Thinking Anglicans

Nigeria: what Archbishop Akinola did say

Anglican Mainstream has published the following comment in response to the LGCM advertisement in this week’s Church Times:

From Canon Ben Enwuchola, Chaplain to the Nigerian Community and Canon Dr Chris Sugden. Member of General Synod and Executive Secretary of Anglican Mainstream

The Lesbian Gay Christian Movement has a full page advertisement in the Church Times this week linking the church’s dilemma over engagement in the slave trade with its current dilemma on issues of human sexuality. It states: “Should it (the Anglican communion) support the end to the slave trade? Some said ‘no’ and turned to the Bible for justification. But just as the Church was able to search its soul and overcome this to support the abolition of slavery, it ought to be able to support justice and inclusion for lesbian and gay people.” The advert also makes a number of allegations about the Archbishop of Nigeria, the Most Rev Peter Akinola.

The following should be noted.

1. The very people who were set free from slavery, which was a powerful global expression of western culture at the time, do not wish to come in bondage to that culture again in the form of its sexual licence.

2. Those who cited the Bible to justify their views on supporting slavery based their views actually on economic theory, not on the Bible.

3. When he met a representative of Changing Attitude Nigeria in Tanzania in February, Archbishop Akinola treated him with courtesy. Those of us who know Archbishop Akinola and have discussed these matters with him know that none of the imputations of this advert have any basis in his thinking or action. He is committed to the human rights of all the oppressed, including those who feel they are oppressed because of their sexuality. He is seeking in his context which is characterised by militancy on this issue to operationalise that decision. He needs our prayers and support.

What the advertisement says about Archbishop Akinola is this:

Shamefully the Anglican Primate of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, has promoted this legislation, condemned by UN officials as “an absolutely unjustified intrusion of individuals’ right to privacy” which goes against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In Archbishop Akinola’s view, “homosexuality is flagrant disobedience to God”, and an “acquired aberration” which “does violence to nature”.

These quotations all come directly from an article Why I object to homosexuality written by Archbishop Akinola for the Church Times and published originally on 4 July 2003, during the campaign against the appointment of Jeffrey John as Bishop of Reading:

…Our argument is that, if homosexuals see themselves as deviants who have gone astray, the Christian spirit would plead for patience and prayers to make room for their repentance. When scripture says something is wrong and some people say that it is right, such people make God a liar. We argue that it is a blatant lie against Almighty God that homosexuality is their God-given urge and inclination. For us, it is better seen as an acquired aberration.

THE ISSUE is such an important one, such a defining one, with the potential of splitting the Communion, because it has become a chronic aberration, which is being defended and promoted in the Church of God. On the authority of the word of God, we see homosexuality as a rebellion against God, like that typified by Adam and Eve in Genesis 3. A rebellion cannot be relative.

Moreover, homosexuality is flagrant disobedience to God, which enables people to pervert God’s ordained sexual expression with the opposite sex. In this way, homosexuals have missed the mark; they have shown themselves to be trespassers of God’s divine laws.

Protagonists of homosexuality try to elevate this aberration, unknown even in animal relationships, beyond divine scrutiny, while church leaders, who are called to proclaim the undiluted word of God like the prophets of old, are unashamedly looking the other way.

The practice of homosexuality, in our understanding of scripture, is the enthronement of self-will and human weakness, and a rejection of God’s order and will. This cannot be treated with levity; otherwise the Church, and the God she preaches, will be badly deformed and diminished.

Homosexuality does violence to nature. As someone puts it: “It contradicts the very light and law of nature….”

Indeed in the same article Archbishop Akinola wrote:

Homosexuality or lesbianism or bestiality is to us a form of slavery…

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Göran Koch-SwahneCheryl CloughSimon SarmientoTimChristopher Shell Recent comment authors
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Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

Following Anglican Mainstream’s comments it really is time for our UK bishops to speak out.

Does anyone have a suggestion of how we might get as many UK bishops as possible to distance themselves from what is happening in Nigeria in an open letter or statement? Individual letters and emails clearly aren’t doing the trick.

Rowan not speaking out publicly is scandalous enough, but where are all the others?

