Mon | Nov 18, 2019

Letter of the Day | God and gays in Jamaica

Published:Friday | November 8, 2019 | 1:17 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

Does God despise and condemn those in the LGBT community and those who engage in certain sexual practices and gender relationships that many people deem shameful, sinful, and inappropriate?

Now, there are many countries, both Western and non-Western ones, in which sexual behaviours like bestiality, ‘buggery’, pornography, homosexuality, bi-sexuality, promiscuity, nudity, self-pleasuring (masturbation), and sex before marriage or sex outside of marriage (fornication) are forbidden and where even birth control is viewed with social and religious disapproval although such practices are often breached by their non-observance.

In many countries, homosexual acts are not only criminalised, but they carry imprisonment and even the death sentence. This severe denunciation of homosexual practices is said to be particularly pronounced in our Jamaican society, and sadly, our country has the troubling label of being ‘very homophobic’.

THE CHALLENGE TO MASCULINITY

Something more here is at stake than mere revulsion of homosexuality by religious groups and their allies. On one hand, people who are against homosexuality will say that the mechanical act per se is bad not only because the inappropriate body parts are being engaged, but because it is also bad on epidemiological or health grounds. But it is even worse on moral and religious grounds, for it fails to carry out the God-given mandate to reproduce.

However, on closer inspection, these views are not sound, for in reality, any form of sexual contact poses potential risks if it is unprotected and not properly understood and managed. So what I think is involved here is fear, that is, the cultural belief and the psychological feeling that homosexuality challenges the notion of manhood and male sexuality.

Homosexuality is also seen by the patriarchy to jeopardise property relationships, for if a man cannot have a child, preferably a son, then his name, his lineage, and whatever property he has cannot be distributed to his lawful or legitimate heir, a man finding such a prospect intolerable.

THE GOLDEN RULE

However, the time is long past for humans to recognise differences in people, for just as skin colour or physical features are products of nature, we may have to recognise that there are humans who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. They didn’t make themselves that way, but even if that is their preference as rational and consenting individuals, who are we to change them in as much as we might not want them to change us?

So those theologians and other heterosexual advocates who denounce others as sinners and ‘faggots’ need first to look in the mirror at themselves, and at the same time, take note of Jesus’ rebuke to the hypocrites of His time: “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone” (John 8:7, KJV)

GEORGE S. GARWOOD.

Professor of World Religions