23 November 2012

Uganda: Welby and the Wellbeing of Anglicans


The new leader has many challenges ahead of him, including the controversy over homosexuality in Uganda

On Nov. 9, the Office of British Prime Minister announced that the Crown Nominations Committee (CNC) had chosen 56- year old Bishop Justin Welby of Durham as the next Archbishop of Canterbury.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Rt. Rev. Justin Welby on his appointment as Archbishop of the Church of England and spiritual head of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Barely one year old as Bishop of Durham, the new Archbishop has many difficult and unenviable challenges ahead of him including, the controversy over the ordination of women as bishops, homosexuality and gay marriage. Like most Ugandans, I was naturally disappointed that our fellow compatriot, the Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, was not chosen.

According to press reports, Bishop Welby favours the ordination of women and is opposed to gay marriage which may explain why the Church of Uganda has promptly welcomed his appointment as spiritual head of the Anglican Communion.

The question of homosexuality has become topical and controversial in Ugandan politics. I am frankly embarrassed to even discuss this rather dirty and sleazy affair in public. There is a private member's Bill pending in the Parliament of Uganda which the Speaker has promised anti- gay activists that she will ensure it sails through within two weeks.

My position on homosexuality is rooted in scripture where the issue initially mentioned in the book of Genesis in connection with two cities, Sodom and Gomorrah, as well as the culture of the society I was brought up in.

In chapter 19 of Genesis we read of a despicable incident involving two angels who visited Lot and when the men of Sodom learnt of Lot's guests they demanded to have sex with them. Really! Lot pleads with the men of Sodom and in verse 7 he pleads with them; "Friends, I beg you, don't do such a wicked thing!" Hence, right from Old Testament times, the Bible has consistently treated homosexuality as a sin against the word of God. The Bible does not condone homosexuality; on the contrary scripture condemns the gay life style unequivocally! Amen. As a Christian I fully concur.

Many centuries later, the apostle Paul addressed the question of homosexuality in his letter to the Romans. In Romans chapter 1 verse 18 to 32, Paul laments the guilt of the human race as per events of the Roman empire of the first century.

The apostle writes in verses 26 and 27 that: "Because they do this, God has given them over to shameful passions. Even the women pervert the natural use of their sex to unnatural acts. In the same way the men give up natural sexual relations with women and burn with passion for each other. Men do shameful things with each other, and as a result they bring upon themselves the punishment they deserve for their wrongdoing". (GNB)

Jude 1:7 adds: "In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire".

Revelation 21:8 warns: "But cowards, traitors, perverts, murderers, the immoral, those who practice magic, those who worship idols, and all liars - the place for them is the lake burning with fire and sulphur, which is the second death". I like the reference to cowards and liars who often think they are harmless.

As I have argued in this column several times before, when men and women lose their sense of shame and guilt, as has happened to Uganda's ruling clique, anything goes! Such men and women, whose conscience is dysfunctional, are self- condemned and destined for eternal damnation.

Some have already been judged by the LORD and found wanting; their days are numbered. You don't need to enact new laws against homosexuality because the law of God which is supreme and existing secular legislation in our penal code is more than sufficient. Let us instead pray for our brothers and sisters who have gone astray so that they may see the light and repent.

According to the New Vision of Nov. 12, the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, has promised to ensure that the Anti- homosexuality Bill is debated and passed before end of year as "a Christmas gift to Uganda".

What a gift! Such a present should, in my humble opinion, be reserved for Halloween, not Christmas. I am not convinced that passing an anti- homosexuality Bill will prevent and eradicate the sin of homosexuality from this country. I believe that David Bahati's homo- adventure is an exercise in futility. I advise and urge Parliament to focus its attention and energy on fighting the scourge of corruption in Uganda which has now reached such alarming and horrendous proportions that corruption should, in fact, be classified as a crime against humanity.

In my considered opinion, the question of Christian unity should be paramount on the new Archbishop's agenda. Some progress has been made by the major Christian denominations, in particular, the Anglican Church and the Roman Catholic Church.

I hope and pray that the gap between the various Christian denominations will be narrowed and closed during Archbishop Justin Welby's tenure of office. I would certainly love to bear witness to the unity of the Church of Christ during my life time.

Harold E. Acemah is a retired former ambassador of Uganda.

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