Such religious fanatics in the form of some evangelicals here in Jamaica outside of the US based Pat Roberts capitalist types who make the rest of the honest church body look stupid have been rejoicing with full open support by their congregants and blind followership’s loyalty. The recent news that Trump may appoint a leading LGBTQers has thrown a wrench in the mix; now some pastors are squirming in discomfort given the news as they thought it would be a simple route to theocracy.
In a previous post I spoke to the business of the convenient and deliberate misuse of Leviticus to enforce fear and hate sometimes from philosophers and theologians for convenient reductionist anti LGBTQ arguments, without any proper tangible or provable basis. In fact it amounts to intellectual dishonesty frankly. Populism by way of the Jamaica Labour Party, JLP for example and said crazed evangelicals who ignore for the most part societal ills but are dead focused on referendum for maintaining buggery laws while touting justification due to abominations listed in Leviticus; they ignore some of those same abominations that do not fit their agenda but emphasise same gender related matters but do not see others such as:
“The book of Leviticus accordingly is a manual for priests detailing the religious rules and procedures which the priests had to observe and enforce for the covenant nation of Israel. Its historical setting is the two years Israel spent encamped at Mount Sinai; it contains no further account of Israel’s journeys from Egypt to Canaan.”
“The fact that Moses, the author of Leviticus devoted an entire book to priestly matters shows the importance that the religious observances were to have ever afterwards for the Israelites. Christians, under the terms of Christ’s new covenant do not regard these Levitical regulations as binding, but they do obey the same God, not in the letter of the law but in the spirit of Christ.”
Yet religious voices who make the rest of the body of Christ appear out of touch and paranoid continue to use the justification in their eyes that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because of exclusively homosexuality when we know that is not so. Bearing in mind King James hundreds of years later in whose name the most popular English translation of the Bible in 1610 is in was actually bisexual even in the face of a buggery law; pity the goody King would not have foreseen the work put in would be used as a destructive weapon hundreds of years later against LGBT people. The book of course was published to keep its true historical authenticity to the source Hebrew scroll text and for purposes of continuity so I would not expect King James’ sexuality to have interfered as a reason to purge the finished work of any homosexual abomination reference.
We cannot also ignore the fact that Leviticus written by Moses as far as we know does not record the Egypt to Canaan phase of the journey of the Israelites; given the kinds of archaeological finds in the last hundreds of years to now despite present days Turkey and Syrian civil wars and conflicts that may delay more findings homosexual themed materials dating to those times have been unearthed which leaves the question as to what might have occurred then in as far as the movement of the nomadic Hebrew people then?
“Some of you think that homosexuality is a greater sin than malicekeeping.No way in the sight of God.” (Bishop Herro Blair, sermon on Television Jamaica (TVJ), 3 March 2003) - The declaration by Bishop Blair – who is a figure of some political and religious influence – that there is no substantive theological basis for the selective highlighting of homosexuality as the ‘sin of sins,’ and which is our epigraph here, is not one that is often publicly made in Jamaica. The overtly virulent expressive homophobia arguably encourages the documented tendency towards and the practice of physical brutality and violence against homosexuals. It is reinforced, even operationalized, by three other specific features of the Jamaican situation.
According to Cecil Gutzmore’s whose ‘Casting the First Stone’ writings some time ago, There is a crying need for effective political-theoretical engagement by those who consider themselves politically and culturally progressive with and against the apparently intractable homophobia of Jamaican society. Amongst those who have recently made such intellectual interventions is Tara Atluri (2001) who proposes that sexism, heterosexism and homophobia combine to make Jamaica, and other societies of the Caribbean region, into what she images as a ‘closet’ for our lesbian and gay fellow citizens.
The somewhat thin body of academic, intellectual and artistic work designed to break the silence about homosexuality in the Caribbean, to still the ‘noise’ of local anti homosexual ideologies and intellectually and politically to deconstruct homophobic practice (carried out largely in the geographically distant and socially remote pages of academic journals, in far-off published newspapers, and in radio programmes and films usually unheard and unseen by the majority in Jamaica) appears to have all but failed to impact in any major positive way on the situation. This is separate and apart from the academic and sometimes political ends that are quite definitely achieved.
The Christian Church with its fundamentalist doctrines, and the reggae-dancehall genre have pushed key influential feature in the exceptionality of Jamaican homophobia derives from Christian fundamentalist doctrine which finds constant outlets not just in churches, but in popular culture (in Christian radio and TV programmes), as well as in the rituals of many secular institutions. Primary imperatives are
(i) the religious fundamentalist anti-homosexuality imperative, and
(ii) the imperative of the ‘unnaturalness’ of homosexuality. The secondary imperatives, in some way derived from the primary imperatives, are
(iii) the imperative of the purity and authenticity of a primordially homosexuality-free global African culture,
(iv) the imperative to protect vulnerable youth from homosexuality, as conflated with paedophilia, and
(v) the imperative of the misplaced illegality of homosexuality. When it is buggery that is illegal.
In this discourse, homosexuality is constituted straightforwardly as a sin in the eyes of God and therefore also in the view of self-perceived good and/or godly persons. It is agreed that omniscient Jehovah repeatedly declares homosexuality to be a sin in both the Old and New Testaments and that the Almighty would neither misrecognize nor misname a physical and/or emotional illness as a condition of sin. The idea that homosexuality is an illness (whether congenital or otherwise) represents the negative reading of the claim that lesbian and gay persons generally had their sexuality determined at birth, and did not therefore usually exercise unfettered choice. Its positive version holds that a certain proportion, a minority, of God’s human creatures are indeed born lesbian/gay and that their sexuality is to be seen as being as much God-ordained/created as that of the heterosexual majority. However, it also holds that homosexuality must still be repressed or at least treated.
Reggae artistes are different from the deejays to the extent that fewer singers have composed songs directed against homosexuals/homosexuality and it is perhaps more difficult for the singer to address this issue by improvising in performance. Even so, the earliest directly homophobic reggae song is the 1978 in a kind of secular religiosity or Rastafarian non judo Christian subscription is King Sounds and the Israelites’ ‘Spend One Night Inna Babylon’. This song makes explicit mention of Sodom and Gomorrah and of the fact that these two ancient cities, along with Babylon and Rome, are anathematized in the Bible. King Sounds, then, is simply transferring onto modern ‘Babylon’ – as constituted in what Pollard (1994) has termed Rastafari ‘dread-talk’– the characteristic sin of Sodom. In the song King Sounds embellishes his catalogue of Babylonian abominations by adding to it bestiality. For those advancing the Christian fundamentalist imperative, the essential sin of homosexual behaviour (sodomy) is said to be forbidden by God, and is recognized as a sin so serious as to be punishable by death.
Blind ignorance has effectively led to the belief that homosexuality only came about in Sodom and that even homosexuality signs in numerous animal species existing well before homosaepian developmental trajectories are an anathema. Those fundamentalist Christians constantly forget the important biblical injunction that ‘judgement belongs unto God’.
It must be understood that the imperative under discussion is specifically derived from the fundamentalist reading of the Holy Bible: passages in Leviticus assert respectively: ‘Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination’ (emphasis added); and: ‘If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them’ (Leviticus 18: 22; 20: 13). Earlier in the Bible the seriousness of the punishment Jehovah deals out in connection with homosexuality is made very clear in the often mentioned story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. According to the narrative, these ancient locations were sites of this great perceived evil: ‘their sin [homosexuality] is very grievous’ (Genesis 18: 20). Jehovah accordingly decided to destroy these cities and their inhabitants, excluding the single godly family – that of Jehovah’s servant Lot.
