We constantly see reminders of the negative effects of traditional Christian teaching on society, and this week one of those reminders took place in Egypt. On April 7, 2014, the Associated Press reported on a court ruling that condemned 4 men to 3 – 8 years in prison for homosexuality ( http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2014/04/egyptian-court-sentences-men-to-3-8-years-for-homosexuality/ ). At the end of this short article, it is explained that there are no laws against homosexuality in Egypt, and so charges are generally laid using terms like “debauchery.” This term, enshrined in law, explicitly outlines the lasting effects of the teaching of false morality under the guise of religion.
The term “debauchery,” simply defined as the over-indulgence in sensual pleasure, depends on an agreed upon moral starting point. That is to say that in order for the term to have meaning, those who understand it must all agree to a certain moral standard. Ever since the paradigm shifting influence of the colonial missionaries in most countries of Africa, this standard has been based on Biblical scripture. Using a literal and misinformed interpretation of Biblical text, the standard was laid out as the authoritative voice on what is and isn’t moral. The things that fall short of that standard are, in places like Egypt, Uganda, South Africa, Zimbabwe, etc, enshrined into law as illegal and punishable by often severe means. This has devastating effects on those who cannot openly be who they are because it would mean imprisonment or, in many cases, death.
Now to be fair to religion, I will say that the colonial missionaries thought they were doing the right thing. Unfortunately, the inability to see the immoral nature of wiping out an entire culture in favour of their own is worthy of scorn and contempt. We must not be gentle on this issue. Right now in Egypt, 4 men are facing years in jail for doing something that a group of heterosexual people would be saluted for. This is yet another example of how the hateful teachings of those professing to follow a loving God infect cultural paradigms with ideals of exclusion, judgment, and self-righteous condemnation. It may very well be the case that a loving God does exist (I don’t know, I have not seen evidence either way), but one thing is certain – we are all people who need each other to survive. Exclusion and moral claims to authority, based on our differences, have to stop. No matter what the justification, moral judgment based on skin colour, gender identity, sexual orientation, nationality, or any other reason, is unacceptable.