Human beings are of matchless nobility. Their uniqueness placed them above and in charge of the rest of myriads of creatures that populate the universe. The classics find this uniqueness in the rational soul of which only the human species possesses. Some modern thinkers, such as Descartes, identify this uniqueness with the human faculties of reasoning and self-consciousness. Nonetheless, history reveals that the so-called rational human race has engaged in several senseless wars of which the lower creatures would be ashamed. In these wars, precious lives are lost, civilizations are destroyed and human dignity trampled upon. The First and Second World Wars, the 1994 Rwandan genocide and the xenophobic violence and responses in South Africa are sad examples.
One of the current violence going on in the global community is the “gay war”. The gays argue that they have a natural attraction to the same-sex. They also appeal to the right for privacy. In contrast, the conservatives, of whom the Catholic Church is mainspring, say that gay relationship is disordered and contra natura (against nature). They keep up that every conjugal union must be open to procreation. Thus they propose orientation for the gay brethren. I will here look at the approaches of some other conservative groups, and subsequently, propose a more humane approach to the gay tussle. Some Muslims claim that “Islam is the only way to eliminate homosexuality”.
In the documentary, “Third Jihad,” produced by Raphael Shore, Imam Ayatollah Almad Husseini Al-Bagdadi asserted that homosexuality is “a terrible catastrophe totally forbidden by Islam.” And that all gay partners “… must be killed as soon as possible and burned.” Iranian president, Mohamoud Almadinejad also, during his speech at Columbia University, New York City, declared: “we don’t have homosexuals in Iran anymore.” This is because homosexuals are being hung in Iran.
Furthermore, the documentaries, “God loves Uganda” and “Call Me Kuchu,” are films demonstrating the rise in persecution and bigotry towards the gay members of the East-Africa of Uganda. They illustrate the horrible hostilities against the gays, and touch on the unfortunate murder of Uganda’s first out gay man David Kato. The producer Rev Kapya Kaoma alleges that these persecutions are being fuelled by the American Evangelical movement. This group founded the sponsoring of a bill that would show death penalty for anyone who repeats homosexual act after being convicted a first time. Nigerian senate had already passed a bill banning same-sex marriage; stipulating fourteen years jail term for anyone guilty of same sex union, and ten years for one who abets such act.
In his review of “God loves Uganda,” Andrew O`Heir noted that “there were elements within African culture that responds strongly to the extreme moralism and apocalyptic rhetoric of Christian evangelism.” Those elements, I suppose, are not those that promote trampling on the dignity of individual person. It is true, that Africans esteem high moral standards as requisite for finding fulfillment in this life and dignity. Little wonder Africans employ more humane reprimand; in the form of banishment and ostracism, than death sentence, when punishing heinous crimes.
Therefore, I propose a humanistic approach to the ongoing moral debates. That is, the issues in question must be viewed vis-à-vis the human person, their values, needs, abilities, dignity and freedom. First, Humans are not made for norms. Thus, the values being promoted must mirror the fundamental presuppositions about the human person. It must also be in harmony with basic human values; such as, the natural disposition to preserve life, seek justice and to pursue truth. On these grounds, beheading or hanging a gay person is barbaric.
Furthermore, any approach to moral issues must take cognizance of human need for survival, companionship, and happiness. Morality should be seen first, as protecting human interest and not a means to mollify some incensed extraterrestrial beings. It must also propose what lies within human capacities.
Ethical standards are meant to guide humans to behave in the most honorable manner fitting for their noble state. Therefore, moral propositions must foster human dignity and enable a person to act freely in good conscience. To treat a human being quite basely for reasons of immorality is already an aberration. Ultimately, ethical codes must be derived from reason and not from some superstitious thinking. The degeneracy of homosexuality and its threat to the propagation of human life can be rationally deduced and justly condemned.
What is at stake in this whole tussle is worth the struggle. The Catholic Christian approach, which recognizes the nobility of even the gay persons and offers hope for their rehabilitation, is laudable; for it is rightly said that we are most like beasts when we kill, most like God when we forgive, understand and counsel.
Author: Peter Nnamdi Msp, is a graduate of Philosophy from the University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria. He is currently a student of theology in Urban University, Rome, Italy. Peter serves as a priest at the Missionary Society of St. Paul, Nigeria.