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LET’S TALK ABOUT SEX, BABY

Sex! The world is full of it; it sells everything from shoes to cars. It’s plastered all over the Internet and the sexual awareness of our children seems to come at an ever younger age. For years the Church and other "defenders of moral integrity" have warned about the potential dangers of cheapening an intensely personal and fundamental part of human experience.

The Church has often (justifiably) accused much of the media of being obsessed with sex, but in recent months the tables have been turned, with large sections of the media making fun of the Church for its own obsession with sex; a clear case of the pot calling the kettle black! For many people the split within the Church over same sex relationships is hard to understand. â€¨â€¨Sexuality is a deeply personal issue. Whenever the subject arises it provokes strong feelings from people with all points of view. I know homosexual friends (at least one of whom is a "committed" Christian, whatever that means) who have been deeply hurt by the Church’s rejection of what they believe to be their God-given sexual identity.

At the same time, other people have been perplexed by what they perceive to be a rejection of traditional biblical teaching when same-sex relationships are felt to be affirmed from within the Church. It’s a tricky situation, with people on both sides of the debate feeling deeply disillusioned by the Church. But to be honest, it's not that tricky at all. In fact, it's pretty straightforward.

Unless God is confused. â€¨â€¨So, what is the Church’s teaching on sexuality? It largely depends on who you choose to listen to! You might think that a definitive Christian perspective on sexuality can be gained from the Bible; however, this is not as straightforward as it might seem. The gospels tell us very little about Jesus' attitude to sex; although he was keen that people be honest to themselves and to each other, hence his concerns about adultery. Most of Jesus’ more radical teachings were concerned with gaining personal, social and spiritual freedom by embracing the ethic of love.

St. Paul’s letters to the early Church speak a lot about Paul’s own view, but his teaching bears little resemblance to modern day Christian thoughts concerning sexual relationships. Paul essentially thought that sex was unnecessary except for those so weak that they had to marry to give in to the urge! Imagine saying that in a family service! Much of Paul’s thinking was probably influenced by a belief that the "end of the world" was to take place within his lifetime. He was very much a man of his own time and culture, although there are great spiritual treasures to be found in his writing. â€¨â€¨

For those seeking some mention of homosexual relationships in the Bible, the most obvious place to look is in the Old Testament, particularly in the book of Leviticus. This book sets out a series of laws and practices which were to be observed by its Jewish readership. The priests of this time were very clear as to what they thought about homosexuality:

"If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall be put to death, their blood is upon them" (Leviticus 20:13)
Strong words indeed! So, does this mean that homosexuality is inherently sinful and against the divine order of things? Well, it might do, but we have to be careful when reading the Bible so to take into account the social and historical context in which it was written.

The book of Leviticus also forbids you to cut the hair on the sides of your head, and warns about the perils of wearing clothing made from mixed fibers; so from this we could conclude that those of us who wear nylon/ wool mix socks are in danger of losing our mortal souls! Hardly issues which vex the modern Church. More crucially, much of Jesus’ anger was directed at those whose observance of these laws led to a lack of compassion and the exclusion of people different from themselves. Something we could do well to remember when we examine our own attitudes. However, that is not to imply a tacit legitimization of homosexuality.

In the Bible, sexuality is intricately tied to gender differentiation, as it should be. God created man male and female and commanded them to reproduce. Of course, they would have a whale of a time while at it because of the pleasures of sex, but pleasure was not the object of it. For this reproduction to take place, God had to give the man and the woman complementary equipment.

He made a vagina and a penis. The penis for the vagina. Why? Because the sperm had to be transported from the male's loins via the penis into the woman's vagina, which in turn would carry the deposited sperm further up the shaft to the eggs (ovaries). There is seed in the man and eggs in the woman. This makes God's command of reproduction possible. There are no eggs in the anus. I don't need to go much further than that.



The Bible is the foundation of the Christian faith; within its pages are profound insights as to the nature of God. But we need to be very careful as to how we use it and we should never lose sight of the fact that it was written by people from a very different world to our own.

Much of what we read is deeply unsettling, and is indefensible in our own society; in the book of Numbers Moses appears to condone the murder of Midianite children and the rape of "young girls who have not known a man" (Numbers 31.18) Hardly a reliable guide to sexual morality, and a profound contradiction of Jesus’ gospel of love. These are potent arguments for tolerance even when it comes to sexual preference or orientation. But that's exactly where the problem lies.

Once you speak of "preference," you're making the issue a matter of individual choice. Once it goes that route, the individual can choose to ignore universal laws. If you speak of "orientation," you're coming in opposition towards God's word. If there was any sort of "orientation," then the Bible orientation is heterosexuality. We are admonished to speak the truth in love. â€¨â€¨Whatever our beliefs regarding sexuality, it is this Gospel of Love which we should hold within our hearts if we are to remain true to the Christian ethos.