(Simon, please forgive the double posting)

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Not that I understand how anyone could have the affrontery to try to spin the (several) proclamations in writing of AB Akinola – but here it is. ;=) The Nigerian Primate and his Office have been in the frontline of the (possibly failing) Nigerian federal legislation against (already illegal) Same Sex Marriage & c. But to me the AB’s charge of “Rebellion against God” takes the prize – the “classic” charge of the 1179/1215 Lateran III and IV Scholastic propaganda against the 7 Phantom categories of outcasts from Ecclesiastic and Civil Society: Jews, Muslims, Cathars, “Bastards” (the sons of married… Read more »

Christopher Shell
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Christopher Shell

The NT never in any context condones slavery – apart from the glad surrender of one’s life to a master whose service is perfect freedom. It speaks to and about slaves (and there were slaves then as there are slaves now) because it speaks to all people in the real world.
Philemon and Rev 18 (where slavery, ‘the bodies and souls of men’, is the climactic one of the 28 cargoes of the despicable city) indicate an attitude to slavery very different from (much more liberal than) that of Rome.

Cheryl Clough
Guest

From Nigeria itself: http://www.thetidenews.com/article.aspx?qrDate=03/24/2007&qrTitle=Statutory%20provisions%20and%20human%20rights%20advancement%20in%20Nigeria&qrColumn=OPINION Which includes the comment “The whole talk about human right is a fight against the abuse of power.” Ezekiel 16 is useful for this debate, which includes 16:48-56 “…your sister Sodom and her daughters never did what you and your daughters have done.“ ‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen. Samaria did not commit half the sins you… Read more »

Cynthia
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Cynthia

“Those who cited the Bible to justify their views on supporting slavery based their views actually on economic theory, not on the Bible.” Having read extensively about the culture of slavery in the American south, I can vouch for the fact that many if not most Americans who wrote to justify slavery did indeed cite Scripture. I don’t know the literature of justification in England. As recently as the 1960s, a judge in Virginia defended the state’s laws forbiding inter-racial marriage on the grounds that the story of Noah and his sons’ survival clearly showed that God had created three… Read more »

Athos
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Athos

One can quote the bible to support any position one wants. It is a plastic nose that can be twisted either one way or the other. SO the fact that some misguided souls quoted Scripture to justify slavery proves nothing against the Bible. It just shows how scripture can be distorted. This was even recognised by the Apostle Peter who claimed that “ignorant and unstable people disort” not only Paul’s writings but also the “other scriptures” to their own destruction.

David
Guest

For those that are interested in considering the theological and hermeneutical link between homosexuality and slavery that underlies the advertisement in the Church Times, I can thoroughly recommend the following book:

Slaves, Women & Homosexuals: Exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis by William J. Webb.

Should be available from all good bookshops and can certainly be found on Amazon very easily.

Sam
Guest
Sam

‘The NT never in any context condones slavery ‘ as per Christopher Shell … I beg to differ. Peter says that a slave who is beaten because he has done wrong has no cause for complaint (1 Peter 18-21). Paul repeatedly states that slaves should obey their masters.In fairness, he also states in some (but not all) epistles, that masters should treat slaves well. However, in the light of what Peter said, if all Scripture is inerrant, then treating slaves well includes giving them the odd beating for wrongdoing! (See Paul at 1 Tim 6 1-2, where he makes it… Read more »

Rae Fletcher
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Rae Fletcher

“Protagonists of homosexuality try to elevate this aberration, unknown even in animal relationships”

Give me a break! Homosexual activity has been documented among marine mammals, hoofed mammals (including the African Buffalo), other mammals, and primates. A short summary list of these fills several pages.

A statement such as the one made by Enwuchola and Sugden flies in the face of scientific data and recalls centuries of the church with its head in the sand when Gallileo gave them scientific data.

Nick Finke
Guest
Nick Finke

Unfortunately, it is very clear that slaveholders in the US prior to emancipation believed that slavery was allowed by God. As Thornton Stringfellow put it in his work “A Brief Examination of Scripture Testimony on the Institution of Slavery”published in 1841: I propose, therefore, to examine the sacred volume briefly, and if I am not greatly mistaken, I shall be able to make it appear that the institution of slavery has received, in the first place, 1st. The sanction of the Almighty in the Patriarchal age. 2d. That it was incorporated into the only National Constitution which ever emanated from… Read more »

choirboyfromhell
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choirboyfromhell

“Homosexuality does violence to nature. As someone puts it: “It contradicts the very light and law of nature….” “

So I guess that justifies throwing suspects into prison to rot. Certainly sounds Christian to me.

