Church of Uganda on “Anti-Homosexuality Bill”

Henry Orombi, Archbishop of UgandaHere’s yesterday’s statement in all its glory, with comment underneath.

The Church of Uganda is studying the proposed “Anti-homosexuality bill” and, therefore, does not yet have an official position on the bill. In the meantime, we can restate our position on a number of related issues.

  1. Our deepest conviction as the Church of Uganda is that, in Christ, people and their sexual desires are redeemed, and restored to God’s original intent. Repentance and obedience to Scripture are the gateway to the redemption of marriage and family and the transformation of society. (Position Paper on Scripture, Authority, and Human Sexuality, May 2005)
  2. The House of Bishops resolved in August 2008 that “The Church of Uganda is committed at all levels to offer counseling, healing and prayer for people with homosexual disorientation, especially in our schools and other institutions of learning. The Church is a safe place for individuals, who are confused about their sexuality or struggling with sexual brokenness, to seek help and healing.”
  3. The Church of Uganda upholds the sanctity of life and cannot support the death penalty.
  4. In April 2009, Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi said, “I am appalled to learn that the rumours we have heard for a long time about homosexual recruiting in our schools and amongst our youth are true. I am even more concerned that the practice is more widespread than we originally thought.  It is the duty of the church and the government to be watchmen on the wall and to warn and protect our people from harmful and deceitful agendas.”
  5. “Homosexual practice is incompatible with Scripture.” (Resolution of the 1998 Lambeth Conference of Bishops.)  Homosexual behaviour is immoral and should not be promoted, supported, or condoned in any way as an “alternative lifestyle.”  This position has been repeatedly reaffirmed by the House of Bishops and the Provincial Assembly of the Church of Uganda.
  6. We cannot support the blessing of same-sex unions or the ordination of homosexuals (Resolution of the 1998 Lambeth Conference of Bishops), and we will oppose efforts to import such practices into Uganda.  Again, this position has been repeatedly reaffirmed by the House of Bishops and the Provincial Assembly of the Church of Uganda.

OK, some quick thoughts.

  • Sections 5 and 6 are brilliant and act to utterly undermine the open letter that Changing Attitude have tried to circulate which picks and chooses from Lambeth ’98 1:10. It would have been better though for section 5 to have been expanded to an explicit commitment to all clauses in Lambeth ’98 1:10, because the same accusation of cherry-picking can be levelled against the Church of Uganda.
  • It would have been good if section 3 had been expanded to clearly condemn the death penalty in this specific act.
  • Section 4 is completely unnecessary and comes across as smacking of homophobia by making a link between homosexuality and paedo/ebophilia. I don’t think that’s what the statement intends to say, but that’s how many in the West will read it. The Church of Uganda needs to learn how language like this is interpreted in the West as much as the West needs to let the particular cultural context of East Africa be allowed to express orthodox Christian morals.

Finally, Changing Attitude are now on the defensive on this issue as is clearly demonstrated by the publishing of insubstantial accusations that the Church of Uganda has done a U-turn on this Bill and is guilty of hypocrisy. These accusations insinuate that the Church of Uganda is lying about not having arrived yet at an official position, and that somehow the fact that the Church was involved in consultation with the drafters of the Bill means they have only now dropped support for the death penalty, but provides absolutely no proof of the veracity of the allegation, just the use of hyperbole like “murderous”. Unless Changing Attitude can prove definitively that the Church of Uganda supported the death sentence and has now back-tracked it is treading on dangerous ground.

None of this changes the fact that the Bill in its current form is an absolutely travesty of the Christian witness and morality it seeks to misguidedly defend, but now that the revisionists are using it to beat up on the Church of Uganda, much of their moral case will evaporate very quickly unless they can substantiate their claims.

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