Tuesday, 28 February 2006

Nigeria: church comments on the proposed law

The Living Church has published a report on what Bishop Chane said, Washington Bishop Condemns Proposed Nigerian Law, Primate’s Role. The article contains two separate further pieces of information:

What Rowan Williams said about this in Brazil:

…Speaking to delegates at the World Council of Churches on Feb. 17, the Archbishop of Canterbury declined to defend or condemn the proposed Nigerian legislation, saying “there is a difference between what might be said theologically about patterns [of behavior] and what is said about human and civil rights.”

It is a “real challenge” to “give effect to the listening process in situations where gay people are actively persecuted,” the Most Rev. Williams said. However, “the primates have said, more than once, that they deplore such activities, corporately.”

The “question is whether their churches” can find “ways of acting on that recognition on the wrongness of persecution,” he said…

What Canon Popoola said about this to TLC:

…A spokesman for the Church of Nigeria, Canon Akintunde Popoola, disputed this characterization, arguing Bishop Chane misconstrued the text of the bill and Archbishop Akinola’s role in the legislative process. “Archbishop Peter to my knowledge is yet to comment [publicly] on the bill. I have said we welcome it because we view homosexuality as ‘against the norm’.”

While banning ‘gay clubs’ in “institutions from secondary to the tertiary level or other institutions in particular” and “generally, by government agencies,” the proposed law is silent as to the status of private gay clubs.

The proposed law should also be seen in light of the wider conflict between civil law and Shariah law in Nigeria, Canon Popoola said. Under existing “Islamic law” in effect in “some parts of the country,” the acts covered by the proposed law currently “stipulate the death penalty,” he said.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 28 February 2006 at 11:49am GMT
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Anglican Communion

While I am not 100% sure about what it might mean, paragraph 7.3 of the Nigerian Bill does seem to address private activities:
7.(3) Any person who is involved in the registration of gay clubs, societies and organizations, sustenance, procession or meetings, publicity and public show of same sex amorous relationship directly or indirectly in public and in private is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a term of 5 years imprisonment.
My concern is about the vagueness the phrase "involved in," as well as "indirectly" and "in private." This may well, it seems to me, be directed against a "private club" once someone becomes aware of its existence, as an excuse to close it down, even if, as Akintunde seems to think, that is not the intent of the legislation.

Posted by: Tobias S Haller BSG on Tuesday, 28 February 2006 at 5:49pm GMT

Oh, this is all *just awful*. All of it. :-(

"the Archbishop of Canterbury declined to defend or condemn the proposed Nigerian legislation"

What about "let your yes be 'Yes' and your no be 'No'", +++Rowan? Like John to the Church in Laodicea, "I spit you out, because you are neither cold nor hot!"

[One more quote (Edmund Burke, I think?): "All it takes for the triumph of evil, is for men of goodwill to DO NOTHING"! >:-(]


"the proposed law is silent as to the status of private gay clubs . . . The proposed law should also be seen in light of the wider conflict between civil law and Shariah law in Nigeria, Canon Popoola said. Under existing “Islamic law” in effect in “some parts of the country,” the acts covered by the proposed law currently “stipulate the death penalty,” he said."

In other words, "be grateful we're leaving you the *closet*, f*ggots---otherwise, it's stoning for you!"


God, have mercy on Your Church---so *very far* from conforming to its Head, Jesus Christ. :-(...

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Tuesday, 28 February 2006 at 9:55pm GMT

Amen, J.C. I'm afraid the Archbishop of Canterbury is going to hurt himself sitting on the fence!

Posted by: Jimmy Culp on Tuesday, 28 February 2006 at 10:49pm GMT

Anyone care to stipulate whether it's a paling, stone, picket or ornate Victorian spear fence that the ABC is balancing himself upon?

Posted by: k1eranc on Tuesday, 28 February 2006 at 11:14pm GMT

I had great hopes for the ministry of ++Rowan Cantuar, welcoming his elevation to the See of St. Augustine.

