Opinions Sat, 23 Oct 2021

Still, 'The Battle is the Lord’s': My preliminary take on Nana Addo's LGBTQIA+ tolerance

On October 22, 2021, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufu-Addo, Ghana's president, was on Peace FM. He said many things that have further complicated issues, as the nation sinks deep into partisan polarisation.

Several people were not happy about his response to a chief who wants a state-sponsored school in the chief's community to be completed. Others think his response to the death of a "modern" nationalist was insensitive.

While these are matters of concern and need a critical relook and may definitely divide Ghanaians along partisan lines, l will reflect on Nana's response to questions on the current Bill in parliament that seeks to promote proper human family values. Indeed, this is an issue that according to the civil society that is promoting the rights of LGBTQIA+, nearly the entire nation is against.

I am very sure if one were to read the public comments on what the president said about the Bill in Parliament, one wouldn’t fail to notice that commentators are united in condemning the president for betraying Ghanaians.

Nana, the fact that Ghanaians unanimously rebutted your issue of tolerance is because you were intolerant when you praised the liberal democrats over real democrats. As a father of the nation, you could have said what you said without praising the liberal democrats – because you sent a signal to them that they have your support.

For me, this should tell Mr. President Akufu-Addo that if indeed, "The battle is the Lord’s", the same dictum should apply in all areas of life. It should not be used to "seduce" Christians into giving him the mandate to govern while using the same mandate to promote the will of the western world where the dictum "The Battle is the Lord" has been drowned in the gutters of history.

At the end of the programme (was it designed?), Mr. Kwami Sefa Kayi, the host, asked the president's take on the current LGBTQIA+ debate in Ghana. At this point, as president, and given that he was speaking as a representative of Ghanaians, his response should have been truly representative.

I imagine if the president were to respond to another issue that would have brought the NDC and the NPP together to support his ambition of ensuring the security of tenure for the NPP, he would have made an explicit statement that would appeal to both sides of the divide.

Nevertheless, but expectedly, the president sought to demonstrate maturity by appealing to the rhetoric of tolerance. While he took the idea of tolerance for granted, he praised the 18 men and women for their boldness in expressing dissenting views. Was the president tolerant?

Why was the president praising them? Was it because they represented the strong advocates he mentioned a while ago in an interview that showed how dodgy he was about the issue?

Or was it that these are a few brave men and women who can stand the tide against 93 percent of Ghanaians promoting proper human family and sex values? Or are these the persons who could really promote the western type of democracy that allows all manner of instinctive drives to be expressed, including polygamy, bestiality, etc?

By the way, as the president was preaching tolerance, why didn’t he also express explicit gratitude to those supporting God’s established family norms and sexual virtues? Are they not equally and perhaps stronger and more courageous to stand against deluded “almighty” superpowers of the world?

Who didn’t the president caution the west against real or imagined threats against individual Ghanaian or groups promoting proper human family values and sexuality?

Is it not possible that Sam George and those in his group are more courageous than the elite professors and professionals? After all, given the primitive accumulated economic muscles of the west, is it not those who contradict the west who should be praised?

Similarly, Sam George and the venerable persons promoting the Bill do have access to the classrooms to influence the minds of students against the western world that has gone the path of a sexual revolution – deconstructing every ethical and ontological sex boundary?

The above questions are informed by the fact that, ordinarily, the accommodation of dissenting views is the root of a democratic regime. So, why didn't the president appreciate openly the energy that went into the drafting of the Bill, beyond praising a private bill? Why didn't the president similarly praise memoranda in support of the Bill?

All this put a sour taste in the mouths of several Ghanaians, gauged from the public response to Peace FM's publication. This is also because for most of the people, including my people in the Zongoes, promoting the Bill, they see children as God’s gift. They see children as their future. They see children as a condition sine qua non for human civilization. Mr. President, imagine a Ghana where homosexuality is decriminalized: Do you sincerely think that the law would infringe on the family?

These are the people over whom you are digitizing the tax network to draw the money to fund the public universities. But Mr. President, these funders of the public university have no say whatsoever in the running of the universities, including the moral virtues that are taught. Please ask your research to have a look at the things that are taught in the name of Gender Studies in our public schools. indeed, for us, “The Battle is the Lord’s”.

