Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu made a rare appearance in Los Angeles last night at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art with his friend and protege the Rev. Robert V. Taylor, who has written the book A New Way to be Human.
A God that loves everyone and connects everyone figures heavily in their teachings — Taylor is an openly gay Episcopal priest and was born in South Africa. We caught up with them before their joint appearance.
We asked Tutu and Taylor, who fought against apartheid in South Africa together, their thoughts about how God is often used against the gay community by religious leaders to prove that homosexuality is sinful and wrong…
Rev. Robert V. Taylor: I've certainly experienced that. That was the message of the South African government who used apartheid, claiming that it was the will of God.
I've experienced it as a gay man growing up. My journey has been coming to terms with the fact that I was led to believe that there was something inherently wrong and inferior about [being gay].
At the end of the day, religious leaders who try to mediate religion and spiritual wisdom have a self interest in [saying homosexuality is sinful]. But I think [A New Way to be Human] is saying that each one of us is a spiritual being, and we are at different points of that journey.
At the heart of that is the journey to love. And love is the only thing that matters. And love begins with caring about your own well-being. And that love leads to acts of compassion, which leads us discover our inter-connectiveness and our oneness [with everyone].
I once had a young reporter come to me. He wanted me to say that the spirituality of LGBT people was better than that of anyone else. I wasn't going to go there. I don't believe that…
The question is not whether someone's experience of spirituality is better or not. It's how does our experience allow us to have empathy and understanding for others. And that opens the path to oneness, to inter-connection, and that I believe is where there is enormous spiritual truth.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu: We have made strange images of God. And one of them is of a God who is waiting to clobber us. And we don't seem to understand the image of a God who says, 'I created you because I loved you. And you don't have to do anything to win my love.'
We turn it around and say, 'I love you only when you are lovable.' God says, 'You are lovable because I love you. And that's why I created you. And there's nothing that's going to change that.'
Contact Patrick Range McDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org.