Thinking Anglicans

Archbishop Okoh answers some questions

The Primate of Nigeria, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, has been interviewed on a range of subjects. The full text is published on the website of the Church of Nigeria. Read it here.

TA readers may be most interested in this section:

QUESTION: HOMOSEXUALISM WHAT IS YOUR NEW? [sic]

RESPONSE: The fight against homosexual had been on for quite some time and the Anglican church in Nigeria and I must say not only in Nigeria in other places of the world have said no to the homosexual lifestyle, that that type of sexual orientation is unbiblical, ungodly, unnatural, unacceptable.

We have said that over and over again, we discover that those who are set on it think we are ignorant, they think we are living the old past time- ancient days but that this is a post modern day and that they can rewrite the bible to suit their culture the way they want it.

But what we have continued to say is that that sexual relationship is against the society because the society rules through procreation and when we allow a sizeable member of the society to be homosexuals or Lesbians we cannot expect procreation to take place so naturally it is against nature.

It is unfortunate and right now, the other time I visited United Kingdom they were saying that people are free to come to the places where they worship to come and solemnize their homosexual relationship or lesbian relationship in their places of worship.

I am aware that the Church of England says no and so also the Roman Catholic Church.

There are quite a number that says they don’t mind and that the basic thing is that two people love themselves which is a very selfish perspective.

The issue at stake is not just a case of if it will make two people happy if they love themselves. I think that the rejection of absolute truth, absolute right and wrong had turned everything to the doctrine of relativism.

We are in a kind of free moral fall and we do not know when it is going to stop. Let me say this is not an Anglican form, it cuts across denominations. Some have decided to keep quiet because it is very embarrassing they decided to hide it.

The Anglican Church has been quite vocal about it discussing it openly. Those of us in Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and some other parts of the world, some parts of Australia, some part of America, some parts of United Kingdom.

You don’t have a particular place where you will say the whole of this people are homosexuals we just have pockets, in fact this is a kind of focal minority who are trying to turn the table against the majority and right now as I talk to you, the journalists, the lawmakers, in the UK, the politicians, the school authorities, the government, they are all in support. In America, we now have two bishops who are homosexuals and of course Canada supported it.

I can say that this vocal minority has redefined the family in a very radical way. What we used to know is a family made up of a man a woman and Godly raised children. We are now being told that a man and a man can form a family and then they can get a child.

There was even a very amusing one claiming to be a mother and presenting another man who is the husband and they adopted a child from a surrogate mother. All these are happening in our time, and when you dare raise objection they say you are not sufficiently educated, they say you are living in the pre-medieval age, they say you need to be exposed.

But the question we continue to ask is that the gospel came to us and identified areas where we were not living well and the gospel corrected us, the gospel transformed our lives, for instance we were killing twins here and when it was exposed to us that we were wrong, we dropped it.

The irony of the situation now is that the people who brought this are now telling us that such things are right but thank God we are not very confused we are not confused at all.

The scripture has been given to us we will not return it to anybody, we have accepted it and we are implementing it because we have a heavenly agenda.

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Pat O'Neill
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Pat O'Neill

I am bothered by something in this, and it’s not the archbishop’s stance on homosexuality (bad as it is)…it’s his English syntax and grammar. English is the official language of Nigeria and, according to Wikipedia, “is widely used for education, business transactions and for official purposes.” According to his biography on the Church of Nigeria’s website, Okoh attended seminary and has been a chaplain in the army among other posts. Yet, the syntax I read here is not that of a man fluent in English…indeed, it reads like a bad translation from some other language. As a former journalist, I’d… Read more »

JCF
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JCF

I repeat the question I asked on this thread http://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/archives/004947.html

To what extent is the Nigerian Way simply **not Anglican**?

If Scripture, Tradition and REASON was part of the Archbishop’s formation, I don’t recognize it.

MarkBrunson
Guest

“All these are happening in our time, and when you dare raise objection they say you are not sufficiently educated, they say you are living in the pre-medieval age, they say you need to be exposed.” Uh-huh. I suppose statements like: “The fight against homosexual . . .” or “. . society rules through procreation . . .” or “There are quite a number that says they don’t mind and that the basic thing is that two people love themselves which is a very selfish perspective. The issue at stake is not just a case of if it will make… Read more »

Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

I would like to use some well known words and phrases, but this being a family blog I shall say only ****!

