The purpose of this article is to acknowledge and appreciate the discrepancies between the church and state on homosexuality in Malawi. I feel it is by such, that we can positively comprehend the controversy behind the ongoing debate on decriminalization of homosexuality in the country.
While the Malawian government through the parliament advances their intention to revoke the law that criminalizes homosexuality, the Church /Christians who constitute the majority of citizen have condemn the development and cautioned that the government is treading on delicate ground.
Religion and Politics
Religion and politics are the two great systems of power, that though naturally antagonistic against each other, they have for long coexisted in the world through compromises and tolerance of each other.Persecutions, wars and revolutions surfaced where such compromises and tolerance failed. Through out the history of the world Religion and politics have sought absolute control over the world and humankind; threads of religious and political events and revolutions that were masterminded by great ambitious politicians and religious men weave the history of the world. For example; Alexander the great, Adolf Hitler, and Martin Luther, Martin Luther King, Jesus Christ etc.
The underlying verity is that both Politics and Religion interfere with human societies with the claim to possess reliable enduring solution to natural disasters, collapse of economies, genocides, and political strife that have persistently injured the world.
Church and State are separate
The church is the embodiment of Religion, Christianity in particular which upholds the Holy Bible as the supreme mandate, esteemed in the highest regard above every law instituted by man. The State on the contrary embodies politics and upholds the constitution as a supreme law of the land. This inconsistency alone draws an apparent battle line and dilemma between the Church and the State. However, for some reasons beyond the scope of this article, Democratic governments, adopt a secular system of government that separates the Church from the State. Countries like the United States of America, and Malawi, have such constitutions that recognize the Church’s independence from the State. The separation of the Church and State implies that the state or government does not interfere with religion or the Church andguarantees freedom of worship and Religious Liberty. And Malawi is one such State whose constitution prohibit the government from interference with the Church.
The Church and State Dilemma
The church demands overall adherence to sacred prescripts of the Bible; according to Christianity, every human, irrespective of race, and social status is invited to experience a Christian life and recognize the Bible alone as the determinant of acceptable and moral human behavior. The Bible also demands that Christians obey God not man (Acts 4:19). On the contrary, the Democratic State, like Malawi through the Constitution, grants people the freedom to choose to be Christians or not. In section 33 of Chapter five; the Bill of Human Rights of the Constitution stipulates, “Every person has the right to freedom of conscience, religion, belief….” This implies, that the State unlike the Church grants people legal choice to reject Christianity and biblical doctrines and belong to any religion, or believe in the existence of God or not, without risking legal reproof.
For example, while Atheism, which holds that God does not exist, is a direct insult to Christianity and an attack on sacred Scripture, the same is legally acceptable by the State through the constitution; the very constitution that gives some the right to be Christians gives others the right to refute Christianity.
The Church and State’s Views on Homosexuality
In Malawi, while both the Church and the State view homosexuality as unacceptable behavior, the definitions of the misdeed and consequent penalties against the culprits disagree; according to the Church, homosexuality is a transgression of God’s law; sin and the punishment is death; “if a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman must be put to death; …” (Lev 20:13, NIV) while according to the State, homosexuality is an indecent and unnatural behavior and the punishment contrary to the Bible is imprisonment. However, the church does not put homosexuals to death in Malawi, as that would contravene the Constitution. Even if the State were to legalize that homosexuals must be put to death, I feel the Church would ironically not respond well to such a law either.
What Causes homosexuality
I feel it is unarguably imperative to consider how, on earth, a normal human being becomes sexually disorientated. Our understanding of the causes might facilitate informed debates on the decriminalization or criminalization of the behavior.
Some people think that homosexuality desires are innate; implying that some people are born homosexuals, while other thinks it is a mental illness implying that homosexuals need psychiatric attention; or inMalawi, we must immediately secure them wards at Zomba Mental Hospital.
While both the Church and State around the world do recognize the existence of homosexuality, they do not provide definite causes of the behavior. Modern research have refuted assertions that homosexuality is a mental disorder. They also argue that homosexuals have the same biological or genetic, hormonal and physical attributes as normal heterosexuals. This probably refutes that homosexuality is hereditary and hence not innate.
Though the Bible recognizes the existence of homosexuality and warns Christians against the behavior, it does not suggest whatsoever how one becomes homosexual. The first encounter is Sodom (Gen 19).ALL men in the city, young and old were homosexuals (vs 4) and they refused to sleep with virgin girls when Lot offered them his virgin daughters (vs 8). This endorses that Homosexuality is neither hereditary nor a mental disorder; how could All men in a whole city be innately homosexuals? Or how could all men in a whole city be mentally sick? The odds are ridiculous unrealistic.
In Democratic societies, the Majority rules and the rights and interests of the minority are safeguarded. However, as evidence in Malawi, it is practically difficult for the majority to safeguard the rights and interest of the minority when such rights conflict with the religious belief of the majority; or worse if the rights of the minority are perceived as an insult to the God of the majority.
My stand is that discrepancies between the Church and State have always been their since history and are inevitable as the future of the world unfolds. .
Society in Malawi is comprised of different types of people, which include thieves, prostitutes, mad people, homosexuals, Christians, Moslems, atheists, and the list is endless. While these people may not belong to the Church, they definitely belong to the State, and under certain circumstances, the State might be best placed to deal with the misfits of Christianity.
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