The Watcher Cat

The Watcher Cat

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Company One Keeps

Many self-styled reasserters who hold to traditional church teaching on the subject of same-sex marriage (and indeed relationships generally) feel unfairly branded as "homophobic" by us "reappraisers." They argue that what is often decried as prejudice in fact reflects fidelity to scripture and tradition.

Well, I can see that if you are a believer in a certain vision of scriptural authority, that position would seem right. And I don't doubt that this position compels many who are acting in good faith, and yet who strive to be pastoral toward gays and lesbians--I've previously commended Peter Ould's more irenic writings, to take one example.

But there is a vehemence, and a nasty edge to many prominent reasserters in their denunciation of homosexuality, as well as in their willingness to go beyond ecclesial and moral positioning and support bigots who advocate secular persecution of gays and those who care for them. Even Andrew Goddard, in 2007, acknowledged discomfort with the anti-gay atmosphere he has sometimes encountered.

To take an extreme but sigificant example: CANA, "a mission of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican)." Founded by Archbishop of All Nigeria Peter Akinola, and his "missionary bishop" Martyn Minns. Akinola's personal homophobia has been documented by himself: "The way he tells the story, the first and only time Archbishop Peter J. Akinola knowingly shook a gay person’s hand, he sprang backward the moment he realized what he had done."

This prejudice has been elevated into Anglican Communion politics by the Report on the Listening Process submitted by the Church of Nigeria as part of the Windsor Process. The Nigerian "listening" consisted mostly of decrying the people they were supposed to have been listening to, and urging their impisonment:
The Primate of all Nigeria has said “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.

In Nigeria the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act 2006 is passing through the legislature. The House of Bishops has supported it because we understand that it is designed to strengthen traditional marriage and family life and to prevent wholesale importation of currently damaging Western values. It bans same sex unions, all homosexual acts and the formation of any gay groups. The Standing Committee of the Church of Nigeria has twice commended the act in their Message to the Nation.
Minns, by the way, when he was trying to convince his flock to depart TEC, denied a report that Akinola is "an advocate of jailing gays", which he described as "not true." The Nigerian Listening Process Report belied Minns' words after he made the statement; prior to Minns' statement, Akinola had released a similar statement himself.

This was brought back to mind for me today when I saw over at Thinking Anglicans Abp. Akinola's latest paean of praise, in which his own "Diocesan Communicator" lauds him with a level of adulation that is rather startling:
Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, but anyone who does not think that Akinola’s primacy is a resounding success will have an uphill task for a better comparison, as the Church has never had it so good. In fact, Archbishop Akinola has succeeded in putting the Primacy of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) at a level that will take a very long time to equal nationally, regionally and globally. By the foregone indications, he has immensely endowed the future generation of Anglicans in many unprecedented ways.
Perhaps the best we can do is pray for a worthy successor who will be humble enough to continue the good work already started by building on the foundation already laid. Such a successor will, of course, have to identify those areas of the vision that call for a general review, taking cognisance of today’s peculiarities and faithfully implementing them so as to take the church to the next level.

As always, Father Jake has more.

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