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

LGBT people in Africa are going to need a lot of our help and protection as this battle increases. I only hope we won’t forget them once the Battle of the Covenant is over.

Davis Mac-Iyalla
Guest
Davis Mac-Iyalla

Archbishop Okoh’s homophobia towards LGBT Nigerians has nothing to do with being insufficiently educated or not. Here is a man who claim to be representing All Nigerian Anglicans publicly talking about the fight against innocent and vulnerable Nigerian homosexuals and calling it heavenly agenda. When a powerful and influential Nigeria Anglican Church wages a fight against its LGBT members the result will not be anything different from what happened to Davis Mac-Iyalla and some of Changing Attitude Nigerian members. I hope the Anglican Communion will not just sit and watch? LGBT Nigerians need your support sooner rather than later.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

From the content of Archbishop Okoh’s message, it is quite obvious that he does not have the likes of ACNA ‘prelates’ – Like Bishop Minns – to write his speeches. To speak of ‘homsexualism’ it to reveal a complete lack of understanding of basic scientific knowledge about the complexity of human sexual-orientation. It would seem that there is a desperate need of basic biological education in the Nigerian curriculum – not to mention of basic English.

Randal Oulton
Guest
Randal Oulton

Well, his Nigerian parishoners might be massacring Muslims in their sleep, but thank god they’re at least not gay, eh? Perhaps the slaughter is part of his heavenly agenda as well. The man is bonkers.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/africa-mideast/an-island-of-sanity-in-nigerias-city-of-hate/article1986173/

Charlotte
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Charlotte

I don’t like the content of Archbishop Okoh’s interview any more than anyone else here, but I want to disassociate myself from the comments on his English usage. Of course Nigerian English usage is going to differ from British, Canadian, Australian, South African, or American usage. (Did you notice that I said “differ from”? That’s still standard in the US.) English is in the process of breaking up into separate, distinctive national languages, just as Latin did earlier. The process might be accelerated where there is a relative lack of formal education, because it is the business of English teachers… Read more »

peterpi - Peter Gross
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peterpi - Peter Gross

With all due respect to the people of the Church of Nigeria, I find Archbishop Okoh’s ** remarks ** to be “unbiblical, ungodly, unnatural, unacceptable” and un-Christian. With regard to the English usage, yes it is jarring, but as long as the content, the message, is clear — and it is — what does it ultimately matter? Who knows whether the reason for its stiltedness to our ears comes from Nigerian English usage, or the reporter, or translation issues, etc. But Abp. Okoh’s message to his GLBT flock is absolute and unambiguous. Charlotte at 3:16pm, you make excellent points in… Read more »

DannyEastVillage
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DannyEastVillage

Since he’s so convinced of the “heavenly agenda” of the bible I wonder how he reads this:

http://www.evilbible.com/Murder.htm

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Charlotte:

I was simply surprised by the difficulty I had in following what Okoh was saying because so often it felt like his syntax and grammar were that of another language. It was like reading Amish dialect (or Yoda’s lines from Star Wars) without a voice to put the emphasis in the right places as an aid to understanding.

JCF
Guest
JCF

I just want to underscore the difference, as I see it, between diverse English usages, and REASON (as part of S,T & R 3-legged stool).

I see REASON in your response, Davis M-I. Not in the Archbishop’s. To that extent, being Nigerian in origin has nothing to do w/ it!

jeremy
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jeremy

Charlotte said, “Did you know that in William Caxton’s time it was perfectly acceptable to begin an English sentence with a conjunction?”

But it still is!

Father Ron Smith
Guest

And it will always remain so!

Old Father William
Guest
Old Father William

Charlotte, I love your comment. Before I became a priest, I taught Latin and English in secondary school, and I am painfully conscious of proper grammar, syntax, and usage. But (notice the “but” at the beginning)language does evolve, and we must accept it. Furthermore, as a musician friend says, you learn the rules so that you can break them. I break them in sermons all the time.

evensongjunkie
Guest
evensongjunkie

Charlotte: Ending a sentence with a conjunction? Where is that done at?