Of late, I have become very disenchanted, having watched him having become the 'pawn' of the Global South Primates and 'God's storm troopers', obsessed with their call to judge their fellow sinful Christians, while judgment, in the end, belongs to God only.

As a theologian Dr. Williams is brilliant, as is Joseph Ratzinger. Alas, ++Rowan Cantuar doesn't rise to the stature of Pope Benedict XVI, who stands up for what he believes in. Today's Anglican Communion needs leadership from its Primate. ++Rowan Cantuar is no leader. He ought to return to academia and allow H.M the Queen to appoint a leader like Michael Ramsey, Donald Coggan and/or George Carey.

Posted by: John Henry on Tuesday, 28 February 2006 at 11:57pm GMT

No Tobias, Section 7.3 does not address private gay clubs.

Those gay clubs that are banned are those enumerated in Section 7.1 of the proposed bill which reads: "Registration of Gay Clubs, Societies and organizations by whatever name they are called in institutions from Secondary to the tertiary level or other institutions in particular and, in Nigeria generally, by government agencies is hereby prohibited".

The bill's scope as currently written does not extend to gay clubs outside of schools and government affiliated institutions.

Posted by: George Conger on Wednesday, 1 March 2006 at 1:53am GMT

While ABC is sitting on the fence, there are other forces coming out in force against homosexuality. I've recently seen the Archbishop of one diocese refer the matter of homosexuality as a matter of "life and death". Those interested might want to do google news searches using "anglican" "homosexuality" "february 2006". There's at least half a dozen references.

Also, I recall seeing some interesting references to guest speakers from the African continent attending conservative US evangelical conferences recently. Conferences are a wonderful time to meet behind the scenes and come up with new game plan strategies (e.g. notorious players get a media polish up whilst other players prepare foundations behind the scenes).

At a local level, there seems to be a new propoganda strategy utilisiing radio, posters and sermons. Exhorting people to take the "right" decisions.

My wicked sense of humour feels like telling them that if people only make "right" decisions, they end up going in circles. And increasing their frequency of "right" decisions leads them to moving in smaller and smaller circles.

Jim Wallis would be amused at the idea that to move in any direction, one needs to make a reasonable balance of both "left" and "right" decisions.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Wednesday, 1 March 2006 at 4:11am GMT

"appoint a leader like Michael Ramsey, Donald Coggan and/or George Carey"

John Henry, "You can't be serious"?

Posted by: Alan Marsh on Wednesday, 1 March 2006 at 10:03am GMT

Those of us who agree that our socio-cultural context matters, when we seek to apply Scripture, should not scorn those who point out that sharia law stipulates the death penalty on homosexual activities in the north of the country (Nigeria). The prohibition of government-sponsored gay organisations and of gay clubs in educational settings has a different meaning in "Christian" Nigeria than it would have in the UK.

As an academic theologian, as far as I am aware, Rowan Williams has never argued that such legislation as proposed in (southern) Nigeria is intrinsically, i.e. in all contexts, evil. We should therefore not necessarily expect him to speak out against it as ABC.

Even as an academic, as far as I am aware, Rowan Williams has always been a "catholic" theologian who sees the role of a bishop as speaking the mind of the church, not speaking his own mind. It should have come as no surprise that this is what he is doing as ABC. If the mind of the church is in a mess, it's maybe no surprise that the words which seek to express this mind are less than lucidand forthright.

One may challenge Rowan Williams on his lack of (firm, authoritative, this-is-what-we-are-going-to-do) leadership but I am not sure that it is fair to suggest that he is speaking and acting against his own convictions.

Posted by: Thomas Renz on Wednesday, 1 March 2006 at 10:14am GMT

And these two were just published in Nigeria in the last few hours:
Which includes:
The cleric urged them to shun evil company and secret societies and not to hate or betray any person or the church of Christ, pointing out that Christians are one body. "You should treat one another equally as Jesus Christ treated his disciples" he charged, warning that any Christian who betrays the other or the church, will suffer as Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus did.


