|Gay Myths: Question of values and morality, not human rights|
|Wednesday, 23 November 2011 00:00|
The recent utterances regarding the status of gays and lesbians in Zimbabwe by the Right Honourable Morgan Tsvangirai, Prime Minister of the Republic of Zimbabwe and President of the Movement for Democratic Change in a recent interview with the BBC has generated a great deal of debate. This is expected because an issue of this nature goes to the heart of what a nation is all about.
What the instant public repudiation of the attempt to sanitise the gay and homosexual agenda by seeking to include it as a basic human right in the constitution of Zimbabwe currently being drafted, contrary to the Prime Minister's assertions and indeed those of the British Prime Minister David Cameron at the recently held Commonwealth Heads of State and Government Meeting in Australia, that gay rights are a human rights issue, nothing could be further from the truth.
Let us be clear from the onset, the practice of homosexuality is neither human nor right. To equate deviant sexual behaviour then with the rights of women, children, minorities and other sectors of humanity who have struggled to be afforded certain unalienable basic human rights is nothing short of diabolical.
Homosexuality is one's choice, not something that one has no control over. Being born a man or a woman is not a matter of choice, engaging in homosexual practices is. Engaging in homosexual acts is a departure from God's blueprint for sexual intimacy (Genesis 2, Leviticus 20:13, Romans 1:18, 25, 27, 32). Homosexual behaviour is no different to any other behaviour that is outside of God's will.
Those who try to defend homosexuality because they say it is a matter of orientation must be told that orientation towards a particular sin does not legitimise it. If desires are allowed to shape morals then child molestation or murder is justifiable. The Prime Minister has stated that he is a family man and a Christian.
This is wonderful. He therefore knows that the bible (which he misquoted) clearly states that homosexual temptations, just like every other wrong desire, must be and can resisted (James 1:14). This does not mean that we must persecute homosexuals, on the contrary, they matter to God and they must matter to us. Many Christians must repent of the hatred that they show towards homosexuals.
Homosexuals are extremely emotionally unstable people. Studies have shown that homosexuals have higher rates of suicide and alcoholism than heterosexual men, and therefore we should not make them targets of bigotry or hatred, but rather love and concern.
We hate the practice of homosexuality but love the people involved in it. In response to the outrage that his utterances elicited from the Zimbabwean populace, the Prime Minister responded that these views were his personal views.
However, the Prime Minister cannot simply try and put out the inevitable firestorm his utterances evoked, by saying these are his personal views. The Prime Minister as a leader and all leaders need to understand that leadership is both private and public.
What you do and say as a leader in private is inextricably linked to what you do and say in public. The personal views of our leaders matter and that is why the burden of leadership is one that must be borne with great dexterity. The personal views of leaders therefore become the litmus test on how the public perceive them and thereby either support or reject them.
While the Prime Minister would have us belief that his views on homosexuality are personal and therefore not subject to public scrutiny nothing could be further from the truth. It is in the interest of the public to know what his private views (and indeed all those who aspire for political office) are on a variety of social and societal issues because they reveal the essence of the person.
The views of our leaders on HIV/Aids, the use of condoms as a means of preventing the spread of HIV/Aids, abortion, prostitution, rape, child abuse, pornography, bestiality, women abuse, euthanasia, the death penalty, are important because while all these are matters that one can have private views and opinions on they are issues that matter because they shape the very essence of who a person is.
A person's moral standards, value system, and character cannot be separated. Common sense tells us that men who masturbate to porn involving the severe degradation and abuse of women are actually attracted to the idea of doing it directly to a woman. If I admitted fantasising about putting kittens in a microwave oven, would you feel okay with me being around your pets?
Our private thoughts and opinions matter. They are an integral part of who we are. We are the sum total of all our internal thought patterns, values and belief systems. If one wants to plead that, "my private thoughts are mine," then do not make them public, and do not strive to be a public figure. It is only those who choose the life of anonymity who have the privilege of expressing their private thoughts.
The silver lining from the furore that has ensued as a result of the Prime Minister's utterances is that a very important issue that has been missing from our public discourse has been brought to the fore.
The issue relates to the link between what leaders believe or espouse, and the public offices that they hold. The question quite simply is: "at what point does the electorate need to consider the values and behaviour of those seeking their electoral support?"
Perhaps now is the time as we face a watershed election in the not too distant future to begin to raise the issues of norms and values, and where those who aspire to lead us stand on these norms and values, so that people will know who or what kind of person they are electing to local, district or national office.
