This is no longer news, so you may have seen it already. Back in July retired Anglican archbishop Desmond Tutu made the statement that he would rather go to hell than worship a homophobic God. According to the report on foxnews.com Tutu said, “I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this.” He also 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.”
Those are foolish words indeed. I suspect Tutu was utilizing a bit of hyperbole there, but it is an incredibly ill-informed thing to say nonetheless.
Of course Tutu is not a newcomer when it comes to making foolish statements about God and the Bible. In December 2009 Tutu said, in a CNN interview, that while he reads the Bible everyday, he does not believe everything the Bible says. “[What] You have to understand is that the bible is really a library of books and it has different categories of material. There are certain parts which you have to say no to. The Bible accepted slavery. St Paul said women should not speak in church at all and there are people who have used that to say women should not be ordained. There are many things that you shouldn’t accept.”
The Bible, of course, does not “accept” slavery in the sense that it condones it. It does say that women should not be ordained, though. The fact that Tutu does not like that simply means that he would rather worship a God that fits his own image of what a loving God should be like.
In the same article in which Tutu said he would not worship a homophobic God he also said that the UN’s “Free and Equal” campaign–designed to raise awareness of discrimination and violence against homosexuals–is akin to “the fight South Africans waged to end the former white racist minority rule.” Only it is not. As I have addressed in this space on numerous occasions, homosexual “rights” is not a civil rights issue. There is nothing equivalent between the discrimination faced by South Africans during apartheid or by African Americans in the U.S. prior to desegregation and the discrimination being faced by homosexuals who are not allowed to marry. And when I say there is nothing equivalent that is exactly, specifically and precisely what I mean…nothing, zilch, nada, bupkis, zippo.
But that is not the real reason I sat down to type this entry. Tutu’s statement reflects that he wants to craft his own image of God. The Bible has plenty to say about people who take that approach. Perhaps the most notorious crime in human history was the betrayal of Jesus by Judas, one of His own disciples. Judas betrayed Jesus because Jesus did not fit the image he had in mind of what the Messiah should be, and Jesus did not come to do what Judas thought the Messiah should do. So Judas betrayed Him.
Desmond Tutu has decided that God is not opposed to homosexuality. Since the Bible speaks clearly against it this must be part of the Bible Tutu has decided need not be taken seriously. The problem is, if we start picking and choosing when we have to believe what the Bible says and when we do not we can make the Bible say just about anything we want. And if that is not what Tutu has in mind, his position still begs the question of who gets to decide which parts of the Bible are to be believed and which are not.
Fortunately, there is a very easy remedy to this entire conundrum–every word of the Bible is true, and we have to accept it all. If we are going to pick parts we do not believe we might as well throw out the whole thing. We must be alert for those who come in, like Desmond Tutu, claiming to know better than God does what God means and what God stands for and what God condones. I hate to have to be the one to tell him this, but God’s position on homosexuality did not change when Desmond Tutu said he would not worship a “homophobic God.” None of us can worship God on our own terms. If he worships a God different than the God of the Bible then Desmond Tutu has created his own god according to his own understanding and desires. God has given us the truth; what we do with it is up to us, but the truth does not change just because we do not like it.
God is not homophobic in the sense in which most people use the word. The definition of that word is “unreasoning fear of homosexuals and homosexuality.” God is certainly not afraid of homosexuality or homosexuals; God fears no man. God is homophobic in the sense that He abhors homosexuality, but He does not abhor homosexuals. He loves them, He desires for them to repent of their sin and He desires to forgive their sins. And that, by the way, is exactly what He calls His followers’ attitude toward homosexuality to be, too.