Anti-Homosexuality Legislation in Uganda

At First Thoughts Matthew Schmitz reminds us that most American Evangelicals oppose the sort of anti-homosexuality legislation currently being proposed in Uganda.

Prompted by the recent revival of Uganda’s so-called “Anti-Homosexuality Bill,” Saddleback Church’s Rick Warren has once again sent out his 2009 “encyclical video” (interesting phrase, that) to his fellow pastors in Uganda:

We can never deny or water down what God’s word clearly teaches about sexuality. At the same time, the Church must stand to protect the dignity of all individuals, just as Jesus did and commanded all of us to do. . . . Since God created all, and Jesus suffered and died for all, then we are to treat all with respect.

The bill has long been opposed by Christian groups including the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Church of Canada, Exodus International, and Courage. In a letter to Uganda’s president, Exodus International wrote: ”The Christian church . . . must be permitted to extend the love and compassion of Christ to all. We believe that this legislation would make this mission a difficult if not impossible task to carry out.”

See a full report on Warren’s actions here.

As Schmitz writes, “there is no reason to magnify already significant disagreements with libelous claims that American Christians have favored Uganda’s bill. They haven’t, and the suggestion that they have only harms the cause of truth and makes it all the more difficult to speak to one another about our moral disagreements.”

Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda, as in many other African countries, but the current legislation, which its proponents have characterized as a means of defending Uganda’s children, would stiffen penalties. Thankfully, it appears as if the stiffest punishment, the death penalty, has been removed from the legislation. But in general, many Ugandan Christians regard the American opposition to capital punishment for homosexuality as imperialistic. As Christianity Today reports:

Christopher Byaruhanga, professor of historical theology at Bishop Tucker School of Divinity and Theology at Uganda Christian University, said the reaction from American Christians was creating tension for Ugandan Christians.

“You see there’s a kind of imperialism and a kind of relativism from the West,” said Byaruhanga. “They don’t understand our ethics in the country of Uganda and they are trying to impose what they believe.”

No doubt there is something of this going on here, and there is no reason why Uganda needs to follow the libertine western trajectory when it comes to sexual ethics. But Ugandan Christians should also note that western Christians have some experience when it comes to mixing up church and state, as well as (and perhaps more importantly) with the overuse of the death penalty.


About Matthew J. Tuininga

Matthew J. Tuininga is the Assistant Professor of Moral Theology at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Posted on December 11, 2012, in Homosexuality and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Anti-Homosexuality Legislation in Uganda.

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