Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Polygamy and homosexuality...discuss

A brief note.

Last Friday, July 1, there was a press conference at All Soul's, London, held by various leading lights of GAFCON, now FOCA (Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans). I was struck by this portmanteau question during the panel discussion:

"Q: Would the panel unequivocally condemn violence against lesbian and gay people, and how do you handle issues of polygamy in African culture."

(courtesy of notes from "The Ugley Vicar.")

This seems like a typically Western question to me. It's a real slap against Africa, isn't it? The question about violence against gay and lesbian people is very worthwhile (and unfortunately necessary), but why is it instantly followed by a question about polygamy? I would propose it's because tacking on polygamy to any debate is meant to put African speakers on the defensive.

I am constantly amazed at how any critique offered by the African church against Western mores is met with, "Well, yeah, but what about polygamy?" As if any imperfection in one culture means it may offer no rebuke to any other. To which I would like to say, "Pot? Meet kettle."

These two issues are both large enough to warrent their own discussion. I would like to see a moratorium on putting homosexuality and polygamy in the same sentence.


qoe said...

The primary problem with mainstream Christianity is that it has turned faith into a client-based culture, modeled on free market principles. This turns God into a corporate entity, Jesus into a sales agent (who cannot be reached by phone) selling beach front property in Heaven and mankind into a consumer. We can see that the free market scheme does not give the temporal marketplace what it needs (e.g., does not solve the problem of world hunger and the need for a just society based on equity and human rights. What Jesus really taught us has been obscured: that we should love our neighbors G/L/T/B/S/P period! No exceptions! Because the kingdom is HERE and all the people are PART OF IT! The commercial face of our faith is all to apparent in the edifices of our churches, and the knowledge of Jesus and his message is all too thin on the ground. Our churches have capitulated to the face of capitalist/global economy, free market/free-for-all top-down economics and government that do today exactly what they did in the Roman Empire of the First century: bleed the average person of personal power, dignified identity and the ability to act in a way that is self-sustaining and beneficial to the greater community. It does not matter what denomination you're talking: revival is sorely needed, if we want to discover the kingdom, manifest the radical change in the way life works that Jesus envisioned and save the planet. We need to revive Jesus, in whom there is no East, West, South or North, but where every individual, of every stripe and spot, is a heavenly treasure among God's creations.

Lisa Fox said...

Laura, I agree that the question you quote does seem poised to be a "gotcha!" But I think linking homosexuality and polygamy is quite relevant, and here's why.

At the 1988 Lambeth Conference, several of the Africans brought the topic of polygamy to the gathering of bishops, asking what to do. The bishops said, essentially: "We trust you to handle this in a Christian way that makes sense in your culture." And I think they've done so.

Now ... the Episcopal Church and ACoC are asking for similar tolerance about the issue of homosexuality, and the Africans (among others) refuse to give us the same trust. Instead, we are met with charges of "heretic" and "apostate."

So I think it's perfectly appropriate to discuss the linkage of the two matters. And I've written that the behavior of the FOCAs is deeply hypocritical.

That's my take on it anyway. What do you think?