September 20, 2011,
Peeved by the growing malaise of sexual immorality in the country, Primate, Church of Nigeria, the Anglican Communion, Most Rev. Nicholas D. Okoh, has described the practice of homosexuality, lesbianism and gay marriage as great evils that must neither be condoned nor allowed to further exist in our society.
Primate Okoh, who spoke Sunday in Owa, the headquarters of Ika North-east Local Government Area of Delta State during the marriage ceremony between Princess Ewere Efeizomor and Dr. Jimoh Onaivi, stated that homosexuality, lesbianism and same-sex marriage was not the original plan of God.
The war against “improper marriage” had been strongly waged by Rt Rev Peter Akinola who led other Anglican Bishops in East and West Africa to oppose the practice which had taken root in parts of Britain and the United States of America, so much that even the church was ordaining gay priests.
In 1998, the 13th Lambeth Conference of Anglican Bishops passed a resolution stating that homosexual acts are “incompatible with Scripture”. In 2002, the Diocese of New Westminster in the Anglican Church of Canada, permitted the blessing of same-sex unions. This provoked a loud protest which was championed by Rt Rev Akinola. But the crisis further deepened in 2003 when two openly gay men in England and the United States became candidates for bishop.
In the Church of England, Jeffrey John eventually succumbed to pressure to withdraw his name from consideration to be the Bishop of Reading. But it was not so in the Episcopal Church, USA, where Gene Robinson was elected and consecrated Bishop of New Hampshire, becoming the first openly gay bishop in the Anglican Communion.
This act literally inflamed the church, especially as the practice was gaining ground in parts of Africa including Nigeria. This led to the boycott of the 2008 Lambeth Conference. The body of protesting Bishops instead of the Lambeth conference chose to attend the Global Anglican Futures Conference in Jerusalem.
Akinola had thus led the African priests to boycott the Lambeth conference and has since then sustained the campaign against the illicit marriage both in the church and in the society.
But the gay community which may have established centres in Lagos and other cities in Nigeria have been condemning the stance of the Anglican Church, insisting that the gay people in Nigeria had not been given any opportunity to tell their stories.
Primate Okoh, who also lamented the state of insecurity in the country evidenced by the frequent cases of bomb blasts in some parts, said when God created man, he (man) was in the mist of animals and he did not find a companion among them, which necessitated the creation of a woman as a help mate for him, as God had arranged man and woman to co-habit.
“I want to draw you attention to what is becoming acceptable in some quarters which we must not accept. What is being known now as gay and homosexuality is contrary to God’s plan for human sexuality and procreation. It is against the will of God, and nobody should encourage it, and those who do will earn for themselves the damnation of the Almighty.
“It’s through marriage that people should enter into true sexual life. It’s not the process of re-inventing the third person because God did not invent the marriage between two same-sex persons as the cases in homosexuality and lesbianism.” He admonished those practising it to repent and come out of it because it’s evil.
The cleric argued that if God considered that yet another man was what Adam needed as companion and help mate in the Garden of Eden, He would have created another man, not a woman for Adam, stressing that, “He did not do that but rather created a unique person in the form of a woman different from the man.”
He lamented that there is moral decadence pervading the labyrinth of society in so much a way that hitherto despicable acts like lesbianism and homosexuality are gradually being decorated with public appeal and now receiving tolerance and even applause in today’s society.
“Men have fashioned out different forms of marriages for themselves called trial marriages, where couples decide to live together for a specific period of time to see whether they are compatible or not,” adding that, “marriage is an act of faith, as it should be the way God has designed it,” he said.
He pointed out that marriage is a purposeful and beautiful arrangement made by God to cure the element of loneliness in Adam, so that whatever might be their need, they both could solve it together.
He advised the newly wedded couple to imbibe the Christian principles of love, trust and sacrifice for each other in their marriage, so as to protect and ensure the success in the marriage.
The ceremony, which attracted dignitaries from business world, traditional institution, top government functionaries and the clergy, also witnessed the inauguration of an ultra-modern, ‘ Owa Palace Christian Fellowship Centre built by his Royal Majesty, Dr. Emmanuel Efeizomor, Obi of Owa Kingdom.
‘Archbishop Okoh said ” when God created man, he (man) was in the mist of animals and he did not find a companion among them, which necessitated the creation of a woman as a help mate for him, as God had arranged man and woman to co-habit.” ‘
– press report –
Does this sound just a little confused to anyone? if so, that’s not too surprising, because it is a true example of the sort of theological creationism that is being perpetuated by some of the African Primates who, like Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, (Archbishop Akinola‘s successor in Nigeria), have refused to attend the last Communion Primates’ Meeting and have joined the GAFCON sodality – in protest against what they see as an acceptance of what they see as the ‘evils’ of homosexuality in some of the Churches of the Communion.
“What is being known now as gay and homosexuality is contrary to God’s plan for human sexuality and procreation. It is against the will of God, and nobody should encourage it, and those who do will earn for themselves the damnation of the Almighty.”
Here is evidence of the lack of any understanding of human sexual-differentiation, and its effect upon those people who do not fall into the category of straight heterosexuality. Not only is there no openness to scientific advance in knowledge of this area, but there is no willingness to listen to the very people whose lives are most affected by their difference from the majority in society. The inference from Archbishop Okoh and his fellow homophobes is that Gays, per se, are acting ‘against’ their natural human sexual nature; when, in fact, they have no choice but to be what they are intrinsically.
Until Bishop Okoh is able to understand that the LGBT community in the Church and the World are fellow human beings – created in the Image and Likeness of God, with a particular burden to bear because of their unacceptability to to those who are ignorant of the true facts about their ‘condition’ – conservative Christians seem hell-bent on trying to condemning them to damnation. This is a judgement best left to the God who created all people, with all their differences, in a world of infinite variety and beauty.
The western world, thank God, has moved away from their initial understand of black Africans as “The Children of Ham’, condemned to a life of slavery and a lower standard of living. I n the same way, straight people need to understand LGBT people as an equal sector of the community to those who are disposed to produce children in a heterosexual relationship. All are God’s children, worthy of respect and membership of the Church.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand