IOL (South Africa) reported Friday on recent remarks by retired Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu on Friday urged the African Anglican church to concentrate on the the continent's grim problems rather than on the row over gay clergy, and said persecuting gays was akin to racism.
The debate over the role of homosexuals in the church threatens to split the world's 77-million Anglicans, pitting traditionalists in developing countries against liberals in the west.
African Anglican bishops have threatened to refuse to sit at the same table as Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who heads the US Episcopal Church and supports gay clergy, at a global meeting in Tanzania in February.
Homosexuality is taboo in most African societies, and most of the African church says ordaining gay clergy goes against the Bible.
I'll start by saying I'm not a member of the Anglican/Episcopal church, but my interest in this stems from being a member of the Christian church at large--the body of all believers. Here is what Tutu had to say:
"I am deeply disturbed that in the face of some of the most horrendous problems facing Africa, we concentrate on 'what do I do in bed with whom'," the South African Nobel Laureate Tutu told a news conference in Nairobi.
"For one to penalise someone for their sexual orientation is the same as penalising someone for something they can do nothing about, like ethnicity or race. I cannot imagine persecuting a minority group which is already being persecuted."
"The God I worship would not consider that (gay clergy) to be a priority concern," Tutu said, adding that churches should instead be thinking about poverty, HIV and Aids and conflict resolution.
I don't know what God Tutu worships, but the God of the Bible gives "priority concern" to the leadership of the church. He says (through the Apostle Paul) that church leaders will be held to a higher standard than regular church members. Leaders who are involved in unrepentant sin are to be removed from their leadership positions.
The question is not about orientation, but what the person does with it. If a heterosexual leader has an orientation toward philandering but is able to keep from acting out on that tendency, he is allowed to remain in leadership. But if he gives in to his tendencies, violating God's laws about sexual morality, then he is to be removed from his position.
Obedience is more important to God than all the rest.
For Archbishop Tutu not to understand this and to place more emphasis on fighting poverty is wrong. God will not bless work done in His name when the workers condone sin. Especially when a church places unrepentant sinners in positions of authority.
The other African churches who oppose the ordination and promotion of gay clergy should stand firm to their principles. Then God will bless their work as they fight poverty, HIV/AIDS, and work toward confilct resolution.