During the recent visit of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Liberia, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf responded to a question posed by a Canadian journalist about what her government was doing to protect members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community (LGBT). She rightly responded and I couldn’t agree with her more ‘that it was not illegal to be a homosexual in Liberia. She went on to say that “Liberia has no law that restricts the rights of individuals to their own choices. Only when it is a threat to national security do we have a law that has restrictions. The freedom of choice is extended to all Liberians” – President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Little over four years ago, on July 19, 2012, the Liberian Senate passed an anti-gay bill. This bill, which was sponsored by Bong County Senior Senator Jewel Howard Taylor, sought to criminalize homosexuality. We responded to say that the bill represented a grave assault on the human rights of all Liberians, regardless of their sexual orientation. Fortunately, that horrible bill was never passed into law.
Throughout all of human history, from the genesis of man to post-modern times, a simple fact prevails. Mankind, when left to his own devices, always defines morality subjectively in a manner that serves its purposes. We as individuals are incapable of defining morality without seeking to advance our own individualistic moral agendas. For example, a person will easily cry foul play if a robber breaks into their home and steals from them. Yet that same person may purposely cheat the Liberia Revenue Authority on their taxes. Robbery and tax evasion are both theft, equally punishable by law.
So how do we objectively define morality fairly, without bias, without an agenda, without personal prejudices—ultimately without subjectivity? As a Christian (Episcopalian), I believe God alone is the ultimate objective authority on morality. Only God operates in man’s best interest to define right from wrong without bias.
That leads me back to my initial question, “When is sex appropriate and when it is inappropriate?” I believe that only God can answer this question. According to God’s word there is only one context in which sex is appropriate: a monogamous marriage relationship between one man and one woman. That means that all other sex – yes, every other sexual relationship – is outside of God’s parameters.
So let me be very specific about what sexual activity is NOT sanctioned by God.
According to the Bible, all of these sexual activities are defined as immoral:
• Sex between consenting, but unmarried, heterosexuals (so yes sleeping with your girlfriend or hooking up with the hottie from the club falls into this category)
• Paid sex with a prostitute
• Homosexual activity
Ultimately, sex with anyone who is not one’s spouse is immoral by God’s law. So if we are going to regulate sexual activity in Liberia objectively, without individual bias, then all sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman must be a crime in Liberia. In addition to every individual who practices homosexuality, we must prosecute every man and woman who engages in a one night stand, every boyfriend that sleeps with his girlfriend. We must prosecute every adulterer, and every person that solicits a prostitute. According to God’s law, each one of these activities is illegal.
Additionally, and without exception, we must vigilantly prosecute every rapist, perpetrator of incest, and every pedophile as violent criminals, diametrically opposed to God’s law. These violent crimes strip their victims of the dignity and self-worth that God intended.
We must choose either to follow the only truly objective measure of morality—God’s law—or to ignore it. If we follow God’s law and fairly enforce His moral code objectively, I believe 95% of all Liberian adults, and many youth will be prosecuted as sexual criminals. The majority of our nation’s population deserves to be behind bars, not just those engaged in homosexual activity.
In his editorial “A Satirical Look at Homophobia in Liberia” George Fahnbulleh said, “All Liberian anti-gay activists have decided to join forces under a single umbrella to help stamp out homosexuality in the small West African nation. The group (PEWMAH) Pedophiles, Embezzlers, Warlords, Molesters, Adulterers Against Homosexuals claims the mantle of covering about 90 percent of the Liberian Population.
To paraphrase a friend, Israel Akinsanya: “No! No! No! I’m not worried about what two consenting adults do in the privacy of their own homes. I’m not worried about who consenting adults chose to marry, I’m not worried about who consenting adults end up marrying. I care about our healthcare system, our roads, our educational system etc. Most of all, I worry not, that I can “catch your gayness”, by allowing you to be you, with your God given rights. Oh yes, this talk today is useless to the bigger picture of moving Liberia forward.”
We cannot point the finger only at those practicing homosexuality, and not prosecute all the heterosexuals engaged in unlawful sexual behavior. The majority is most comfortable with laws and rules that persecute the minority, yet do not infringe on the immoral behavior of the majority. When we are ready to hold heterosexuals to the same standard as homosexuals then we are ready to regulate sexual activity. Until then, let he who is without sin cast the first stone.
The nineteenth-century economist and philosopher John Stuart Mill, author of the classic essay “On Liberty,” similarly explained: “So long as we do not harm others we should be free to think, speak, act, and live as we see fit, without molestation from individuals, law, or government”.
Rufus S. Berry II, MBA
2017 Presidential Aspirant