The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) has introduced a clause in its constitution subjecting members, who intend to hold positions in church, to take an oath of allegiance to God denouncing homosexuality.
The text of the vow reads: “I declare before God and his Church that I have never been a homosexual/bisexual or (have repented from being homosexual/bisexual) and I vow that I will not indulge in the practise of homosexuality/bisexuality.
“If after this oath I am involved, found to be, or profess to be a homosexual/bisexual against the teachings of the Holy Scriptures as contained in the Bible.
“I bring upon myself the full wrath of God and subject myself willingly to canonical discipline as enshrined in the constitution of the Church of Nigeria, so help me God.’’
One of the oath-takers, Mr Lucky Erhaikhuemen, 43, the Vicar’s warden of the church, said two decades ago the oath would have been of no significance in the Church of Nigeria.
“But with what is happening in Western countries and the churches there, there is a lot a pressure on church leaders and members here to compromise the teachings of the church.
“The oath is a guide and warning that those in leadership positions in the church must uphold scriptural teachings and point to the godly part to the younger generations,’’ he said.
There are a few things I find particularly interesting about this:
The first is that the opposite tends to apply in Western Anglicanism. For example, a priest applying for employment in the Diocese of Niagara can expect to be asked where he stands on same sex blessings. If he gives the wrong answer – the wrong answer is that he is not for them – he might as well move to Nigeria and seek employment there.
The second is, the remarks by the church warden that the oath is a reaction to Western pressure and 20 years ago would have been unnecessary is somewhat heartening. Indaba away, Justin Welby, Nigeria is not going to buckle.
Lastly, the Anglican Church of Nigeria is simply applying a Biblical principle to its choice of leaders. The probability of Western Anglican clerics foaming at the mouth when they hear about it is of no particular import, but as a side-effect, I find the mere anticipation of it profoundly satisfying.