Homosexuality and the Church
“Is writing a spontaneous process? Or is it the result of detailed planning? Can one write without a research base of sources he or she can dip into or is research the pivot around which his creativity revolves? There are rules for research in writing. Research is educative, informative and enlightening. It invests the writer with the confidence that eggs him to go on writing . Research stands the test of time; it lends respect to one’s writing and with time, to one’s by-line. ”
Research has been an age long tradition in the quest for information and consequent presentation of such information appropriately. It is therefore, a task which should be treated with utmost urgency, in order to achieve the very best. The research process is a very tedious and time-consuming one, requiring a great deal of dedication with constant editing. It is a process which cannot be embarked upon without identifying and developing one’s topic while also finding the necessary background information.
If properly executed, the research process is one that cannot be equalled in the provision of detailed and reliable information. The genesis of every research process is none other than the identification and development of one’s topic. This is mostly the ‘brain’ behind every research process culminating in a very long, rigorous but worthwhile experience. This being the case, I embarked on this research process with the topic, ‘Homosexuality and the Society’ in mind.
A highly controversial topic in the society, the morals behind homosexuality have often been a subject for debate, with the recent controversy over the appointment of a ‘gay’ priest as the bishop of Reading also taking its turn. Considering the great controversy generated over this appointment especially as proclaimed in the media, this topic seemed to be a very appropriate one for research, hence my choice of it. In order to come up with a very good result for a research, one cannot but ask questions about the topic in order to provide a sense of direction as research progresses.
A very important question therefore, which also provides some focus and direction in this research process is, “Given the controversy that still surrounds homosexuality, should a homosexual priest be ordained as a bishop? ” This is the question being asked, answers are therefore expected to be provided at the end of the research. Consequently, the research commenced with the search for the relevant sources, which would provide detailed information about the trend of events over the highly controversial topic.
Browsing through the internet therefore, the BBC website (http://news. bbc. co. k/1/hi/uk/3050254. stm) provided a medium by which adequate information on the topic with a historical background into the beginning of the uproar being well dealt with. It gave details about the initial appointment of the priest, Canon Jeffrey John as Bishop, the immediate reaction of disapproval from the conservative members of the Church of England and the other faithfuls from all parts of the world. It also provided contrasting views from another section of the church known as ‘evangelicals’ which express a high level of liberalisation about who becomes a clergy in the Anglican Church.
These strongly believe that, homo or heterosexual, anybody could and should be appointed as clergy. These contrasting views in one article therefore represent some neutrality of the source, an attribute which further confirms its reliability in providing unbiased information for the research. It was therefore the leading article for the commencement of this research. Though highly reliable, this article was not without its own level of bias especially relating to its title, ‘Gay Priest forced to resign’. The title, though seemed biased, the article itself was not.
Further research was then expected to precede the already established insight and information about the happenings surrounding the controversy. This resulted in the continued quest for more details about the topic which were expected to give answers to the initial research question. The next source providing such information was ‘The Daily Telegraph (London) – July 11, 2003. This article from the Daily Telegraph was already a give-away even before reading, with a title, “You don’t have to be a mad extremist to oppose Jeffrey John”. It was a biased article from the view point of the evangelicals.
It clearly showed how well they detested homosexuality and how they would not be a part of a church where the bishop is homosexual. This article was a little bit limiting in the information provided. This was because it was largely one- sided providing information only about the immorality of homosexuality and nothing about liberality within the church. However, it was still considered a useful article in my research because most of the views of the conservatives were adequately supported with facts therein; a feature absent from the initial ‘neutral’ article from the BBC.
It was a very good revelation about the research process that, many authors would only write stories or articles from their own point of view probably because they do not know much about other views or simply because they want to ignore them. Furthermore, the necessity for widening the horizon of my research arose, resulting in the continuous search for more sources on which more comparisons and contrasts to other religious institutions could be made.
In order to achieve this purpose, the Catholic Church was the obvious port of call. The Advocate journal of July 27, 2002 shed more light about the church’s stance of disapproval of homosexuality among its lay faithfuls. This then means it would be more of an abomination from the Church’s priests and religious who unlike the Anglican Priests have taken vows of chastity and celibacy. The comparison was then considered extreme due to the varying situations surrounding priesthood in these two religious institutions.
