I was very sorry to read, in a week when our own bishops have spoken out so bravely in defence of marriage, that retired Anglican archbishop Desmond Tutu seems to have muddied the waters of the current same sex marriage debate by voicing strong support for homosexual activism. He did so by putting up a preposterous straw man argument that wrongly implies that the only choice we each have is to either side with those who are homophobic or else support those campaigning for sexually active gay lifestyles. In his words he would rather go to hell then to a homophobic heaven.
A comment like that confuses me. Can he really be so poorly educated as to have entirely misunderstood Christian teaching on this matter? Or is he deliberately misrepresenting the faith to win a political victory? I ask because even a simple reading of scripture would make it obvious that BOTH the homophobe (being full of hate) and the unrepentant sexually immoral person, of any persuasion, would be in danger of damnation. Whereas those who live in fidelity to God’s law, homosexual or straight, have every reason to hope for heaven.
But our faith teaches that chastity is part of the deal for all outside of wedlock. Again gay or straight. A person can easily believe then that sex belongs only in marriage, and cannot be divorced from its procreative function, and yet not be homophobic at all. It is only when you make sex a fundamental human right that Tutu’s argument stands up and I was not aware any church has done that yet.
By all means speak out for what you believe in. By all means criticise your opponents in love. But have the decency to do so fairly representing those you oppose. Straw men and the slandering of conventional Christian thinking is not attractive especially as it comes from one who has vowed to defend the Christian faith.
When we compare the comments of Archbishop Tutu with those of Archbishop Nichols then we see two very different pictures emerging. I know which the media and world will praise loudly and I know which will be condemned. I also remember something in the bible about the difference between narrow paths and broad and easy ones. Our duty is to love all people- of all persuasions- but never at the cost of defying the revelation of God.