Saturday, 1 February 2014

The Archbishop of Uganda has clearly identified what Justin Welby must do

There’s been an interesting interchange this week between Anglican Archbishops in the UK and Africa over laws regulating homosexual behaviour.

In Nigeria last month, President Goodluck Jonathan signed into law a bill which bans same-sex marriages, gay groups and shows of same-sex public affection.

In Uganda, a bill allowing for greater punishments for people involved in homosexual acts, and those who fail to turn them in to police, has been passed by parliament, but blocked - for now - by President Yoweri Museveni.

This week the Archbishops of Canterbury and York (Justin Welby and John Sentamu) wrote to all Primates of the Anglican Communion and to the presidents of Nigeria and Uganda, after being asked about laws penalising homosexuality (full text here).

The Archbishop of Uganda, Stanley Ntagali, has replied (full text here).

The letters have come in the same week that the College of Bishops has released its initial response to the Pilling report which controversially recommended the use of services to ‘mark’ same sex unions.

The House of Bishops have not taken this latter recommendation up but have taken up Pilling’s suggestion of initiating ‘facilitated conversations’ across the Church of England and in dialogue with the Anglican Communion and other churches ‘so that Christians who disagree deeply about the meaning of scripture on questions of sexuality, and on the demands of living in holiness for gay and lesbian people, should understand each other's concerns more clearly and seek to hear each other as authentic Christian disciples’.   

This statement interestingly begs the key question of whether a person who participates in homosexual acts, or teaches that such acts are admissible, can actually claim to be an authentic Christian disciple.

In this context Archbishop Stanley Ntagali’s full statement is well worthy of study.  

He says that the Church of Uganda is encouraged by Uganda’s Parliament amending the Anti-Homosexuality Bill to remove the death penalty, to reduce sentencing guidelines and to remove the clause on reporting homosexual behaviour. In this he is supporting Welby and Sentamu in their legitimate concern that Christians be committed to the 'pastoral support and care of homosexual people'. 

But he then reminds the Archbishops of Canterbury and York as they lead their own church through the ‘facilitated conversations’ recommended by the Pilling Report, that the teaching of the Anglican Communion from the 1998 Lambeth Conference, from Resolution 1.10, still stands. It states that ‘homosexual practice is incompatible with Scripture,’ and the conference ‘cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same sex unions nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions’.

In this he really cuts to the chase. Welby and Sentamu’s statement fails both to make a clear distinction between homosexual attraction and homosexual behaviour (see my previous discussion here) and also to make it clear that homosexual acts are morally wrong. These are in my view unfortunate and serious omissions.

Ntagali also calls on the Archbishop of Canterbury to withhold invitations for the 2018 Lambeth Conference from the Episcopal Church in the USA and the Anglican Church of Canada in view of the fact that they have ‘violated’ Lambeth Resolution 1.10.

This he says, would be a ‘clear signal’ of Justin Welby’s ‘intention to lead and uphold the fullness of the 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10’.

Archbishop Ntagali has put his finger on the key issue.

As I have previously argued on this blog, it is not enough for church leaders simply to affirm a biblical position on homosexual behaviour. Christian leadership also involves ensuring that those who teach in our churches hold to a position on this issue that is consistent with Scripture. There is, in other words, a responsibility to exercise godly discipline.

The Bible is very clear that homosexual practice in particular, as well as being included within the boundaries of sexual immorality (porneia), is also a specific marker of a society that has turned its back on God – Genesis 19, Judges 19 and Romans 1 are familiar examples.

Furthermore there is a grave warning in 1 Corinthians 6:9,10 that ‘men who have sex with men’ (along with other unrepentant sinners) will not ‘inherit the kingdom of God’. Revelation 21:8 and 22:15 confirm that the unrepentant sexually immoral are destined for the lake of fire and will not partake of the tree of life.

The book of Hebrews (10:26) tells us that ‘if we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God’.

Jesus himself calls the church of Thyatira to repentance over ‘(tolerating) that woman Jezebel’ who ‘by her teaching’ ‘misleads my servants into sexual immorality’ (Revelation 2:20-25).

All sexual acts outside marriage (including all homosexual acts) are viewed very seriously indeed in Scripture but false teaching which leads people into sexual sin is viewed even more seriously (Luke 17:1-2) and warnings about the affirmation and endorsement of sexual immorality (2 Peter 2 and Jude are poignant examples) are particularly strong.

Those who lead ‘little ones’ astray (Matthew 18:6), like those they mislead, are in great danger. This is why it is so important for us to exercise godly discipline with them (Matthew 18:15-20; Luke 17:3-4; Galatians 6:1; James 5:19, 20) for their own sakes, as well as for those who they might mislead or have already misled.