Here is my point, the family is anterior to the state that is why no one comes to the state to look for marriage. The family is also established based on a covenant, not a social contract. So, the family is as consanguineal relations are ruled by morality, not law. The state, based on a social contract is governed by law. There must, therefore, be a clear boundary between the state and the family.

Now, Mr. President, here the danger of decriminalizing homosexuality and its associates: The family will be destroyed, precisely because children will appeal to the law from the state, as opposed to moral virtues, to rebel against their families. No matter how families train their children, once there is a law that enjoins children’s right to self-expression including deviant sexual practice, the families will be the losers.

As an example, take education. Mr. President, you know that education is right that every Ghanaian child is entitled to. It is a right, backed by law. Imagine if a parent decides to deny his child the right to education. Won’t such a child appeal to the constitution to lay a legitimate accusation against his parents? This is similar to decriminalizing moral issues like LGBTQIA+, prostitution, recreational use of marijuana, etc.

Remember that all the people supporting the right to proper family families and sexual ethics have always been inspired by "The Battle is the Lord’s". As we speak, Christians, Muslims, and indigenous believers have taken the "Battle to the Lord’s" in the church, mosques, shrines, and all public spheres. They are praying because they know they are dealing with an overwhelming force.

Just like some Ghanaians, unfortunately, cursed you that you will never become the president of Ghana, those who support the Bill are called intolerant, hypocrites and condemned to the backwaters of primitivity. Meanwhile, Mr President, like you had good intention to Ghana and yet was misconstrued, the content of the Bill is good for all of us. It is not meant to incriminate or express hate. Please I know you are an astute lawyer, so you have read and understood its content. you were cursed by some Ghanaians that you would never be president

There is a sense in why I supported the idea of “The Battle is the Lord’s”. It isn’t necessarily because I do partisan politics, as it is the ultimate source of inspiration to Africans. Africans have suffered for centuries and continue to suffer. The causes of the suffering of African people are both self-inflicted and external. Whether through slavery, colonialism, neo-colonialism, religious entrepreneurs, corruption etc, we have suffered so much.

As a student with two degrees in African Studies (BA and MPhil) and a Christian, I am painfully aware of the machination from within and without the exploit Africans. The current politicization of coronavirus vaccines points to the complexity of the African predicament.

We, as Africans, give our best to the world, and yet we get a pittance in return. Tony Blair said we are a scar on the conscience of the world. Ali Mazrui said we are the richest and yet the poorest. We are a continent of antinomies.

For all this, you were right when you combined “The Battle is the Lord’s” with “Ghana Beyond Aid.” I joined a group of students in Cambridge to celebrate this. We organized our independence anniversary around this theme in 2018. It was attended by several dignitaries including Hon Papa Owusu-Ankomah, Ghana’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom – I mean your representative.

Today, if you decide to hail persons who appear to be in the minority when they are in the majority (qualitatively, especially when the position is backed by America and the UN) against God, you can imagine that some of us are always saying to encourage ourselves that, "The Battle is the Lord's".

Just the same clarion call most assuredly brought you to power against all odds, we shall also prevail against all odds. The advocates you praised are not plying along "The Battle is the Lord's" so, they shall fail here and hereafter – unless they repent.

Nevertheless, there are critical issues at stake. I have never been deluded that the president is neutral. He is not and must not. But his position CANNOT and must not be allowed to suffocate the majority views of Ghanaians.

If you think otherwise, look at it from his political ambitions. He wants his party to break the 8-year jinx, which democratic demands since 1992 impose on him.

To succeed, he needs a majority vote, as elections are about numbers. His dilemma would be how to appeal to financial support from the liberal west to decriminalize homosexuality and appeal to the majority electorate of Ghana who are legitimately asking for proper family values, based on ontological heterosexual marriage between a biological man and a biological woman.

But this is not a moral dilemma, let's be clear, as a majority of Ghanaians have spoken in favour of proper human family values. If sovereignty rests in the hands of Ghanaians, then the president has to listen.

But the president can choose to sacrifice his ambition and lead the country into a potential cultural war - a serious and menacing threat to any nation.

Already, we are encumbered by militant groups that are raging against the moral decadence of the west and are directing their anger against any nation that fails to uphold ontological boundaries. Unfortunately, Africa had become another base for the cultural cold war!

