I am not truly free if I am taking away someone else’s freedom, just as surely as I am not free when my freedom is taken from me. ‘The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity
- Nelson Mandela
For LGBT people around the world, the rainbow is celebrated as a symbol of sexual and gender diversity. South Africans adopted it with the end of institutional apartheid, to describe themselves as the “rainbow nation”, celebrating ethnic and linguistic diversity.
In his life and legacy, Nelson Mandela showed us that freedom and human rights are indeed, indivisible – as I learned myself, from my own observations and efforts in both political and gay activism in South Africa, while Mandela was imprisoned, and after. (more…)
(This is page 2 of an extended post. For page 1, see here)
Up to this point, Mandela remained imprisoned, and so not directly involved. However, from the moment of the unbanning of the ANC and other liberation movements on 2nd February 1990, even before his physical release, it was obvious to all that he was the undisputed leader of the ANC, and in effect a president in waiting. It can be safely assumed that when the ANC, partly from conviction and partly under pressure from the gay anti- apartheid movements ridiculed by Mompati as “red herrings”, included in its proposals for the constitutional convention, these had the explicit approval of Mandela. These proposals included an insistence that protection from discrimination should cover a wide range of discrimination types, among them sexual orientation (but sadly, not gender expression). Among the White political parties the Democratic Party, successor to the Progressive Party that I had worked for in numerous election campaigns, also supported lesbian and gay equality, and so LGBT protection was indeed built into the South African constitution.
From THE CONSTITUTION OF SOUTH AFRICA Chapter 2 – Bill of Rights Equality 9:
(3) The state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth.
During the apartheid years, many Church leaders from a range of denominations were prominent activists in the liberation struggle: Archbishops Denis Hurley and Desmond Tutu, Revs Frank Chikane, Peter Storey, Beyers Naude and Alan Boesak being just a handful of examples. After the transition, it was notable that, many followed the example of Mandela and accepted the principle that freedom is indivisible, including freedom for LGBT people. This should not surprise: a third important symbolic association of the rainbow, alongside ethnic and sexual diversity, is scriptural: a sign of God’s covenant with God’s people – and God’s love, as revealed in the Gospels, is all inclusive, and fervently on the side of justice.
Some of the key questions in the Catholic consultation on marriage and the family concern the Aquinas’ concept of natural law, but, noted in the introduction to a post by theologian Alban McCoy at the Tablet ”Many lay Catholics taking part in the Vatican’s survey will have struggled with the questions concerning natural law and sex and relationships”. McCoy writes:
….. natural law is one of the oldest and, until relatively recently, most influential ideas in moral and political thought.
However much disagreement there might be about specifics, we seem unable to dispense with the notion that some things are natural or appropriate to human life.
It is the assumption that the only those sexual relationships which are open to procreation that are “natural or appropriate to human life”, that is the basis for the traditional Catholic condemnation of same – sex relationships, and so of gay marriage. But that’s a shallow, simplistic view of Natural Law, and its implications for LGBT Christians.
The first major intervention by Pope Francis to shake up the Vatican bureaucracy was directed at cleaning up the scandal – ridden Vatican Bank. The second was the innovative appointment of an advisory body of eight cardinals, to supervise the entire, continuing process. Now we have another – a commission to advise on the other great scandal of the modern Catholic Church, clerical sex abuse.
As with the earlier commission appointed to deal with the Vatican Bank, it is notable that this commission on abuse will include laypeople as well as clergy, and both men and women.
Vatican announces new papal advisory commission on sex abuse
For the Christmas season, “Fortunate Families” have a valuable suggestion: Give yourself!
“Fortunate Families” describe themselves as “a national organization of Catholic parents with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender children who support others like us to affirm, celebrate, and seek equality for our families. Our faith journey calls us to strive for justice for all our children” . Appropriately for this commitment to justice, rooted in faith, their bi – monthly newsletter is called “Voices for Justice”. In the latest issue, Lisa Covington suggests that an appropriate gift this Christmas season, is the gift of oneself.
An editorial introduction to the full article summarises the key point:
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
Jeremiah 1:5 NASB
With the Christmas season nearing, one area of focus in our lives is on gifts. Yes, the primary focus is on the anticipation of the coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. However, as human beings, we can get consumed in the process of wanting to get the perfect gift for that someone special in our lives. Consumed by the thought process of what to buy. Consumed by the time it takes to stand in the check-out line. Consumed by where to hide the gift after you bought it or after it arrives. Then, there is the wrapping of the gift.
What if for a moment, the thought of a gift changed from being an item that can be purchased, to the gift of a human being? Take it one step further, and consider the gift of self. In Jeremiah, we read how special each of us is. What a wonderful gift to know that the Lord knew each and every one of us before we were born. We each have a purpose in building up the Kingdom of God.
Covington is addressing her remarks to the Catholic parents and families of LGBT people, but her thinking is equally applicable to LGBT people ourselves. (more…)
Central to the orthodox Catholic rejection of homoerotic relationships, and all sexual intercourse not open to procreation, is the natural law theory of the medieval theologian and great doctor of the Church, Thomas Aquinas. However, there’s a great deal that needs to be said about the distortions of Aquinas’ understanding of natural law to support “traditional” marriage, while suppressing what he wrote about the naturalness of same – sex relationships for those whom modern terminology would describe as having a same – sex orientation.
Aquinas and the Middle Ages were an awfully long time ago, and it’s not surprising that it is now generally acknowledged, by traditional and revisionist moral theologians alike, that there are some problems with his conclusions (for example, that masturbation, which is not open to procreation, is more offensive to God than rape, which is). So some modern day conservative theologians who respect the core of Aquinas’ Natural Law theory have developed what is known as “New Natural Law Theory”.