|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
Last March, three American evangelical Christians, whose teachings about “curing” homosexuals have been widely discredited in the United States, arrived here in Uganda’s capital to give a series of talks.
The theme of the event, according to Stephen Langa, its Ugandan organizer, was “the gay agenda — that whole hidden and dark agenda” — and the threat homosexuals posed to Bible-based values and the traditional African family.
For three days, according to participants and audio recordings, thousands of Ugandans, including police officers, teachers and national politicians, listened raptly to the Americans, who were presented as experts on homosexuality. The visitors discussed how to make gay people straight, how gay men often sodomized teenage boys and how “the gay movement is an evil institution” whose goal is “to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity.”
Now the three Americans are finding themselves on the defensive, saying they had no intention of helping stoke the kind of anger that could lead to what came next: a bill to impose a death sentence for homosexual behavior.
One month after the conference, a previously unknown Ugandan politician, who boasts of having evangelical friends in the American government, introduced the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, which threatens to hang homosexuals, and, as a result, has put Uganda on a collision course with Western nations.
The three Americans who spoke at the conference — Scott Lively, a missionary who has written several books against homosexuality, including “7 Steps to Recruit-Proof Your Child”; Caleb Lee Brundidge, a self-described former gay man who leads “healing seminars”; and Don Schmierer, a board member of Exodus International, whose mission is “mobilizing the body of Christ to minister grace and truth to a world impacted by homosexuality” — are now trying to distance themselves from the bill.
“I feel duped,” Mr. Schmierer said, arguing that he had been invited to speak on “parenting skills” for families with gay children. He acknowledged telling audiences how homosexuals could be converted into heterosexuals, but he said he had no idea some Ugandans were contemplating the death penalty for homosexuality.
“That’s horrible, absolutely horrible,” he said. “Some of the nicest people I have ever met are gay people.”
Mr. Lively and Mr. Brundidge have made similar remarks in interviews or statements issued by their organizations. But the Ugandan organizers of the conference admit helping draft the bill, and Mr. Lively has acknowledged meeting with Ugandan lawmakers to discuss it. He even wrote on his blog in March that someone had likened their campaign to “a nuclear bomb against the gay agenda in Uganda.” Later, when confronted with criticism, Mr. Lively said he was very disappointed that the legislation was so harsh.
Where is the masculine Jesus of the Bible in the life of today’s church? The Jesus who threw down the tables of the moneychangers and drove them out of the temple with a whip? The Jesus who faced down and tamed the Gerasene demoniac? The Jesus who, to their faces, excoriated the cultural and political leaders of the day as a “brood of vipers ” and “whitewashed sepulchers full of dead men ‘ s bones?” This masculine Jesus has been ejected from the American church. In His place is a false and emasculated Christ, as submissive and fearful of controversy as the men who now lead His flock.
The church and this nation cry out for a revival of masculine Christianity, which is to say that we church leaders need to stop being such, for lack of a better word, sissies when it comes to social and political issues. We need to spend as much time confronting perpetrators as we do comforting victims. We need to do less fretting and more fighting for righteousness. For every motherly, feminine ministry of the church such as a Crisis Pregnancy Center or ex-gay support group, we need a battle-hardened, take-it-to-the-enemy masculine ministry like Operation Rescue (questions of civil disobedience aside). For every God-hating radical in government, academia and media we need a bold, no-nonsense, truth-telling Christian counterpart: trained, equipped and endorsed by the local church.