Comments: Anglicans for Decriminalization

I was recently in Nigeria for 10 days linked to my work. On the Sunday I attended worship in an Anglican church. It included a bible study based on a booklet that was produced centrally by the national Anglican church of Nigeria which contained bible studies for each week of the year. In many of the weeks the focus was on the issue of economic and political corruption which pervades Nigeria. By chance the biblical text for study on the week I was in the church was Lev. 18... which of course includes the bit about men not laying with men as with a woman. What interested me however was the series of connections that were made in the booklet and by the speaker ... viz such sexual sin leads to the wrath and anger of God against the land/nation. God's anger is then shown by allowing corruption to flourish in the land. It's not of course my view, but I did find it useful (and perhaps even helpful) to see the way that these connections were made by people in a church in a country which is wrestling so hard with an appalling level of corruption.

Posted by Marian at Monday, 6 March 2017 at 10:58am GMT

Sure, what next Marian? Gay sex causes earthquakes as widely believed in the Middle Ages? It's not at all interesting, useful 'or perhaps even helpful.' It is bigoted and superstitious. Same-sex sex does not trigger God's allowing of corruption in the nation. Indeed, a case could be made that the most repressive nations on that front are also the most corrupt. Nigeria first without any kind of supernatural help for crying out loud.

Posted by Lorenzo at Monday, 6 March 2017 at 2:52pm GMT

As one of those folk who lived with being gay before the repeal of the law, I can assure you the church never made a clear statement in favour of its repeal. Those of us who were and are Christians lived our lives in the church, knowing full well we were considered sinners to even think of loving someone of the same sex. It was CONFUSION writ large.
It was our QUAKER FRIENDS, and the URC who led the way to the acceptance of gay folk as fellow Christians.
My older gay friends even had their own language.
Thank God for those in Parliament who voted in favour of the repeal of the law. We owe them an eternal debt of gratitude.

Sadly parts of our former empire have not seen the light. They need our prayers.

Posted by Fr John E Harris-White at Monday, 6 March 2017 at 4:55pm GMT

"I did find it useful (and perhaps even helpful) to see the way that these connections were made by people in a church in a country which is wrestling so hard with an appalling level of corruption."

Presumably if you're not the person likely to be killed you can regard it as "useful" and "helpful" to hear hate speech being directing at gay people. That's the thing about bigotry: it's something you can be relaxed about if you aren't the target of it.

Posted by Interested Observer at Monday, 6 March 2017 at 6:04pm GMT

I read Marian's comment as it being helpful to understand what was believed by some people in Nigeria, not that she agreed with it in any way.

Posted by Laurence Cunnington at Monday, 6 March 2017 at 7:19pm GMT

Readers at Thinking Anglicans may be surprised to know that decrimalisation has been a live topic in GAFCON. The late Michael Ovey gave a frank interview to me last year on this topic, making it clear that key GAFCON leaders argued in favour of decriminalisation. Conservative evangelical Christians are more likely to have an impact in Africa than progressives www.eternitynews.com.au/world/christian-oppose-jailing-homosexuality-response/

Posted by john sandeman at Monday, 6 March 2017 at 10:29pm GMT

Sorry, Mr Sandeman, but it's just Mike Ovey being interviewed by a terribly biased Christian channel. And even then, his interview does not give a single shred of hard evidence for what you claim and ends with; 'A report by the London School of Economics (LSE) Institute of Public Affairs ... identified the Anglican Communion ... as a key institution that could drive change against draconian anti-gay laws in Africa. Could be did not. Instead, many of those African prelates actively praised the aforementioned draconian bills. Repeatedly.

Posted by Lorenzo at Tuesday, 7 March 2017 at 7:15am GMT

The title of the piece is misleading. Parse the language it uses:

"decriminalization of consensual same-gender intimacy"

"anti-gay laws"

"anti-sodomy laws"

"homophobic prejudice"

"same-sex attracted people"

"‘the single most pressing issue around human sexuality’"

"criminal sanctions against same-sex attracted people."

"physical safety of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters"

"anti-sodomy laws in the Caribbean"

That's from parsing the first half (which is entirely representative of the whole). The title talks of LGBT people but then fails to mention any of the issues in the context of TIQ.

A truly awful and shameful piece.

Posted by Kate at Tuesday, 7 March 2017 at 8:11am GMT

Thank you Laurence for your own helpful comment. You understand exactly what I was wanting to say. Even though I don't agree with the widespread view of the church in Nigeria, I still find it useful to try and understand the underlying causes and connections for the views being propounded in the church. It can perhaps enable a more constructive dialogue of difference at some point in the future.

