Thursday, May 20, 2010

Progress and evil

Just recently in Blantyre, Malawi, Magistrate Nyakwawa Usiwa Usiwa sentenced two young men to 14 years in prison. What were they guilty of? Homosexuality. This NY Times article covers the story which includes loud criticism from the West. England is urging Malawi (and other African countries) to protect human rights. The problem is, homosexuality is not a right in Malawi. This was their response:

''Maximum sentences are intended for use for worst cases,'' Magistrate Nyakwawa Usiwa Usiwa said as he delivered his sentence. ''We are sitting here to represent the Malawi society which I do not believe is ready at this point in time to see its sons getting married to other sons or conducting engagement ceremonies.''

Betsy Chirambo, an adviser to President Bingu wa Mutharika, expressed concern over calls by some activists for the West to withdraw aid to Malawi because of the case. Up to 40 percent of Malawi's development budget comes from foreign donors.

''It is not our culture for a man to marry a man,'' Chirambo said this week. ''That is not even in our constitution. Some of these rights are not good for our culture.''

Honestly, as a Christian, I believe that homosexuality is a sin. It is not what God intended for his creation. HOWEVER, I do NOT see how homosexuality could deserve 14 years in prison-especially a prison in Malawi. I've been there. I have seen how terrible the conditions are. Those prisons (and most other prisons) should be for set aside only as punishment for true crimes against others in your community. There are numerous things the Bible calls sinful, many of them are punishable by imprisonment but still many are not.

Dan and I talked about this a bit today. I can't get it out of my mind, those young men being sent to prison. Dan made a good point-things like this really raise some questions: What is law? Is it simply protection against hurting each other in a society or is it our measurement for morality as well? How do you measure morality?? As Christians, how do we hold to our beliefs while also observing the law and when do we (or should we ever) fight against the law in faith? In this case, Malawi is super conservative, yet they are still debating where they stand morally on the subject of polygamy. It confuses me that a government can say having multiple wives is totally fine, but a man having a boyfriend is absolutely out of the question.

There is so much I could say about this. Really, my heart is sad. I have no idea what is right or what should be done. Homosexuality is against the law in Malawi, so maybe those guys shouldn't have had a public engagement party. Still, I am almost positive it is wrong to send someone to jail for this. I can't help but dwell on images of those prisons, the lack of food and water and the living conditions. All I can do is pray for these two young men as well as the nation of Malawi. They all need the wisdom that is from above, not that which is flawed and found in humans.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting. If you read up on things in Uganda, you'll see political pressure in favor of the DEATH penalty for homosexuality. Really awful. 14 years in prison in Malawi is definitely unjust -- especially when I'm guessing that many of the same people who are in favor of this have a double standard in terms of any heterosexual activity outside of marriage.