Exodus and Uganda
Some of you reading will now instantly what the title is referring to and some won’t. Needless to say, I’m not going to elaborate except to put on public record that I think Karen K has handled this issue very well.
Listen Well, Communicate Well.
Despite requests for clarification for almost two weeks, Exodus has not publicly responded to concerns about the conference. Exodus VP, Randy Thomas alludes to this silence in a recent blog post. An organization like Exodus is constantly getting flack from the gay community simply for existing; they cannot be expected to respond to every negative reaction. At the same time, the concerns about this conference are very legitimate. Not only is the gay community concerned, but also members of the ex-gay community. The criminalization of homosexuality and forced therapy are serious issues. To be silent at a time like this is not prudent.
Many ex-gay leaders are on the defensive because our ministries are so often misunderstood, but this interferes with the ability to be receptive to feedback. In the past when I have expressed concerns to certain ex-gay leaders, I received responses like, “Don’t believe everything you read on Ex-Gay Watch.” In other words, I don’t have a mind of my own. I’m just being brainwashed by gay activists. Sincerely listening to others is common courtesy. Responding to people is respectful. This is about basic communication skills. Ignoring people is not considerate. Nor is it good PR.
If Exodus is not ready to make a position statement at this time, perhaps they might consider saying: “Hey, we’ve heard your concerns, we are taking them seriously and we want to spend some time thinking and praying through them before we give an official response. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.”
Before you ask, that’s my last word on the issue.
Peter – I agree Karen nailed it, but I hope this isn’t your last word on Uganda and the situation there exacerbated by this recent conference.
The church there was already primed to go harder toward stricter criminalization and compulsory therapy but now they have been emboldened by the Americans. I would like to see Exodus come out with a strongly worded statement acknowledgingÂ that it was mistakeÂ for their board member toÂ participate in this conference with people who are fringe here and who call for policies which ExodusÂ denounces.Â
I hope we all have many more words to speak about this.Â
How could they make such an elementary mistake like this?
Have they learned nothing at all?
I, too, hope this isn’t your last word.
With regard to Warren’s comment on the ‘fringe’… I would suspect that what you have in Uganda today, unfortunately, are both fringes, and little in the way of ‘moderation, or what we here call ‘Side B’.Â One of the ways to change this is not by ignoring or running away from the fringes, but changing them from within, which is precisely what Karen is talking about. Exodus should make its statements, but in such a way that does not preclude itself from participation.
Another thing to keep in mind is that for many in places like Uganda, homosexuality is viewed as the height of sexual immorality. All the shame they have over their own sexual brokenness they project on those they think are even worse than themselves. By standing up so strongly against homosexuality, they are in a sense protesting against not only against ‘the homosexuals’, but also themselves. They are, in a sense, trying to cleanse themselves. It is a psychological aspect that should be considered in the pastoral approach.
Now that you have (in a roundabout way) signalled your disapproval of Exodus for participating in the Uganda conference, can we expect a denunciation of Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, who has lent his support to a bill that would make gay marriage (and being a witness to a gay marriage ceremony) punishable by up to five years in prison?
Perhaps it would be good if you could link to a copy of the Bill in question, rather than just the CoN’s response to it.
FWIW, I think there’s a great deal of difference between supporting a Bill to outlaw a particular activity and one which seeks to make an emotion or affection illegal.
The bill won’t tell you much more than the C of N’s response, which goes even further by inflating it with hysterical claims of a “social holocaust”, a threat to procreation and a rise in male prostitution as a result of gay marriage.
So… how about “You can believe in Christianity if you like, but we’ll make your religious services illegal?”
Not so easy to distinguish between “behaviour” and “orientation” as some conservatives would have us think.
I’m more than happy to defy such a law and let them cart me off to prison.
What’s your point?
My point is this: Since you’ve taken the time to signal your disapproval of Exodus for implicitly supporting a regime that persecutes homosexuals, will you also comment on the appalling homophobia of Archbishop Akinola and the Church of Nigeria in supporting a regime that criminalizes homosexuality in this manner? It’s not hard to see that the two situations invite comparison, although Akinola’s words and actions are far more severe than those of Exodus.
As Karen wrote, “To be silent at a time like this is not prudent.”
Since youâ€™ve taken the time to signal your disapproval of Exodus for implicitly supporting a regime that persecutes homosexuals,
I’m not sure that’s what I’ve done. I think you need to read carefully (yet again) what I have and haven’t said.
Oops, html doesn’t seem to work. WYSIWYG editor isn’t working properly for me either.
Yes, I admit what you’ve written here is very vague, and falls short of my description – I thought I was being rather generous, if anything. However, what you wrote to me privately was not ambiguous (go back and check your DMs on Twitter, and you’ll see what you said).
