Bishop Joseph Abura’s article encapsulates thinking and theology which helps us see with clarity the ignorance and prejudice which is destroying the Anglican Communion under the pretext of defeating liberalism and homosexuality.
We are confronted by a ruthless and destructive campaign being waged by sectors of our Communion who initially came together under the title Global South and issued the Kuala Lumpur Statement in 1987. This provided the foundation for an assault at Lambeth 1998 which developed into a campaign against churches which have been or are developing a culture of respect for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
The fault lines revealed by Bishop Abura are far more fundamental to the future of our Communion. Bishop Abura’s theology and teaching about the nature of creation and humanity is unrecognizable to me as Christian. It is certainly not a theology I share. I suspect most western Christians think it is infantile and barbaric.
Theology of humanity and the fall
The bishop deplores the fact that humanity “has or is nearing extinction just like the time of Noah and the flood.” He believes that “humans have (a) natural evil bent.” He believes this is fundamental because he repeats it twice more: “They are bent to evil by nature…”; “…the fallen man who has natural evil bent.”
What happened to the good that God saw in creating the world? What happened to the resurrection, the victory of the cross and the triumph of good over evil? Is homosexuality to blame for the destruction of the world? Bishop Abura is a faithless Christian, believing that evil is about to triumph over good.
In history, the bishop says, people “believed the Word to the letter, walked by faith and not by feelings or sight. The results were that God honored; gave them wisdom, intelligence and wealth.” The bishop reveals his lack of historical awareness – it is untrue that Christians have always believed the Word to the letter and untrue that walking by faith does not also entail engaging emotions and sight in the process. He also seems committed to a gospel of wealth rather than poverty.
He believes that people “fell prey of the devil who found access into their solitary lives” and were “inhumane, looking at own self, own feelings, and not the feelings of others.”
It is a characteristic of adherents of the Global South/Gafcon/FoCA coalition to claim that people in other parts of the Communion live by their feelings rather than the ‘plain word of Scripture’. At the same time they fail to respect the feelings of others. The coalition doesn’t understand, acknowledge or respect the feelings of LGBT Christians in the Communion, and not only in the west but in their own Provinces and congregations.
The bishop says that gays and their sympathizers “tend to make a big deal of our own feelings and our own fulfillments.”
Our feelings are a gift from God, the essence of what makes us human. Any person who has no feelings or disengages from his or her feelings diminishes their God-given self and becomes a potential danger to others, suppressing feelings and unable to empathise. Lack of empathy results in abuse of other people and the ability to project blame and guilt onto faceless others across the Communion. This, for me, is where sin is truly at work.
Teaching about homosexuality as sickness and disease
The bishop believes that homosexuality (gayism as he calls it) is a sickness, a disease, which can be fought like any other disease and should have antidotes to correct it. There should be a search for drugs or vaccines to treat and prevent it and “to eliminate such anti-human behavior.” This is terrifying, both because of the bishop’s ignorance and the prejudice he displays, and because he has no awareness of the Nazi regime and the direction taken by people and regimes which think in this way.
Further terrifying dangers are set loose by this kind of thinking – the danger of thinking that a cure can be found for homosexuality which could be used to eradicate all lesbian and gay people from the world.
Homosexuality in Africa
The bishop also believes that this “infectious disease” has its origins in the West but is less prevalent in Africa. Homosexuality and lesbianism is now being exported to the rest of the world, to Africa and Latin America, he claims. If Africans are homosexual it is because they have contracted it from the West or from acquaintance with people who have it. He repeats that “it is infectious and it can be fought and defeated.” Homosexuality must be kept away from children, who are “are ignorant of the vice. He thinks that gays and their sympathizers want to appeal to the psyche of children, to their consciousness that they be infected too.” He claims that “our ancestors didn’t know it, we do not know it, our children must not know it.”
Bishop Abura, you may not be aware of the published research about same-sex attraction in Africa, but the evidence is there, and the terms for same-sex activity are there in African languages. Lesbian and gay people are there in Africa, people who have never met another gay person. It is natural and innate for a minority of the population of our world. Conservatives dispute this, of course, allowing the bishop to develop his prejudiced thinking.
Theology of judgment
The bishop believes judgment is coming upon the world because of homosexuality, and the world then has to be punished. Persecution of the church is on the loose. The powers and world forces of wickedness are now in real play. Christianity indeed is under attack; attack from within herself and by her very own. The bishop presents a doomsday scenario in which Armageddon is about to erupt. However, the Ugandan parliament will soon pass a motion to check its growth.
The bishop’s thinking is encouraged by western supporters of the Global South, members of GAFCON and FoCA, suppliers of falsehood and prejudice. They are responsible for cultivating a Christian theology which far from standing firm to the truth in the mainstream of Christian theology, teaching and practice is ignorant, prejudiced, and lethal – lethal to the health, well-being and freedom from persecution of LGBT people and lethal to the health and well being of the Anglican Christian community.
Anglican leaders are failing their call from God to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God if they do not speak out and denounce this Bill, both for the protection of LGBT people and for the health of our Christian life and witness.