Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Costly listening



Living in San Francisco, it is hard to remember that there are still places where sticking up for the humanity of gays and lesbians can get you in big trouble. But there are.

The experience of the Rt. Rev. Christopher Senyonjo, former Anglican bishop of Western Buganda in Uganda, proves it. After retirement he counseled troubled Ugandans and found that some who came to him were homosexuals. He listened -- and he urged his church to listen.

The Church should listen to the silenced, perplexed, intimidated, abused and marginalised homosexuals in our midst. They are not only in institutions of learning but are everywhere (though in minority) rubbing shoulders with the heterosexuals.

Thinking Anglicans, U.K.

Doesn't sound very radical, does it? The 76-year-old father of seven also agreed to be chaplain to Ugandan gays organized as Integrity Uganda. The Ugandan church responded by not allowing him to conduct services, cutting off his pension, and urging the Ugandan government to arrest him.

That was in 2001. After services at the Episcopal Church of St. John the Evangelist on Sunday, Bishop Christopher talked with a small group about gays in Uganda. He's still repeating the same message he offered in an interview seven years ago:

What is really needed is education. I find that there is a lot of misunderstanding about human sexuality. And I've started writing about it -- because many people regard human sexuality as for procreation and if you think of why we have so much opposition against homosexuality, it is because it is not regarded as productive. The idea of love didn't come out very easily -- whereas when you read the very beginning in Genesis, Chapter 2, Verse 18 the reason why Adam -- to me, I don't say it was a male, but it was Adam, a being -- the reason why God made a helpmate fit for that being was to heal a loneliness. It does not say, "to have children." Children are okay, but really healing loneliness or aloneness was so important. I think this is the major point. There is a need for education. ...

I would say that the church generally has not dealt with human sexuality. People have been afraid of human sexuality as such, so there's a lot of taboo connected with it. There's a verse which really helps me a lot, in the Gospel of St. John, Chapter 16, Verse 12 -- "And our Lord said, 'There are still many, many things I would like to tell you but you cannot bear them now." The only problem is if you're not willing to listen to what the spirit is saying now.

Grace Cathedral interview

Bishop Christopher will be at the international meeting of bishops at Lambeth in England this summer, still trying to get his Church to listen.

Quite a guy.

People in the U.S. can help support Integrity Uganda through Integrity USA. Not surprisingly, the need is great.

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