Skip to comments.Martyn Minns: A letter to the Truro parish family
Posted on 03/05/2006 5:40:28 PM PST by sionnsar
A number of you have asked about the editorial Gospel of Intolerance that appeared in the Washington Post last Sunday, February 26. It was written by John Chane, Bishop of Washington, and was a very pointed attack on the Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Archbishop Akinola, and, by implication, those in this country who align themselves with him.
While there are a number of related points raised in the editorial the underlying issue is the proposed legislation in Nigeria with regard to Same-Sex Marriage. If enacted, this legislation would include the possibility of a jail sentence for those who either participate in or promote same-sex marriages. Not unexpectedly, Bishop Chane has responded in a very negative manner. He concludes his editorial by demanding to know the mind of the archbishops many high-profile supporters in this country with regard to this situation. While I am not sure that I would qualify for such a list I am more than willing to share my views.
I do NOT believe that criminalization is an appropriate response to those who understand themselves to be homosexuals. Resolution 1.10 from the Lambeth Conference in 1998 is a good summary of my convictions on this contentious issue. While I reject homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture and sinful, I do believe that we are to minister pastorally and sensitively to all persons irrespective of their sexual orientation. Having said this I am very much aware that even in the Commonwealth of Virginia there are still laws that deal with various Crimes against Nature and in particular homosexual practice and adultery. The continued existence of these laws is a reflection of our own societys struggle to find a way to support and protect heterosexual marriage while at the same time acknowledging the human rights of all persons.
The situation in Nigeria is even more complex. There is a precarious balancing act between those regions that are under Muslim influence where Sharia law calls for the stoning of homosexuals and those that have a majority Christian population. The situation is volatile as demonstrated by the repercussions from the Danish cartoon saga that have already led to hundreds of Christian and Muslim deaths. Keeping the lid on this situation is a formidable task. In recent months homosexual activism sponsored in part by organizations from the UK and South Africa has threatened to add further instability. In response the President of Nigeria has proposed legislation that would restrict such activities.
While I find some of the language of the proposed Nigerian law too harsh and unacceptable in our context, sadly there are many other situations that I find even more unacceptable. For example, in Saudi Arabia there are death penalties for women convicted of adultery or for any citizen who converts to Christianity. I suspect that all of us could add to the list of laws that we would deem deplorable the good news is that in the United States we have the freedom not only to deplore them but to change them. Many in other countries are not permitted either choice.
What about Archbishop Akinola? What are his views? As far as I know Bishop Chane has never attempted to contact him to find out. Archbishop Akinola has not spoken publicly on the proposed legislation and has not thrown his prestige and resources behind the new law, as Chane insinuates. He is presently working overtime to lower the religious and ethnic tensions in Nigeria and to care for those who have been traumatized in the recent strife. He is not seeking to victimize or diminish anyone. He is primarily an evangelist and a pastor whose desire is to see all people come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. His opposition to ECUSAs repudiation of traditional Biblical teaching on human sexuality is a matter of record and a viewpoint that is supported by the vast majority of Christendom. However, the idea that he is looking to establish a purified communion bankrolled by cabal of conservatives in the USA has no basis whatsoever and is surely the product of an overheated episcopal imagination.
We are passing through trying times in our church. My hope is that we can continue to maintain respect for one another in the midst of our differences. In that regard Bishop Chanes ad hominem attack is not a helpful contribution.
This coming Sunday, March 5, I will be holding a regular Rectors Forum at 10:15am in the Truro Chapel and will be more than willing to answer any further questions on this or any other matter of concern.
Your brother in Christ,
Martyn Minns, Rector
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