Guest Columnist By Femi Fani-Kayode
By the time this essay is published, the Supreme Court of the United States of America would have heard all the arguments and counter-arguments about the legality and desirability of same sex marriages. President Barak Obama has openly endorsed such marriages just as has the former American Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and her husband President Bill Clinton. According to a CNN poll, no less than 58 per cent of the American people support same sex marriages too and another poll suggests that 80 per cent of Americans that are under the age of 30 also support it.
And such support is not limited to those that are supporters or members of the American Democratic Party. Even the more liberal elements in the Republican Party, which is a party after my heart and which is the traditional bastion of conservative Christian and American values, seems to have warmed to the idea. This is simply because that is what the majority of the American people want and any political party that continues to resist it may pay a heavy price at the polls.
It is clear that the world is changing and that America, under Obama, has redefined her moral and religious values dramatically. I saw this coming and that is precisely why I have never been a great fan of President Obama and that, much to the chagrin of my fellow Africans and men and women of colour from all over the world, I openly opposed his re-election last year and wrote a highly celebrated essay titled ''Can Barak Obama Be Trusted'' which created quite a stir and which was widely published. The truth is that Obama'a latest endorsement of and his stand on same sex marriage utterly appals me.
What is the world coming to? How come we suddenly find it so easy to turn our backs on the word of God which specifically defines marriage as a holy union between a man and a woman which was designed primarily for the purpose of procreation? Not only do Obama and 58 per cent of the American people believe in same sex marriage but they also believe in same sex couples adopting and raising children. Is this not a tragedy of monumental proportions? This is a country whose founding fathers, known as the ''pilgrim fathers'', founded and established it on God and on His Holy Word.
President George Washington, the greatest American patriot and father of American independence, once proclaimed that ''you cannot rule without God and the bible''. Have the American people forgotten that? Has America turned its back on the Living God? Have they forgotten the fact that God made them what they are today? Have they rejected God and now espoused the spirit and luciferean principles of humanism? Is it not pertinent to note the fact that not one of the three great monotheist faiths on our planet, whether be it Christianity, Islam or Judaism, supports same sex marriage? As a matter of fact, they all specifically forbid it and describe it as a perversion and an abomination. All the polytheist faiths, including the Hindus, the Sikhs, the Buddhists, the Shinto worshippers, the traditionalists and even the atheists and agnostics do the same and condemn same sex marriage in the strongest terms.
I have nothing against gays and I believe that a person's sexual preferences or sexuality are entirely their own business. I also accept the fact that gays should not be in any way discriminated against or subjected to hate speech. Your sexuality is a matter of choice and no-one has the right to deny you the right to make that choice. This much I concede and accept. However, I draw the line when it comes to the issue of redefining the traditional definition of marriage and allowing gay couples to enter such a union. This is because the institution and its definition were established by Almighty God Himself and it is not for man to alter or amend it. Attempting to do so is tantamount to man trying to play God. It is not right, it is morally indefensible and it is a violent and unprecedented attack on the institution of marriage and our traditional family values.
Yet America is not alone in its madness. Europe has gone crazy too. In France, the U.K, Holland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Belgium and various other European countries, legislation to pave the way for same sex marriage has already been introduced and in some of those countries, it is already lawful. The same thing is happening in Argentina, where gays are now allowed to marry, and I gather that Brazil is treading the same path. What is the world coming to? Will we ever see gay marriages in Africa and in Nigeria? I have little doubt that South Africa, the traditional bastion of liberalism in Africa, will be the first to permit it if they have not done so already. Should we allow Nigeria to climb this slippery slope as well? I sincerely hope not. Meanwhile, let us wait to see whether the American Supreme Court will do the right thing and shoot this abominable and morally repugnant concept down or whether it will affirm it. For the sake of God and humanity, I sincerely hope that it chooses the former course.
I pray that I have not hurt anyone's feelings by expressing these views on same sex marriage because the last thing that I would want is for anyone to describe me as a raging and ranting homophobe. I am far from that. As a matter of fact, I think that it is a mark of a truly civilised society when people can tolerate and treat with love those that are ''different'' from them, be it as a consequence of their faith, culture, colour or sexuality. The call for the enforcement of the rights of ethnic or sexual minorities, including the rights of homosexuals and lesbians, is an ethos and philosophy that I wholly subscribe to. In any plural, multi-religious and multi-cultural society, it is incumbent upon us all to be as tolerant and accommodating as possible about the peculiarities and preferences of one another.
I am proud to say that some of my closest friends are gay and as a matter of fact many of the young men that I went to British public school with many years ago openly experimented with gay sex and gay love only for most of them to later discover that it wasn't for them. I see or feel no shame in that because for many it was simply a beautiful journey of self-discovery and love. As far as I am concerned, it is each to his own but that should not stretch into marriage or the right of same sex couples to adopt and raise children.
Our country Nigeria, as in most of Africa, is a land that is plagued with ignorance and intolerance when it comes to the issue of sexuality and gays. We are wholly intolerant and we are totally insensitive when it comes to the feelings of those in our community that are gay. Gay hunting, gay bashing, gay beating, gay hating and even gay killing is a favourite past time of ours and as far as I am concerned, this is totally unacceptable. We have forgotten that our God is a God of love and mercy and not a God of hate and condemnation. Yet we are so quick and eager to judge others. For example, how can we have laws in our land that send a man or woman to jail or to his or her death simply because he or she has different sexual preferences to the rest of us?
As long as the two parties that are involved are consenting adults what they do in the privacy of their homes or hotel rooms is surely no one else's business. I may not approve of it simply because it offends my values as a believer and because I cannot understand what promotes or motivates it but what gives me the right to describe such people as ''sick deviants'' that are ''destined to go to hell?''. It really is just a matter of choice. We cannot regulate people's sexual habits or preferences but at the same time we have a duty to protect the institution of marriage as it is described and defined in the Holy Bible, the Holy Koran, the Torah and all the other divinely-inspired holy books. My position is therefore clear and it is as follows. I say ''yes'' to a tolerant and open society that allows individuals, if they so choose, to be gay, to explore their sexuality and to indulge in their sexual preferences without any legal sanction, prosecution or persecution. At the same time, I say ''no'' to same sex marriages which I believe are a step too far and a direct attack on the family and God's purpose for a holy union that is designed and meant to lead to the procreation of children. The line is thin but the difference is clear. May God continue to guide us all in these matters.