Following up on the previous entry on the “Living God” where we talked about the biblical justification for an understanding of God that allows for continuing growth on what we believe God desires from us, here’s a story that is painful to hear and even more painful to oppose.
As a caveat, it is hard from a position of privilege to respond to the following story. Here I am, middle-class educated American where it is at least against the law to kill those who are sexual minorities…and I’m commenting on the opinion of a lower-class African bishop from a war-torn country where it is socially acceptable to kill Christians! I am aware of the inequality of ability to respond and of my privilege.
That all said, the Anglican bishop of Juba (who is also the primate of the church in Sudan), represents some of the most persecuted Christian minorities in the world. And given his flock’s persecution, he is opposing any leeway on gay clergy or marriage equality in the Anglican Communion on the basis that it would put Christians further into the “infidel” camp and make them riper targets to be killed.
In other words, by accepting (or at least not condemning) gay clergy and marriage equality, Christians will die.
The quote is reported in two forms. Here’s one form:
In a separate written statement to his fellow Lambeth attendees, the Archbishop wrote, “We reject homosexual practice as contrary to biblical teaching and can accept no place for it within ECS. We strongly oppose developments within the Anglican Church in USA and Canada in consecrating a practicing homosexual as bishop and in approving a rite for the blessing of same-sex relationships. This has not only caused deep divisions within the Anglican Communion but it has seriously harmed the Church’s witness in Africa and elsewhere [sic], opening the church to ridicule and damaging its credibility in a multi-religious environment.”
Virtue Online asked Archbishop Bul about the relationship of Anglicans in Africa to Muslims on account of sexual politics. The Archbishop replied, “That’s why I’m here, because we are called infidels when they hear the Christian world” affirming homosexuality, adding, “It will give them an upper hand to kill our people.”
The slightly edited (but easier to read) version is here:
Because of the actions of the American church, “we are called infidels in the Islamic world when they hear of the same-sex blessings,” he said. “It will give [Islamist militants] reason to kill” Sudanese Christians he said.
Further coverage can be found here.
I believe that to some people, if you aren’t with us, you are against us. To those of the fundamentalist fringe of any religion (Islam and Christianity included), it really doesn’t matter what the other side believes because they are the “others” whom are irreconcilable. Accepting the basic human rights of those who are LGBT…it really won’t change the mainline’s status with the fundamentalist fringe.
Will it give them another weapon, another accusation? Yes, and that’s what the Bishop fears. But at the risk of sounding dismissive, there will always be something to accuse Christians of and there always has been. If you believe in God’s call to ministry and in God’s call to equality, then shouldn’t you follow God, even to the ends of the earth, even to higher persecution? Shouldn’t it be better to live in fidelity to God’s call than to not because it will give others reason to persecute you?
Again, I realize I’m writing without fear of dying or persecution, and with that comes blinders to the very real predicament of persons on the cutting edge of Christianity. But when it comes to a prophetic stance against injustice, shouldn’t we choose justice over our own livelihood?
Of course, to those in opposition to gay clergy or marriage equality, it’s not “justice” they are choosing! But even then, if the Spirit is evident and it is shown to be moving through people who are kept at the margins, even if it goes against our every being…couldn’t it be from God demanding that we respond?
ultraguy asked on the last post the following hard question:
It raises the question of what forms and through what avenues the Holy Spirit may travel to reveal truth, and the proper processes for discernment of divine truth when scripture and alleged movements of the Holy Spirit appear to be in conflict. Hard questions!
Using that as a starting point, I guess the question is “Should the possibility of further persecution be part of the “proper process” for discernment?” Is it a consideration when seeking the Holy Spirit?
This is a continuation of what the Living God conversation started, and one that is fascinating to see its elements reflected through our Anglican brothers and sisters Lambeth conference this past week.