My African friend is very proud of his four sons.
I hated to do it but I said, “There is a good chance one or both of your younger sons is homosexual.”
“That is not possible,” he replied. “I am not rich and do not intend to send them to school in the west, no. Besides,” he said, “their uncle, when it is time, will teach each one to be men and the adults who live around us will correct him if he misbehaves.”
I reassured him I had science to show that as a woman goes through a birth, her hormones change a little. And at the time of birth of the younger sons, her hormones have changed so much they affect the hormones of the newborn. Scientists have noticed that homosexuality tends to occur after two or three births. The correlating change that appears to cause it is the mother’s hormones changing.
I also reassured him that the study was not done of Africans but of western families and there may be biological differences that do not work the same way there. And there is some evidence that it may be genetic. The science is not completed as yet.
He said his experience with homosexuality was that it appeared only in young men from wealthy families who went to Europe or America for college or work and came back with the lifestyle. They found it to be the style of life that was the " 'in' thing. When they return to Africa, they throw their money around and influence younger men that they would be in style if they practiced homosexuality. And many young men like the money and attention.”
I told him of my experience in New York City that there were many young people going into show business or other arts in which the dominate personalities were homosexual and so the younger people felt they had to be so in order to get a job and work their way up in those professions. I said that I knew many people who did not choose their orientation but had been so since their childhood.
He had not had that experience. He explained why he thought there was homosexuality.
“The way it all began was with the king and queen a long time ago, perhaps Roman times maybe longer ago than that,” he said. “For their personal safety and the protection of those ruling the nation, they could not sleep together. One assassin could kill them both if they did, ending their rule. It would not be right to express their sexual needs with servants of the opposite sex. There could be babies, yes. But they could ask a servant of the same sex to join with them to relieve their needs. And that is how it all started.”
I thought that sounded more like an origin myth than a historical explanation but he found it very understandable and applicable to the homosexuality of which he was aware.
“They are all wealthy and have lived in the west,” he repeated, “and they chose that style of life. No, my sons will not be homosexual.”
He went on. “In my country, we look upon them as sick, as addicted just like alcoholics. But we do them no harm. The African way is to never draw blood. We would never kill them. I was astounded when I heard about how Americans are violent against homosexuals when I came to Fort Worth four years ago. In my country, we treat them like we treat everybody else. We eat with them, shop with them, do nothing to harm them. We wait until they are ready and then we work to heal them like we would any other addict. We even buy their CDs if they are talented. One singer went abroad and came back different, a sex change operation. Everyone knows but the singer is so talented we just enjoy the music.”
“So the only homosexuals you know about are made by man,” I said.
“We do not think God makes a mistake, no. We have only seen the rich sons who choose for social reasons to take that life style,” he said.
“The most important thing you say is that in your country you would never harm a homosexual,” I said.
“But,” I asked, “what about as the small towns and villages where everyone knows your business and watch as your children begin to age and die? What is happening in the suburbs and cities?”
“That is happening now,” he said. “We will see.”
“May I say again that maybe your youngest will be homosexual. That is how many came to a new understanding.”
“That has yet to be our experience. In the meantime, we cannot go back to Africa and say that The United Methodist Church is for homosexuality. It will hurt our mission.
“But,” he added, “I will give your words some thought.”
The Rev. Jerry Eckert of Port Charlotte, Fla., is a retired clergy member of the Wisconsin Annual Conference.