This appeared in the Independent, a newspaper in Uganda. The Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 would impose the death penalty on certain homosexual behaviors and require citizens to report suspected homosexuals to the authorities.

Put down the stones

Christians believe that when Jesus was confronted by the religious leaders of His day, He had just the right response. However, I fear that many of my Ugandan brothers and sisters now doubt that Jesus was correct in His example. Let me explain.

In the 8th chapter of the Gospel of John, the Pharisees and teachers of the law brought a woman to Jesus for Him to judge.

They said, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" The woman expressed no repentance, no remorse; she was coerced to this degrading situation by the religious leaders who used her as a scapegoat and example.

Jesus did not speak but instead wrote in the dirt on the ground before He spoke. We don't know what He wrote, but we do know what He said: "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her."

No one tossed so much as a pebble. They all walked away, leaving the woman untouched by the wrath of men. Rather, she had been touched by the mercy of her Benefactor.

Jesus asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She replied, "No one, sir." "Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."

We do not know whether or not she left her life of sin. The Bible does not say. However, we do know that Jesus prevented this woman from being stoned to death. She had sinned and was free to go.

Was Jesus wrong?

As I read the Anti-Homosexuality Bill proposed in Uganda by MPs David Bahati and Benson Obua, I wonder if perhaps these gentlemen think Jesus should have picked up a stone. Instead, Jesus intervened on behalf of the woman, was He wrong?

Clearly, He did not believe adultery was proper. But He signaled a new way of dealing with sin, one which emphasizes mercy and freedom, rather than coercion and death. People must choose to follow the teachings of Christ, not be coerced by Pharisees or government officials. The human heart cannot be changed by laws, but through the freely chosen grace of Christ.

Brothers and sisters, jailing or killing gays or those suspected of being gay or those who know gays cannot create a righteous people, and in fact may further a self-righteous people. One may disapprove of homosexuality, and still treat homosexuals as you would want to be treated. Who among us could stand if our private sins were judged in such a manner as the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009?

I urge my brethren in beautiful Uganda to follow the example of Jesus. Please, for the sake of Christ, put down your stones.

Join the Facebook group Speak Out Against Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009.