The blogs of the Episcopal left are positively humming with the news of a remark reportedly made by Bishop Isaac Orama of the Anglican Church of Nigeria:
“Homosexuality and lesbianism are inhuman. Those who practice them are insane, satanic and are not fit to live because they are rebels to God’s purpose for man.”
Fr. Jake has featured the remark in two stories today. Susan Russell has posted on it. Episcopal Cafe has, too. All of them are guilty of acting shocked, shocked that an African bishop could say such a thing - after all, they’ve been claiming that anyone - American, African or Martian - who doesn’t wholeheartedly embrace homosexuality is a hate-mongering homophobe - but you know what? About the horrible nature of the remark, the injury to the Christian witness it does, and yes, even the “rhetorical violence” it commits… I agree completely.
I don’t speak for Bishop Duncan, or Bishop Iker, or any other bishop, or any other human being for that matter. I do speak for myself, though, and while Matt, Sarah, David, Jackie and I disagree on matters more than occasionally, I’m the closest thing there is to the unified “editorial voice” of Stand Firm, and on the matter of Bishop Orama’s statement, I want to say this:
If the quote is not accurate, then Bishop Minns and Archbishop Akinola need to provide compelling evidence, and they need to do it immediately. Not next month or even next week - they need to do it in the next 72 hours. If they do, then UPI needs to fire the reporter who filed the story. Let’s remember that remarks do get mis-reported; I’ve seen it a dozen times in media coverage of business and other dealings of mine in the past, and anyone who’s ever been quoted in the media more than once or twice knows what I mean.
But if the quote is accurate, then Bishop Minns and Archbishop Akinola need to come forward with a statement just as quickly, which contains an unqualified condemnation of +Orama’s remark as abhorrent, and unfitting of the office of the Anglican episcopacy, and Bishop Orama should be removed from office immediately. If that’s not canonically possible for Archbishop Akinola to do, then he needs to mete what punishment the canons allow him to.
Describing homosexuals as “unfit to live,” or implying that that sentiment is in any way part of the Gospel message, is where I get off the bus. “Life not worthy of living” is the phrase Nazis used to describe Jews, dissenting Christian clergy, the physically handicapped, the mentally retarded, and anyone else who might spoil their vision of a pure Aryan world. If being homosexual makes one unfit to live, then being the kind of sinner Bishop Orama is makes him similarly unfit to live; and of course, that is not the Gospel of Jesus, not the Good News we have been entrusted by Christ to carry to the world. Bishop Orama deserves our prayers that he might come to understand this, but - if his remarks were accurately reported - he does not deserve to be a bishop in the Christian church.