MarkBrunson
Guest

Charlotte, his views aside, I don’t think this is a matter of differing English usage. The man is simply incoherent. From his comments on what tolerant people say to justify supporting committed gay relationships, he clearly has no grasp of English usage (loving one another is not, by any usage, the same as “loving themselves” and “society rules by procreation” is simply baffling). I have encountered *no* Nigerians, whichever side of the debate they take, here or in day-to-day life, who express themselves with this level of . . . inelegance. I am quite happy to stand by the belief… Read more »

William
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William

I find the verbal abuse of a man on account of his dialect and culture appalling. Please be intelligent (and charitable) enough to stick to the facts of the argument.

Pat O'Neill
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Pat O'Neill

I’m not abusing the man, I’m trying figure out why his words are so difficult to parse. I’m perfectly willing to accept that this is a bad translation of an interview that took place in another language.

But, as Mark Brunson notes, if this is truly an accurate transcription of Okoh’s comments made originally in English, they are, indeed, incoherent.

Geoff
Guest

“I find the verbal abuse of a man on account of his dialect and culture appalling.” Funny, I didn’t realize “illiterate” was an English dialect. According to Wikipedia, Nigerian English is based based on British English with some features borrowed from American. Garble like “You don’t have a particular place where you will say the whole of this people are homosexuals we just have pockets” is none of the above, and trying to defend it as “cultural” is just PC-ness gone mad. In this wonderful century, bad English is in fact wholly egalitarian and transcends geographical bounds. His Grace, after… Read more »

Malcolm French+
Guest

Never use a preposition to end a sentence with.

It is something up with which I will not put.

(foregoing has been attributed to Sir Winston Churchill)

David Shepherd
Guest
David Shepherd

I find it strange that, in the Nigerian church’s press release that was reported on Wednesday http://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/archives/004947.html the contentious views were expressed with near-perfect English literacy.

I would suggest that the interview might have been a poor translation, but that would be defending the indefensible Archbishop Okoh.

Let’s be clear that he isn’t particularly representative of the sinister ‘penile/vaginal brigade’ that Adam and Eve founded by engaging in the wholly unnecessary act of ‘gender polarity’ that gave rise to little more than first murder in human history. Cynical, eh?

Bill Dilworth
Guest
Bill Dilworth

Please, asking what language a text was written in and whether (and by whom) it was translated is hardly abuse. English may be the official language of various African nations, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only one used, or that there isn’t a vernacular press. FWIW, I don’t think it is a translation. It’s not the most pelucid English I’ve ever read, but it’s a damn sight better than my Swahili, Nkole, or Luo (and, I dare say, that of many of the regular contributors). As a language teacher, I avoid the word “fluent” as much as possible most… Read more »

Bill Dilworth
Guest
Bill Dilworth

PIMF: Nigeria, not Uganda

D’oh!

Rob
Guest
Rob

It is likely that English is a second language for the good archbishop. The Wikipedia entry on languages of Nigeria is as follows: “The number of languages currently estimated and catalogued in Nigeria is 521. This number includes 510 living languages, two second languages without native speakers and 9 extinct languages. In some areas of Nigeria, ethnic groups speak more than one language. The official language of Nigeria, English, the former colonial language, was chosen to facilitate the cultural and linguistic unity of the country. The major languages spoken in Nigeria are Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, Fulfulde, Kanuri, Ibibio. Even though… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Rob:

As quoted in your comment, English “is widely used for education, business transactions and for official purposes”. Is it unreasonable to expect that a man in Okoh’s position…an educated man in holy orders…would speak that language in such a way as to be understood even by English speakers from outside Nigeria?

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

‘when we allow a sizeable member’

A man with a sense of humour cannot all bad be
can he ?

Rob
Guest
Rob

To Pat: No. Why? Could you not understand what he said?

As Bill Dilworth points to, it is his understanding of human ontology as it relates to sexuality that is rejected and objected to here with personal and petty slander.

And the people here advocate “the listening process?” Shameful.