The fundamentalists point to the fact that God, throughout His book, variously declares homosexuality to be an ‘abomination’ (Ezekiel 16: 50), a ‘vile affection’ (Romans 1: 26, 27), ‘unseemly’ (Romans 1: 27), ‘not natural’ (Romans 1: 26, 27), a form of ungodliness (Titus 2: 12). Of its practitioners, Paul it is said firmly that ‘God gave them up unto a reprobate mind’ (Romans 1:28). Some seem to forget Paul was offering an opinion to the early saints of the church spread across Greece in the most sexualised of all places, Corinth in response to the letters sent to him. Those who commit this great sin are thus unequivocally construed within the fundamentalist anti-homosexual ideological imperative as legitimate subjects to be punished by terminal violence, a fate not only dealt out directly by God Himself but, presumably, also by those regarding themselves as His faithful servants and the possible agents of His will. These persons feel a kind of righteous justification for, as it were, acting violently on God’s behalf against perceived homosexuals and homosexuality. This is what informs the output of artists such as King Sounds or The Wickerman, working almost twenty-five years apart within the Jamaican musical popular.
The selectivity of the fundamentalist imperative is evident in the response to the sin of adultery. For, on the evidence of the Holy Bible itself, the commandment against the sin of adultery can be seen to be of at least equivalent seriousness to the injunction against the sin of homosexuality. Why then, it might be asked, is it that Jehovah found no space amongst the remaining nine commandments given to Moses on Mount Sinai for one that explicitly forbids homosexuality, if this is correctly to be regarded as so fundamental and execrable a sin? The other sexually-related sin there mentioned forbids the coveting of one’s neighbour’s wife. But, depending of course on the sexuality involved, the also forbidden coveting of a neighbour’s man- and maid-servants not to mention that neighbour’s ox and ass may also be to sexual purposes.
Let us put to rest the silliness about “homosexual lifestyle” once and for all; as a phrase it is pure propaganda, a gossipy generalization and completely unworthy of a Christian who, following the counsel in Proverbs seeks understanding and insight into life and people. As Christians some will have to decide if we are going to partake of divisive “party spirit” that racked the church at Corinth or follow Christ as discerning attentive principles – to that still small voice and sharpen concerns for the ostracized instead of creating more strife.
Oh these modern day Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes who think their correctness is the be all and end all. Frankly envy of the apparent freedom of LGBT people could be called ‘freedom envy’ in my view. The role of freedom envy in the anti LGBT crusade is confirmed by the repeated and emphatic reference to “the homosexual lifestyle.” This is left a vague generality, as though it were something everyone already understands. The so called “homosexual lifestyle” is associated with a US view of homosexuality and dates back to the HIV/AIDS epidemic and stories of bath houses in places such as San Francisco; hence folks like Dr Wayne West of JCHS uses it as well to medicalise gays in his antigay advocacy or the deceptive “HIV is a gay disease ploy.” There is no such thing as a ‘homosexual lifestyle’ just as there is no such thing as “heterosexual lifestyle” heterosexual live on a “lifestyle” continuum just as homosexuals do. The continuum includes people in decades long monogamous relationships, people who live in social isolation, people who in into bar scenes etc people who move from relationship to relationship.
When oh when is there also going to be a separation of sexual orientation from the automatic perceived link to buggery or anal sex? That abhorrence factor is the spoiler in these matters when discussed. We also seem to forget the buggery law as we ended up inheriting by way of our former colonial masters and a savings law clause was a legal instrument to discredit the Catholics in the extirpation exercise under King Henry VIII’s protestant reformation and royal supremacy in the 1500s. Lest we forget the very ‘King James Version’ the most successful English language translation was presided over by a bisexual being King James himself, not because of any correctness in the word/text but to quell the struggle between the puritans, the reformers (protestant) and established clergy (Catholics); “No Bishop, No King” the infamous words by James in his quest to preserve the hierarchy of the monarchy over the church of England.
The fact is we are not under law but are now under grace.
Peace & tolerance