Whether the militant response is ideal or not is a matter of what people consider as ontological boundaries and the need to protect them. As a Christian, l respect a non-violent approach that firmly resists the imposition of contra-moral values. I prefer both compassion and non-compromising. But not violent condemnation.

Henceforth, everyone needs to understand the complexities and simplicities of the idea of a social contract. It is about time everyone considered what the state means, the boundaries of its leaders and citizens, the issue of power and authority.

I sincerely suggest that everyone must not assume that the state is neutral. No one should assume that there are neutral spaces anywhere.

The world is a world of worldviews of two: theistic and humanistic. Striving for a middle ground is only temporary, which will ultimately lead to taking a side. No sane cognitive dissonance on critical moral issues, because they are about life and death.

Our beliefs and understanding of human rights, democracy, religious freedom, partisan politics, issues of development, etc are all determined by the worldview we hold. The way we study science, pursue trade, profession, or scholarship are all bounded by worldviews.

In fact, what we consider “love” isn't also neutral. Whether love means freedom with boundaries, freedom with laws, freedom to do right, or freedom to self-expression, etc are all informed by our worldviews.

There is also an important issue many of us have not seriously considered: The clash of worldviews or the issue of cultural war. In the last few years, we have seen an intensification of political tension around the world.

Many people feel discontent about the clash of worldviews. Religious people are labelled fundamentalists because based on theocentric absolute moral values, they rightly object to any transgression of ethical and ontological boundaries of life.

Humanistic individuals (here it doesn't matter whether they claim to be Christian or not), think there are no absolute moral values, values are self-determined. For this group of people, the new word "selfie" is a quintessential representation of Robert Bellah's expressive culture or Charles Taylor's "Authentic Age".

In all this, legitimate concerns are that society or civilizations collapse when the religious moral foundation (also known as Asabiyyah in Ibn Khaldun's philosophy) is inverted.

Possibly, this may explain why historically no human civilization crossed the century threshold to exist. Why has Christianity outlived all empires?

I am very much aware that in the 1980s, the issue of tolerance wouldn't have been considered in discussing moral issues in Ghana.

For example, tolerance, in a form of romantic and erotic love was never extended to persons who wanted to be their authentic self - as they recklessly broke all boundaries.

These days, we are told to tolerate everyone. Nevertheless, we still don't tolerate criminals even though they have a reason for what they do.

Why can't we allow criminals who are sincerely in search of livelihood? Why don't we tolerate them because, as their philosophy holds, they are taking back from nation wreckers?

What about Sakawa people? Why do we persecute them, because they also claim they are paying the west back for exploiting Africa and Africans? How can you criminalize Sakawa without criminalizing terra nulius? Is it that some criminals are more intelligent than others?

Perhaps, these are bizarre examples. But before you tag me as a bigot, a word recklessly and randomly tossed at everyone who holds a biblical view, answer the question: if people are to live their authentic self, who draws the limit?

I guess, not even Albert Camus succeeded on how to fashion boundaries without God. What about Friedrich Nietzsche?

If you listen to our prof-LGBTQIA+ professors, they keep claiming that no one defines the boundaries of sexuality and morality.

Unfortunately, they don't carry their fawning relativistic logic to an end, except their logical consistency in supporting the breakdown of all boundaries.

But since no one sets the boundaries, why can't a criminal have the right to also express himself? At any rate, our professors think prostitution should be de-stigmatized, as commercial work. Nevertheless, l doubt whether they would allow their daughters to even date a Congolese from Maamobi like me.

I guess it is tolerance when aid is tied to decriminalizing LGBTQIA+ rights? I guess it is tolerance when a Christian baker is arrested and prosecuted for refusing to bake for a gay couple?

I guess it is tolerance when schools and universities funded by the public impose sex ethics that are objected to by 93 percent of the population?

Is it tolerance when a minority right trample upon a majority right on the ontological moral issue on procreation?

In all this, issues of inclusivity and equal representation are thrown at us, as if they are given. How do we define inclusivity and representativeness if the idea of being human is not at a core that can be fixed, stable, and unquestioned? How can the idea of being a human being subject to people's feelings - and yet such feelings are now being imposed on everyone?

Well, the president has spoken, and while l am not a triumphalist in terms of everyone accepting my Christian sex ethics, at least l have my thump to decide who decides with me.
Columnist: Charles Prempeh