Mpho Tutu van Furth knows plenty about forgiveness, having been booted from the Anglican Church on account of her homosexuality.
Using the wisdom gained from her own experiences growing up as a black woman in apartheid-stricken South Africa, she co-authored The Book of Forgiving alongside her father, high-profile social activist and Anglican Bishop Desmond Tutu.
While she is free to continue her ministry in the United States, she had her licence rescinded in South Africa when she revealed she was gay – and she admits the period that followed was a difficult one.
“Do I forgive the church?” she wondered aloud on Thursday’s edition of The AM Show. “I understand – I think I understand. I understand the challenge, but I don’t necessarily feel that it’s something that needs forgiveness.
“I think it’s something that needs work, because the place that we’re in is an entirely wrong and untenable place.”
She says her parents met her decision to marry her partner Marceline with joy – Desmond Tutu is a known advocate for LGBTQI rights – but said they were upset that she divorced from a previous, heterosexual marriage.
When asked if the church would one day accept her views on homosexuality, she replied with a defiant no – but said she believed “they will come around to see God’s way”.
Ms Tutu van Furth said the desire to write her new book came out of frustration that people are told to forgive, but never taught how.
“How do we get from whatever the hurt or the horror is, to the place where we offer forgiveness and be free of the load of rancour that comes with an unforgiving heart?”
Ms Tutu van Furth said while the path to forgiveness is often “devastating, hard and nigh on impossible”, it’s a path that’s worthwhile, and leads to greater joy.
“The journey of forgiveness is a fulfilled path, and the journey begins with telling the story – that means describing in as much detail as you’re able to what has happened,” she said.
“The second step of the journey is to name the hurt – so [identify] what is the feeling that is evoked in you by the experience that you’ve undergone.
“The third is actually offering forgiveness and being able to free yourself from the burden of anguish that you’re carrying – it is either to reconcile and repair the relationship, or release the relationship.”