From time immemorial the Church has sought to set the stage, from a moral and spiritual standpoint, for what goes on in the bedroom.
Of course, it has been a rocky road as various religions have varying views on what is right or wrong in a relationship, especially when it comes to marriage and sex. From polygamy to monogamy, views vary on what should be the accepted norm.
Jamaica has moved on from being a relatively conservative society when it comes to dealing with marital and other sexually related issues based on the strong influence of Christian churches. Indeed, coming out of the slavery experience, it was oftentimes the norm, and still is, for there to be casual relationships between men and women, usually referred to as common-law marriages. Interestingly, during the colonial period under British rule, one Lady Huggins of the landed gentry orchestrated a number of mass weddings via the Church in order to encourage the descendants of African slaves to "normalise" their relationships in a Christian setting.
Today, notwithstanding that intervention, it is safe to say that common-law relationships have continued unabated and in many ways have become the norm, hence the Jamaican social phenomenon of babymother and babyfather. In the end, fornication and adultery are as commonplace as ackee and saltfish on the Jamaican social menu. Even as pastors spew hell and damnation from the pulpits chastising Jamaicans for their high level of promiscuity, the dancehall culture has countered this pervasive level of religiosity, making us one of the most confused and hypocritical nations on Earth when it comes to matters of the heart.
Ironically, it is said that Jamaica has the most churches in the world per square mile, and this can be easily seen when travelling around the island as one comes across a church in just about every nook and cranny. Needless to say, many of these churches are big businesses selling salvation to gullible flocks who willingly finance the lavish lifestyles of their pastors while many in the flock remain in abject poverty.
In this vein, there was a time when Jamaica could truly be said to be a Christian country as the many influences of the Church helped to fashion the behavioural patterns of the masses. This is no longer so as can be seen by the high level of decadence, depravity, and crass indiscipline that pervade the society. In the meantime, the communal love and levels of kindness and tolerance that existed in many communities have been replaced by callous selfishness, greed, criminal intentions, and a general decline in standards of common decency and self-respect.
To put it bluntly, the Church has failed and is failing in its attempts to save this sin-sick nation from hell and damnation. And it is in this vortex that one now sees the Church. Elements in that multi-dimensional as well as multi-denominational body are seeking to regulate what happens in people's bedrooms behind closed doors. It has already failed to stem the increase in promiscuity, prostitution, incest, and all manner of immoral acts relating to human relations but is now hell-bent on getting rid of or totally ostracising that group dubbed LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender), a term that has been in use since the 1990s. Incidentally, I have been told that there is a new group emerging called try-sexual. In other words, they are willing to try anything sexually just for the fun of it and the adventure.
In the wake of the push towards constitutional reform, which should see Jamaica, in short order, becoming a republic, a number of so-called Christian groups and individuals are up in arms against the Andrew Holness Administration for having placed a well-known legal luminary with impeccable qualifications when it comes to constitutional matters on the team established to move this process forward. Their concern is that he is, allegedly, known to sympathise with LGBT rights. Isn't this overreacting and a bit premature? After all, given the high level of homophobia in the country, wouldn't the Government be out of its cotton-picking mind to force any such reformed position on the people of Jamaica? In any event, even if the buggery and abortion laws were to be changed, more than likely there would have to be a referendum or the staging of a national debate, in which all views will contend, to hopefully arrive at a practical consensus? Why is the Church so preoccupied with bedroom matters?
Ironically, this same set of Christian people who are virulently opposed to the LGBT group are also supposedly opposed to the death penalty, yet we live in a society in which, given the level of hatred towards gays, many such individuals have been vilified, brutally slain, and otherwise treated inhumanely. Is this Christian?
Surely matters of sexual orientation and abortion should primarily be seen as moral issues and not be entangled in constitutional pursuits, especially when the criminalisation of such practices, in essence, adversely affects the individual's right to choose? This writer has no problem with the Church inveighing against homosexuals et al, but it must be done in the same context for which Jesus Christ chastised the crowd that was about to stone the woman who had committed adultery: "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her!"
In the final analysis, compassion, understanding, tolerance, and forgiveness are but some of the Christian traits that are missing in this entire crusade against the LGBT group. Let's face it, the Church itself has been plagued by many scandals relating to homosexuality, paedophilia, adultery, fornication, incest, abortion, etc.
Many of the guilty are to be found in the bowels of the Church, so why this hypocritical and blindsided approach to a problem that has plagued humanity for centuries and will continue to exist no matter the extent of persecution and punitive legislation? This is a very complex issue because anal sex is not just practised among homosexuals but is now very commonplace in heterosexual copulations, which is why a more detailed, comprehensive, pragmatic approach must be taken with respect to this controversial matter in the same way that abortion is not just about "killing a belly" but could be as a consequence of rape or certain health issues.
In all of this, the Church should not become a "bedroom bully" but should be more bullish about saving souls and pointing sinners towards repentance and redemption.
Lloyd B Smith has been involved full-time in Jamaican media for the past 47 years. He has also served as a Member of Parliament and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives. He hails from western Jamaica where he is popularly known as the Governor. Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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