There has been much bullying from within the institutional Church whenever the subject of sexuality has arisen, a situation which has prompted understandable derision from much of the wider society and has caused many to question their involvement with the Church. Just over two thousand years ago Jesus Christ began a radical movement in which people’s individuality and freedom were paramount; Jesus questioned conventional wisdom regarding ritual and identity, and he sought to affirm those who felt excluded.

Jesus had a way of recognizing the divine within all people, and was concerned primarily with wholeness; he was concerned that people should be whole people, and be recognized as such. In the spirit of Christ’s teaching I personally believe that a truly progressive Church should be inclusive of all people, whatever their sexuality, so that we can provide a spiritual home for a variety of people in an increasingly diverse society.

In respect of this, I feel it necessary to promote a truly broad church which is able to hold a diversity of views and traditions, or else I fear it runs the risk of becoming completely irrelevant to all but a select few; with the danger of the mainstream Church becoming a narrow cult instead of the diverse church which has served people for so long. However, this premise – a gospel of inclusion – does not mean we turn a blind eye to that which the Bible says without ambiguity or equivocation. God loves and takes us as we are, but He certainly doesn't leave us as we are simply because He loves us. â€¨â€¨

The power of the sexual urge is essential to our humanity and a deep part of who we are as people born in the image of God. Whatever our views, we shall never be a whole people or a whole church unless our sexuality is dealt with. We can never get away from sex and sexuality. We are very much sexual beings. Heck, we are products of sex!

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Opinions

Internal party-democracy under pressure

21st June 2022

British novelist, W. Somerset Maugham once opined: “If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will lose its freedom; and the irony of it is that if it is comfort or money that it values more, it will lose that too.”

The truism in these words cannot be underestimated, especially when contextualizing against the political developments in Botswana. We have become a nation that does not value democracy, yet nothing represent freedom more than democracy. In fact, we desire, and value winning power or clinging to power more than anything else, even if it harms the democratic credentials of our political institutions. This is happening across political parties — ruling and opposition.

As far as democracy is concerned, we are regressing. We are becoming worse-off than we were in the past. If not arrested, Botswana will lose its status as among few democratic nations in the Africa. Ironically, Botswana was the first country in Africa to embrace democracy, and has held elections every five years without fail since independence.

We were once viewed as the shining example of Africa. Those accolades are not worth it any more. Young democracies such as South Africa, with strong institutions, deserves to be exalted. Botswana has lost faith in democracy, and we will pay a price for it. It is a slippery slope to dictatorship, which will bring among other excess, assault on civil liberties and human rights violations.

Former President, Festus Mogae once stated that Botswana’s democracy will only become authentic, when a different party, other than the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) wins elections, and when the President of such party is not from Serowe.

Although many may not publicly care to admit, Mogae’s assertion is true. BDP has over the years projected itself as a dyed-in-the-wool proponent of democracy, but the moment its stay in power became threatened and uncertain, it started behaving in a manner that is at variance with democratic values.  This has been happening over the years now, and the situation is getting worse by the day.

Recently, the BDP party leadership has been preaching compromise and consensus candidates for 2024 general elections. Essentially, the leadership has lost faith in the Bulela Ditswe dispensation, which has been used to selected party candidates for council and parliament since 2003. The leadership is discouraging democracy because they believe primary elections threaten party unity. It is a strange assertion indeed.

Bulela Ditswe was an enrichment of internal party democracy in the sense that it replaced the previous method of selection of candidates known as Committee of 18, in which a branch committee made of 18 people endorsed the representatives. While it is true that political contest can divide, the ruling party should be investing in political education and strengthening in its primary elections processes. Democracy does not come cheap or easy, but it is valuable.

Any unity that we desire so much at the expense of democracy is not true unity. Like W. Somerset Maugham said, democracy would be lost in the process, and ultimately, even the unity that was desired would eventually be lost too. Any solution that sacrifice democracy would not bring any results in the long run, except misery.

We have seen that also in opposition ranks. The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) recently indicated that its incumbent Members of Parliament (MPs) should not be challenged for their seats. While BDP is sacrificing democracy to stay in power, UDC is sacrificing democracy to win power. It is a scary reality given the fact that both parties – ruling and opposition — have embraced this position and believe democracy is the hindrance to their political ambitions.

These current reality points to one thing; our political parties have lost faith in democracy. They desire power more than, the purpose of power itself. It is also a crisis of leadership across the political divide, where we have seen dissenting views being met with persecution. We have seen perverting of political process endorsed by those in echelons of power to manipulate political outcomes in their favour.

