CA England engages with Archbishop Peter Akinola’s arguments

On 15 October 2006, His Grace the Most Reverend Peter Jasper Akinola, the Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, spoke at a special thanksgiving service organized in his honour in Abuja by a Christian group known as the Fellowship Christian Patriots (FCP). The Archbishop was being honoured for emerging as one of the 100 most influential personalities of the world by Time Magazine.

In a citation read on the Primate’s life by Archbishop Joseph Akinfenwa, Akinola was described as a man of peace and dogged spirit who rose from a humble beginning to emerge as a leading exponent of God’s word in this part of the world. He said the Primate has risen to become an epitome of religious renaissance in the Anglican Communion, especially in leading the resistance against homosexualism and marriage of same sex.

Speaking at the service, the Archbishop said the time had come for Africans to stand up against the scourge of corruption and immorality in society no matter who is behind it. He said the Church in Nigeria and indeed Africa had taken up the gauntlet to fight against homosexualism, lesbianism and same sex marriage.

These social vices are evil as far as the church is concerned and are alien to our culture, he said. He regretted that the stand of African Christians against these new wave of afflictions has come up against the weighty and influential western leaders who saw it as another means of exercising their monetary and political power. “We are not concerned about power or riches, our major concern is upholding the integrity and sanctity of the word of God”, he said. He noted that the reason recognition and attention has been given to him is due to his stand against western control and manipulation of the church.

“The real reason is that the leaders of the Christian faith in the western world have come to realize that Africans can no longer be put under spiritual slavery. “The Europeans who knew nothing about African origin and background had been trying to impose things on us. “We have been through physical slavery, we have been through economic slavery, political slavery and now spiritual slavery”, he said.

The Archbishop said the latest attempt to bring immoral practices into the Anglican Church by some western countries is bound to crumble. He said our western brothers appeared about to reason with us in this struggle. “They are beginning to say, let’s look at their points of argument, may be these people are right”.

Lesbian and gay people are healthy and holy

Changing Attitude England disagrees with Archbishop Akinola’s understanding of homosexuality as a social vice which is evil. Lesbian and gay people have demonstrated that despite the social opprobrium heaped against us and the difficulty of living open and honest lives in cultures of prejudice and taboo, lesbian and gay individuals are as emotionally and psychologically and spiritually healthy as heterosexuals.

Homosexuality not alien to African culture

His statement that ‘homosexualism’, as he names it, is alien to Nigerian or African culture is clearly wrong. The Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, now recognises that there are gay and lesbian members of the Church. There is substantial evidence that homosexual activity and attraction is common and has often been treated as natural in many African societies. [1]

Power and wealth

Changing Attitude England would like to ask the Archbishop which weighty and influential western leaders are using the church debate about homosexuality as another means of exercising their monetary and political power. We are not aware that any UK bishops have acted in this way and would not agree with any who did act in such a way.

Reports from friends in Nigeria suggest that the Archbishop is not as disinterested in power or wealth as he maintains. English bishops and archbishops live on stipends agreed by the Church Commissioners and expenses paid in addition to stipends are open to public inspection. English bishops demonstrably are not concerned about power or wealth.

Welcome to Archbishop Akinola’s engagement

We welcome the Archbishops determination to continue to engage with the issue of homosexuality in the Anglican Communion and within Africa. He is repeatedly keeping the issue on the agenda of the Church and in the public domain. While Changing Attitude England and Archbishop Peter Akinola clearly have very different ideas about the nature of homosexuality and the desired outcome of the present process, we remain members of the same Church under God. We are all of us, English and Nigeria, white and black, holy people called by God into working for the coming of the Kingdom. We honour and respect those whose beliefs are radically different from ours.

We have learnt from experience that as individuals engage with the real, lived experience of LGBT people, they are changed. We are not evil, alien, immoral, a social vice. We are not a cause of corruption in the Church. We are not imposing spiritual slavery on the Church.

We are seeking after truth and love, sinners together with Archbishop Akinola, people redeemed by our Holy God, like Archbishop Akinola. We are one in the Church of God and one in the sight of God.

[1] Anthropologists Murray and Roscoe report that women in Lesotho have engaged in socially sanctioned “long term, erotic relationships” named motsoalle.

E. E. Evans-Pritchard reported that male Azande warriors (in the northern Congo) routinely married male youths who functioned as temporary wives. The practice had died out in the early 20th century but was recounted to him by the elders.

An academic paper by Stephen O. Murray examines the history of descriptions of “Homosexuality in traditional Sub-Saharan Africa” PDF.

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