There has been a long-standing debate within the Anglican Christian Church about homosexuality, with many branches taking a stand against it. But why is only the African position on this issue being singled out for insult and intimidation? By Baffour Ankomah
I have been following with keen interest the debate that started over the boycott by three African Anglican archbishops of a global Anglican Communion meeting in Canterbury, UK, in early October 2017.
The African bishops and their congregations back home do not accept the view, and in fact the practice, of certain sections of the Anglican Communion in the West regarding same-sex marriage and gay rights (now called “LGBT rights”, LGBT standing for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender). As a result, the African bishops boycotted the Canterbury meeting because of what they believe is “an unbiblical view of marriage” and an “ungodly order” which the Western churches are trying to impose.
For the past two decades or so, the African bishops have been making the same arguments, forcing the global Anglican Communion to suspend, at the Canterbury meeting, the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC) from “ecumenical and decision-making processes within the global Anglican Communion after breaking with the traditional teaching that marriage should be between a man and a woman”, The Times [of London] reported.
SEC had been performing same-sex weddings in Scotland in recent months, and its suspension was only a matter of time as it could not escape the same sanctions imposed last year on the American Episcopal Church for performing same-sex weddings in the US.
But instead of repentance, the head of SEC, the Most Rev. Mark Strange, rather told the global church to more or less get lost as the Scots would not recant their decision on same-sex marriage. “We will continue to play our part in the Anglican Communion we helped to establish and I will do all I can to rebuild relationships, but that will be done from the position our church has now reached [on same-sex marriage] in accordance with its synodical processes and in the belief that love means love,” Archbishop Strange said.
That put the head of the global Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Justin Welby, in a quandary. He was reported by The Times as saying he was “very sad” to impose the suspension on the Scots, which he described as “consequences”, but said the leaders of the global church had agreed that the suspension be imposed.
Blame the Africans
Commenting on Archbishop Welby’s discomfiture, one Robert Walters of the UK, rather decided to blame the African bishops. “Oh dear. Same old, same old,” Walters wrote. “No wonder as a Confirmed Christian and a gay man, I long ago gave up on the Church of England (and all other religions). But I do feel sorry for Welby. He is obliged to enforce the rulings of bigots in Africa and the West Indies against his own feelings that gays should be welcomed into the church, including those in loving relationships.”
So Africans are “bigots” for daring to follow God’s injunctions on same-sex marriage? What an insult? And an insult that should trouble all Africans of sound mind – because it is an attempt to intimidate Africans from holding on to their beliefs.
That said, there were other views attacking the SEC without having to drag in the African bishops. Henry Scrope, also of the UK, wrote: “Is the Scottish church above the law then? They seem to be saying that love is enough to justify marriage. That can’t be right. [British] law forbids a married person who loves someone other than their spouse from marrying that other person. So whatever the rights and wrongs of same-sex marriage, it’s just plain nonsense to suggest that it can be justified simply on the grounds that the two people concerned love each other.
“If that is what the Scottish Church is suggesting, then either it should support bigamy or accept that what it is saying is nonsense. I love my dog, but wouldn’t want to marry it. But soon those who do fancy dogs, horses, bicycles etc, will be making the same claim.”
Another debater, Matthew Cooper, also of the UK, agreed with Scrope: “If love means love, will they also be marrying fathers and daughters who as consenting adults love each other? Or mothers and sons? No, because incest is illegal. Nor will they be marrying men and their dogs, women and their budgies, or the postie and his cat because animals aren’t capable of informed consent. The 17th century beckons you back. Men marrying men and women marrying women was not legal until very recently. Laws can change if the minority has a loud enough voice, as the present situation shows.”
Last year I wrote in these columns about “the tyranny of the minority” and how it could lead the world into serious trouble if it is not checked. It is wrong for a minority group to try to use its political influence, financial muscle, and subtle psychological warfare tactics to silence the majority as the LGBT lobby has been doing in recent years, some now even calling African bishops bigots for deciding to stay with their beliefs rather than following the fashion of the day.
Since the LGBT Christians want to stay in church, which means they believe in the Biblical God and his divine nature, it is only fair that we look at the word of God (as believed by Christians), concerning this matter. At Leviticus 18:22, the Bible clearly states (Amplified Version): “You shall not lie with a man as with a woman; it is an abomination.” This is repeated at Leviticus 20:13, where God clearly instructs (Amplified Version): “If a man lies with a male as if he were a woman, both of them have committed an offence [something perverse, unnatural, abhorrent, and detestable]; they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.”
Fast-forward to the New Testament. At 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Apostle Paul instructs Christians (Amplified Version): “Do you not know that the unrighteous and wrongdoers will not inherit or have any share in the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived [misled]: Neither the impure and immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor those who participate in homosexuality, nor cheats [swindlers and thieves], nor greedy graspers, nor drunkards, nor foulmouthed revellers and slanderers, nor extortionists and robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
Whether you accept these judgements or not depends on your belief system. But if you do accept a particular belief system, one based on the Bible, should you not then be bound to accept whatever is said in the holy book?
Now would the LGBT Christians call God a bigot for giving these instructions? If not, why are the Africans “bigots” for following the instructions given by their God? There are many places in the Bible where God punished those who “participated in homosexuality”.
Apart from the famous example of Sodom and Gomorrah (at Genesis 19:1-29), three whole chapters of the Book of Judges in the Bible (Chapters 19, 20, 21) recount the sad tale of a war that arose in Israel over the issue of homosexuality, during which the tribe of Benjamin (the guilty party, which was one of the 12 tribes of Israel) was nearly wiped out by the other 11 tribes. Even the victorious 11 tribes lost over 40,000 men in the war. And this war was “approved by God” to punish the Benjaminites!
I have always contended that unless gay Christians and the archbishops who are ordaining gay bishops in the Anglican Church have Bibles different from what ordinary Christians have worldwide, then they have no grounds calling Africans bigots for obeying God’s injunctions on homosexuality – because the Bibles that ordinary Christians read are so clear on the matter. There are no ifs and buts about it.
Therefore can the Africans be allowed their “right” to believe and obey the word of their God without being insulted and called bigots? That intimidation tactic will not work. And the earlier it stops, the better for everyone.