I am of the view that issues of morality, of values, of right and wrong, are not just personal, they are societal.
What our local councillors, mayors, Members of Parliament, cabinet ministers, Prime Minister, President feel about abortion, homosexuality, rape, child abuse, etc matters. Those who aspire to be leaders stand on these issues must be weighed against the responsibilities of the offices they will have as leaders.
Leaders must be held up to greater scrutiny than those they lead because of the responsibility they have to be role models in society. In this regard the media plays a crucial role. Often times in the polarised environment that we find ourselves in, we find media practitioners exhibiting a great penchant for wilful amnesia and voluntary blind spots.
But this can only be put off for so long, and the time has come to stop the airbrushing from history of some of the very obvious moral and other failings of those who aspire to lead others. We have read in papers or heard in conversations of alleged sexual misdeeds for example, of some prominent political leaders. Sadly, the veracity of these allegations is often not tested by our media who cop out by citing the rights of privacy of these individuals.
While it may be true that everyone has a right to privacy, surely when someone like the Prime Minister is accused of impregnating a young lady, young enough to be his daughter, and there are further allegations that she may have been asked to have an abortion, the nation has a right to know if this is true. The implications for his leadership if these allegations are true cannot be swept under the carpet. The Prime Minister has said he is a Christian and a family man. I am not calling into question these statements, but surely the media should have asked for clarity on this matter. Does a Christian support sex outside wedlock?
Being a family man would he be supportive if one of his daughters engaged in casual sex outside marriage with someone old enough to be her father? What if one of his daughters fell pregnant outside wedlock, would he be in favour of her having an abortion?
It was reported in the press that when the PM was asked about the allegations being made he is alleged to have said he could not remember this lady facially if he saw her. If true, what does this say to the young generation about casual sex in an age of rampant HIV/Aids?
Surely, it is in the interest of the electorate to know if these allegations are true, and if the Prime Minister showed such lack of judgment in his personal life, how would that impact on his judgment as President of Zimbabwe? Now all these allegations may be completely false, but how will the electorate know when the media have not put the Prime Minister or his party to their defence to explain what is the true position regarding this episode?
Undoubtedly, the raising of these questions dealing with moral issues, are only pursued at great cost. With regard to the Prime Ministers alleged sexual indiscretions one must be prepared to face all kinds' accusations in pursuit of the truth. That is unfortunate but that is the reality. With regard to the issue of homosexuals one must expect to be denied any form of financial assistance from western countries.
The British Prime Minister has come out in the open and stated that British aid to countries will be determined by the countries' stance on the gay and lesbian issue. Clearly the cat is now out of the bag. The issue of gays and lesbians has been raised to another level - that of international diplomacy.
Speaking at the Commonwealth Conference in Perth, Western Australia Cameron is reported to have said, "Britain is now one of the premier aid givers in the world. We want to see countries that receive our aid adhering to proper human rights, and that includes how people treat gay and lesbian people. British aid should have more strings attached; in terms of do you persecute people for their faith or their Christianity?
Or, do you persecute people for their sexuality? We don't think that is acceptable."
Mr Cameron, Prime Minister Tsvangirai and all who share their sentiments must be told in no uncertain terms, that the attempt to elevate homosexuality to the same tier of those who are persecuted for their faith is nothing short of diabolical.
We must say it clearly and in no uncertain terms that, "We will not bow down to their demands, and if it means we suffer loss of aid as a result (Malawi is now experiencing this) so be it." Why do we need to be so emphatic in doing this?
Because our biblical and cultural roots, do not allow us to sanitise the unsanitisable, and legitimise the unacceptable. Premarital sex is wrong. Adultery is wrong.
Child sexual molestation is wrong. Homosexuality is wrong. Sexual harassment is wrong. Rape is wrong. Domestic violence is wrong. In the final analysis all these issues are matters of morality, and morality matters. That is why Dominique Straus Khan is longer the MD of the IMF, Pius Ncube is no longer the Archbishop of Bulawayo, Bill Clinton was almost impeached from office when he was President of the US, and Herman Cain recently lost his front runner status in his bid to be the Republican nominee for the office of President of the US.
This is something all our leaders not just the Prime Minister must understand. The time has come to make all our leaders understand the link between rights and responsibilities. They may have a right to personal thoughts and opinions but those rights are subservient to the responsibilities they have as leaders and the offices they hold or desire to hold.
l Bishop Trevor E C Manhanga is the Presiding Bishop of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Zimbabwe.