There’s a statement out from the Primate of Sudan said to be representing the views of 150 bishops from 17 provinces commending that Gene Robinson “should just go away from the Anglican world and be a normal Christian”.
This is not really news. (Except, of course, the revelation that Anglicans are not normal Christians…)
I’ll remark on what are the two most important parts of it from my read.
- The real key quote: “Asked whether there were homosexuals in Sudan, Deng said, ‘They have not come to the surface, so no, I don’t think we have them.'” It’s one thing to look at homosexuality as it currently is lived out in the Western world, to analyze it as we analyze other behaviors, and to come to the conclusion that the Bible, Church tradition, and reasoned evidence in light of scientific and spiritual truths leads one to believe that Christianity does not and cannot sanction it. It’s another entirely to reject a thing without having a grasp on it. This statement shows that Archbishop Deng is speaking from a paradigm that fundamentally does not intersect the North American situation. (And I’d wager a great deal we do exactly the same when we shoot off our mouths about polygamy…)
- Some interviewer asked if conservative Americans were behind the statement; the archbishop denied it. Based on the people and clergy that I have personally known from the Global South… Actually, back up… From the African people and clergy I have personally known, all of them have been vehemently opposed to homosexuality. I do believe some Westerners are of the opinion that conservative Americans are driving African and other Global South bishops to say something that they wouldn’t ordinarily say. And I think that’s false. I think the Africans would be saying this even if there were no conservative American party. As we all know, however, there is and they are stirring things up in the sense that their support emboldens primates like Archbishop Deng and others to say what they believe with reduced fear of reprisals, financial and otherwise.
One third point…: Along the lines of the first question, I wish a reporter had asked if there were any divorced people in the Sudan and what the Archbishop’s opinion might be of them as parishioners or clergy…
I think it’s important to include this. These fuirther statments found at Anglican Mainstream give us a bit of background for the archbishop’s paradigm and some of the issues that make this whole situation harder:
“This issue of homosexuality in the Anglican Communion has a very serious effect in my country. We are called ‘infidels’ by the Moslems. That means that they will do whatever they can against us to keep us from damaging the people of our country. They challenge our people to convert to Islam and leave the infidel Anglican Church. When our people refuse, sometimes they are killed. These people are very evil and mutilate and harm our people. I am begging the Communion on this issue so no more of my people will be killed.
“My people have been suffering for 21 years of war. Their only hope is in the Church. It is the center of life of my people. No matter what problem we have, no material goods, no health supplies or medicine; no jobs or income; no availability of food. The inflation rate makes our money almost worthless and we have done this for 21 years. The Church is the center of our life together.
“The culture does not change the Bible; the Bible changes the culture. Cultures that do not approve of the Bible are left out of the Church’s life; people who do not believe in the Bible are left out of our churches. The American church is saying that God made a mistake. He made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Adam.
Globalization is a complicated force that we still have no clue how to handle.