June 4, 2009
The Living Church (June 7, 2009) reports that the Archbishop of the Sudanese Church has asked for the removal of an appointed missionary, The Rev’d Lauren Stanley. I remember Lauren from the days when I taught at VTS and know that she has done good work in the Diocese of Renk, the Archbishop’s former diocese. Apparently she made some remarks at the Annual Council of either Virginia or the Diocese of Renk (it is unclear) in favor of same-sex marriage “which were deemed offensive”. They do not say exactly what the remarks were so it is hard to judge what went on, but I’m left with the impression that she spoke in favor of same sex marriage and that was considered offensive in itself.
If I’m right then we are once again up against the thorny question of when to honor cultural differences and when there are aspects of another culture that should be challenged. More than that, if there are aspects of another culture that should be challenged than the question of time and place arises.
I’m among those, for example, who believe that most, if not all, countries in Africa would be much closer to peace and prosperity if women were able to experience greater freedom of role than they do now. I also think that granting women real power on a footing with me will be resisted in all kinds of ways. The work of the united Nations in this regard seems to be a good, respectful and proper way to go (Kudos to the Office of the Anglican Observer in this regard), where criticizing the hospitality of a home in which the women serve food to men (and honorary men in the form of women who are foreign visitors) and then receding to the kitchen would not be helpful.
If Lauren Stanley made her remarks in Renk, then she might be open to criticism. But if (as seems likely) she made them in Virginia then I would hope that the Archbishop of Canterbury might raise a concern with the Archbishop of the Sudan about illiberal behavior not appropriate in a follower of Jesus.