To which my only comment is that Spirit did not start with Jesus' incarnation but is redolent throughout the Old Testament as well. However, to bring up the Old Testament in some circles is to be seen to be bringing in something "new" and therefore from the deceiver...

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Wednesday, 1 March 2006 at 3:18pm GMT

If I were in Canon Popoola's position, I am not sure that I could keep a straight face while making the argument he is putting forth here.

"Why sure, I am Bishop Chane's spokesman, and sure I gave an interview to Voice of America saying that the Diocese of Washington supports (fill in the blank.) And sure those remarks were circulated internationally for a full month before a vote was actually taken on the bill. But that doesn't mean Bishop Chane actually supported the bill. What it actually means is, um, something else."

Posted by: Jim Naughton on Wednesday, 1 March 2006 at 4:42pm GMT

Dear George,

I wish I could trust your reading on this, but I remain concerned that the law as written could well be applied outside of clubs in "schools and government institutions." (How many gay clubs would be covered by this?)

Section seven goes far beyond the clubs referred to in section 1: The title of the section is "Prohibition of Registration of Gay Clubs and Societies *and* Publicity of same sex sexual relationship." (Emphasis mine) Section 7.2 reads:
(2) Publicity, procession and public show of same sex amorous relationship through the electronic or print media physically, directly, indirectly or otherwise are prohibited in Nigeria.
Section three, which I cited above, goes on to enact a penalty against anyone registering a club OR taking part ("directly or indirectly") in public "AND PRIVATE" "publicity" of "same sex amorous affection." [What "private publicity" might constitute would be I assume up to the raiding police to determine, once they've raided the "private" event.]

Section 8 also makes no distinction between public and private marriage ceremonies. And finally, section nine gives plenipotentiary authority: "The High Court in the States and the Federal Capital Territory shall have jurisdiction to entertain all matters, causes and proceedings arising from same sex marriages *and* relationships." (Again, emphasis mine.)

So it appears to me that while the legislation does not expressly prohibit the creation of a gay club not affiliated with a school or government agency, it effectively leaves vulnerable to action any "private club" which advertises its presence in any meaningful way, including word-of-mouth (the "or otherwise" in section 7.2 leaves that possibility open).

It strikes me that it this legislation is in some respects similar to the US Marijuana Tax Stamp Act -- which effectively rendered marijuana illegal by requiring the purchase of a tax stamp in order to sell it, and then not printing any stamps.

Posted by: Tobias S Haller BSG on Wednesday, 1 March 2006 at 6:51pm GMT


I don't believe those quotations are from Anglican clergy, are they? I believe the Church of Christ Healing is a separate denomination.

Posted by: Marshall on Wednesday, 1 March 2006 at 8:49pm GMT

The civil authority has made rules about marriage law in Nigeria, Merseymike. Do you stand by your assertion that the church should keep its nose out of what the state does? Or is it free to criticise?

Posted by: Alan Marsh on Wednesday, 1 March 2006 at 9:36pm GMT

Like John Henry, I was extremely excited about Rowan's move from Monmouth to Canterbury - now, not so much :(

Goodness knows that when Michael Ramsey thought something was wrong, he was not afraid to say so.

A “real challenge” to “give effect to the listening process in situations where gay people are actively persecuted,” indeed!

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Wednesday, 1 March 2006 at 11:47pm GMT


Good point.

While the articles might not diretly relate to Anglican Clergy (?), the cultural dynamics is not isolated. I spent several hours today trying to track down one gem and kicking myself for failing to note the link at the time - typical the one you want you can't find.

However I found this link which purports to be quoting Akinola:

He (Akinola) drew references from the lives of the believers of old, such as Abraham, Isaac, Joseph who had plenty at a time of famine...

