This question has been burning in my mind since I heard that the Presbyterian Church of Ghana (Presby Ghana) has reportedly broken ties with the branch in the United States over the issue of homosexuality. The Moderator of the Ghana branch, Rev Prof Emmanuel Martey, announced a severance of ties while reacting to the recent recognition of same sex marriage by the Presbyterian Church in the US. This is clearly a step backward for a church that should be moving forward.
Any intelligent observer of church practices in the region should have noticed a very disturbing trend that is emerging in African christianity. Yes, an unfortunate pattern is forming and firming up throughout the continent. That is the sanctification of homophobia. Gay hate is has become an article of faith. The hatred and persecution of same sex couples is becoming a characteristic feature of African Christianity. All people of conscience in the region should denounce and oppose this dangerous and backward trend.
I am saying this because this is not the first time an African christian denomination has severed ties with its American counterpart over the issue of gay rights. In 2003, the Anglican church in Nigeria stopped cooperating with the Episcopal church in the US following the consecration of a gay bishop. Just look at this. The Episcopal church did not consecrate for the Nigerian branch. It ordained a gay Bishop for its members. So what is the business of the Anglican church in Nigeria?
African christian denominations have openly campaigned and supported tightening laws against homosexuality in Nigeria, Uganda, Liberia etc. They have not advanced any cogent reasons for this warranted campaign of hatred and intolerance. With the latest development in Ghana, it is pertinent that we pause for a moment and reflect on the implication of this severance for the church in Ghana and for Africa as a whole. This is because religion is very influential in shaping public opinion and attitudes, policies and law. If Africa must win the battle against homophobia, the support of church leaders is very necessary.
Let us take a critical look at the statement of Rev Martey of Ghana Presby. He described the decision by the US branch to recognize same sex love and union as 'demonic' Really?. I mean in what way is recognizing same sex union demonic? What have demons got to so with gay sex? What makes love demonic? I think the Bible says that God is Love and enjoins believers to love their neighbour as themselves. Is it because we are now talking about homosexual love? That should not change the meaning of love, should it? What can be more 'demonic' than demonising people because of their sexual orientation? What can be more evil than openly endorsing and advocating a 'gospel of hatred'. African church leaders need to do a rethink and effect a doctrinal shift on the issue of homosexuality.
If same sex marriage is demonic, does it mean that same sex hatred is godly? How did Rev Martey know that God hates same sex couples? He further said that the persecution of gay people is not in line with Bible principles. What does he mean by 'Bible principles'? Which principles in the Bible does same sex marriage violate? Which church has actually deviated from Bible principles? Is it the church that is preaching love or the church that is inciting hatred? Why does Martey think he understands Bible principles better than the leaders of the Presbyterian Church in the US? We should not forget that it was European and American missionaries who introduced christianity to Africa.
I think the train of moral progress is leaving Africans behind particularly on this issue of homosexuality. The Presby Church in Ghana is the latest to be abandoned by that train. The church should rethink its latest decision, adopt a forward looking policy on same sex marriage and begin to explore ways of ensuring a respectful and dignified treatment of gay people in Ghana. African christian denominations should reconsider their 'demonic' and 'unBiblical' antagonistic posture towards homosexuality and same sex marriage. They should emulate the Presbyterian Church in the US and promote, celebrate and sanctify love not hatred.