The Apostle Paul urged his co-workers to ‘command certain men not to teach false doctrines’ (1 Timothy 1:3) and to ‘gently instruct in the hope that God will grant repentance’ (2 Timothy 2:25). He added that false teachers ‘must be silenced’ (Titus 1:11). 

These biblical standards of leadership apply to all of us who exercise leadership within the Christian Church.

The real test of Justin Welby’s leadership of the Church of England will be whether or not he allows the current situation - whereby senior leaders in his church both in these islands and across the Atlantic are teaching that homosexual acts are sometimes acceptable - to smoulder and fester.

If he fails to grasp this nettle in the interests of ‘unity’ he may find himself presiding over a greatly reduced Anglican communion. I believe he will also find himself on the wrong side of history. But to deal with it firmly and graciously will require not only the wisdom of Solomon, but also the courage of Daniel.

He needs our prayers. But he also needs other Christians within his own denomination to help him be faithful, in both word and deed, to the teaching of Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul on this matter. 


  1. Such a great post. I have never heard these truths stated so explicitly. Steve Chalke and others should really read this. x

  2. Well said Peter, and succinctly too. I am a C of E Christian who nowadays finds more courageous, godly leadership from Bishops in Sydney, Australia or the continent of Africa than the UK. However like many I am grateful to Bishop Keith Sinclair of Birkenhead who wrote the excellent dissenting minority piece within the Pilling Report. This is now crunch time I believe, and It cannot be fudged. One road leads to a faithful Scriptural Church respecting our ancient wisdoms and Traditions, which daily are being supported by science's revelations, Natural Law if you like, whilst another treacherous, seductive road leads to a slow decay and destruction, as the Holy Spirit withdraws from what could become an heterodox Church. I will do nothing hasty but ultimately will not follow false teachers.

  3. This is a great and Godly piece of writing and tells the truth as it is in scripture. It can be summed up at love the sinner but hate the sin and, as is said here, homosexual and other non-marital sexual immorality is wrong and cannot and must not be tolerated in any way in a Church that follows Jesus Christ

  4. thank you, Peter. Your blog is always the place to get much appreciated, reviving fresh air on a topic that elsewhere is mired in compromise with evil. What is often served up as Christian charity is nothing but "damned lies", in the most literal sense. Thank you for your clarity and courage, and may your work be greatly blessed. Indeed, I know that it already is

  5. But still no convincing argument that the unmarried yet wildly popular Jesus with all his male 'disciples' wasn't himself gay.

    1. That would make every Rabbi 'gay', or 'bi' if married, because each would have talmidim (some of whom were married) e.g. John the Baptist also had disciples.
      Very unlikely for Torah-observant Jews to behave in such a way plus Sanhedrin would have had him on that charge in no time. Even the Rabbinic detractors don't portray him as such. His charge was blasphemy not homosexuality.
      Really sad that your post makes little room for conceiving of a male-to-male love that is deep and passionate without necessarily being sexualised.

  6. Eliud Wabukala, Archbishop, Anglican Church of Kenya and Chairman, GAFCON Primates Council has also responded to Welby and Sentamu - see

    He includes this statement:

    'The good advice of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York would carry much more weight if they were able to affirm that they hold, personally, as well as in virtue of their office, to the collegial mind of the Anglican Communion. At the moment I fear that we cannot be sure.

    Regrettably, their intervention has served to encourage those who want to normalize homosexual lifestyles in Africa and has fuelled prejudice against African Anglicans. We are committed to biblical sexual morality and to biblical pastoral care...'

  7. An excellent article that tells scriptural truth. I pray for the sake of our denomination, Christians, our country and homosexuals that truth will be taught so that all may have the chance of salvation.

  8. To Mark P.
    The Bible doesn't say why Jesus was not married. I read an interesting article which gives what I think is a likely explanation. The gist of this is that as Jesus parentage was (humanly speaking) questionable no parents of that era would allow their daughter to marry someone who could be regarded as a bastard.
    Jesus fulfilled the scriptures in which it is clearly stated that homosexuality is an abomination to God.
    When Paul talks about marriage he is sometimes talking about the bridegroom (Jesus) coming back for his bride (the Church).
    Jesus also refers to Genesis when talking about marriage & divorce - "in the beginning God made them male and female" & "for this reason a man will te from his mother & father and be united with his wife and the two will become one flesh".
    The companion God made for Adam when he said it was not good for Adam to be alone was Eve.
    God told Adam and Eve to multiply. This is only normally possible with the sexual union of a man and a woman.
    Are those enough reasons for you?

  9. Oh come on, a brilliant and engaging speaker, millions of followers, he was basically Stephen Fry with sandals. I can't believe you just called Jesus a bastard though.


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