The Rev Prof. Benjamin Osisioma of the Diocese of Akwa Diocese dealt with the topic `homosexuality in the church today’. He described homosexuality as the enduring pattern of sexual, emotional and romantic attraction between persons of same sex. According to him, the phenomenon has developed an entire lexicon of its own covering the diverse orientations and identities associated with this lifestyle. `The Gay Manifesto puts forth three basic arguments: that the practice is innate and in-born, that given the decency of some of its practitioners it is harmless and insignificant, and that opposition to the practice was evidence of society’s lack of tolerance.
The bishop however said expert studies and the verdict of former homosexuals show that the practice is both a physical hazard and a threat to the foundations of Western civilisation – the nuclear family. `The practice neither accords with the Word of God, nor with Reason nor still with Traditions of the Church. The Church is challenged to condemn the practice, convert the homosexual, confront error and cleanse and purge itself of the scourge. The Church needs to adopt a two-handed approach: “the hand of restraint that says your lifestyle is a dangerous one for yourself and society, and the hand of love and hope … to know of God’s love and the transforming power of Jesus Christ”.
He provided definitions for the various variants of gay behaviour ranging from lesbianism, asexual, bi-sexual, transsexual tendencies among others. The challenge from the gay rights community has been assuming bolder and even more strident tones in recent times. He quoted several experts as saying that the `Secular society has more or less capitulated to the pressure from the gay and lesbian community to accept homosexuality as a viable and legitimate lifestyle. Aligning themselves with Blacks, Hispanics, women, and the disabled, the homosexual community has won over large segments of society to their side.
`Society has come not only to adopt the pro-homosexual viewpoint but to promote it aggressively. The resulting change in society’s attitude towards homosexuality testifies to the astonishing success of gay activists and their allies, and to the challenge this success poses to the church,’ he stressed.
More intriguing is the fact that some notable opinion leaders in society have chosen to identify with this character trait, and to brand all who oppose the idea as being insensitive. Coretta Scott King, the wife of the late civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr said: “Homo-phobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood.” Steve Baldwin offers a most interesting observation on this score: “It is difficult to convey the dark side of the homosexual culture without appearing harsh. However, it is time to acknowledge that homosexual behaviour threatens the foundation of Western civilization – the nuclear family.”
Anglicanism prides itself on a tripod of convictions: the Word, Tradition and Reason. The Word does not agree with the practice of homosexuality; reviews of selected Biblical references, and a good understanding of the Purpose and Mind of God as revealed in the Scriptures, clearly make this point. Furthermore, the spirit and concept of homosexuality runs counter to Church Tradition – those cultural factors that support the practice of the Faith, rooted in Order and the accepted practices of the saints of old. Finally, Reason contends against the practice of homosexuality. The protagonists insist that this is a matter of human rights. What is the guarantee that, decades down the line, “human rights” will not demand that a man be allowed to wed his pet? Would the dividing line between bestiality and decent human conduct not be blurred?
In thanking God for GAFCON and the stand of the Church of Nigeria, Rev Osisioma held that the church must with circumspection and discretion; uphold the tenets of the faith in the face of intimidating opposition. Men who change the message of God, also inadvertently change the God of the message. And it cost God the Life and Blood of His Only Begotten Son to purchase our Faith. We must never ever trifle with this purchase of blood. Only the Truth of God can reform and transform man! He asked the church to be compassionate to those who repent but to strongly condemn the behaviour in its totality.