Six reasons why Pastor Martin Sempa and his army of religious homophobes go against the teachings of Jesus
Since the Constitutional Court declared the Anti-Homosexuality Act
(AHA) unconstitutional in a case where I was a petitioner, there has
been a lot of hate mail against me on Facebook. Some people claiming to
be Christians have even usurped God’s power and sentenced me to hell.
Critics recite the Bible chapter and verse to justify the necessity for
the AHA. I am keenly aware of how people instrumentalise the Bible, the
Koran and other religious teachings to justify their personal prejudices
and hatreds. For example, a gentleman came to my office after the
court ruling looking distraught. He told me in a sincere manner that:
“Andrew, my Christian teachings do not allow me to accept homosexuality…
That is why this law is absolutely necessary.” Now I know this
gentleman to cheat on his wife almost daily (adultery) and lie about it
without any feeling of remorse. He reminded me of a Muslim girlfriend
when I was young on Kampala’s dating circuit. She would come stay a
weekend with me making love (fornication). But she would refuse to eat
pork saying her Islamic teachings forbade her to do so. But then she
would drink alcohol. Many critics of homosexuality commit myriad sins
daily – fornication, lies, envy, greed, drunkenness, etc. But they sound
holier than thou when condemning homosexuals.
However, the particular hostility to homosexuality by many Ugandans
who use Christianity to justify their stance cannot be found in the
teachings of Jesus Christ. First, Jesus teaches us to hate sin, but to
love sinners. The Christian response to homosexuals would be to help
them find spiritual salvation, not to send them to jail for life. It is
an abdication of their responsibility as Christian shepherds when
pastors like Martin Sempa fail (or refuse) to help homosexuals find
salvation through the church and try to use the state to punish them.
Secondly, faith is a relationship between an individual and God, not
between an individual and the state. I can sympathise with Christians
who say the church should preach against homosexuality. But I don’t
think the church should recruit the state of Uganda to enforce God’s
will. Besides, Uganda is not a Christian theocracy where the Bible is
the source of law. Indeed our constitution specifically prohibits use of
religion to make law. If homosexuality is a sin, God should be the
judge, not the state of Uganda.
Third, not everyone in Uganda is Christian. It would be unfair to
impose Christian morality on non-Christians. Even among Christians,
there is no common agreement on how to deal with homosexuals. Some
churches in North America and Europe accept openly gay priests. And
there are some Christian bishops and priests in Uganda who defend the
rights of homosexuals. The point is simple but fundamental: there are
many interpretations of Bible and Christianity. Therefore, we cannot
rely on one interpretation and impose it on all society using the
coercive instruments of the state.
Fourth, Jesus said he came to earth to save sinners, not to dine with
the holly. Indeed, Christianity looks at all human beings as sinners.
The church is the place where sinners go to seek salvation regardless of
their sins. Someone can fornicate tonight and attend church the next
day seeking repentance. Repentance is not compulsory in Christianity. It
is voluntary. Therefore, homosexuals – like other sinners belong to the
church too. The church by its very existence is a house of sinners
seeking salvation, not a place of the holly to congratulate themselves
on their holiness.
Fifth, if homosexuality is a sin, it is like all other sins in the
Bible – fornication, theft, adultery, avarice, lying, envy, drunkenness,
etc. There is no place in hell better than another on the basis of the
sin committed. Punishment for homosexuals, if it comes, will possibly be
the same as that meted out against fornicators, adulterers and liars.
Christians who condemn homosexuals as sinners are sinners as well
because they could have fornicated, lied, stolen or envied someone. This
is why when Jesus found a mob about to stone to death a woman for
adultery, he told them: let he who has never sinned cast the first
stone. They all walked away. The particular hatred of homosexuals in
Uganda cannot therefore be justified using the teachings of Jesus.
Sixth, Mathew Chapter 7, Verse 1 says: do not condemn others so that
you also will not be condemned. The Christians who condemn homosexuals
are hypocrites and delusional. They are hypocrites because they try to
remove a speck (homosexuality) from the eyes of homosexuals when they
have a log (lies, envy, fornication, drunkenness, greed) in their own.
They are delusional because they think that their sins are lighter than
homosexuality. Wrong! Sin is sin, period. These homophobes have deeply
entrenched prejudices against homosexuals and try to use the Bible to
promote them. This manipulation and abuse of the Bible to promote hate
is hypocrisy, which is a sin.
This is what a young gay guy wrote to me about ten years ago about
being a homosexual and a Christian in Uganda and his search for
acceptance. “I had to find an anchor on which to pin my hope. Such an
anchor I thought I had found in Church. I can see the look on your face;
“What; a Christian homosexual?” Well it’s been said before that the
Christian army is the only army where comrades shoot their wounded. I
would rather fall in the hands of “unsaved” men than of the so-called
“I have suffered more pain in a place where other people go to find
healing. Each time a preacher walks up the pulpit my heart jumps into my
mouth waiting for him to drop the bombshell: “homosexuality is the
unforgivable sin”, or “all homos will burn in hell.” I would walk away
feeling like my fate had been sealed. If it had not been for my tough
faith, I would have quit church long ago but I stayed. I stayed not
because I had no choice – no! I stayed because I knew then as I know now
that God’s grace was sufficient for me too.”
Pastor Sempa and his group have left such faithful Christians
unattended to in the Church. Instead of mobilising the church
spiritually to help homosexuals find salvation, if they want it, they
have gone to mobilise the state politically to send them to jail.
Homophones should find other reasons to support the AHA, not the Bible.