Wednesday, September 4, 2013
I'd rather go to hell than. . .
Scandalous words and actions seem rather commonplace among some who wear the name Episcopal or Anglican. Surely it is not fair to paint with a broad brush, but the homosexuality issue has galvanized those in favor and those opposed within the Anglican Communion. Though not particularly known as a theological conservative, retired Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu has generally spoken out someone calmly amid some of the Anglican storms. Now his words have stirred up a tempest. You judge.
South Africa’s iconic retired archbishop, Desmond Tutu, said [a month ago] that if he had his pick, he’d go to hell before heading to a heaven that condemned homosexuality as sin. “I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this,” he said, by way of denouncing religions that discriminate against gays, in Agence France-Presse….He added, AFP reported: “I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven. No, I would say sorry, I mean I would much rather go to the other place.”
You can read the full story here or here. In Africa, homosexual acts are considered criminal behavior in 38 countries and Christians of nearly all persuasions are fairly united in their rejection of the gay and lesbian agenda for society and for the church. Tutu considers this the full equivalent of the anti-apartheid struggle of the past and this has been welcomed in the West while rejected by many among his African peers.
When US President Barack Obama visited Senegal in June, he urged African nations to decriminalize homosexual acts.But he was publicly rebuffed by President Macky Sall of Senegal while the pair stood together at a podium. President Sall said Senegal was not ready to make the step and other African faith leaders including Kenyan Catholic Cardinal John Njue also rejected Obama's comments.
My point is not the political angle but the pumped up rhetoric of Tutu. It is shocking enough for a Christian figure to suggest that hell were preferable to a heaven faithful to the Word of the Lord and the consistent Christian witness in history with regard to homosexual acts. In addition, it is an incendiary statement to lump all those opposed to gay marriage and the full gay liberation agenda with homophobes. Is it not possible to be against the implications of full equality with respect to marriage and family for homosexuals and not be homophobic? Apparently in the eyes of Tutu and many who agree with him, the answer is clearly "no." By using that label for all his opponents on this issue, Tutu has lumped together most of his African brothers and sisters as well as no less that the Roman Catholic Church as "homophobic". In addition, Arbp Tutu has also brought sexuality into heaven as if sex were an issue for the kingdom without night or death. Was it not Jesus who suggested that they are neither married nor given in marriage in heaven? So how can homophobia be a category in the life that has transcended earthly categories in order to fill all in all with Christ and the fullness of the divine life won for us by His death and resurrection?
Finally, the whole thing is stained by the idea of personal truth that trumps Scripture and tradition. Tutu has said I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this. For Tutu, his view of the world overshadows the Word of the Lord that reveals God to us. In doing so he shows himself the consummate modernist, a skeptic of the revealed truth of Scripture and an advocate of the progressive truth rooted and grounded in nothing more than personal, popular, and cultural opinion and trend. Some people accord themselves well in retirement and others diminish themselves. Tutu has certainly diminished his star among all those who take the Word of the Lord seriously.