|Desmond Tutu Would Prefer Hell Over Homophobic Heaven|
Photo: Huffington Post
Last week Desmond Tutu, in true Desmond Tutu style, sparked debate when he, according to various news sources such as the Huffington Post, said: “I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this.” He is also reported to have said: “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.”
Tutu has become a master at drawing attention to both himself and his cause. This statement was clearly intended to do just that. Tutu’s statement is completely incomprehensible but I suspect that he does not care too much about that. He achieved what he set out to do, which was to attract attention to the cause that he is supporting.
I am not entirely sure what Tutu was really trying to say when he made these statements. I can only speculate.
For the sake of being charitable I must go with the assumption that Desmond Tutu is simply saying that homophobia is offensive and must be shunned by Christians. If this is true and this is indeed all that Desmond Tutu was saying, then we can of course all agree that he is correct.
It is totally unacceptable for any person to be treated with less dignity because of his or her sexuality. A person’s sexuality should, quite frankly, never be a consideration in our manner of dealing with other people. We should not ever think of people in terms of them being homosexual or heterosexual, but always only as persons!
This is exactly the point that Cardinal Napier tried to make, unfortunately unsuccessfully, in his interview with the Mail & Guardian a few months ago. I wrote about this in an earlier Blog post - “How to Use A Sound Bite Unethically”.
In that interview Cardinal Napier explained that he couldn’t be homophobic because he does not know any homosexuals. This statement was unfortunately taken to mean that Cardinal Napier literally does not know any homosexuals.
What Cardinal Napier was in fact saying, and I know this because I spoke to Cardinal Napier telephonically thereafter, was that he does not think of people in terms of their sexuality. He does not, for example, think of me as heterosexual Mark Nel, or as homosexual Mark Nel. I am a person and he knows the person, not the sexuality.
This should of course be an example to all of us. A person’s sexual orientation is not important and should make no difference to us whatsoever. The Catechism of the Church emphasises that homosexual persons “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.”
We cannot tolerate the homophobic behaviour that is evident in society today. Corrective rape and all the other horrendous things that homosexuals are apparently subjected to are completely unacceptable. We must join forces with those who have made it their mission to bring an end to this.
The Church teaches us quite clearly that: “Respect for the human person proceeds by way of respect for the principle that ‘everyone should look upon his neighbour (without any exception) as 'another self', above all bearing in mind his life and the means necessary for living it with dignity.’ No legislation could by itself do away with the fears, prejudices, and attitudes of pride and selfishness, which obstruct the establishment of truly fraternal societies. Such behaviour will cease only through the charity that finds in every man a ‘neighbour’, a brother.”
It may be a shock to some Catholics but it really is necessary for each of us to fight homophobia. Our focus must be on the person, not on what that person does in the privacy of his or her bedroom.
If however Desmond Tutu is saying that as a Christian I have to accept as moral, homosexual acts, then he is of course speaking absolute nonsense. Church teaching in this regard is equally clear: “Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.’ They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.”
So, depending on what Tutu meant, he is either right and we can agree and join him in fighting homophobia, or he is sadly terribly wrong and misguided, not to be taken seriously. Yet, even if the latter is true, we must nevertheless continue to fight homophobia as one of the great evils of our society! Homophobia is totally unacceptable!