“Christians” Killing Homosexuals to Win the “Culture War”

In recent days, the politics of Uganda have once again captured the attention of the global audience, as lawmaker David Bahati has sought to introduce a bill into the National Assembly that would call for homosexuals to face life imprisonment for their crimes.  Three years ago, a similar bill, which also included the death penalty for certain sexual acts, was voted down when pressure from the international community was brought to bear on the largely “Christian” nation.[1]  But according to Bahati, “This is a piece of legislation that is needed in this country to protect the traditional family here in Africa.”[2]   In an interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Bahati went on to say:

“There has been a distortion in the media that we are providing death for gays. That is not true.  When a homosexual defiles a kid of less than 18 years old, we are providing a penalty for this.”[3]

So who is telling the truth?  Is Mr. Bahati correct when he asserts that this is all one big distortion or fabrication?  Or has the media gotten it right?   Judge for yourself.  Right now, as lawmakers debate this bill, there is a provision within it that relates to what is being called “aggravated homosexuality.”  And in short, “aggravated homosexuality” is being defined as any homosexual act that occurs between an HIV-infected individual and a partner under the age of 18.  Now consider the reality.  The vast majority of HIV-infected individuals have no knowledge of their medical standing until the signs and symptoms of the disease begin to emerge.  Therefore, it is entirely possible, and indeed, even likely, that a gay teenaged couple could be participating in a capital crime with absolutely no awareness that their activities are putting them in danger of receiving the death penalty.

Further complicating the matter is the fact that the law, if passed, would also require a 14-year period of imprisonment for anyone who failed to report known homosexual activity.  So imagine this scenerio.  A pastor begins to counsel a boy, who eventually reveals that he is in a gay relationship with a peer.  In this scenerio, the pastor faces a decision.  If he fails to report the boy, he himself could be reported, tried, convicted and imprisoned for the next 14 years of his life.  On the other hand, if he opts to turn the boy in to the authorities, the boy could be tested for HIV, and – if found to be infected – would face the death penalty.

So here is the question that conservative evangelicals in the West face: what do we make of a nation such as Uganda when it attempts to pass legislation ostensibly supported by Christian Scripture such as Leviticus 20:13?  Is this an acceptable vision of a “Christian Nation?”  If it is, then why are we not pushing for these same sorts of laws in the United States?  And if it is not, how can you defend that stance in light of a passage such as that which was just cited above?

Ultimately, this all comes down to how we understand, interpret and apply Scripture in a context that is democratic and not theocratic.  Many on the conservative end of the political spectrum are completely comfortable arguing against the legalization of homosexual marriage on the grounds of passages such as Leviticus 18:22.  But at the same time, when they see a society such as Uganda make an attempt to legislate on the grounds of Leviticus 20:13, they are horrified.   And the question that begs to be asked is: why?  What interpretive method is being used to justify the application of the first passage, while the second passage is completely ignored? 

Any thoughts?

[1] According to the 2002 Uganda Population and Housing Census, approximately 84% of the Ugandan population self-identified as Christian.  Of those individuals, 42% were Catholic, 36% were Anglican, and 22% were Evangelical and/or Pentecostal. “2002 Uganda Population and Housing Census – Main Report” (PDF).
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5 Responses to “Christians” Killing Homosexuals to Win the “Culture War”

  1. Carrot says:

    We’ve “evolved” past the point of keeping concubines and giving the eye-for-eye retribution and treating women as property to pass around (marrying the brother’s widow) maybe eventually we’ll get past the “threat” of homosexuality. If the bible is absolute truth, then all of it is absolute and we can go back to capital punishment. I’ve noticed the distinct lack of Family Values Christian Politicians arguing for the passage where it talks about putting to death an adulterer, however, so I guess cherry picking is what’s done as long as you can punish someone else.

    • So what if it is absolute truth that has to be read in a certain fashion? Consider the example of divorce. In the Old Testament, the Mosaic Law allowed for divorce, but it did so with certain provisions. When compared to the cultures around Israel, the Mosaic divorce laws were actually progressive in that they that provided certain protections for women that surrounding laws did not. So in a way, the Mosaic laws advanced society. Now fast forward to the time of Christ. When asked about divorce, Jesus says:

      “It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law. But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

      So what’s happening here? Jesus is advancing the discussion. Moses permitted divorce because people’s hearts were hard. When it came to divorce, they were going to do what they wanted anyway, so God put in societal “stop gaps” to protect the women. But by the time of the Christ, Jesus is saying: “Look, it’s not about leaving your spouse. It never was. It’s a sacred covenant. Live up to it.” So marriage is once again elevated, and a fuller picture of God’s heart for humanity is revealed.

      That’s why Christians need to take great care in citing passages from the Hebrew Scriptures (e.g. Old Testament). Its not as if all verses are equal is power or weight. Some things only applied at certain points in the grand narrative of history. But unfortunately, many Christians don’t treat the Bible as a story that is progressively revealing God’s purposes for humanity. Instead, they reduce it to a set of propositions, in which statements are often taken out of context and then applied to cultures they were never meant to address.

      P.S. Please keep in mind, I am not arguing that Scripture does not address the subject of homosexuality. I’m arguing with the haphazzard application of cherry-picked passages with little thought being given to the nature of Scripture and proper interpretive methodologies.

      • Carrot says:

        I think we might be agreeing here, but I can’t tell. But I’m good. I gave my husband an heir and a spare so I’ll never have to marry one of his brothers. 😉

  2. Cal says:

    Americans who claim to be Christian who protest have no right to talk back if they’re backing ‘moral majority’ figures or trying to make America a ‘christian’ nation again.

    Why is it so hard to understand that Jesus brought a Kingdom that is ‘not of this world’. There is no dual citizenship, you’re either a citizen of America and a stranger to Messiah or a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven and an alien in America.

    Pray that that their eyes are opened!


  3. So Scott, I think you answered your own question. It appears that ultra-conservatives who want to agree with one statement and then denounce another are cherry picking. That is what makes it so frustrating. You can’t have it both ways. (At least, in any other area, you are called a hypocrite if you do)

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