The world recently said goodbye to Desmond Tutu, former archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa. He died December 26, 2021, at the age of 90.
Tutu was a trailblazer in many ways, perhaps most notably as chair of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, following the election of Nelson Mandela as president. At the time, South Africa was deeply divided by race, politics, and the policy of apartheid that dominated the country from the late 1940s to the early 1990s. Tutu helped the country navigate the unspeakable pain experienced by millions of people throughout that period.
In his later years, Tutu became an outspoken advocate for LGBTQA+ people, and for their full and complete inclusion into every aspect of church and society. Over 20 years ago, he said that discrimination based on sexual orientation is the same as discrimination based on race or gender. He famously said, “If God, as they say, is homophobic, I don't want to worship that God.”
Our actions reflect our understanding of God and His character. Wrote the apostle John: “God is love” (1 John 4:16). He also wrote, “Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister” (verse 21). In a world often dominated by hatred and violence, we reflect God’s character by showing love, grace, kindness, and compassion to those around us—even to those we consider unworthy.
It’s been said about Desmond Tutu, “Perhaps his greatest legacy was the fact that he gave to the world a model for expressing the nature of human community.” As the bumper sticker says, “Humankind: Let’s be both.”
— Stephen Chavez, Director of Church Relations
Seventh-day Adventist Kinship, International