23 September 2023

Same-sex marriage harms ministry in the Global South: Egyptian Archbishop

Anglicans in the Global South say the diversity of the church is not being respected when it comes to the debate over same-sex marriage. Photo: Richard Washbrooke for The Lambeth Conference.

By Maya Pilbrow

23 December 2022

Same-sex marriage within the church would pose a risk to ministries in the Global South, some church leaders have warned. Opponents to same-sex marriage say the voices of Anglicans in the Global South are being ignored in the debate over sexuality within the church. 

GAFCON representatives said Australian Anglicans, and those in the wider world, needed to listen to communities in the Global South.  

These remarks were made in response to a statement from Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches honorary adviser Archbishop Emeritus of Alexandria Mouneer Hanna Anis, saying actions supporting same-sex marriage within progressive Anglican Provinces seriously affected the mission of other Provinces in the Global South.  

He said these actions should thus be considered unfair unilateral decisions that contradicted the Anglican Communion’s customary interdependence. 

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Dr Mouneer said that acceptance of same-sex marriage by Anglican leaders had a detrimental effect on ministries such as his own in majority Islamic countries. 

He argued that actions such as the Bishop of Oxford’s recent essay suggesting the Church of England should allow same-sex services were pushing the Anglican Communion to its breaking point. 

The GSFA is made up of 25 orthodox Anglican Provinces around the world, largely in Africa, South America and South-East Asia. The Diocese of Sydney is Australia’s only member. 

GAFCON Australia board member Fiona McLean said that within the Melbourne diocese many culturally and linguistically diverse Anglicans did not think same-sex relationships could be legitimately endorsed or blessed. 

She said there was a need to listen to and respect different cultural contexts within the diocese. 

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Associate pastor at Emmanuel Iranian Church the Reverend Hoda Ameri said it was important to understand how people’s views were shaped by their own cultural backgrounds, noting that migrants who lived in the West still maintained strong connections to the traditions of their homelands. 

Mrs Ameri said to deny the existence of people in same-sex relationships or to criminalise homosexuality, as is the approach of the theocratic Islamic government of Iran, was cruel. 

“As Christians, we must respect God’s creatures and humanity, even if they are not on the same page,” Mrs Ameri said. 

But Mrs Ameri said that the Iranian convert community emphasised the true and unshakable nature of God’s Word, and that according to her understanding, same-sex marriage contradicted the Word of God.  

Mrs McLean said acceptance of homosexuality conflicted with the Christian responsibility to take seriously the Bible’s warnings on sexual sin. 

“We in the West have been held captive to the myth of progress,” Mrs McLean said. 

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Church historian and women’s ordination campaigner Dr Muriel Porter dismissed the arguments put forward by Dr Mouneer and GAFCON that support for LGBTQ+ rights negatively impacted ministries in the Global South. 

Dr Porter said opposition within the church to same-sex marriage had a marginalising effect on LGBTQ+ Anglicans.  

“They’re saying it’s much harder for them to evangelise. On the other side, it’s making it much harder for us to evangelise in our community when we are portrayed as being so narrow and conservative,” she said. 

Dr Porter said many Biblical scholars would say there was nothing in the Scripture against loving and faithful same-sex relationships. 

Dr Porter said the church had always faced internal theological and scriptural debates over social issues, and that to embrace evolving beliefs about gender and sexuality would not pose a threat to Anglicanism, citing the campaign to ordain women as an example. 

“The sky didn’t fall. They said we would destroy the church. We have not.” 

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