All must be wel­come

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

THE furore caused by vis­it­ing Ghana­ian bishop Dag He­ward-Mills at the Grace Bi­ble Church in Soweto on Sun­day of­fers us an op­por­tu­nity to de­bate the role of the church in a democ­racy and to push mes­sages of love, rather than hate.

In any other part of the con­ti­nent, Bishop He­ward-Mills would prob­a­bly have got­ten away with the ho­mo­pho­bic parts of his ser­mon at Grace, which in­fu­ri­ated gay so­cialite Somizi Mh­longo to the point of stag­ing a dra­matic walk­out dur­ing the ser­mon.

For many years this church has wel­comed all kinds of peo­ple and opened its doors to the gay com­mu­nity and Bishop He­ward-Mills’s com­ments came as a shock to many reg­u­lar vis­i­tors, in­clud­ing Mh­longo.

South Africa is a con­sti­tu­tional democ­racy, the envy of many on the con­ti­nent. The con­sti­tu­tion guar­an­tees us many free­doms, in­clud­ing the free­dom to same-sex re­la­tion­ships and mar­riages.

Our coun­try has come very far in push­ing gay and les­bian rights in a so­ci­ety that re­mains largely in­tol­er­ant to­wards this com­mu­nity.

The Bi­ble and the church can­not be used as a weapon to preach hate. The church must be a place of tol­er­ance, where we are all equal be­fore the Lord. Pas­tors, as lead­ers of the flock, should make all con­gre­gants wel­come as we come to seek sal­va­tion, wor­ship and fel­low­ship with fel­low Chris­tians.

It must be noted that ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity is a hot potato for many churches glob­ally, in­clud­ing even in lead­ing democ­ra­cies such as Bri­tain and the US. It’s a di­vi­sive is­sue. In Africa, many churches are also grap­pling with the mat­ter and politi­cians have used plat­forms to bash gays and les­bians as “worse than an­i­mals”.

We ar­gue that churches must be all-em­brac­ing and lead the charge to push the mes­sage of love and tol­er­ance.

While their ser­mons must hit to the core of our souls, church lead­ers must be sen­si­tive to the rights of the mi­nori­ties and must be there to unite and bring their flock closer to God, rather than di­vide us and push oth­ers out.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.