By Professor Ken Mufuka
A Special General Conference of the World Methodist Church came to an end on February 28, marking the end of a long journey that started in 1972.
In that year, the first resolution to deal with gay lifestyles was introduced but failed to gain traction. The Methodists in fact strengthened the paragraphs in the Book of Discipline to say that God created them; man and woman, and that marriage between man and woman shall remain a holy sacrament.
Further, Methodists recognized that those chosen for ordained ministry face increased pressures from the secular world to confirm to their earthly practices.
Pastors were subject to “all the frailties of the human condition and pressures of society (but) are required maintaining a higher standard of holy living.”
While the Methodist Church is the last to face up to this challenge, the major churches, the Roman Catholics, the Anglicans (called Episcopalians in the US) and the Lutherans have all suffered grievous blows. The last two succumbed to gay demands for ordination.
The cultural onslaught, imposed on society by the elites, who say that they know what is good for us ignorant folks, has no relationship to public opinion. The issue of gay marriage was brought before eleven state ballots, including California. All the plebiscites rejected the notion.
Despite this rejection, former President Barak Obama imposed gay marriages in the military. When the fait accompli came before the Supreme Court, the elites, led by Justice Anthony Kennedy, approved of them, after finding an imaginary clause in the constitution called equal protection, as permitting gay marriages. This was pure fiction on the judges part, because marriage, for thousands of years, was assumed to be between complementary parts and not similar (as same sex humans).
The African initiative
Bishop Jerry Kula of Liberia became the spokesperson of what became known as the African initiative. The Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay and Transexual (LBGT) lobbyists were vocal and aggressive. The African position, according to Kulah, was that the Bible is our supreme guide in ethics, and that Anglo-Saxons need not lecture Africans about sexual morality.
True though that may be, Kulah ignored the power of the LBGT lobby, which is money. Usually, such lifestyles are found more commonly among advanced wealthy societies.
This brings me to my experience, almost ten years ago. I was sent on a training mission by my church to California. We were welcomed by Bishop Karen Oliveto. “My dream is that we live boldly as the body of Christ, and so fully, so completely that the neighborhoods in which we United Methodists Churches stand in are utterly transformed by the love of spills from these communities.”
The argument in this sermon is that Jesus came to champion outcasts, lepers; the poor, paraplegics and those gays are part of the human condition which he came to heal. This is a clever argument. The difference between (the woman of Samaria) and the LGBT community is that the woman was told to go and live a transformed life. The LBGT community refuses to be transformed.
They also assume judgeship in their own case.
She was senior pastor at a 10 000 member Glide Memorial Church in California, the fifth largest church in the US Methodist Church. Oliveto is herself an example of love incarnate-she exudes love, joy and peace that surpaseth all understanding.
But during our time there, especially as we fellowshipped at the dinner table, we, delegates from the Deep South of the US (regarded by the elites as a remnant of the primitive slave trading South) whispered about the Bishop’s shadow, Robin Ridenour, a priestess in the Methodist Church, and a woman of unsurpassed beauty.
The Methodist website says that “Bishop Oliveto is the first openly lesbian bishop in the United Methodist Church. Her wife, Robin Ridenour, a nurse anesthetist, is a deaconess in the United Methodist Church.”
Oliveto’s case was brought before the clerical court, which ruled against her but took no action to remove her from her position.
This is what the African initiative was all about. The World Conference voted 438 in favor of traditional marriage (with 384 against) but also added that rules must be enforced. Local newspapers “blame” African bishops for an uncompromising position.
The issue is a symptom of a much bigger problem within western societies, the emasculation of male-ness among boys. Warren Farrell, PhD has written a book after years of research on what he calls THE BOY CRISIS.
Here are a few pointers. In my university, sixty percent of our students are women. The largest occupation and employer in our city is the pharmaceutical companies and the hospitals. These conglomerates offer “soft and civilized jobs” to a vast majority of women.
And so does the banking world. Men are relegated to rough jobs, outside lumbering, factory manufacturing, road work, engineering and similar jobs. Though high paying, they are way removed from the civilized life of nursing director, or a super bank data entry clerk.
This makes marriages difficult to manage. Men are marrying in their late thirties or early forties. Divorces have stabilized at 50-50, for or against. Until recently, there was only one jail-house for women in our state; the implication confirms Farrel’s study. Almost eighty percent of jail-house inmates are high school drop outs.
The feminist on roads into what were formerly all male preserves, such as boy-scouts and football, drives man-hood traditions further away from the main stream. Christine Hoff Sommers, once a fervent feminist, realized late in life that such inroads had deleterious effects on manhood. It was such a realization, by Lord Baden Powell in Ghana, that Europeans do not have a path from childhood to manhood that prompted his invention of the Boy Scout movement.
The culture has changed. While boys do play truant in class, girls dominate all the activities of learning. Farrell says that boys are behind in mathematics and language arts, skills that open doors into the civilized arts of journalism, teaching, and the pharmaceuticals.
Being that as it may, there is a shortage of “real men” who want to take responsibility for raising families. Among educated black females, the ratio of university graduates is one male to ten women.
For men, marriage is a risky occupation. Divorce leads to lifetime monetary servitude to the former wife, and possible imprisonment for failure to comply.
If these women were to wait for male companionship, they might have to wait until Father Abraham comes. New friendships, two women bonding together to enjoy cinema shows, a “bunch” of women class mates booking a cruise-ship holiday together, women “soros” (sisterhoods) helping each other where before they would have looked up to husbands.
My impression is that while Methodists have won the gay battle for now, it is only temporary. Gay life is with us from now onward. Sisterhoods have come to replace husband-wife bonding. Marriage itself is now something to be postponed well into the forties.
Bishop Kulah does not need a lesson in sexuality from Americans. But Americanisms are fast spreading all over the world.
Ken Mufuka writes from the US. An active Methodist, he serves on the District Board of Ordained Ministry. His latest book: The Life and Times of Robert Mugabe: Dream Betrayed can be accessed on kenmufukabooks.com