"Other Sheep Kenya held a discussion with Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School Apologetics class on human sexuality, gender identity and Christianity on May 27, 2010."
A remarkable, timely, historic meeting in East Africa
by Rev. John Makokha, Coordinator for Other Sheep Kenya, NAIROBI, Kenya
May 28, 2010.
Editor's note: There may be other formal discussions between evangelicals and the LGBT community happening in East Africa at this time, especially in light of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of Uganda, however, Other Sheep is not aware of any. This remarkable event between Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School and Other Sheep Kenya needs to be heralded as an example of what needs to take place between the Evangelical community and the LGBT community worldwide. -Rev. Steve Parelli, Executive Director, Other Sheep
Other Sheep Kenya held a discussion with Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School Apologetics class on human sexuality, gender identity and Christianity on May 27. The 15-member class was accompanied by their lecturer, Prof. Bill Black.
Rev. Michael Kimindu [Other Sheep East Africa Coordinator] gave his personal story in view of human sexuality and development. He recalled how he discovered his sexuality through socialization with his peers and not just acquiring it. He encouraged theological students in Africa to take education on human sexuality and identity seriously since ignorance has no place in the church and society.
David Kuria [General Manager, GALCK] said there is a lot of hate and spiritual violence in the church against sexual minorities. He noted that love is missing in the church and the same love can now be found outside the walls of the church. He gave an example of an ugly incident in Mtwapa, a coastal town of Mombasa where some Christian and Muslim religious leaders led mobs to stone to death suspected gays. He said that a suspected gay young man missed lynching by a close shave after being saved by a prostitute who embraced him and restrained the mob's action. "I am persuaded to think this female prostitute was a Good Samaritan", said Kuria.
Rev. John Makokha went through some of the clobber passages in the Bible [Leviticus 18-20, Romans 1: 26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, 1 Timothy 6: 9-11 and Jude 7] and said he is strongly persuaded that none of these biblical texts speak of homosexuality as a sexual orientation the way we understand it today.
He said that these biblical texts speak of creation narrative and the origin of humanity where there was no gender differentiation between man and woman, and there was no distinction between their sexuality [Genesis 1].
He noted that according to his understanding the second clobber passage talks about attempted gang rape, inhospitality, greed and lack of compassion to the poor and vulnerable households and not homosexuality [Genesis 19]. Prophet Ezekiel [16: 48-50] and even Jesus [Mathew 10: 14-15] himself make reference to inhospitality and greed as reasons for the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
He said that the third clobber passage reflects the holiness code that comprises of cultural rituals of Israelites in their effort to be a distinct race and divinely favored race of people in their environment. The Levitical rules were meant for the Jewish people. Some of these holiness codes are cultic, cultural and criminal, and even modern Jewish people do not practice them. He asked, "How come the church is not practicing all the more than 613 holiness codes/rules, leave alone all the Ten Commandments?"
He noted that Paul speaks about pederasty, temple prostitution and idolatry. The people broke away from their natural sexual orientation, engaging in sexual infidelity with anyone [Romans 1: 26-27, I Corinthians 6: 9-10, 1 Timothy 6: 9-11]. Paul was addressing the model of homosexual behavior associated with idol worship, and religious rituals associated with their idolatry of his time and not homosexuality as sexual orientation the way we understand it today.
He said that he is strongly persuaded that Jude 7 speaks about heterosexual sex between male angels and human women, and not homosexual sex between humans.
He blamed the early fundamental evangelical Christian missionaries who brought the gospel wrapped up in homophobic and trans phobic attire. The same has happened to the established theological colleges in curricula design, planning, implementation, translation and interpretation of various bible versions.
Anne Baraza [CEO, Riruta United Women Empowerment Programme and LGBTI Counselor] said science rightly interpreted has much to offer when it comes to questions on human sexuality and gender identity. Scientific findings may today inform the church and society on sexual orientation issues. "I am aware that science can't resolve all our value questions but we need to regard homosexual orientation as a normal variation as we did with left handedness", she said.
She said that research has shown that environment influences sexual behavior and not sexual orientation. Sexual orientation is innate, discovered and not a choice as many people tend to think.
Baraza said empirical evidence has indicated brain anatomy influences one's sexual orientation. The research done by Simon Le Vay showed that brain cluster cells were larger in heterosexuals and smaller in homosexuals. Gay men simply don't have brain cells to be sexually and emotionally attracted to women. Lesbians may have more of a typical male anatomy and this could explain why they are attracted to fellow women.
Fabian Wangare [Other Sheep Kenya, MSM HIV/AIDS Initiative Officer] said that he is living positively with HIV as a gay man and pleaded with the church leaders to initiate HIV/AIDS programs with a focus on sexual minorities in their respective denominations. Stigma and discrimination against lesbian, gay and bisexual persons is increasing the spread of new infections of AIDS in Kenya at the rate 15.2%. He said "I stopped going to all churches due to stigma and discrimination by the clergy, but after several counseling sessions, I now attend an affirming and welcoming church."
One NEGST student said that they had learned a lesson on sexual orientation for the first time in their academic life. They requested more resource materials so that they can study further since they were still digesting what they had acquired from the fruitful discussion. This served as an eye opener to them.