He noted that the promises of the Lord was a divine provision and protection which also include divine healing. “It is all encompassing. The promise is for all believers and those who will still come to accept the mercy offered through the sacrifice made on the cross at Calvary.”...

Warning that only those who give their lives to God by being born again through acceptance of the Lord Jesus as their Lord and personal saviour have the right to share in the promise of God, he called on Nigerians to turn to God so that He will heal the land.

The tone of "acceptance through obedience" to the (conservative) church establishment, with the threat of being outside the grace of God (i.e. going to hell) is not unique to Akinola nor Nigeria. I do not need to cite personal experience (even though this was the theme of last Sunday's local sermon), others are putting forward more documented evidence than myself.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Thursday, 2 March 2006 at 8:57am GMT

From what I remember, Michael Ramsey condemned John Robinson's "Honest to God" without doing him the courtesy of reading it first.

Posted by: Alan Marsh on Thursday, 2 March 2006 at 9:12am GMT

Jim, I can hold my head up and keep a straight face when I say it is very wrong for anyone to say

"Archbishop Peter J. Akinola, primate of the Church of Nigeria and leader of the conservative wing of the communion, recently threw his prestige and resources behind a new law..."

when he had not done that. Do you have reference to such? I am still wondering which kind of ‘resources’ the article means. Very soon, Abp. Akinola may make out time to address the issue. Everyone knows where he stands but it is still wrong to make the assumption into a fact.

Posted by: Tunde on Thursday, 2 March 2006 at 9:37am GMT


Bishop Taiwo Akinola who is the General Overseer, Rhema Christian Church and Towers, Sango Ota is not the same as Most Rev. Peter J. Akinola, Archbishop and Primate of the Church of Nigeria. Also, they are in no way related except through the blood of the Lord Jesus.

Posted by: Tunde on Thursday, 2 March 2006 at 12:41pm GMT

Speaking of holding your head up, Tunde, how is the whole Davis Mac Ayala thing going for you?

Posted by: Jim Naughton on Thursday, 2 March 2006 at 2:16pm GMT

Alan Marsh --

Your recollection coincides with my own, but hardly refutes my point that Ramsey was quick & clear to speak out when he believed that something was wrong. He also regretted his words & apologized to the Bishop of Woolwich (curiously, the evangelical icon, C. S. Lewis, was not perturbed by the book at all -- perhaps knowing that one is soon to know mellows one).

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Thursday, 2 March 2006 at 2:58pm GMT


I'm frankly confused by your post. If you say, "Everyone knows where he [Akinola] stands," how can you say "but it is still wrong to make the assumption into a fact"?

If we know where he stands, then what are we debating here?

Posted by: Christopher Calderhead on Thursday, 2 March 2006 at 4:57pm GMT

"Honest to God" is the only occasion when I can recall Michael Ramsey speaking out. John Robinson told me many years later that he still found it hurtful to be dismissed in such a fashion by someone he so much respected.

Ramsey may have been more of an Anglo-Catholic than Coggan and Carey, but he was equally as conservative. I am therefore surprised to hear someone suggesting that they would have taken a more prophetic stance than Dr Williams, who has published some pretty radical work.

I thought Rupert Shortt's little book, "Rowan Williams: An Introduction" was a helpful guide to how he formulates his theology. It indicates how he comes to state conservative positions, while thinking freely as a theologian. He is nevertheless considerably more radical than any of his predecessors since the late Saint William Temple.

Posted by: Alan Marsh on Thursday, 2 March 2006 at 6:57pm GMT

Jim, My head is still very high on that issue and with a smile. You cannot force the truth. It will one day be known and that realisation puts the smile on my face. If you doubt the truthfulness of the disclaimer, simply refuse to heed it.

Chris, Knowing your mindset does not give me the liberty to accuse you of doing what you have not done.

Posted by: Tunde on Thursday, 2 March 2006 at 8:01pm GMT


Thank you for your clarification about particular individuals. That does not change cultural dynamics nor that these kinds of comments are being made in Nigeria.

