I have invited you here today to update you and, through you, all our Christians here in Uganda about some recent decisions the Church of England has made. I want to explain them very well to all of us and also explain the Church of Uganda’s position.
The Church of England’s Decision
The General Synod of the Church of England (their top governing body, like our Provincial Assembly) sat yesterday and passed several resolutions that are of great concern to us in Uganda. They have decided to allow clergy to preside at Blessings of Same-sex Unions and have approved supplemental prayers and liturgies for such occasions.
The Church of England is very good at making contradictory statements and expecting everyone to believe both can be true at the same time. That’s what they have done with this decision.
On the one hand, they say that the Church of England has not changed its doctrine of marriage, namely that marriage is a lifelong union between one man and one woman.
On the other hand, they are giving clergy permission to preside at services of Blessing for same-sex unions, especially for gay couples who are already considered “married” by the British government. In other words, a gay couple joined together in a civil marriage would then go to the church to receive prayers of blessing.
The only significant difference between a wedding and a service of “blessing” is the terminology used.
The Church of England insists it is not changing its doctrine of marriage. But, in practice, they are doing precisely that. You may read various articles, opinions, and commentaries on this decision that try to justify its action.
But, what I want you to know is that if it looks like a wedding, and sounds like a wedding… it IS a wedding.
The Church of Uganda’s Position
- Now, I want to talk about the position of the Church of Uganda. There have been very many questions about it in light of this terrible decision of the Church of England.First, from the first page of the Bible in the book of Genesis to the last page of the Bible in the book of Revelation, it is clear that God’s design for human flourishing is that we are part of a family – a family that is defined as one man and one woman united in holy matrimony for life and, God willing, a union that produces children. God’s Word has said that the only context for sexual relationships is in the context of a marriage of one man and one woman.
2. Because lifelong, exclusive marriage between one man and one woman is the only context for sexual relationships, the Bible calls any other kind of sexual relationship a sin. Whether it is adultery, or fornication, or polygamy, or homosexual relationships. They are all sin and they all separate us from God.
a. That means sleeping with your girlfriend or your boyfriend before marriage is a sin.
b. That means that if you are married and have a “side dish,” that is a sin.
c. That means that if you take a second or third wife that is a sin.
d. That means if you engage in homosexual or same-sex sexual relationships, that is a sin.
Yes, God can forgive you, but it requires that you come before God, confess that you have done wrong, and make a commitment to change your way of life – in other words, to repent – and walk in God’s ways.
3. Third. When Jesus was questioned about a woman caught in adultery, he told her to “Go, and sin no more.”
There is a lot of sexual sin in Uganda. I know that, and you know that. Nevertheless, we haven’t changed our message. Our message is the message of the Bible, which is, “Go, and sin no more.”
The Church of England, on the other hand, has now departed from the Bible and their new message is the opposite message of the Bible. They are now saying, “Go, and sin some more.”
They are even offering to bless that sin.
That is wrong.
As Church of Uganda we cannot accept that. God cannot bless what He calls sin.
We all know the story of the Uganda Martyrs, how they refused to engage in homosexual sex with their leaders. They stood firm in their Christian faith and were martyred for it. We cannot betray them or our Lord Jesus Christ. We will not betray the Word of God or His ways. The Bible tells us that Jesus alone is “the way, the truth, and the life,” and that he is the same “yesterday, today, and forever.”
Jesus does not change his mind about what is sinful. Instead, Jesus gives us a way out of a bondage to sin by putting our trust and faith in him as our Saviour and Lord. That’s why it’s possible for us to “Go, and sin no more.”
The suicidal path the Church of England has now taken began in the Anglican Communion in 2003 when The Episcopal Church in America consecrated a gay man as a Bishop. As Church of Uganda, we broke fellowship with them at that time, and we have maintained that they are the ones who have left the Anglican faith and, therefore, the Anglican Communion.
In 2008 when the Archbishop of Canterbury refused to discipline The American Episcopal Church for their action, Archbishops from Bible-believing Anglican Provinces around the world organized the first Gafcon conference to bring us together under the Lordship of Christ and the authority of the Bible. Gafcon has always said, “We are not leaving the Anglican Communion; we ARE the Anglican Communion.”
Likewise, the Global South Fellowship of Anglicans has said the same thing. “We are not leaving the Anglican Communion; we ARE the Anglican Communion.”
The Way Forward
We now want to ask the Church of England, “Do you have the integrity to step out of the Anglican Communion because you have departed from the Anglican faith?” God called you to preach a Gospel of repentance and faith. Instead, you’re like Jonah. You have disobeyed and are running in the opposite direction.
God called the church to go to Nineveh and preach repentance, but the Church of England is running to Tarshish and preaching acceptance of sin. There is no way we are walking together.
The Church of England, together with the Episcopal Church in America, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Church in Wales, the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil, and others – these are the Provinces that have walked away, but we pray for them to repent.
And, if they refuse to repent, then we call on them to have the integrity to form their own Canterbury Communion because what they believe is not Anglicanism and it is not the faith once delivered to the saints.
If they want to take their whole church into the belly of a whale, they are free to do that; we are, after all, autonomous Anglican Provinces. We think it’s a bad idea, but they are free to do it.
But, they are NOT free to drag the whole Anglican Communion with them. The Anglican Communion is NOT an extension of the Church of England.
The Church of England has departed from the Anglican faith and are now false teachers. We fear Jesus’ words for them, “If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.” (Rev 2.5b) It’s that serious.
The Church of Uganda has more than 200 members traveling to Kigali in April for the 4th Global Gafcon meeting. We will be there with many Bible-believing Archbishops, Bishops, and Anglicans from all over Africa and the world. These are the ones who have not bowed their knee to Baal. (1 Kings 19.18)
We shall pray, and sit together, and discern the mind of Christ for the way forward. I ask your prayers for wisdom, for, indeed, we need the wisdom of Solomon to know how to faithfully respond to the crisis at hand.
Finally, now that our children are back in school, beware of the well-funded Gay organizations that are recruiting our children into homosexuality. Not only in Kampala, but all over the country. They target our poverty and promise our youth money.
To our youth – if someone invites you to a function and offers you a big transport refund, those are probably bad people. Say “No” to it. And, if you have already been exploited or abused by such groups, please go to your Bishop for prayer, support, and guidance. You will be received with love and compassion.
To our Head Teachers – if an organization is bringing money and resources to your school, or inviting your students to a function, do your research. Make sure you know who they really are.
My fellow Ugandans – we cannot serve God and mammon. We cannot serve God and money. Do not lose your soul because you think you will gain the whole world through the money they offer you. Do not think you can take the money, but not fall into their trap. It’s a lie; you are being exploited with that money.
The Bible says, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” So, just say, “No.”
I am here today to declare, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!”
The House of Bishops is united on this. The Provincial Assembly is united on this – “As for me and the Church of Uganda, we will serve the Lord.”
To God be the glory!
The Most Rev. Dr. Stephen Samuel Kaziimba Mugalu
ARCHBISHOP OF CHURCH OF UGANDA.