Desmond Tutu on the ‘real’ Problem Faced by the Church
I just read this story at BBC concerning some comments made by the Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The article says:
However, he said he sometimes felt ashamed of his fellow Anglicans as they focussed obsessively on trying to resolve their disagreement about homosexuality while 30,000 people died each day because of poverty.
“We really will not be able to win wars against so-called terror as long as there are conditions that make people desperate, and poverty, disease and ignorance are amongst the chief culprits,” he said.
“We seem to be engaging in this kind of, almost, past-time [while] there’s poverty, hunger, disease, corruption.
“I must imagine that God is weeping, and the world quite rightly should dismiss the Church in those cases as being totally irrelevant.”
Archbishop Tutu accused some of his fellow Anglicans of going against the teaching of Jesus in their treatment of homosexual people by “persecuting the already persecuted”.
A couple of points about this should be made.
First, it is not shame he ought to feel, but remorse. In my opinion, this is not an either or proposition. It is not a matter of simply ignoring the sexual issues that corrupt the church so that we can focus on poverty. Ignoring the problem or even giving it a disproportionate amount of focus will not make it go away. This is not a matter we can simply ‘agree to disagree’ upon in any way, shape or form. All the relief of poverty in the world is meaningless if the church is corrupt on the inside. I think Isaiah 1 confirms this well enough. He should feel remorse that he thinks more highly of the world’s opinion of the church than he does of Christ’s opinion of the church. He should feel remorse that he thinks purity in the church and rejection of sin are reasons to feel shame for the church. Please.
Second, I reject his notion that the ‘war on terror’ is being waged by the haves against the have-nots. This is just bad reasoning, bad history, and bad understanding of the nature of the war being waged. The main perpetrators of terror in our world are not poor, desperate, disease ridden, or ignorant people but, rather, intelligent, religious, oil-wealthy people whose only goal is terror and subjugation of those they hate. I have seen no evidence whatsoever that ‘terror’ (such as that perpetrated against the United States on 9/11-2001) has anything to do with poverty except that perhaps those who are strapping bombs to their chest are poor enough to accept American money from the oil wealthy Shieks who pass it out to them for doing so.
Third, I don’t imagine Tutu can Scripturally justify his statement that God is ‘weeping’ because the church if somehow ‘failing.’ Of course the church is failing; duh. But who isn’t? The church’s failure on poverty is no worse than the failure of anyone else tackling the issue. But to somehow suggest that God is weeping implies that somehow God did not anticipate this or that he is surprised by our failure. God is not weeping; God is sovereign. There is nothing that is beyond his control or rule.
Fourth, he said ‘…the world quite rightly should dismiss the Church in those cases as being totally irrelevant.’ Mr Tutu, with all due respect, the world is not going to welcome the church just because the church abandons the ‘sexual’ issues and takes up the ‘poverty’ issues. That’s a red-herring and complete nonsense. The world rejects the church because the church stands for righteousness, holiness, and purity. The world rejects the church because we belong to Jesus Christ and the world rejects Jesus Christ. The church does not exist for the approval of the world. And the church will never have the approval of the world regardless of what we do. The world will always find a reason to reject the church.
Now, I do agree that the church should be much more involved with issues of justice and poverty (Isaiah 1 also talks about this) and I have written about it at Advance Signs. But I do not accept the idea that the church can simply brush sin under the rug and get on with other issues. This ‘sexuality’ issue, along with a hundred other such issues that plague the church, must be dealt with as we go.
I also agree that the church has probably done a fairly lousy job of ministering to the homosexual population in general. Those ‘christians’ who make it their priority and responsibility to, in Tutu’s words, ‘persecute the persecuted’ are wrong and we might justifiably question the fruit they are producing. But let’s have no misunderstanding about what the church is and what it is to be doing. We do not abandon our progress in sanctification, in holiness, in purity, in search of the world’s approval or in order to be relevant. We have our commands, our orders. We follow them.
Traditionalists suspect that the call for an end to discussions about
homosexuality is designed to allow liberal developments to go
I agree. The church will die from the inside out if our focus is only external. We must constantly be dealing with the church. We must have a clear sense of what is and is not acceptible behavior in the Body of Christ.
Always For His Glory!