Bill Dilworth
Guest
Bill Dilworth

” Is it unreasonable to expect that a man in Okoh’s position…an educated man in holy orders…would speak that language in such a way as to be understood even by English speakers from outside Nigeria?” Well, Pat, I understood what he was saying, and I’m from Texas. Maybe it’s not his English, after all. It was a Nigerian bishop speaking to a Nigerian journalist in a language neither one of them speaks as a mother tongue.. It’s not the official transcript of a speech or a press release — it wasn’t even written down and published by the bishop himself,… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Rob: There are entire sentences in Okoh’s words that make no sense to me–that I cannot parse as English as I understand it. An example: “You don’t have a particular place where you will say the whole of this people are homosexuals we just have pockets, in fact this is a kind of focal minority who are trying to turn the table against the majority and right now as I talk to you, the journalists, the lawmakers, in the UK, the politicians, the school authorities, the government, they are all in support.” Ignoring the mistranscription of “focal” for “vocal”, what… Read more »

David Shepherd
Guest
David Shepherd

Most of these comments are thinly veiled ‘argumentum ad hominem’ remarks. Even though, it would be far more worthy of Christ to challenge the views expressed, rather than denigrate the Archbishop’s English literacy. Paul, at least, had the self-searching spirituality needed to withdraw his retributive contempt towards Ananias, the ordained, yet morally reprehensible high priest (Acts 23:3 – 5). This was in spite of a valid charge of hypocrisy and Ananias’s probable complicity in the death of our Saviour. However, that takes ‘praus’, rather than spiritual pride. It’s all too easy to establish the rightness of a cause by worldly… Read more »

Bill Dilworth
Guest
Bill Dilworth

“You don’t have a particular place where you will say the whole of this people are homosexuals we just have pockets…” There’s no place where most of the population is gay; instead, there are smaller groups of gay people in a larger population. “…in fact this is a kind of focal minority who are trying to turn the table against the majority…” Ignoring the typo, the archbishop thinks we’re too darned vocal and that we want to dictate to the rest of society as if we were in charge. “…and right now as I talk to you, the journalists, the… Read more »

Geoff
Guest

“rejected and objected to here with personal and petty slander.” replace “with” with “as:” it seems rather disingenuous to speak calumny about others and then cry foul play when one is called out for doing so less than artfully. Those who are anxious to find hate speech under every rock might take a look at “the subtle racism of lowered expectations.” I’ve gone to school with undergrads from Africa, for many of whom English is at least a third language. The man who professes to lead the largest Anglican flock in the world can at least match them for clarity… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest

No. Still incoherent.

Sorry. I know you’re trying to do the liberal shuffle and defend the indefensible in the name of tolerance here, Bill, but the man is about as lucid as the Mad Hatter.

Unless he’s trying to convey that he is both delusional and paranoid.

Then, you’re still left with bizarre statements like “Society rules through procreation.”

I love it; Rob comes in, lobs the “racist” and “intolerant” grenades and there are still, after all this time, those who’ll run to surrender.

Gerry Lynch
Guest

I’m appalled both by the Archbishop’s homophobic comments and the disgraceful snobbery of many commenters here. Many upper-middle class white liberals who like to pat themselves on the back about how PC and anti-racist they are, actually mean they’re PC and anti-racist about people who have different skin colours but otherwise speak and act and think exactly as they do. If making fun of Archbishop Okoh’s use of English is the best challenge you are capable of making to homophobia in the Church of Nigeria, I suggest you shut up before you do the cause you claim to believe in… Read more »

Rob
Guest
Rob

Actually Mark, I called out the hypocrisy of not listening. That you heard racist and intolerant is very telling though.

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Gerry:

But your English–as displayed here–is completely “standard” to my eyes. It has the syntax, grammar and punctuation I expect to see from one who uses the language on a daily basis. Yes, when you speak it, you might have a “dialect” (hell, so do I–I was born and raised in New York City), but I bet that doesn’t change the syntax, grammar and punctuation.

What I was questioning was not the archbishop’s vocal dialect, but the fact that his sentence structure seems not to have anything in common with what I recognize as standard English.