As an aside, there are repressive regimes where the top leaders are publicly charming, whilst their regime is becoming more and more vicious away from the public eye. For example, people spent years in denial that Pol Pot was committing genocide against his own people. And no, I am not saying that Akinola is advocating genocide, but I am saying that just because someone is keeping a low public profile does not mean they are condoning or supporting violence "behind the scenes".

There are historical precedents elsewhere. That is also why there is such a heated debate about this issue. It reeks of Orwellian newspeak and Animal Farm elitism. It is also becoming apparent that it is not the dynamics of a few isolated individuals, but a wider phenomenom. And being part of a larger cultural dynamic is even more scary, because people can play the "propoganda" war and white wash leaders' image without changing their hearts or their private deeds.

In very violent regimes, early advocates for the victims often "disappear" because they don't believe the whole regime is corrupt and they niavely "go to the top" to stop a violent and corrupt official. It's only when enough people have "disappeared", that the broader community realise that they are not dealing with simply a local corrupt official, but that it goes all the way to the highest echelons.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Thursday, 2 March 2006 at 9:24pm GMT

Further, if perfection before God is required, then we all stand condemned. Homosexuality pales into insignificance compared to ministers who regularly organised and participated in public lynchings (e.g. black in southern USA).

I would rather be guilty of being overprotective of the vulnerable, than being seen to support repression (Malachi 1:10). I would rather be an overzealous watch(wo)man than being seen to be complacent and tolerant towards repression (Ezekiel 3). Finally, I do not want to be found to be complacent to the destruction of God's creation and pray that God would again openly display His love for Zion and Jerusalem (Zechariah 1:7-17).

There are those who disagree how to handle the souls who do not comfortable sit in nice theological boxes (fiesty women, those with ambiguous genitals or yearnings). However, I do not think that God's creation should be jailed or killed to make some peoples' world view "safe".

Maturity involves recognising that there is a world that is, irregardless of our internal filters and paradigms. God calls us to engage with that reality, trying to bring out the best possible, but accepting that the whole of reality is beyond our control. Thus there will always be areas of ambiguity, uncertainty, chaos and tension.

Further, if God wanted us to have reality completely mapped out and under control, then why is it not already one monolithic and automated machine? Why does God create mutations and divergences? Why the curse of Babel? Why does the bible repeatedly refer to diversity and tolerance, accepting and providing shelter for the "other" in a godly and honourable way?

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Thursday, 2 March 2006 at 10:01pm GMT

Cheryl, "Why does God create mutations and divergences?" (I am not sure he does). "Why did God make me capable of being tempted to commit adultery" (not that I have done so)? Thanks to his Word, I know better!

The Bible offers us standards, patterns of belief and behaviour, examples of godly living, a Law and a gospel of repentance. The problems start when people begin to question and to set aside biblical teaching, and instead to impose their own order on the world.

Climate change is but the latest in a disastrous series of human challenges to divine wisdom, and perhaps it may bring some people to their senses as they realise that the world belongs to God, not to human beings to do as they like with it, at their own peril - as it is indeed proving to be a very deep peril.

Posted by: Alan Marsh on Friday, 3 March 2006 at 11:27am GMT


If God did not create mutations and divergences, we could not develop new forms of crops or different breeds of pet dogs. If creation was completely static then we would not see geological changes (e.g. shifting coastlines based on water damage).

These are things that are. The question "why" does not change what is. To debate the question "why" is to be side tracked into a red herring debate (because then those who try to change reality to justify their paradigms can debate whether one has a true insight into God's intentions or mind).

As a result, the question "why" is the subject of philosophical debates and discussions which can be fun and constructive. However, the question "why" can also be used to lure people into a debate that has no real meaning (as much as the question of how many angels can fit on a pin head - who really cares?), and it can also shift the agenda away from the core issue.

You state that "The Bible offers us standards, patterns of belief and behaviour, examples of godly living, a Law and a gospel of repentance. The problems start when people begin to question and to set aside biblical teaching, and instead to impose their own order on the world."

