Thursday, February 22, 2007

Passage Imminent II

Continues previous post.

Different country, different province, different Primate, same logical gap. From The New Vision (Uganda):
Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi refused Holy Communion while at the Anglican Communion Primates Summit in Tanzania over the issue of homosexuality.

He also reiterated his stance that the Church of Uganda cannot accept homosexuality because it contravenes the Bible and African culture.
Here, what I am particularly worried by is the idea that homosexuality is in contravention to African culture. There are a great many things that are African, and a great many things that aren't. But if there are, in fact, homosexual persons living in Africa who are African, can one really say that homosexuality is alien to the continent? Perhaps more importantly, can one really rule out the presence of homosexual behavior in Africa in the pre-colonial/imperial era?

The "unAfrican" argument is made ad nauseum in Nigeria in support of their anti-gay-civil-rights legislation. But if there are Nigerians (who last I checked are African) who disagree, and believe that homosexuality is not alien to African culture, shouldn't their voices be heard, even if they are in the minority?

The problem with the proposed legislation is not that it draws a line in the sand against gay marriage (hey! we're having that debate here in the US) but that it forces silence with prison sentences on those who quietly and peacefully disagree.

UPDATE February 23, 4:02 AM. Orombi's actions at the Primate's meeting in Tanzania run the risk of setting a counterproductive and bad example for how those who hold homosexuality to be sinful should behave in the face of disagreement. His refusal to take Communion -- while understandable in the context of a protest on his part -- signals to his flock that bread is not to be broken with one's spiritual enemies.

I am reminded of Matthew 9:
While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?" On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
Does Jesus approve of the behavior of these tax collectors and "sinners"? No. But does he refuse to eat with them, even though many might not be in repentance? Also no.

Orombi is setting himself up in the position of the Pharisees, providing those in the Province of Uganda who are antagonistic to homosexuality a rationale to refuse far more basic human kindnesses than the shared sacrament of Communion to their gay and lesbian Ugandan brothers and sisters.

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