Wednesday, March 25, 2009

An Under-Explored Angle of the Anglican Sex Fights

I have written earlier about how it is extremely ignorant to portray the current ideological divisions within Episcopal Church, USA (ECUSA) and within the worldwide Anglican Communion as only or even primarily about homosexuality.

That being said, Faith J. H. McDonnell of IRD has a striking article in a recent issue of World magazine on "How sexual politics in the Episcopal Church affects churches in Africa."

Some highlights:

"What [a Sudanese former "Lost Boy"] did not know was that in the U.S. Episcopal Church, affirming one's sexual orientation is as much a justice and human-rights issue as genocide."

"In fact, one church's human-rights issue is creating another church's human-rights crisis. "

"Islamists had slaughtered thousands of Christians in [Bishop Josiah] Idowu-Fearon's diocese, and Christians in Nigeria are willing to die for their faith, he said. But to be undermined by Western abandonment of biblical authority is a crushing blow. "

Sudanese Anglican Archbishop Daniel "Deng Bul said Christians in Sudan 'are called infidels by the Islamic world when they hear our brothers and sisters from the Christian world talking about same-sex [relationships] to be blessed.' When Muslims link the churches in Sudan with the churches that have left biblical teaching on homosexuality, this gives them a way to say that Christians are evil: 'It will give them the upper hand to kill our people,' the archbishop warned. "

Read the whole article here.

It is probably beyond the scope of this one post to once and for all decide the important fundamental issue of whether or not there is anything inherently wrong with homosexual practice.

And of course, the realities of violence and threats of violence do not, in and of themselves, mean that the theologically liberal faction is necessarily wrong on that question. However, advocates of liberalization of sexual-ethics standards in the Anglican Communion (and for that matter, in other church bodies) can ill afford to ignore the sorts of questions raised by McDonnell's article simply because they are difficult--at least so long as such advocates value credibility as crusaders of a righteous defense of persecuted minorities.

Such questions as: Is it fair to suggest that ECUSA's leadership regards GLBT causes as no less important than that of opposing genocide? Why should it? Can ECUSA liberals offer a better response in words to the points raised by Idowu-Fearon, Deng Bul, et al other than simply ignoring these points completely or offering dismissive one-liners--either of which makes ECUSA liberals appear callously unconcerned with the extreme suffering of so many of their fellow Anglicans? What about in actions? While ECUSA GLBT advocates may not have directly committed or promoted these acts of violence against African Anglicans, what have these relatively comfortable, wealthy Westerners done thus far to alleviate any such indirect effects that may come about as a result of their actions?

In light of the above, a number of traditionalist Anglicans (within and without ECUSA) see a striking disconnect between liberal ECUSA rhetoric of bravely enduring strong persecution for the sake of a righteous cause while liberal Episcopalians in fact are generally among the top end of the world's richest 10% and free of any sort of physical violence for their stand, and the suffering, including serious threats to life and limb, that their actions impose (albeit indirectly) on African Anglicans--who, BTW are generally not among the world's richest 10%. Does this narrative have enough merit to warrant a shift in rhetoric on the part of theologically liberal Anglicans?


John said...

Of course, none of my post is intended to ignore the reality of pain experienced by members of the gay community in America--or for that matter, the pain caused by the unlovingly strident treatment that GLBT advocates often offer to those outside their "camp." But anything giving some "the upper hand to kill our people" is deadly serious, far too much so to leave unaddressed.

4simpsons said...

The Episcopals are on the wrong side of the issue. They are mocking God 24x7. But even IF they were right, consider where they spend their time: Trying to get oxymoronic "same sex marriage" rights for 2% of the populaton, most of whom don't even want to exercise those rights. These people can live with whomever they like. Just because the gov't doesn't formally recognize the unions doesn't mean the people are persecuted. Yet the church cares more for promoting this sinful behavior than preventing real, live persecution.