On December 14, I posted about a possible link to the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill: Disciple Nations Alliance. Stephen Langa is the African affiliate of the DNA and has been for about 10 years. I asked the DNA leadership for their view of the Uganda bill and they posted the following comment on that blog post as well as sent it to me via email. Here is their full comment (also published on their blog).
The Disciple Nations Alliance has appeared in the news recently in relationship to our friend Stephen Langa and his involvement with Uganda’s Anti Homosexuality Bill, 2009. We first heard of this bill when a reporter contacted us to gain our opinion on the bill last Friday (December 11). We have since obtained a copy of the bill and are now examining it.
We have been friends with Stephen for nearly ten years. We have tremendous respect for him, and for what we know of his work to strengthen families in Uganda. Stephen is an elder at Watoto Church in Kampala, which we consider to be a model for other churches in its care for thousands of Ugandan children orphaned by HIV AIDS. Watoto Church ministers to hundreds, if not thousands of people who are dying of AIDS and their surviving family members. It has been actively involved in AIDs education, encouraging young men and women to act in morally responsibly ways in order to avoid the ravages of sexually transmitted diseases. Seeing the profound devastation of families in Uganda, they are actively working to strengthen families.
The Disciple Nations Alliance is a network of individuals and organizations in over 60 countries who share a common vision to see the global Church rise to her full potential as God’s agent for the healing, blessing and transformation of the nations. We share a common set of core beliefs and operating principles (see www.disciplenations.org/about). While we have affiliates around the world, there are no legal or organizational ties between them; including Family Life Ministries and Transforming Nations Alliance that Stephen helps lead. Stephen’s opinions are his own. The governance and decision making of the Ugandan organizations he leads are independent of the Disciple Nations Alliance.
We believe that people who engage in same gender sexual activities are image bearers of God possessing profound, inherent and equal dignity. They have a God-given right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. As human beings, they are to be treated with love and respect. Like all people, they are sinners and can be saved by the death of Christ on the cross.
Churches have a responsibility to love and engage with those who have chosen to live a homosexual life in the same way they would reach out and engage with any other person. The church is to call its members to personal and public purity, and to govern their lives in ways that comport with biblical standards of ethical behavior. Such internal self-government creates the framework for free nations. The church is also called to serve as the conscience of the nation by humbly, lovingly and prophetically addressing the wounds and moral failings of their society.
The state has a different, yet compatible role. It exists to defend and protect the life, liberty, and property of its citizens. Its principle role is to suppress external evil such as murder, theft, and rape. It does this largely by creating and administering just laws and maintaining an active military.
With this in mind, we do not believe that engaging in consensual homosexual acts in the privacy of one’s own home, or failure to report such acts, should be criminalized. However we are opposed to efforts to re-define marriage laws which are based on the historic and traditional understanding of marriage as the covenantal relationship of one man and one woman for life. We are likewise opposed to efforts to normalize homosexual activity through the use of books and curricula in public schools. We oppose these and other public advocacy efforts whose intent is to lead to a state sanction for something that is immoral, which will seriously undermine the family, and will eventually lead to the collapse of a society. We endorse and support the recently released Manhattan Declaration, and specifically its statement on marriage.
We believe that sexual crimes such as rape, incest, child prostitution or pedophilia should be appropriately prohibited and punished under the law regardless of whether victim or perpetrator practices same gender sexual activity or is heterosexual.
As the Uganda bill currently exists, we have some concerns: specifically the criminalizing of private, consensual homosexual practice, the severity some of the penalties, and the tone of the language. We recognize that this bill is in process and will reserve further comment until a final version is submitted to the Ugandan parliament.
We recognize that sovereign nations have the right to establish their own laws; at the same time, other nations, international bodies and individual citizens have the right and responsibility to challenge laws that are unjust. We would encourage Christians, as citizens of nations, to seek to engage as free citizens in the market place and Public Square. They should contribute to the challenging of unjust laws and the creating of just laws. Christians, like any citizen are to contribute to the building of their nations.
Scott Allen, Darrow Miller and Bob Moffitt
Clearly, these gentlemen were taken off-guard by Stephen Langa’s involvement in supporting this bill. I believe they are trying to make sense of his support, maintain a connection while at the same time acknowledging the particularly offensive aspects of the bill. Having said that, I am disappointed they do not seem to see the degree to which their work could be compromised by this bill.
Despite the moderate response, I believe their opposition is significant. Ugandan supporters of the bill paint opponents as gay sympathizers and activists. The leadership of the DNA can hardly be placed in this camp. I urge the Ugandan supporters to acknowledge the breadth of opposition to the bill from all quarters of the evangelical world.