By George Conger – originally published in the Church of England Newspaper
The creeping acceptance of homosexual conduct as a moral good may be a sign that the end times are near, the Primate of the Church of Nigeria has warned.
In an interview published by the Church of Nigeria News, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh said the cultural hostility towards Christian morality in the West and the celebration of lust as godliness was a sign that “we are getting deeper and deeper into the age that was spoken of by Timothy when people will love themselves more than God, when the pleasure and comfort will determine many things.”
“We are in the end time and in this end time there are boundless opportunities of evil,” the archbishop said on April 7 drawing upon 2 Tim. 3:2, but added “but the joy of it all is that evil will not win in the end.”
While the former primate, Archbishop Peter Akinola, had led the coalition of churches opposed to the innovations of doctrine and discipline over homosexuality introduced by the Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada over the past ten years, Archbishop Okoh has so far taken a lower profile on the international Anglican stage, focusing his efforts on the Nigerian scene.
However the political vacuum created by the collapse of the Lambeth Conference, the primates meeting, and the Anglican Consultative Council, along with the opprobrium in which the ACC’s staff is held by many African churches appears to have pushed the head of the communion’s largest province out in front once again.
While no formal break with the London-based instruments of the communion is likely to be announced, structures for a communion within the communion are quietly being put in place.
In a speech to the Church of Nigeria’s standing committee on March 3, Archbishop Okoh announced that a second Gafcon conference would be held in 2012, a Gafcon leaders meeting would be convened this year, and a delegation of conservative Anglican primates would make a formal visit to the Chinese church in September.
In his interview, the archbishop reiterated the Church of Nigeria’s belief that homosexual conduct was “unbiblical, ungodly, unnatural, unacceptable.”
He was fully cognizant of the charges that those who held this view were “ignorant,” and that the new understandings of same-gender relationships were foreign to the Biblical writers. “They think we are living the old past time, [the] ancient days,” he said, noting his critics see this as a “post modern day.”
A consequence of this new age is “that they can rewrite the Bible to suit their culture the way they want it,” Archbishop Okoh said.
Special pleading by Western churches to accept their local cultural values concerning homosexuality were unconvincing, he said as the Gospel of Jesus Christ was neither time bound, geographically restricted nor culturally circumscribed. When the Gospel came to Nigeria, the scriptures “identified areas where we were not living well and the Gospel corrected us, the Gospel transformed our lives. For instance we were killing twins here and when it was exposed to us that we were wrong, we dropped it.”
The “irony of the situation” was that Britain had brought the Bible to Nigeria, but now Britain was saying the practices condemned by the Bible “are right. Thank God we are not very confused, we are not confused at all,” he said.
For the African churches along with “some parts of Australia, some part of America, some parts of United Kingdom” the Scriptural condemnation of homosexuality was reinforced by the lessons of natural law. Nor was a plea to sentiment persuasive to the Nigerian Church.
Some argue the moral standard should be that “two people love themselves,” however, this is a “very selfish perspective.”
“The issue at stake is not just a case of if it will make two people happy if they love themselves. I think that the rejection of absolute truth, absolute right and wrong had turned everything to the doctrine of relativism,” the archbishop said.
“We are in a kind of free moral fall and we do not know when it is going to stop,” he said.
However, the archbishop urged patience and perseverance in the face of the moral rot coming from the West. “This is God’s own world and according to Daniel 4;17, the Lord rules the affairs of men and the whole book of Revelation is telling us that no matter the strength of evil God has the victory at last,” Archbishop Okoh said.