++Akinola-For us it would be better seen as an ignorant aberration

Obadiah
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Obadiah

Both of the first two statements by ‘Anglican Mainstream’ are extremely dubious from an historical perspective: 1. The very people who were set free from slavery, which was a powerful global expression of western culture at the time, do not wish to come in bondage to that culture again in the form of its sexual licence. 2. Those who cited the Bible to justify their views on supporting slavery based their views actually on economic theory, not on the Bible. Since many have already refuted the second proposition, I will lend my weight as an historian on the first, and… Read more »

Athos
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Athos

Sam Christianity fundamentally undermined the institution of slavery. For in Christian congregations there were slaves but now their relationships with their masters was one of brotherhood in Christ. Secondly slaves were given the sacramanets which meant they had souls and therefore were unambigously men. Thirdly with slaves seen as fully human the clergy began to encourage owners to set their slves free. This Christian philosphy meant that slavery gradually came to be abolished in Europe. Unfortunalety it reared its ugly head again and once more Christians had to fight to have it abolished again. Just as today Christians fighting to… Read more »

Davis Mac-Iyalla
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Davis Mac-Iyalla

In a response to an advert in the Church Times by the LGCM, Anglican Mainstream claims that ++ Akinola does not hates gays but that his view of homosexuality are well known. They support this by saying that when ++Akinola met with me in Dar Es Salaam he treated me politely. I would like to point out that my brief meeting with ++ Akinola is not evidence of his kindness towards lgbt people. He could not treat me badly when we were surrounded by priests and the press. ++Akinola’s Director of Communications, Akintunde Popoola, has in the past made false… Read more »

lapinbizarre
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lapinbizarre

“One can quote the bible to support any position one wants. It is a plastic nose that can be twisted either one way or the other.”

Says it all. THANK YOU ATHOS!

Nathan Stratton
Guest
Nathan Stratton

Three responses to our reverend brother, Canon Enwuchola: “The very people who were set free from slavery, which was a powerful global expression of western culture at the time, do not wish to come in bondage to that culture again in the form of its sexual licence.” It is truly sad that the same people only so recently set free would seek to place their own gay and lesbian brothers and sisters in bondage. “Those who cited the Bible to justify their views on supporting slavery based their views actually on economic theory, not on the Bible.” It is interesting… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“…in Christian congregations there were slaves but now their relationships with their masters was one of brotherhood in Christ. Secondly slaves were given the sacramanets which meant they had souls and therefore were unambigously men. … This Christian philosphy meant that slavery gradually came to be abolished in Europe.” Someone who knows this history better than I can respond about Europe. There was no such ‘withering away’ of slavery in the American South, and, as has been pointed out, the Bible was relentlessly invoked to keep slaves in bondage. Someone else has settled that in an earlier post. We fought… Read more »

Athos
Guest
Athos

Cynthia
People can say what they like. But you can’t just quote scripture as say you are not interpreting it. All scripture is given in a context (grammatical, historical) and to quote scripture without proper regard for where it comes in the canon is to do violence to it; and is to interpret it. Those who used scripture to justify slavery where therefore misusing scripture.

Thomas
Guest
Thomas

“”… This Christian philosphy meant that slavery gradually came to be abolished in Europe.” Someone who knows this history better than I can respond about Europe.” I /believe/ that this refers to slavery dying out in Europe around the end of the Middle Ages or so. Not sure if this was due to Christian theology or economics, though — but it did die out for the most part. Then the New World was discovered, and slavery started again, but with blacks and Native Americans instead of whites this time. I’m not sure of the conditions that led to it dying… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

_But when it wasn’t economically profitable, they stopped caring._

The point has been made a number of times recently that this argument is inadequate. There is a place for the relative independence of ideas and the anti-slavery witness first held by the Quakers and then passed along to some evangelicals of that time.

David Ackerman
Guest
David Ackerman

An Anglican response to the issue of sexuality must surely combine scripture, tradition, the Creeds and reason. Of course one might ‘weight’ each response according to importance but all must be included. My problem with the Nigerian position isn’t so much that it is wrong – which I think it is – but it isn’t Anglican.

Sam
Guest
Sam

Athos: ‘Christianity fundamentally undermined the institution of slavery. For in Christian congregations there were slaves but now their relationships with their masters was one of brotherhood in Christ. Secondly slaves were given the sacramanets which meant they had souls and therefore were unambigously men. Thirdly with slaves seen as fully human the clergy began to encourage owners to set their slves free. This Christian philosphy meant that slavery gradually came to be abolished in Europe.’ This sounds like a process of gradual discernment, like that which liberals are calling for on the issue of sexuality. If it has happened on… Read more »

Lapinbizarre
Guest
Lapinbizarre

You’re falling for Enwuchola and Sugden’s smoke-screen, folks – getting side-tracked into discussion of slavery, when the issue is what Akinola and his fellow-travellers have said about homosexuality. Those who wish to pursue the slavery issue might also care to consider the truth or falsehood of the following Wikipedia statement (yes, I know that many Wikipedia entries are unreliable, so let’s not waste time on that one) on the Atlantic Slave Trade. It has bearing on the extent of inherited guilt for the slave trade: “Europeans usually bought slaves who were captured in wars between African kingdoms and chiefdoms, or… Read more »

