Anglican homophobia: two reports and one response

There are two news reports (so far) of the latest remarks by the Primate of Nigeria The Most Reverend Nicholas Okoh on the Nigerian anti-gay legislation:

Nigerian Tribune Those practising same-sex marriage are heading for destruction —Okoh

The Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), The Most Reverend Nicholas Okoh, on Monday, warned those practising same sex marriage to desist from the act, saying they were heading for destruction…

…Okoh explained that the act was an attempt by people to question God’s authority.
He said: “The same thing is happening today in the issue of human sexuality. It is not about whether a man should marry a man or a woman should marry a woman, the question in the garden (of Eden) has come back again.

“And as in the former time, disaster followed when man dethroned God. So, again it shall happen that if man decided to stick to the principle of dethroning God, He will face nothing but disaster.

“Man will come to nothing but extinction. For this road leads to nowhere. It is a dead end and it is not in the interest of humanity.

“We want to thank God, the National Assembly and the President. He (Jonathan) has articulated the views of Nigerians.”

Channels God’s Punishment Awaits Those Against Anti-Gay Law- Okoh

…He however commended President Goodluck Jonathan for his courage in signing the anti-gay bill into law which has continued to generate reactions in some quarters in Nigeria and beyond.

According to him, those not in support of the bill are like the biblical duo, Adam and Eve who questioned God for asking them not to eat the fruits from the Garden of Eden.

His words: “Many people do not realise that what is referred to as the homosexual trouble is not the homosexual or lesbian trouble but people’s refusal to accept the scripture for what it is, authority for life and practice following God.

He added: “in the beginning, man questioned the authority of God in the garden by saying did God actually say that you should not eat the forbidden fruit. That challenge to God’s authority dethroned God’s power and enthroned man’s power.

“”So they concluded that God has no right to tell man what to do and that they were the people who knew what to do. So man set God aside and took over the command. Consequently, disaster followed”.

There has been one response to all this, from the President of the House of Deputies of the General Convention of The Episcopal Church, The Reverend Gay Clark Jennings, writing at Religion News Service : COMMENTARY: The church’s role in, and against, homophobia across Africa

…The Anglican primates of Uganda and Nigeria enthusiastically support anti-gay legislation in their countries. I, like them, am a member of the Anglican Communion, a worldwide body of more than 80 million Christians. I am troubled and saddened that fellow Anglicans could support legislation that fails to recognize that every human being is created in the image of God.

Western Christians cannot ignore the homophobia of these church officials or the peril in which they place Ugandan and Nigerian LGBT people. The legacy of colonial-era Christian missionaries and infusions of cash from modern-day American conservatives have helped to create it.

Twice in the last three years, I have traveled to Africa to meet with biblical scholars, grass-roots activists and church officials at consultations about the Bible and sexuality. These brave leaders have taught me that there is no getting around the Bible when searching for the origins of the homophobia that is rampant in many African cultures. What’s more, Europeans and North Americans bear much of the historical responsibility for this sad state of affairs. As Zimbabwean biblical scholar Masiiwa Ragies Gunda has written, it is “far-fetched to look beyond the activities of Western missionaries” when considering the role of the Bible in Africa.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento (Thinking Anglicans) on Tuesday, 28 January 2014 at 3:29pm GMT 

______________________________________________

I am indebted to Simon Sarmiento, of ‘Thinking Anglicans’ U,K., for this latest report from the world-wide Anglican debate on the phenomenon of homosexuality.

Simon has juxtaposed two very different understandings of this tricky subject – one from the Primate of ‘All Nigeria’, ++Nicholas Okoh; the other from an American Episcopalian, who blames the conservative churches of the Anglican Communion for their open support of homophobic utterances, as currently evidenced in the churches of the GAFCON sodality (e.g. Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda) by their support for oppressive legislation against homosexuals in their own African countries.

From the ‘Sola Scriptura’ view of Archbishop Nichlas Okoh, it is increasingly obvious that bibilical conservatism is at the root of the current outbreak of homophobia in certain of the Anglican Communion Provinces, a theological view that has long been discredited by the modern biological scientific and social authorities on the world stage, where out-dated views of the etiology of homosexuality have been largely overcome.

The continuing homophobic rhetoric of Okoh, Head of GAFCON, renders his co-leadership in the world-wide Anglican Communion increasingly suspect. However, the current statement by the Church of England College of Bishops, that Same-Sex Marriage will not be encouraged in the Church of England, could be seen to add further fuel to the fire of GAFCON’s endemic homophobia.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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