Why did God bother to add new books after the orginal Torah written as a result of God's guidance of Moses and the Jews? Why do Christians claim that Jesus replaced the Law of Moses with salvation by faith, thus "putting aside" biblical teaching? And if they don't, then show me where there is the Christian outrage at the concept of charging interest on money borrowed (Exodus 22:25, Leviticus 25:35-37, Deuteronomy 23:19-20, Proverbs 28:8, Ezekiel 18:8)? Or are we going to enter into one of those debates where "we don't really do that, except where it is convenient for our paradigms? (Oh, and please don't cite examples that might demonstrate our inconsistent application)."

On the question of climate change, you'll get no argument from me. I've already been shut down on one forum because I demonstrated too many direct correlations between cautions and climate/geological events.

However, I can not help a chuckle of bemusement, because the same souls who have been fighting for the environment (before SOME evangelicals last year caught on that we are meant to be caretakers of God's creation) are as often as not the same souls who have been fighting against usury of the poor, AIDS, oppression of women, tolerance of the "other" (including homosexuals); exhorting ALL humanity to live decent, compassionate, respectful and sustainable lifestyles.

In fact, my amusement at inconsistent application vis a vis the homosexuality/ environment link is most poignantly demonstrated by the hypocrites themselves:
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/08/national/08warm.html?_r=1&oref=slogin . which includes:
Despite opposition from some of their colleagues, 86 evangelical Christian leaders have decided to back a major initiative to fight global warming, saying "millions of people could die in this century because of climate change, most of them our poorest global neighbors."
HOWEVER it continues
Some of the nation's most high-profile evangelical leaders, however, have tried to DERAIL such action. Twenty-two of them signed a letter in January declaring, "Global warming is not a consensus issue."... The letter from the 22 leaders asked the National Association of Evangelicals NOT TO ISSUE any statement on global warming or to allow its officers or staff members to take a position.

So, not only are these people not prepared to accept global warming, but they are also using their positions of power to STOP people taking a public position. This is the same kind of hypocrisy we saw just after the November Nigerian Changing Attitude meeting, where the church leaders asked the press to not talk about the meeting and tried to deny that the meeting had occurred.

The question of "why" is irrelevant, if one can succeed in stopping the debate even being known, isn't it? Another example of hypocritical Orwellian newspeak.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Friday, 3 March 2006 at 3:25pm GMT


You asked the question, "Why?"

An alternative way of diverting attention from an argument is to put up straw targets to shoot at, as you have done. I have no idea who these American Evangelicals are or who would support them outside the Land of Bush.

But if God made the world exactly as it is (as you seem to assert) why did he make psychopaths, paedophiles, adulterers, tyrants etc? Why should anyone exercise any self-restraint, if we are the way we are "because God made us that way"?

But if God has instead given us a Law and a Gospel to live by, on what basis do we think we are permitted to ignore his Word or to reinterpret it every time it does not suit us? When the evidence, time after time, indicates that the Law and the Gospel are given to us, not as arbitrary rules, but for our own good?

And so back to climate change. Finally it is coming home to sinful and materialistic humankind that this beautiful world has limited resources and is capable of destruction if we continue to abuse it. There here is a direct correlation between sin and its consequences, which will undoubtedly be visited upon our children, to the third and fourth generation, and long after that.

It's the same with sexual immorality. It is destroying children, adults, family life and nations. There are some who claim to be Christians who even advocate it, by means of "polyamoury", as the final means of breaking down all human distinctions and order.

I am not alone in preferring the biblical vision for human living and for my children's future.

Posted by: Alan Marsh on Friday, 3 March 2006 at 4:15pm GMT

No Alan,

My question was rhetorical (e.g. "Why is liquid water wet?" Liquid water is wet, that is not changed by the question. Technocrats might want a long exploration of the science and physics of water's wetness; but at the end of the day liquid water is still wet.)

