Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Recommended Reading: Sexuality debate overshadows real issues in Africa

A recent commentary for UMNS by Rev. Lloyd Narota entitled "Sexuality debate overshadows real issues in Africa" is one of the most highly recommended articles I have ever linked to form this blog. In it, Rev. Narota describes the contrast between American and African views of the church, stating bluntly, "Our worlds are different and we are likely to have different pressing issues and different sets of values."

Rev. Narota explains that the sexuality debates that so preoccupy Americans are not the most pressing topic in Africa. He instead articulates what many Africans see as the most important issues facing the church in Africa, including poverty, divorce, "tribalism, regionalism, and polygamy and, at times, nepotism."

Rev. Narota also calls the American UMC to task, arguing that Americans, including American conservatives presenting themselves as allies to Africans, have not treated Africans with equality, respect, and understanding, instead opting for one-sided and colonial relationships.

Rev. Narota's piece is essential reading for American United Methodists because of the forthright way in which he explains critical issues in the UMC from an African perspective. Certainly, his voice is but one from Africa, but it's rare for most Americans to encounter such as strong and direct African United Methodist voice. We must all listen.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for calling attention to this insightful and hard-hitting commentary, David, shedding much-needed light on the daily felt reality of African United Methodists. Narota's observation about "different worlds," "different pressing issues," and "different values" evokes Philip Jenkins's "clash of civilizations" prognostication (The Next Christendom) and thus puts on the table a set of questions United Methodists have avoided with studied neglect in favor of settling U.S. battles over LGBTQ issues. Another issue to be added to the cadre is Christian-Muslim relations. On this score, see the recent news story: "New church opens in largely Muslim area of Sierra Leone" (http://www.umc.org/news-and-media/new-church-opens-in-largely-muslim-area-of-sierra-leone).

    Narota laments the U.S. conservative-African "partnership" as one-sided. What if Africans tested this claim by broaching a conversation about polygamy with their U.S. conservative colleagues (and, in so doing, with the denomination) centered on a key biblical conviction in the conservative camp, namely, that marriage is a union between one man and one woman?