The majority of Africans live in the rural areas—about 60% or 700 millions. And in the rural areas, homosexuality is not common. I have never seen it though I lived in an African village for 9 years and still work in the rural areas. The Africans who live in the villages and with whom I have spoken are dogmatically opposed to it whether they are Christian or not. Uganda, a state with 84% rural population, has famously attempted to outlaw homosexuality.
Why is homosexuality so uncommon in the rural areas of Africa? Several answers may be offered, but they all point in the same direction. After the last reason, they will all bond together to form yet another reason to reject the short-sighted decision of the U.S. Supreme Court.
1. Answer #1: It is uncommon because rural Africans oppose it.
Either this answer is true or false. If it is false, then our question is still unanswered and we can proceed to another option below. But if it is true, it does not help the discussion because we still have to ask, “Why is homosexuality not accepted by the average rural African?” Either way, this answer only pushes the argument elsewhere.
2. Answer #2: It is uncommon because homosexuality reflects sensibilities from European and Western cultures.
Maybe someone would say, “It’s not part of their culture.” But if homosexuality is a genetic trait, then why would culture influence how consistently it shows up? I would agree that sodomy is not a part of African culture, yet eating, drinking, sleeping, and marriage are parts of African culture because these are natural. If homosexuality is also natural, why isn’t it seen in the villages of Africa?
Perhaps someone may reply that Africa’s primal patterns have been adjusted since the colonists forced Christianity on them. Maybe someone could say that in the past Africa had a significant homosexual presence, but Western Christian norms chased that away like all the game on the African veldt.
Conversations with numerous vakokwana (elderly people) in the villages show that they have never heard of homosexuality in the rural areas. Nor does African traditional religion have written texts that propose ethics of sexuality. More importantly however, fornication, adultery, and polygamy are all still common in the rural areas even after colonization and Christian missionary influence has left its superficial mark. So we can’t argue that Africans have a high moral standard imported by Western, imperial religion.
3. Answer #3: It is uncommon because African culture does not provide fertile soil for homosexuality.
The poverty of rural Africa has not allowed luxury to the average man. Many live a hand-to-mouth existence where they have not been able to cultivate tastes that are common in Europe and the U.S. When you are focused on surviving, time, energy, or heart for a plush life are in short supply. Many areas of culture will only wilt and die under the life-strangling chill of poverty. The frozen atmosphere of want touches everything from classical music to hard liquor. Though Africans have the resources to play drums and brew a traditional beer, their circumstances could not produce violins, Jack Daniels, abortion, or bikinis. These things all require a level of leisure to invent and cultivate that African societies have traditionally lacked.
Homosexuality fits into this category. Africans in the rural areas have not developed this for the same reason that they have not pioneered child pornography. Though fornication and sexual sins are common, the average villager does not indulge in them to the same degree of comfort that those who live in the richer parts of the world do. Here men purchase prostitutes and pursue their lust in the bush like animals rather than hidden in comfortable hotels. Poverty highlights the depravity; wealth disguises the perversity.
But hidden away, and with expendable income, the cancer of sin can feed on the wealthy societies until their tolerance is so gorged that they will pay any price for new and more edgy experiences. Lusts, like muscles, get stronger after use. In the U.S., a relatively poor man can pamper every desire. Hungry, American? Salt, fat, and sugar are available at amazingly cheap prices. Hot? Electricity is ubiquitous and fans are dirt cheap if you somehow couldn’t afford air conditioning. Tired? Soft beds, clean sheets, and large homes are easier to attain than in rural Africa.
Nearly every physical desire we have can be satisfied as soon as it comes up—including natural urges for physical intimacy. From pictures and videos on phones, the desires are sated and glutted until they have ballooned way out of proportion. To further touch these grotesquely inflated desires some churches have even offered “sex sermons” while the world experiments with ever-new titillations, which of course, are actually as old as wealthy societies. If you struggle with same sex attraction, what role has the dominant culture around you played in expanding your threshold for stimulation? Is popular culture in the developed world known for denying itself any desire? We are responsible both for our decisions as well as for being aware of the spirit of the age in which we live.
Homosexuality is not common in Africa because it generally requires a level of wealth to produce the leisure that allows for sinful desires to press the furthest reaches of reprobation. Therefore, we should expect sinners with access to more wealth in America and the urban areas of Africa to have a higher instance of homosexuality over their rural counterparts in Africa because they can indulge their sinful natures in ways that the poor cannot.
The lack of this particular vice in poor areas of the world is one more echo of God’s law revealing itself in nature against homosexuality. Let all those who support it grapple with these facts of life—homosexuality is a sin only rich societies can afford. But not for long.