In order to remain focused in my paper then, less emphasis would be laid on this article in order not to lose focus on the research question, “Should a homosexual priest be ordained as a Bishop”? There is a great difference within between the Anglican Church because of their Priests who are usually married, quite different from events in the Catholic Church whose priests do are not even expected to sexually active, be it homo or hetero. The point however, is that little or even no emphasis should be placed or made a priority, where morality of an act or behaviour is concerned while writing a research paper.
In the case of this article from the Advocate, there was understandably some level of bias due to the narrow perspective, that is, the view of the Catholic Church and not the society as a whole. The resignation of Jeffrey John from being ordained as a bishop has been perceived to have laid a strong precedent. The future of homosexual priests in the Anglican Church is reportedly being questioned from several quarters ranging from those who do not approve of this act to those who are indifferent.
In order to ascertain what the future holds therefore, the Daily Mail newspaper of July 14, 2003 was consulted. The article therein titled, “Gay Bishop will face the pressure to abandon the priesthood” goes a long way in predicting a bleak and uncertain future for Jeffrey John and other homosexuals in the Church. This is however concerned very unreliable, as there were fewer facts than speculations about the future. It was indeed not surprising and unexpected from an article which was more of a prediction than a narration.
Without considering this article as a very good one due to the lack of facts, I still learnt about the irrationality and unreliability of some sources for research which are more or less written based solely on speculations. These are then expected to be watched out for in my consequent research papers and treated accordingly. The eventual resignation of Jeffrey John is not without its reason. As discovered during the course of this research, there are always reasons for every view or varying reactions about events, notwithstanding the opinion.
During the research, the varying views of different races, about issues such as homosexuality were brought to light. The eventual resignation of Jeffrey John was reported to have been greatly influenced by members of the Anglican Church in Africa and the Caribbean regions. The Economist (07/12/2003), a journal of reputable standard, reported how great the influence of the Nigerian Anglican Communion was on this resignation.
The Arch Bishop of Canterbury, the world leader of the Anglican Church is quoted as follows: The appointment of Mr John had imperilled the unity of the Church. The threat was not just to the Church of England, he explained, but the whole Anglican Communion, and in particular its branches in the developing world”. He was presumably thinking about the leader of Nigeria’s 17. 5 million Anglicans (the Church’s highest national population in the world) who had said two weeks earlier: “I cannot think of how a man in his senses would be having a sexual relationship with another man. Even in the world of animals, dogs, cows, lions, we don’t hear of such things.
This went further to establish the consideration of different cultures in the research of such controversial issues such as homosexuality. The liberality associated with such social issues is very different in various places. The reaction of the Head of the Nigerian Church further explains that it would never have been a difficult issue to deal with in Africa, as it is in the UK. Getting to know the varying views from all parts of the world further showed how thorough a research should be in order to deal decisively and conclusively with any topic of research.
Homosexuality is an issue which has been a subject for debate, especially in recent time. It has however not been over flogged yet and might never really be. This research has given me a very good opportunity of learning far more than I had always known about or even heard of. The resignation of Jeffrey John was only a trigger in my own research. There is still a long way to go in discovering more. The view of the Nigerian Anglican Church though considered extreme by many human rights activists in the Western world, it was only a variety of conceptions made known as a result of research.
It would therefore not be surprising, discovering many new developments and views from the media in other sections of the world if only good research will be carried out. The influence of the media in expressing personal or local views is such a strong one, as discovered during my research, which only made me realise how to have a neutral approach as long as research is concerned. Some of these views were so different from my personal views that I wouldn’t have even continued reading them if I were not carrying out a research.
I have therefore learnt to be patient, to listen and to appreciate the view of others around in order to get the best and most detailed information in a research. On the whole, I was especially guided by the code from the University of Edinburgh’s code of conduct for a good research which suggests: “In order to carry out a good research, there needs to be an honest acknowledgement of the contribution of others. ” I explored the view of all and sundry in this research acknowledged them in every respect and came up with several discoveries which I will always appreciate. Though tasking, it was by no means less interesting.
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