God creates a huge variety of humanity. Sometimes that humanity is down right predatory and dangerous (e.g. psychopaths, serial rapists) At other times it is helpless without external assistance (e.g born with severe intellectual disability or blind). The bible reminds us that God sends both the good and the bad, both the rain and the drought. We can not change that God does this, but we can change how to respond to both.

On the environment, your passion is different to my own. I have spent years hearing Christians telling me not to worry because "Jesus will fix it" and not acknowledging their stewardship role. So I rejoice at seeing new Christian elements joining to restore God's creation, and get frustrated at those who not only refuse to help but actually sabotage those that would help. e.g. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4695320.stm , which states that "...the latest move has prompted a backlash from some of the most influential conservative Christians. James Dobson's Focus on the Family called it a "distraction" from abortion and family values." Family values also includes the homosexuality debate, so if there is a straw target it's because the "family only" conservatives chose to articulate one.

Can I make the world free of sinners or deviants, drought or disease? No. But what I can do is help others to recognise what can be done to make it as safe as possible.

Can I change that homosexuality exists? No, because there is evidence that comes up across centuries and cultures. Thus the question is who and how are these people engaging in sexual activities?

When a society is overly homophobic you have misogynists who decide they are gay because they hate women (who often then go on to mistreat feminine gays instead). You have "down low" men - do a word search in google - who marry to camoflauge their tendencies and then risk bringing home STDs whilst they conduct homosexual encounters on the side. (One of my friends showed me a lovely article about how such men find church services a good place for locating other "down low" men).

In a society that is too laissez-faire, you have sexual activity of the level of Sodom and Gommorah. You will get no argument from me that hedonistic sex, prostitution and pornography are at ridiculously high levels. However, the irony is that probably the biggest consumer group for such sin is heterosexual men.

Much of the issues of laissez-faire also come back to the distortion of the feminine. Beautiful women are reduced to commodotities to be leered at or married as "trophy brides", often to be changed for a fresher model when they look too frayed around the edges. The obsession with youth and lack of respect for the feminine is huge. It is ridiculous that barely pubescent girls are modelling clothes for mature women.

Yet the homophobic churches seem largely silent on the mistreatment of women. For example, only yesterday my girlfriend was telling me about a recent Oprah show where there was someone trying to restore Ethiopian womens' bodies that had been badly damaged by falling pregnant from their arranged marriage when they were only 9 or 10. There was one example of a child/woman who was left out for the hyenas to kill after a disastrous first birth experience. This kind of story makes the issue of damage from sodomy laughable. Where are the African churches' outrage as the commodisation or desecration of their female children; especially as early as 9 or 10? Is it because they are "married" and therefore the men are being biblically correct?

Finally, for those who know me well, I have always exhorted ALL souls to respect their neighbours. For those who feel the need for sexual intimacy, I have again and again recommended that they attempt life-long monogamous relationships because God despises adultery. There is a profound difference between sex in a committed reverential relationship to sex as a narcisstic supply or as illicit furtive encounters.

When you said "I am not alone in preferring the biblical vision for human living and for my children's future". You are perfectly correct, I 100% agree with you.

The difference is that my biblical vision can be applied equally across both the masculine and the feminine, can be applied to both "gentile" and Jew. My vision does not require exploiting or denying "the other", instead it exhorts "the other" to recognise and partake of core biblical constructs.

Being universalist, it is open for all souls to try and apply core biblical precepts to whatever legal or historical framework they are in. For example, those advocating this inclusive vision rejoice at the Hindus seeking to redress the issue of selective female abortions. Whereas there are others who would dismiss this because they secretly want the Hindus to "fail" so God's wrath can burn them up. That is, they hate and want others to fail so they can prove to God that they don't deserve salvation because they didn't do it "their way". Satan's minions are always trying to prove who is unworthy of God's love (e.g. Revelation 12:10-12) but God recognises His own (see Zechariah 3:1-10).