Posted by Marian at Tuesday, 7 March 2017 at 11:25am GMT

Marian,
are you saying that you understood Nigerians to say that if it wasn't for gay people, there would be no corruption in the country? And that the corruption isn't the fault of those officials who are corrupt, but a direct action of God who is angry with gay people?


Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 7 March 2017 at 3:17pm GMT

In response to Erika's question... although I don't think it would be expressed quite as starkly as that... yes, broadly speaking my understanding of what I heard and read in that Sunday service was that there was a direct connection being made between God's anger at sexual sins (including but not limited to genital homosexual relations ... see Lev 18 for other examples and in at least some churches polygamy might be included) and the endemic corruption in Nigeria, which God has allowed to take place as an expression of his anger. Personally I find it very strange. But I also think it is useful to realise this train of thought which is probably quite wide spread.

Posted by Marian at Tuesday, 7 March 2017 at 5:06pm GMT

Hmmm
If God punishes society with corruption for gay sex, why is corruption so much higher in Nigeria which criminalise homosexuality than in the UK which allows same sex marriage?

Posted by Kate at Tuesday, 7 March 2017 at 5:25pm GMT

Thanks for the robust feedback on this article, which is aimed at building support for decriminalization of same-gender intimacy. Please consider reading, signing and sharing the petition that will be presented to all countries where the Anglican Communion has a witness. The petition can be found here: https://www.change.org/p/governments-anglicans-for-decriminalization-of-private-consensual-same-gender-intimacy Please include your NAME, PARISH & DIOCESE!

Posted by Maurice Tomlinson at Tuesday, 7 March 2017 at 7:42pm GMT

Marian, it's just one of the many ways gay people have been scapegoated. Please open your eyes to what this really is.

Posted by Daniel Berry, NYC at Tuesday, 7 March 2017 at 9:30pm GMT

My feeling in all of this argumentation is that many Evangelical Christians, whose countries were missionised by Victorian English missionaries, are more prone to preach from the Old Testament than the New.

Saint Paul, as a scholar of the Old Testament, in my view, was more prone to retain some of the shibboleths of the O.T. (on some of his ideas about gender and sexuality) than to surrender to the fuller - and more liberated - understanding of the thrust of Jesus' relative kindness to sexual 'sins' compared to his criticism of Pharisaism - which supported the stoning of an adulteress while not penalising the male involved in her activity.

Jesus, after all, fulfilled what was required of the ancient LAW, providing the charity of the New Commandment of Love in replacement.

For Christians to condemn people for loving in the only way they know how must surely be an offence to the God who created ALL humanity to "love one another, as I have loved you".

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 7 March 2017 at 11:01pm GMT

'My feeling in all of this argumentation is that many Evangelical Christians, whose countries were missionised by Victorian English missionaries, are more prone to preach from the Old Testament than the New.'

Ron, my 'feeling' (which I admit has no statistical basis - but then, I suspect that yours doesn't either) is that the vast majority of 'pocket New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs' editions are sold to evangelical Christians...

Posted by Tim Chesterton at Wednesday, 8 March 2017 at 3:26am GMT

"Saint Paul, as a scholar of the Old Testament, in my view, was more prone to retain some of the shibboleths of the O.T. (on some of his ideas about gender and sexuality) than to surrender to the fuller - and more liberated - understanding of the thrust of Jesus' relative kindness to sexual 'sins' compared to his criticism of Pharisaism - which supported the stoning of an adulteress while not penalising the male involved in her activity."

With the added dimension that letters like Ephesians might well not have been written by St Paul, or even in his lifetime. Personally I give much less weight to letters which might have been included in the canon on the basis of an inaccurate attribution. I find the myths of the old Testament more compelling than some of the epistles.

Posted by Kate at Wednesday, 8 March 2017 at 11:07am GMT

Surely, signing this petition, is a positive step in the right direction for us ?


'Please consider reading, signing and sharing the petition that will be presented to all countries where the Anglican Communion has a witness.'

The petition can be found here: https://www.change.org/p/governments-anglicans-for-decriminalization-of-private-consensual-same-gender-intimacy Please include your NAME, PARISH & DIOCESE!

Posted by: Maurice Tomlinson on Tuesday, 7 March 2017 at 7:42pm GMT

Posted by Laurie Roberts at Wednesday, 8 March 2017 at 11:21am GMT

"yes, broadly speaking my understanding of what I heard and read in that Sunday service was that there was a direct connection being made between God's anger at sexual sins ... and the endemic corruption in Nigeria"

The problem is that this sort of claim, is that it is not even wrong [1] and therefore attempts by the well-intentioned by (I am afraid) naive and credulous to understand these claims are bound to fail. Attempting to reason about things which are not the result of reason is a doomed endeavour.