Democracy should not be optional, it should be mandatory. Any leader proposing curtailing of democracy should be viewed with suspicion, and his adventures should be rejected before it is too late. Members of political parties, as subscribers of democracy, should collectively rise to the occasion to save their democracy from self-interest that is becoming prevalent among Botswana political parties.

The so-called compromise candidates, only benefits the leadership because it creates comforts for them. But for members, and for the nation, it is causing damage by reversing the gains that have been made over the years. We should reject leaders who only preach democracy in word, but are hesitant to practice it.

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Opinions

The Big Deal About Piracy

21st June 2022
piracy

Piracy of all kinds continues to have a massive impact on the global creative industry and the economies of the countries where it thrives.

One of the biggest misconceptions around piracy is that an individual consumer’s piracy activities, especially in a market the size of Botswana’s, is only a drop in the pool of potential losses to the different sectors of the economy piracy affects.

When someone sitting in Gaborone, Botswana logs onto an illegal site to download King Richard online, they don’t imagine that their one download will do anything to the production house’s pocket or make a dent in the actors’ net worth. At best, the sensitivity towards this illegal pirating activity likely only exists when contemplating going about pirating a local musician’s music or a short film produced locally.

The ripple effects of piracy at whatever scale reach far beyond what the average consumer could ever imagine. Figures released by software security and media technology company, Irdeto, show that users in five major African territories made approximately 17,4 million total visits to the top 10 identified piracy sites on the internet.

The economic impact of this on the creative industry alone soars to between 40 and 97.1 billion dollars, according a 2022 Dataprot study. In addition, they estimate that “illegally streamed copyrighted content consumes 24% of global bandwidth”.

As Botswana’s creative industry remains relatively slight on the scale of comparison to industries such as Nollywood and Nilewood where the creative industry contributes a huge proportion to West and East Africa’s respective GDPs, that does not imply that piracy activities in Botswana do not have a similar impact on our economy and the ability of our creative industry to grow.

When individuals make decisions to illegally consume content via internet streaming sites they believe they are saving money for themselves in the name of enjoying content they desire to consume. Although this is a personal choice that remains the prerogative of the consumer, looking beyond the fact that streaming on illegal content sites is piracy, the ripple effect of this decision also has an endless trail of impact where funds which could be used to grow the local creative industry through increased consumption, and revenue which would otherwise be fed back into Botswana’s economy are being diverted.

“Why can’t our local creative industry grow?” “Why don’t we see more home-grown films and shows in Botswana?” are questions constantly posed by those who consume television content in Botswana. The answer to this lies largely in the fact that Botswana’s local content needs an audience in order for it to grow. It needs support from government and entities which are in a position to fund and help the industry scale greater heights.

Any organisational body willing to support and grow the local creative industry needs to exist and operate in an economy which can support its mandates. Content piracy is a cycle that can only be alleviated when consumers make wiser decisions around what they consume and how.

This goes beyond eradicating piracy activities in so far as television content is concerned. This extends to the importation and trade in counterfeit goods, resale of goods and services not intended for resale across the border, outside its jurisdiction, and more. All of these activities stunt the growth of an economy and make it nearly impossible for industries and sectors to propel themselves to places where they can positively impact society and reinvest into the country’s economy.

So what can be done to turn the tide here in Botswana in order to see our local production houses gain the momentum required to produce more, license more and expand their horizons? While those who enforce the law continue to work towards minimizing piracy activities, it’s imperative that as consumers we work to make their efforts easier by being mindful of how our individual actions play a role in preventing the success of our local creative networks and our economy’s growth.

Whether you are pirating a Hollywood Blockbuster, illegally streaming a popular Motswana artist’s music, or smuggling in an illegal decoder to view content restricted to South Africa only, your actions have an impact on how we as a nation will make our mark on the global landscape with local creative productions. Thembi Legwaila is Corporate Affairs Manager, MultiChoice Botswana

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Opinions

Our Strength is our Unity

18th March 2022
Craig-Cloud

Putin Chose War.  We Remain United with Ukraine.

U.S. Ambassador Craig L. Cloud

This is a dangerous moment for Europe and for freedom-loving people around the world.  By launching his brutal assault on the people of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has also committed an assault on the principles that uphold global peace and democracy.  But the people of Ukraine are resilient.

They’ve had a democracy for decades, and their bravery is inspiring the world.  The United States, together with our Allies and partners across the globe, will continue to support the Ukrainian people as they defend their country.  By choosing to pay for a war instead of investing in the needs of Russians, Putin’s invasion of Ukraine will be a strategic failure for the Kremlin and ravage the future of the Russian people.

When the history of this era is written, it will show that Putin’s choice to launch an unprovoked, unjust, and premeditated attack left the West more unified and Russia exponentially weaker.

