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Blessing Same-Sex Couples: When ‘The Guardian’ Failed to Uphold Conscience Nurtured by Truth

By Leo Igwe

My attention has been drawn to the editorial of the Guardian newspaper of January 08, 2024. This piece, “Pope Francis’ approval of same-sex blessing” spelled out the position of this media house on the issue. The editors of the Guardian are entitled to their opinion and position, and so, are the readers and members of the public. Let me say upfront that I am a big fan of the Guardian newspaper, and occasionally contribute opinions. And I remain a fan. The Guardian is a renowned and reputable media outfit, known for its quality and excellent journalism. But I am rejoining this editorial because I found the piece appalling, shoddy, and distasteful. I felt disappointed after reading it. The language was vile and lacked decorum.

In the first paragraph, the editorial states that the pope’s approval of blessing for same-sex couples has caused controversy and disdain among Christians. Yes, that is true. But the question is: Which category of Christians? It says that the papal authorization has polarized “Christians who live in strict accordance with scriptural doctrines” and those who embraced “man-made modifications, and pander to the whims of a few seeking to justify their lust”. What came to my mind when I read this part was this: how many Christians in Nigerian live in strict accordance with the Bible? Are scriptural doctrines not man-made? Haven’t scriptural doctrines been modified over the years? Don’t these editors know that the scripture was written based on the knowledge, norms, and mores of its time? In the past centuries, scriptural doctrines and teachings of the church have been revised and updated in the light of new knowledge about human nature, including human life and sexuality. The editors played down the pope’s attempt to accommodate both opponents and proponents of a blessing for same-sex couples.

They accused him of confusing people and yielding to “the impulse of conforming to an aberrant New World Order, which is at variance with the instructions of the Holy Bible as enunciated in Romans 12:2”. My question is this: What makes the editors of The Guardian, think that they are more knowledgeable than the pope in church and Christian matters? Why do they assume they understand what is agreeable with the ‘good, pleasing and perfect will of God’, whatever that means, more than the leader of the catholic church? The editors are professional journalists and experts in the media business. And the pope and other Vatican officials are theologians and experts in the Christian God business. Why do The Guardian editors think they know and can teach the Pope his job? 

Simply put, why do they want to be more catholic, more Christian, than the Pope? What makes them think that they know and unequivocally understand what constitutes “family conduct that is good, acceptable, and represents the perfect will of God for humanity”? From the tune and language of the editorials, it is evident that biblical literalists populate the board hence, the editors think that the pope must follow the Bible. Look, the Bible is filled with contradictions. Its teachings should be critically examined. The scripture does not espouse a consistent, inerrant moral code. If the editors think that the pope must follow the Bible, why are they not following the biblical injunctions that support witch killing, child sacrifice, slavery, and subordination of women?

The editors welcomed the ‘voiced opposition’ from concerned catholic stakeholders, including the bishops from Nigeria. They went further to outline why they opposed the blessing of same-sex couples. I found their reasons horrible and objectionable. First, they said that same-sex marriage offended the Bible, which they regarded as the standard for the practice of Christianity. The editors said the blessing of same-sex couples made a mockery of the Christian faith. A mockery? Hence they used the editorial to call for the preservation of “humanity against absurdities”, excessive indulgence touted as human rights. The editorial described same-sex marriage as an absurdity that undermines the institution of marriage, and family values. Same-sex couples, they said, are ‘reprobates’ who are ‘on the perilous route of sin”. The editors reminded the pope that his approval of same-sex marriage was antithetical to God’s purpose for marriage, which for them was procreation. They stated that same-sex marriage was a societal evil and an aberration that detracted from the culture of the people and the values of the society.

The entire piece drips with unwarranted hatred and hostility towards homosexuals. It is, all in all, a homophobic piece. Look, the Guardian prides itself as a media agency guided by “conscience nurtured by truth”. But I am sorry to say that this editorial acutely lacked both in conscience and in truth. It was a vicious and insensitive piece. The editorial hurts and sucks. It was unconscionably hostile towards people that the Guardian should protect and defend, that is, gay catholics. I wonder what the editors at the Guardian newspaper have against sexual relationships among consenting adults. How is that harmful to them? What is the business of the editors in the bedroom of adults? Why do they sanction discrimination against people based on whom they love? 

The editorial is a breach of trust. Editorials are statements that should inform and guide, not misinform or mislead. Editorials should not incite hatred or sanctify violence and discrimination against minorities, sexual minorities. Editorials encapsulate the character, intellect, and integrity of a media house. They should not be carelessly, recklessly, and irresponsibly written because it is a record for posterity.

Homosexuality is a critical topic that has been debated over the years in different parts of the globe. It may interest the editorial board to know that in 1935, homosexuality was classified as a pathological sexuality. But in 1973, the American Psychological Society declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder. In 1990, the World Health Organisation declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder. Are the editors of the Guardian not aware of these shifts and changes? Are the editors not aware that those who introduced Christianity and the Bible have shifted their position? Are they not aware that those whose legislation against homosexuality most African countries adopted after independence have repealed these laws and legalized same-sex marriage?

Unfortunately, the editors failed to factor these positive and progressive developments into their position and propositions. They threw caution to the wind and penned a hate-filled piece. This editorial will forever dwell in infamy because it is out of step with humanity and civilized values. The Bible, which the editors alluded to in their piece, says, ‘my people perish for lack of knowledge’, Hosea 4:6. Why have the editors rejected latest and existing knowledge about homosexuality and same sex relationships? Like the pope, the Guardian editorial board should have written about blessing same-sex marriage looking forward, not backward, exercising wisdom and thoughtfulness, not spreading lies, hate, prejudice and ignorance. 

Leo Igwe is a board member of Humanists International, UK.

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