The recent Supreme Court ruling that made legalized gay marriage in all 50 states in America has generated a lot mixed reactions across the globe. While some greeted the ruling with untold jubilation, monumental sadness descended on others, stating that the beginning of the end for America was undoubtedly here.
I have heard my friends of all races in America talking and implacably opposed to the legalization of gay marriage. I have also loudly heard the voices of my friends within the Nigerian community here in the U.S. and back home in Nigeria bashing the decision. Let me make this clear – regardless of where you stand on this, as an apostle of free speech I strongly believe in people exercising their constitutional rights. As such I respect the views and stances of my all beloved friends.
Before I proceed with the point I intend to establish, let me make another thing clear, I am a theist as such I believe that marriage is an age long institution ordained by God. I equally believe that marriage is ordained for a man and a woman, but do I condemn gay people? No! I can already hear the sighs of disappointment coming from those whom I love both here and abroad, asking why I choose not to condemn gay marriage. My simple answer to that is that, I am not only called to love others, I am an extremist for radical love.
What surprises me most about the Supreme Court ruling has nothing to do with various stances of my friends on this issue. However, I am disappointed that many of them have remained silent on other social issues until now. I’ve never heard any outrage of discontent from most of them about some of the persistent social issues plaguing the American society at large such as divorce, adultery, chronic homelessness and poverty, unjust immigration practices, sexism, sexual trafficking, racism or police brutality. Until now, many of those closest to me have been mute on the suffering of untold numbers of people in this society, but now, as if given a voice for the first time, they have chosen to speak. The burning question is: what is so special about gay marriage that sparked holy indignation in the bosom of my friends and what is so boring about the #blacklivesmatter movement that equally puts them to sleep?
I suspect that a couple of things are at work here. For starters, the society is an agent of the devil in that it makes us feel safe with sin as such we as a people have been desensitized and well-adjusted to the dehumanization of black lives and other persistent injustices. Secondly, many believers – in both the American and Nigerian context – practice Cafeteria Christianity where we cherry-pick which parts of the Bible to follow. Those who subscribe to this way of life, choose which values are the most important and use the Bible to substantiate those beliefs.
The doctrine of the hierarchy of sins also plays a significant role here as we in the church seem to be more obsessed with sexual sin than we are with societal sin. We put our energy into limiting what two consenting adults do in the privacy of their bedroom than what our government does to its black and brown citizens by consistently cutting them off from opportunity and limiting their ability to live life more abundantly. According to Tracy Jones, “There is a general belief that there is a hierarchy of sins within the Black Church such that homosexuality was not just wrong, but more wrong than any of the other sins. More unforgivable than other acts of immorality like adultery.” Though, Tracy Jones addresses the Black Church in America, it also applies to the Nigerian Church. In 2013 a Nigerian blogger by the name Ese Walter confessed and gave an account of how she was sexually and spiritually manipulated by her then pastor. To my wonderment, the lady in question was demonized by many as an agent of the devil sent to destroy the pastor’s ministry while the pastor enjoyed the grandiloquent spiritual constitution of “Touch not my anointed and do my prophet no harm.” Many of my friends that have condemned gay marriage were alive then but participated in the doctrine of the hierarchy of sins through their silence.
Again, let me state unequivocally that my goal is not to sanction gay marriage neither do I believe that the government can legislate morality. I am only responding to my religious tribe – Christians- as such I am writing within the context of Christianity to my beloved friends, alerting them to the danger of allowing their homophobic views to shape their reading of the Bible while simultaneously ignoring whole swats of texts throughout that have a strong directive to do justice. If we truly believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, then we have to apply the same lens in which we critique homosexuality to how we stand against racial and economic injustice.