United in Our Response

This will not end well for Vladimir Putin.  Together, the United States and our Allies and partners are taking action to hold Russia accountable.  As a result of unprecedented global sanctions coordination, the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Japan, and Canada have removed selected Russian banks from the SWIFT messaging system and imposed restrictive measures on the Russian Central Bank.

President Biden announced sweeping financial sanctions and stringent export controls that will damage Russia’s economy, financial system, and access to cutting-edge technology.  After Putin began his invasion, the ruble hit its weakest point in history, and the Russian stock market plunged.

Along with the United Kingdom and European Union, the United States imposed sanctions on the architects of this war, including Putin himself.

By moving in close coordination with a powerful coalition of Allies and partners representing more than half of the global economy, we have magnified the impact of our actions to impose maximum costs on Putin and his regime.  In response to Putin’s war of choice, we will limit Russia’s ability to do business in U.S. dollars.

We will stunt Russia’s ability to finance and grow its military.  We will impair Russia’s ability to compete in the global economy.  And we are prepared to do more.

In addition to economic penalties, this week President Biden authorized an additional $1 billion over the $350 million of security assistance he recently approved, and a $650 million in 2021, to immediately help Ukraine defend itself, bringing America’s total security assistance to Ukraine over the past year to $2 billion.

We also stand ready to defend our NATO Allies.  President Biden has coordinated with Allied governments to position thousands of additional forces in Germany and Poland as part of our commitment to NATO’s collective defense.

He authorized the deployment of ground and air forces already stationed in Europe to NATO’s eastern and southeastern flanks:  Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania.  Our Allies have also added their own forces and capabilities to ensure our collective defense.  There should be no doubt about the readiness of the greatest military Alliance in the history of the world:  NATO is more united than ever.

The United States has also coordinated with major oil-producing and consuming countries to underscore our common interest in securing global energy supplies.  We are working with energy companies to surge their capacity to supply energy to the market, particularly as prices increase.

Putin’s Unprovoked and Premeditated War

This was an attack that Vladimir Putin has planned for a long time.  He methodically moved more than 150,000 troops and military equipment to Ukraine’s border.  He moved blood supplies into position and built field hospitals, demonstrating his intentions all along.

He rejected every good-faith effort by the United States and our Allies and partners to address his fabricated security concerns and to avoid needless conflict and human suffering by engaging in diplomacy and dialogue.

Putin executed his playbook exactly as we had warned he would do.  We saw Russia’s proxies increase their shelling in the Donbas.  We saw the Russian government launch cyber-operations against Ukraine.  We saw staged political theater in Moscow and heard outlandish and baseless claims made about Ukraine in an attempt to justify Russia’s aggression.

Russia continues to justify its military aggression by falsely claiming the need to stop “genocide” in Ukraine – despite there being no evidence that genocide was occurring there.  We saw Russia use these tactics before when they invaded Ukraine in 2014 and Georgia in 2008.

And then, at almost the very same moment the United Nations Security Council was meeting to stand up for Ukraine’s sovereignty and forestall disaster, Putin launched his invasion in violation of international law.  Missiles began to rain down, striking historic cities across Ukraine.  Then came air raids, columns of tanks, and battalions of troops, all riding a renewed wave of disinformation and outright lies.

We have been transparent with the world.  We declassified our intelligence about Russia’s plans so there could be no confusion and no cover up.  Putin is the aggressor.  Putin chose this war.  And now his people will bear the consequences of his decision to invest in war rather than in them.

Transatlantic Unity and Resolve Stronger Than Ever

Putin’s goal of dividing the West has failed.  In the face of one of the most significant challenges to European security and democratic ideals since World War II, the United States and our Allies and partners have joined together in solidarity.  We have united, coordinating intensively to engage as one with Russia and Ukraine, provided assistance to Ukraine, developed a broad response, and reaffirmed our commitment to NATO.

Putin has failed to divide us.  Putin has failed to undermine our shared belief in the fundamental right of sovereign nations to choose their destiny and their allies.  And Putin will fail to erase the proud nation of Ukraine.

The next few days, weeks, and months will be incredibly difficult for the people of Ukraine.  Putin has unleashed great suffering on them.  But the Ukrainian people have known 30 years of independence, and they have repeatedly shown they will not tolerate anyone who tries to take their country backwards.

The world is watching this conflict closely, and if Russian forces commit atrocities, we will explore all international mechanisms that could be used to bring those responsible – whether members of the military or their civilian leadership – to account.

Putin’s aggression against Ukraine will cost Russia profoundly, both economically and strategically.  The Russian people deserve better from their government than the immense cost to their future that this invasion has precipitated.

Liberty, democracy, and human dignity are forces far more powerful than fear and oppression.  In the contest between democracy and autocracy, between sovereignty and subjugation, make no mistake:  Freedom will prevail.

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