If you had been in Germany in 1937, there would have been ample opportunities to hear Jews being blamed for all the problems, and the elimination of Jews from civil society promoted as a solution. There would have been a seemingly rational chain of reasoning; indeed, a chain of reasoning a deal more concrete than "God's Judgement". See how these Jews laugh at you with their education and degenerate art and pseudo-science [2]. See how their rootless cosmopolitanism betrays our culture. To engage with those arguments ("no, these are European trends in art; no, physics is going this way for good reason") would have been to grant them a basis they did not have: the underpinning was visceral anti-Semitism, and the claimed reasons were just wallpaper to make them sound slightly less unhinged than they were.

Are you claiming that if a wand were waved tomorrow morning and all corruption were removed from Africa, then as if by magic homophobia would disappear as well? Of course not: the claimed basis would just change to something else. It's not about the reasons, it's about the hatred.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Not_even_wrong

[2] Hitler dismissed particle physics as "Jewish Physics".

Posted by Interested Observer at Wednesday, 8 March 2017 at 2:03pm GMT

Something happened. It was a bad day. Not enough coffee.

That first sentence should read "The problem with this sort of claim is that it is not even wrong [1], and therefore attempts by the well-intentioned but (I am afraid to say) naive and credulous to understand these claims are bound to fail." If a moderator would like to edit that in...

Posted by Interested Observer at Wednesday, 8 March 2017 at 6:07pm GMT

I doubt that you will publish this posting. I feel that some of the responses to my original comment in which I tried to open up a serious conversation about the realities of the situation in Nigeria (a country I have visited many times for my work for an international organisation) were not only offensive, patronising and sexist - but actually have turned into being close to racist. I rarely post on TA - largely because when I do I fairly rapidly come to the conclusion that it is one of the least liberal and most bigoted internet communities linked to the Anglican Communion. Pace Laurence Cunnington (whose remarks were very measured and helpful) and one or two others, I feel that my experience over the last couple of days has only confirmed my conclusion.

Posted by Marian at Wednesday, 8 March 2017 at 6:57pm GMT

"Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, says that for African Anglicans decriminalization is ‘the single most pressing issue around human sexuality’ and went on to say that:

'The struggle for the legal, social, spiritual and physical safety of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters is our issue in Nigeria and other places in Africa.' "

It is precisely because of their reluctance to take on this task, to support decriminalisation of LGBTI people within their own countries, that has motivated the schismatic tendencies of the GAFCON Provinces. Their failure to live up to the pledge made by the Communion Primates ought to be vigorously challenged, NOW.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 8 March 2017 at 8:33pm GMT

"... (T)he Primate of Uganda had left before the communiqué was issued."

Uganda has done this before, i.e., leave before business is concluded when they see that things aren't going their way. Righteousness can be very lonely.

Posted by Daniel Berry, NYC at Wednesday, 8 March 2017 at 11:41pm GMT

"offensive, patronising and sexist"

[citation needed], as Wikipedia would say. Could you point to the sexism in the responses, please? Or is this "I am a woman, and if you disagree with me, it is by definition sexist?"

Posted by Interested Observer at Thursday, 9 March 2017 at 6:49am GMT

«[citation needed], as Wikipedia would say. Could you point to the sexism in the responses, please? Or is this "I am a woman, and if you disagree with me, it is by definition sexist?"»

I know several women who would object to Laurence Cunnington (a man) stepping in you explain what Marian (a woman) really meant, and see that intervention as patronising and sexist.

Posted by Kate at Thursday, 9 March 2017 at 2:56pm GMT

"Surely, signing this petition, is a positive step in the right direction for us ?


'Please consider reading, signing and sharing the petition that will be presented to all countries where the Anglican Communion has a witness.'"

At that point, I think Marion is right to say that this verges on racism. We, in the United Kingdom, still criminalise LGBT+ people and we ought to deal with the plank in our own eye first. Yes, I know we don't criminalise homosexuality - this is the SilenT like the article. We do criminalise trans people for having sex without disclosing their gender history. It is obscene that we do.

So while Nigeria and the rest of Africa are wrong, we should not pretend for one second that there is not a problem in this country too and that should be our FIRST target before we attempt to tell other countries not to criminalise LGBT+ people.

Posted by Kate at Thursday, 9 March 2017 at 7:06pm GMT
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