling with Muslims and Rastafarians, as many Christians have no use for Islam, and Rastafarians have a long history of being marginalised by the society, including Christians. But, as the saying goes, ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’.
I do understand the concerns of persons of faith. The Bible, the Torah and the Qur'an all teach that homosexuality is unacceptable, but several persons who have expressed disapproval of this sexual orientation have been harshly criticised and punished.
Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson is an appropriate example of this. In the January issue of the magazine GQ, Robertson, a Christian, said, "It seems like, to me, a vagina - as a man - would be more desirable than a man's anus. That's just me." Unlike many hypocritical and cherry-picking Christians, Robertson also expressed his disapproval of adultery and sleeping around with women. He did not claim that homosexuality was worse than those other sexual transgressions. However, he was suspended from his television show, a decision that was reversed after pressure from supporters.
Actions such as this have led many to believe that freedom of speech is a right that gay activists wish to enjoy while denying the privilege to others not aligned with their agenda. In addition, when members of the clergy overseas are punished for refusing to officiate same-sex marriages, an act that conflicts with their faith, Christians here at home have a right to voice their concerns.
What I find interesting, however, is that with so many problems facing our society, such as murder, child abuse, political corruption, electricity theft and lotto scamming, issues that have crippled our country and tarnished our image abroad, and continue to do so, the fight against the gay agenda is the one the church folk chose to deal with most urgently. In my opinion, this is akin to visiting a restaurant and being served a steak with maggots, but complaining to the manager that there was not enough ice in your fruit punch.
Staging grand events like this and drawing such large gatherings will only galvanise the bigots, hatemongers and homophobes and marginalise a minority that is already being discriminated against. And certain utterances by members of the flock are unhelpful and at times actually dishonest or harmful.
When Christians claim that nobody is born gay, they really cannot prove it, and claiming that "praying the gay away" is an effective "cure" is an unsubstantiated assertion that will only frustrate and depress persons of faith who are gay, and remain that way despite prayer and fasting. Also, the fear that the proliferation of homosexuality threatens the existence of mankind is an irrational fear that constitutes pure homophobia.
As Rodney King asked, "Can we all just get along?" The hardline stances taken by the extremists on both sides of this divide are unhelpful and will get us nowhere. We must be able to put our biases aside and engage and listen to one another respectfully. More Christians need to employ the love, compassion and empathy of Jesus Christ and realise that gay people are not all a bunch of freaks hell-bent on sodomising our children and corrupting their minds.
And more gay activists need to understand that simply disagreeing with certain aspects of their agendas does not make one homophobic or hateful, and that seeking punitive measures against those who are at odds with them will only create more resistance and resentment.