At the end of last month, Olivia and I attended the first annual Wild Goose Festival. While I realize that’s not news to some of you (I haven’t shut up about it), it’s barely possible that I’ve picked up a few new readers and they might not be aware of that fact. One of the events I attended while there was a panel on sexuality and justice. The main question of the panel was whether the full inclusion of LGBT people was a social justice issue. Whatever side of the discussion you fall out on, you might think this is a no brainer. For many of us, it is. I’ve made no bones about my belief that anything other than full inclusion is as grievous a sin as the one these people have been accused of (wrongly, I believe) all these years. I’ve written about this very subject many times; here, here and here for instance. Not everyone agrees, however. Back in May, there was a major dust-up in liberal Christian circles over Sojourners refusal to run an ad for the group Believe Out Loud. Many of us who lean to the left were sorely disappointed in this action, myself included. So, if the leading social justice publication isn’t sure if it’s truly an issue of justice, any consensus on this question probably isn’t just around the corner.
One of the voices speaking out with no little bit of gravitas on the subject is Archbishop Desmond Tutu and, for him, the answer is clear: Yes, this is an issue of justice. In an excerpt from his new book God is Not a Christian: and Other Provocations he compares the fight for the equality of the LGBT community to that of the fight against apartheid and for the equality of women. He says
“This is a matter of ordinary justice. We struggled against apartheid in South Africa, supported by people the world over, because black people were being blamed and made to suffer for something we could do nothing about — our very skin. It is the same with sexual orientation. It is a given. I could not have fought against the discrimination of apartheid and not also fight against the discrimination that homosexuals endure, even in our churches and faith groups.”
It is also a matter of love. Every human being is precious. We are all — all of us — part of God’s family. We all must be allowed to love each other with honor. Yet all over the world, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people are persecuted. We treat them as pariahs and push them outside our communities. We make them doubt that they too are children of God. This must be nearly the ultimate blasphemy. We blame them for what they are.
It is always immensely gratifying to see someone like Bishop Tutu espouse a position you’ve held passionately for quite a while. It makes you all warm and fuzzy inside. I like what he said so much, I’m going to close this with another quote of his:
“The Jesus I worship is not likely to collaborate with those who vilify and persecute an already oppressed minority.”