The loose confederation of churches affiliated with the worldwide Anglican communion is experiencing growing tensions over the issue of homosexuality, with the U.S. Episcopalian church tugging toward the liberal embrace of all things LGBT and the African churches struggling to maintain a more Biblically based sexual morality.
The Anglican Church of Nigeria has announced it will boycott the next international meeting of Church leaders over the matter, and is now requesting “special status” in the worldwide church to allow it to faithfully preserve its position on homosexuality.
In a forceful statement, the Nigerian Anglican primate, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, said that the Anglican communion seems to be tilting toward a non-biblical understanding of homosexuality, marginalizing those with an orthodox, biblical view of human sexuality.
Traditional Anglicans like the Nigerian Church, he said, “are walking into a well-rehearsed scheme to gradually apply persuasion, subtle blackmail, coercion on any group still standing with the Scriptural Provision as we know it, to join the straight jacket of the revisionists and be politically correct.”
Archbishop Okoh said his province will shun next month’s Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Lusaka, Zambia over the way the worldwide church has handled the wayward Episcopal Church in America, which he described as a “toxic relationship.”
At a meeting of Anglican Primates in January of this year, it was decided that for a period of three years The Episcopal Church (TEC) should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or policy. The measure was intended as a sanction over TEC’s approval of gay marriage and consecration of openly gay bishops.
Those sanctions proved to be “hollow,” Okoh said, and disapproval shifted toward those still embracing traditional beliefs regarding sexuality. Okoh said that during the Canterbury meeting, those who hold the orthodox view of human sexuality and marriage were “denounced as ‘homophobic,’” underscoring that “we were in the wrong place,” he said.
Okoh’s impression was that the Anglican authorities thought they were exercising patience in order to gradually persuade the “scripture-believers” to embrace “homosexual doctrine,” something he says they will never do.
In his statement, Okoh reminds readers that Nigeria was one of the provinces that protested against the consecration of the gay American bishop Gene Robinson, that boycotted the 2008 Lambeth Conference and helped set up the conservative Global Anglican Future Conference in Jerusalem that same year.
As a result, Okoh has requested “special status” for the Provinces who will never “embrace the sexual culture being promoted by some Provinces of the Church over and against the Bible.”
He compared the idea of special status to the relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union, where total union is impossible, but some degree of cooperation is deemed useful.
The Anglican church claims some 85 million members worldwide and is divided into 38 provinces. Only eight of these are favorable to changing doctrine on marriage to allow for same-sex unions, namely, the U.S., Canada, Scotland, Wales, New Zealand, South India, South Africa and Brazil.
Photo credit: Church of Nigeria