|AWARE , a time for PRIDE|
The "Association of Women for Action and Research" or AWARE, the well known feminist women's group in Singapore appear to be taken over in a coup style operation on 28 March 2009 at their Annual general Meeting where a very large group of new members block voted an entirely new team into the exco. Little is known of the exco members except their anti-gay positions seen in their postings to the press. The rumours on conspiracy became clearer with the resignation of its President, Ms Claire Nazar, with the replacement by a newbie, Josie Lau, a Vice President at the DBS Bank. This perhaps gives better insight of how DBS came to work with the Christian Fundamentalist Group, Focus on the Family, a clear distraction in a time where DBS needs all its good will. One wonders where the conspirators have had the time, focus, and will to carry out such a daring plot.
Fundamentalist Christians have a tendency to boast of the law. Jesus must have had a frustrating time with the religious legalist who kept insisting that they are moral and holy, abiding by the law, yet missed the Spirit of the Law. They may not have legally broken of the Law, but the Spirit and intent of the law have been broken. Jesus looked at the motivation of the heart, and not actions but religious extremist looks only at the letter of the law. For example, on Homosexuality, the fundamentalist would see the action as a sin with no grace nor mercy to examine "who" nor "why" it was committed. Because this raises doubt to their absolute theology, and very reasonable doubt in this case, as the homosexual acts were committed by straight men for sexual control and abuse, and for religious worship and not because they were gays.
The "Old Guard" who had drafted the constitution would not have forseen such an insidious act, and had presumed that there would a common humanity, decency, and good will thus having a very open constitution. It must have been a great anguish in their hearts to see their work to build up the reputation and platform of this organisation be used as a stepping platform for the Christian Right aggenda. All the platform for liberal persuasion of choice, freedom, and justice appear stolen and robbed from the back door left wide open in the spirit of openness. There is little conscience in the heart of the religious extremist who rationalise their actions as being justified by the end result. The newbies may not have broken the letter of the law, but by the Spirit of the law, they have stolen from those who had worked so hard over decades to build up the organization.
The AWARE saga highlights the profound weakness of the liberal movement who at its core gives utmost respect to the opinions of all parties and believes in the best of others and that truth and common human decency will prevail at the end. It is often said in the debate on 377a that there are good people on both sides. The weakness of the liberal movement is of course its innate strength as well giving the intellectual reflectivity that it needs to bring new ideas and humanity. Modern day democracy was not created in the religious cathedrals of Rome, but in the liberal democracy in Athens in the 505 BCE. It was the very few cities that did not persecute Paul but were willing to give him an audience, to consider what he had to offer (Acts 17:19). However, the miraculous resurrection of Jesus was considered foolishness for their rational mind, then, and even today (1 Cor 1:23). The Liberals spent so much time debating and reflecting in contrast to the common focus and military like discipline of the religious extremist.
The AWARE saga should perhaps make us more aware of ourselves and that the extremist don't play by our rules and have no mercy. The Christian Fundamentalist often talk about a Gay aggenda even though fictitious, because it reflects their deluded mindset. They believe the worst in others in contrast to the liberals. They believe that others have an insidious aggenda against them in a "persecution complex" because they themselves have such an aggenda. They see themselves as liberators of the nation from the immoral wordly gay culture. Gays hiding and minding their own business in Singapore does not necessarily immune them from these religious zealots who will act without any provocation. They live in their own deluded world, believing that gays are after them and hiding under every rock ready to take action against them, and so the need to act first against the perceived threat before Singapore goes down the sliperry slope of immorality.
The Christian Fundamentalist have outed themselves in public even though they had no need to and were not threatened. They were rich, and hold powerful and influential positions, yet chose to expose themselves for a cause that they believed in. I am reminded of the Jehovah witnesses plying the MRT trains talking to people about their faith and spending their time, money and effort to do so. The zealousness of the religious extremist even for the wrong cause is a great concern. This is contrasted to many gay Christians who even though will be personally impacted chose to stay in their safe closets which is understandable in this season of homophobia and discrimination against gays. However, nothing happens much in the closet.
The Aware saga is a wakeup call for gays not to live in our little world where we take for granted that the religious extremist will not come after us if we do not cause trouble and do not push the out of bound markers. It is time to see the reality and for those of us who hold significant public position to come out into the open and declare that they are gay. The only way to fight against the religious fundamentalist is "to die" just as Jesus had to die that others may be free. We have to die to ourselves, our comfort zone, and be willing to step out in public and be outed to declare that we are gays. If we do not come out, those who are against us will have a free day, to do whatever they like against our gay brethren. And yet, if we do not do anything, surely salvation and equality will come, but who knows how long. Nothing much happens, in the closet.
As Gay Christians, we have to take the lead and take the first step for a break through to obtain the basic freedom and rights for the gay community. If we do not do so, the Kingdom of God, will not be extended in our community. We should be proud of who we are, proud of how God has made us, and proud to stand up against those who take the grace of God for granted to persecute gays. We can never achieve liberty hiding in our safe and secured closets (with front and back locks). Jesus took the kingdom by force when He stepped out of His comfort zone, to come to earth to die for us. He could have stayed in Heaven and so need not have suffered but the Kingdom of God would not have been extended. When we are proud to be out, proud to be gay, proud to take the rainbow flag and raise it at the speakers corner, we would have followed the long and winding road up Via Dolorosa.
What is your cross today? There is a call by God for gay Christians to come out, to come out from the wilderness, to declare the love of God to the Gay community. Bearing the heavy Cross will come at a great price to many - especially for those of us who are in position of power, wealth, and authority. It will mean a loss of our dignity, space and freedom. But through bearing our cross, and our "death" to ourselves and our comfort, many will be blessed and will know that God loves them just as they are. As we die to ourselves, we will be resurrected again and live with pride and be proud of how God has created us, to regain for us and for many others the dignity and humanity so denied to us.
Dear God. Give us the grace to follow Christ to bear our Cross up Via Dolorosa, for nothing happens much in our closets. Give us grace to come out of our closets and to bear ourselves naked to be exposed to hate, abuse, condemnation and ridicule, to loose all dignity and to be humbled, that others following us may know that You loved them because of Jesus Christ. We thank you that Christ showed us to way that as we loose our lives, we shall gain it and much more. Father God, give us the courage, to fight for justice, liberty, and hope, for Your dearest and best, Jesus Christ, have already gone ahead and won the battle at Calvary. We love because You have first love us. And we will "come out" with pride, because You first came down from heaven to find us whilst we were yet sinners. Help us to come out of the closet, that Your Will be done here on earth as it is in heaven. BE PROUD OF WHO YOU ARE. BE NOT ASHAMED FOR GOD HAS MADE YOU WONDERFULLY