|Lives lost in Iran, Uganda, and Nigeria|
The joint appeal by on 25 Nov 2009, by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), the Iranian Queer Organization (IRQO), and COC of the Netherlands reported that Ten young Iranian men, including eight teenagers, are currently awaiting execution for sodomy, and two more are being re-tried on the same capital charge. We are reminded that this is not an exclusively Islamic affair, with the attempt in Uganda by the Christian Right there for a bill involving the death penalty for gays. Homosexuality was once a capital sentence in England and Europe not more than 150 years ago because of Christian insistence, and it was later reduced to a long life term. The laws became embedded into colonial laws for which a remnant still remains in Singapore and British Colonial countries such as 377a in Singapore.
In defence, some would argue that not all Muslims or Christians subscribed for gays to be exterminated. However, this is argument is not relevant when a substantial majority of the population in countries where an overwhelming majority is of a particular fundamnetalist religion are fully behind such laws. There is few public outcry either in Iran or Uganda, and it requires an International effort to remind them of acting in a civilised manner. The religious may call this a "world culture" but this is definitely less blood thirsty and much more benevolent and humane than a religiously motivated extremist culture.
Some say more than 5,000 gays have already been executed in Iran. They were obviously born into the wrong country and into the wrong religion where human life is worth so little in the face of strict and narrow religious dogma. It is an indictment that goes against any argument that these religions are peace loving religions. We know the true heart of a religion when it is giving opportunity to do whatever it pleases without the constraints such as a secular Government, existence of other substantial religious groupings, and other large racial minorites of a different faith. It is important to separate the state and religion to avoid the abuse of power and religious extremism.
The Christian history has reflected its rotten core, when the separation between state and religion was broken with Constantine acsention to power in 313 AD, and the power, wealth, and authority came back into the church with the Pope having a god like status with decrees having a god seal. With no constraint, at one stage the Catholic Church ruled and owned two thirds of Europe, and killed hundreds of thousands in crusades to Jerusalem, to Constantiapole, and the Spanish Inquisitions. Absolute power kills, because the maintenance of power requires us to destroy all those who oppose us. Gays have the potential to undermine religion because such fundamentalist religion has its basis on a structure of society where the woman is the lowest class in society and have to cover up their faces in public. When a man acts like a woman in the act of sex, it has the potential to undermine the position of the man. Therefore you have the death penalty mandated for gays.
The Sojourners called for a large aid to Afganistan as a way to end the war, implying that social breakdown and poverty feeds religious extremism. However, studies have shown that most extremist come from relatively well to do families with the example of the Americans of Pakistani decsent who were captured in Pakistan for wanting to join a religous fundamentalist armed group. The solution lies not in more aid, but in having an opposing religious message, a message of true Christian compassion and benevolence. We have often preached from John 3:16, but the foundation is in John 3:17:-
Jesus came into a religious settings much like in Iran and Uganda which was very strict and law based. You were condemned and considered sinners for not following the strict religious laws. These were extremist sects and in the case of Jerusalem, the zealots there started a warfare with the Romans tha ultimately resulted in the siege and destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, and the Jewish Disapora to modern day Iraq, Asia Minor, and Europe.
Jesus was sent not to add additional laws, or be just like any religous preacher teaching on how to obey the laws better and to condemn the followers of heir failings. He came to show forth God's love, grace, compassion and mercy. It was not the laws we follow and the zeal of the good works we have done for God, but our faith in Christ, in His death and resurrection. We are then to continue the ministry of Christ, one which does not demand power and obedience to religious laws (and condemnation if we do not follow these laws), but one that is based on loving God and loving others with miraculous signs and changed lives through the Holy Spirit as a testimony of God being with us.
Jesus came not to ask those who fail to keep the religious commandments to suffer the capital punishment, He came to die for us in a most terrible death. He showed His love for us and gave His life for us even though He himself was without sin. He did not have to die and could have stayed in heaven. But He even though was God almighty, humbled Himself and became a man, and being in obedience even to the cross of Calvary made Himself of nothing, that we should gain eternal life and to receive everything for heaven now is our destination and abode once we pass on.
They took everything from Jesus at the Cross of Calvary - His humanity, His dignity, His llfe. He was innocent, yet crucified. Today, it is the same religious mob who thought they knew God who is hunting down Gays in Uganda and Iran - taking every single rights away, and after being beaten to hang to death on a tree. The Christian Right in Uganda is ultimately linked back to the Christians in Singapore, for when you take away the coverings of civilized culture, the boundaries imposed by a secular Government, and the constraints of a multi-religious and multi-ethnic society, you end up with the core of modern Christianity - a self righteous religious mob who wants gays dead. It is time for the Church to return to following Christ, to be worthy to be called Christians.
Jesus came to give everthing He had, whilst we take everything away from the defenceless and the innocent crossing boundaries way outside the walls of the church. Let us return to Christ be found worthy lest He comes back and finds us taking God's grace and mercy for granted.