At this point it is worth asking: what informs Professor Vorster’s overarching moral vision? Throughout The Gift of Life, the contention is that definitions of human dignity found in the liberal democratic and human rights traditions can be translated into Christian value (84, 97). In other words, humanist conceptions of equality and the Word of God are not mutually exclusive. A Christian anthropology “may well approach relationships from the premise of the equality of all people as a creational principle” (86).
How then is this vision worked out in terms of moral specifics? I offer some of Vorster’s more pertinent examples. For one, systemic racism is apparently still rampant in developed Western countries and needs to be addressed. The #BlackLivesMatter movement is cited as evidence of this (72, 99, 222).
Second, the preferable approach to economics fits best within a democratic-socialist framework as it provides for the poor and grants freedom to all (97). He cites as qualified support the neo-Marxist philosopher Herbert Marcuse (183).
Third, fundamentalist religions—including Christianity—have played a major role in perpetuating the “sins” of patriarchy that have subjugated women and children. The solution is complete parity between males and females inside and outside of marriage. There are, it seems, few if any gender roles rooted in biology. When gender distinctions do exist, the male is invariably the abuser: ranging from quashing talents and making children anxious to domestic violence. Racism, slavery, and the subordination of women are lumped together without qualification (84ff, 110, 135, 179).
Fourth, while claiming that Scripture denounces gay sex and affirms monogamous heterosexual marriage, Vorster also believes the church should be open to the possibility of committed life-long gay love (185–88, 231–2). In addition to encouraging such openness, human dignity and flourishing according to The Gift of Life, considers homophobia or prejudice against homosexuals inside or outside the church to be inhumane (89, 96, 130, 135, 195, 229).
Furthermore, Vorster quotes affirmatively the Hate Speech Bill of the South African constitution, which precludes intolerance toward the intersexed and homosexual in any social setting, including the church (175). In short, according to Vorster, the moral shortcomings described in this paragraph are manifestations of the sinner’s revolt against God and his search for power (89).
Rev. Simon Jooste is the pastor of Reformed Church Southern Suburbs.