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Friday, 3 March 2006 at 9:35pm GMT

Cheryl, You have gone off again on several tangents, but the real question is: do you accept that there are any definable standards of morality within the Christian tradition and specifically in Anglicanism which the Church ought to promote as God's will for human beings?

(And I am not just thinking of sexuality, although that preoccupies most of this web site).

Or is it all reduced now by Anglicanism to "Do-As-You-Would-Be-Done-By"?

Posted by: Alan Marsh on Friday, 3 March 2006 at 11:45pm GMT

Jesus: Let he who is without sin cast the first stone (John 8:7).

Maybe I should be a Jew? http://spectrum.buffalo.edu/article.php?id=25654 , which quotes one of their favourite Talmud stories of a man who approached a Rabbi about converting to Judaism. There was one condition, though — that he be taught everything standing on one foot. The Rabbi told him: "What is hateful for you, don't do to others." "That is the Torah, the rest is commentary,"

And if keeping one's Jewishness is irrelevant, then why was Joseph so concerned about still being recognised by his brothers and father as a Jew? Despite all his years in Egypt? e.g Genesis 45:1-5, and interestingly in Genesis 45:28 Joseph's father Jacob is referred to as Israel. The passage read 'And Israel said, “I’m convinced! My son Joseph is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.”' Jacob himself acknowledges on his death bed Joseph's lineage and that their God had protected and guided Joseph up to that point (Genesis 29:22-26).

And this Talmud story is very similar to Jesus': Love thy Father with all thy heart and soul and love thy neighbour as thyself for on this all the Law and prophets hang (Matthew 22:37-40).

A core component of Jesus teaching was to look beyond the letter of the law to the intent of the law. Some of his most rebuking comments were reserved for the self-righteous who gloated over others failings and saw themselves as saved whilst their brothers and sisters were to be condemned before God e.g. Luke 11:39-48 & Luke 18:10-14.

Lk 5:30-32 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Saturday, 4 March 2006 at 2:05am GMT

And on the subject of tangents, each reply has tried to cover the key points raised in your previous posting. So my "tangents" merely reflect my attempt to sincerely acknowledge and consider each issue that you have raised. But if I have not engaged in a particular path, to give you an explanation of why I am choosing not to engage in a particular path of discourse.

That is not tangents, that is dialogue, and it is an example of dialogue that acknowledges "the other".

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Saturday, 4 March 2006 at 2:13am GMT

So the answer is no?

Posted by: Alan Marsh on Saturday, 4 March 2006 at 12:05pm GMT

The phrase "Do-As-You-Would-Be-Done-By" has the same intention as Jesus' "Love thy God with all thy heart and soul. Love thy neighbour as thyself". If Jesus felt this was sufficient, then so do I.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Saturday, 4 March 2006 at 8:37pm GMT

Jesus offered this as a summary of the law. But in Matt.5.17-18 he says: ""Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them.
For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished."

If Jesus taught his followers to respect the law and the prophets, ought we not to do the same, for our own sake?

Posted by: Alan Marsh on Sunday, 5 March 2006 at 12:23am GMT

Jesus fulfilled the law and the prophets when he rose victorious from the dead. He "accomplished" his work upon the cross. Christians are not bound by the law, but liberated from it by grace through faith. The prophets, as they bore witness to Christ (as he taught from Emmaus onward) have done their work, although we continue to read them for the wisdom they bring to issues of justice and fair-dealing.

Posted by: Tobias S Haller BSG on Wednesday, 8 March 2006 at 8:08pm GMT

Let nobody deceive yall. Gay folks are here to stay.This is not a matter of right or wrong.Its a matter of living with the realms of reality.What do we do to people that say they are gay?

The fact of the matter is that, they will always be gay, so why bother making laws to bar them from contributing , afterall, everybody is equal under the law... sexual preference shouldnt matter

Posted by: Tolani Williams on Friday, 24 August 2007 at 8:35am BST
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