Did you read the Akinola/CoN document? It was appalling. He predicts “complete annihilation” if Nigeria accepts same-sex unions, he clearly calls for a theocracy (since human rights are secondary to running the country according to biblical law), he makes the illogical argument that gay marriage will threaten procreation and endanger human existence, resulting in human extinction, he declares his desire to outlaw gay churches, fellowships and clubs, he makes the offensive claim that same-sex marriage will result in male prostitution, and finally he supports imprisonment for same-sex partners and anyone who supports them (we already know homosexuality itself is illegal and is severely punished).
Do you have nothing to say on this, and do you not think being silent is akin to Exodus being silent on the Uganda issue?
Peter: so do you think it is legitimate to imprison people for five years for entering into a same-sex marriage? And to imprison the witnesses and officiant for three years? You’ve said that if a law prohibited religious services then you’d defy it, but that’s not the same thing as saying that it would be legitimate for a government to pass such a law. (Unless you’re going to say that the prohibition on Christian worship in Saudi Arabia, say, is legitimate.)
I’m assuming you don’t actually agree with the proposed legislation. The question is whether you think a government can legitimately pass a law of that nature, whether or not one happens to agree with it.
Also, do you have any concerns about ++Akinola’s overall theological approach here? Quite apart from his inflammatory language, and the fact this is supporting legislation which I would say is illegitimate and repressive – and indeed calling for it be made even harsher as regards the couples themselves – the document is very unsatisfactory from a theological point of view: confusing the kingdoms, mixing law and gospel, and so on.
Out of interest, has ++Akinola ever called for the imprisonment of those who engage in heterosexual sex outside marriage? How about Sabbath-breakers? Just wanting to establish how selective he is in seeking to apply OT law directly to modern civil society.
My comment crossed with Dave’s latest. I think he summarises the concerns well:
1. the hysterical tone of ++Akinola’s diatribe;
2. his support for imprisoning those involved in same-sex unions; and
3. the theocratic assumptions which underpin ++Akinola’s argument.
John (and David indirectly),
Firstly, I’m learning at the moment to take some time in reflecting upon what is said to me before I respond. My apologies if you don’t think I’m responding fast enough but I want to consider carefully how to answer you, not so I can evade the issues but rather so that I can work out exactly what I feel.
Nigeria – There are two issues here, firstly the Bill itself and secondly the position paper of the Church of Nigeria. As regards the Bill, I simply can’t see a problem with it. The Legislature of Nigeria is simply taking a stance on a particular social arrangement that it views as inessential and counter-productive to the welfare of the Nigerian State. If you compare such legislation to say an anti-bigamy or anti-polygamy law (though of course in that second case in Nigeria it gets complicated) I really can’t see the problem.
Now, if you ask me, I think there’s little point in having a law prohibiting same-sex marriage if same-sex activity is already illegal in Nigeria. One would think that the former implied the latter. There is though an issue of brining western cultural assumptions to bear on Nigeria which misunderstand the environment in which this law is being framed.
I know that such a position isn’t going to satisfy you guys, but there it is.
Akinola’s position paper is another matter. There are some things in it which I have no problem with. For example, it says, “Any society or nation that approves same sex union as an acceptable life style is in an advanced stage of corruption or moral decay”. If I’m brutally honest, I think that’s a pretty acceptable conservative position. I happen to think that most Western nations have become so ungodly that things like this are an indication of how far we have drifted from God’s design for our communal lives. Do note that that’s an entirely different argument from saying whether I think we should have civil unions. As far as I’m concerned, if the legislature of a country wants to so such a thing then get on with it. I would rather not have them (hence my comments above), but I’m not as naive as some of my colleagues who think that can still stem the tide of social liberalism by standing at street corners with placards. From my perspective the culture war is already lost in Western Europe.
That’s not my all though on the Nigeria piece, because there is still a lot that is wrong about it. For example, following straight after the sentence I cite above is another that is just plainly ridiculous. I think it is stupid (and unBiblical) to think that God is going to smite Nigeria if it allows same-sex marriage. For a start, he hasn’t done that kind of thing for thousands of years and secondly, I think Nigeria has much bigger problems with sin than same-sex activity. The fraud and abuse of power in Nigeria is indefensible and that is something that Akinola should be addressing.
Section g on male prostitution is just nonsense and demonstrates the worse kind of “come out and you’ll just sleep around” diatribe that I still hear my colleagues issue even when I tell them it’s simply not true.Â It’s representative of a theological approach that simply hasn’t engaged with the reality of the lives of many gay and lesbian Christians. I don’t think at this point I’m asking Akinola to endorse pro-gay theology, I’m simply asking him to not lower his argumentation to a level that is beneath him (and others).
I read the statement as that coming from a national church that has seen the effects of liberalism on the west and is determined for that not to happen in Nigeria. Some bits are good, some bits naive and some bits just down-right offensive. The Church of Nigeria has much yet to learn about homosexuality and in particular how to offer effective pastoring to those who experience same-sex attraction. At the same time, it is determined to, in its own way, hold onto “the faith once delivered” that was handed to it 150 years ago and to which it sees a large portion of the western church now selling out to.