George Conger
Guest
George Conger

Having UN officials condemn the Nigerian proposed legislation misses the mark. Given the UN’s behavior in West Africa —- aid workers demanding sex from children as young as four (look at the trial in France of UN staffer Didier Bourguet whose lawyer admitted his client was part of a UN peodophile network operating from Africa to southeast Asia. Add in drug dealing in Cambodia, sex slaves in the Balkans, the Oil for Food kickbacks and corruption, money laundering, graft and corruption at the highest levels of the organization, the make up of the various UN Human Rights bodies et al… Read more »

Nick Finke
Guest
Nick Finke

I agree with Obadiah that the historical arguments made in the Anglican Mainstream piece are extremely dubious, but I think the problem goes beyond this. I simply cannot understand how there can be any comparison between opposition to human chattel slavery and opposition to the expression of homosexual orientation. The anti-slavery cause worked towards emancipation, towards freedom. The fight against the dignity of homosexuals is one of repression and subjugation. Every time I pray Morning Prayer I am caught up all over again by the words of Zachariah blessing the Lord God of Israel who has come to his people… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Guest

George Conger argues that the moral authority if the UN is impugned by the illegal acts of some of its staff. I regret this is true. But compared to the recent history of the Church such cases he mentions pale into insignificance. I am sure we have both read the document in question written by several agents of UN departments, I know of no accusations against the individuals here, perhaps he has other information. In this case perhaps George and others might concentrate on the message they delivered. Is it wrong? Is it mistaken in its assertions of fact or… Read more »

Athos
Guest
Athos

Sam Texts of terror prove nothing: as I said before anyone can quote any text to prove anything. But what I think Akinola and the Pope and the Ecumeniacal Patriarch would do and indeed any christian Church of the past would look at the issue of sexuality as it is presented in the whole of Scripture and in the teachings of Christ and the Apostles and I guess that would be pretty discouraging for those seeking to reinterpret scripture in novel ways. Nick surely what the Bible celebrates above and beyond social or political or sexual freedom is freedom from… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

I leave it to you to decide which of these is the Rebellion against God.

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Hi Sam

I wasn’t aware that Peter spoke of beating in so many words, and certainly he does not write directly to masters recommending that they beat. Luke (around ch 11?) does mention various servants and their eschatological beatings, which is a slightly different matter. The other points I covered in my first comment: ie, that he addressed the real world which then as now included situations where equal human beings were treated by the prevailing (nonchristian) structures as far from equal.

Cheryl Clough
Guest

Nick I have enjoyed yours (and others) play on this thread. There is some awareness that the question of slavery somehow links into the mistreatment of sexual variance. There is a red herring debate about nature and nurture that hopefully this thread will avoid. What is relevant is the question of choice and complicity. I am reminded of two things. Firstly the question of whether a slave is complicit for the master’s sins? If a slave has no legitimate right to say “no”, then a slave is not complicit. This one determination alone decrees all females under authoratative patriarchial decrees… Read more »

Tim
Guest

1. “treated him with courtesy”
2. “has promoted this legislation”
3. “committed to the human rights of all the oppressed, including those who feel they are oppressed because of their sexuality”
4. “does violence to nature”
5. “is to us a form of slavery”

I call: confused, hypocritical, ignorant, homophobe.

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

“I leave it to you to decide which of these is the Rebellion against God.”

This is a comment to a longer comment on the history of the different forms of slavery worldwide and in Europe (abolished 1349 in Westrogothia, 1860ies in Russia and on the books in Mecklenburg until 1904).

Either this comment was censored, or the TA site is technically unreliable; for comments made dissappear rather often.

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Goran
Your longer comment fell foul of the 400 word limit.

Cheryl Clough
Guest

Sam Your allusions to becoming free through Christ in the NT is also a repeating fractal. We see exactly the same intervention to create freedom when God annointed Moses to lead the Jews out of slavery and into freedom. Here is a link to a slavery which shows a lot of discussion about the implications of freedom and slavery arising from Exodus http://www.torah.org/cgi-bin/texis/webinator/search/?pr=torahwww On the nature/nurture, this came up on the BBC website this week. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/6498215.stm So are these chimera twins male or female? How should they be treated? The beauty of a theology that acknowledges and sanctifies the dignity… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Well Simon, send it back!