published: Wednesday June 18, 2008
Prime Minister Bruce Golding's dismissal of having homosexuals as members of his Cabinet has earned the ire of the Rev Dr Marjorie Lewis, theologian and former general secretary of the Jamaica Council of Churches.
In a May 20 interview on the BBC interview programme 'HARDtalk', Golding was asked, 'Do you in the future want to live in a Jamaica where a gay man or a gay woman could be in the Cabinet?' His response was, "sure they can be in the Cabinet - but not mine".
Lewis, who was speaking yesterday at a workshop on the second day of the Third Biennial Jamaican Diaspora Conference, held at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston, suggested the prime minister's response was unsatisfactory and disappointing."I don't agree with the prime minister. I don't agree with it. 'No gays in the Cabinet?' First of all how you even know who gay? Plenty married people in this country are gay. It is what the Americans call the down-low. Friends, we are not talking about people outside of church, you know," Lewis said. "Let us just be real. We are talking about what is happening in our churches and we have to name the truth and face the truth in the name of Jesus."
Lewis, in her presentation, spoke of her interaction with homosexuals in the United Kingdom and Jamaica where she spent much time listening to their concerns, notwithstanding her own disagreement with their lifestyle. She urged those present to listen to the concerns of homosexuals, despite the extent to which one might be in opposition to their sexual practices.
Addressing 'The Church as a National Cohesive Force', Lewis said, in April last year she and two other theologians/church leaders met with representatives of the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians,All-sexuals and Gays and the local branch of the Florida gay congregation, the Metropolitan Community Church. The meeting discussed pastoral care for the Jamaican homosexual community.
I have been listening
"I have been listening to some of these gay people," she said. "I can't tell you I have the answer. But I know every human being is made in God's image. And I know people are saying to me, 'I am praying and fasting about this and I am still gay and I don't want to be gay and I have felt I want to commit suicide'. Or somebody saying, 'This is who I am, why should I marry a woman and fool her?'"She stressed the first Christian response to homosexuals should be to listen to them. She warned, however, that this process "is messy". Nevertheless, she stressed, Christians "have to be involved with these issues because we are called to (minister to) all human beings".