freedom from Religious Oppression @ Christmas
On 12 Dec 2011, it was reported that the Saudi Government has executed/beheaded a woman convicted of sorcery. The woman Amina bint Abdul Halim bin Salem Nasser was executed in the Northern Province of al-Jawf. Amnesty International calls the penalty as extreme and highlights the general of climate of unfair trials and persecution for execising the freedom of speech and religion.
“The charges of ‘witchcraft and sorcery’ are not defined as crimes in Saudi Arabia and to use them to subject someone to the cruel and extreme penalty of execution is truly appalling,” said Philip Luther Amnesty International’s interim Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme.
Although not mentioned, the root of the issue is about religious faith and its practices as the Saudi Government is intricately linked and representative of. It's not an action of a few, but representative of the strict religious laws. It is their country, their religion, and they have the total right to execute the woman. Their Government and Religion is one.
The Huffington Post article published 16 Dec 11 - "Let's face it: it's the Radical Right, not Islam, that is the Greatest Threat to the American Way" is true only in certain respect, for the "face" of it is the Saudi Woman being executed and not the harmless protests by the religious right of gay marriages. The faces of real harm is hard to hide:-
a. An Afgan Woman, Gulnaz, imprisoned for adultery after sentenced for 12 years for being raped by her cousin's husband two years ago. According to a CNN report, there are hundreds of such cases, hence not isolated. Their judgement is tied into their religious faith and one begins to understand the context of the equally religious Jewish Pharisees dragging a woman accused of adultery to Jesus. Where was the man?
b. There is a religious ban on women driving cars in Saudi, and not because of any bad driving. This issue was highlighted by the sentencing of a woman, known as Shema, to 10 lashes after being found guilty of driving in Jeddah in July.
If they want to ban their women, and for them to be at home, it is their right and prerogative as a religious people of faith but it is quite contrary to the "American Way" where there is perhaps too much individual freedom including the proliferation of gun ownership and right for abortion.
Christianity is of course no different in some respects. In Singapore, the National Council of Churches is still insisting that gays be put into prisons as they claimed it would bring the nation to a slippery slope of immorality. Sin becomes a sin based on our narrow religious labelling rather than the moral injustices in Singapore such as the treatment of foreign general workers, and the sufferings of the poor. There is a great hypocrisy of insisting that gays be put into prison whilst those having adultery, divorce and abortion are not likewise persecuted and hardly even mentioned.
We begin to understand, Is 61:1 "... to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent me to heal the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound". Jesus was not talking about general oppression as much as some Christians would like it, it was about:-
a. Religious oppression, the yoke of the law was too great. It was by the letter of the law, without any consideration of the actual context, nor reflect any mercy or grace. When Jesus finally came 500 years later, his greatest against was against the religious Pharisees who were the keepers of the law.
Christians tend to excuse most of the Jewish religious laws such as working on Sundays, and eating pork, etc, as not culturally applicable. But it becomes applicable when we use the same laws against gays.
b. Spiritual bondage - The word "poor" here can be read as "oppressed", and they were oppressed because they had sinned against God by worshipping other deities and so God let them come under the captive of these gods through the foreign invaders. The land was destroyed. Their hearts were broken and their hopes dashed. They were in ruins and there was a spirit of heaviness (Is 61:3).
We are in spiritual bondage and ruins yet not realise it for Satan is the great deceiver for even some Christians think he is not there, whilst others see him under every tree. Christ is our answer, our hope and redemption. It is not what we do, or have done, but what Christ have done in our lives. It is in grace, that we manifest the ministry of Christ and bear the fruit of good works in continuing the ministry of Christ.
Jesus was to proclaim the "Acceptable year of the Lord" (Is 61:2), where there will be love, grace and mercy. He will take on the vengence against our captives. Christmas is not about love per say, it is about Jesus who personified God's love, grace and mercy.
The Gay community is under a double whammy of religious oppression by the Christian Right through their insistence of the religious laws (which they themselves do not follow fully), and aslo a Spiritual bondage of a Satanic deception that says that Homosexuality is a sin hence dispersing all the gentle lambs from the saving embrace of Jesus Christ. The likes of 377A (laws that persecute gays), and the ban on gay marriages are an evil Satanic bondage that keeps us in the closet, that keeps us in prison. It is a physical, emotional, and spiritual prison.
In this Christmas season, the sounds of carols and angels fill the air in the shopping centers. We may be perturbed at the breakdown of Train Services during this festive busy period, but why are we so rush to go from one place to another, knowing that our end in life doesn't stop here but we journey on to heaven in a route made possible because of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour.
We do take things for granted, and when it fails (such as the train services in SG), we often complain but forgetting to give thanks. Christmas is a time of giving thanks for God gave us wonderful preseants in our redemption by faith alone in Christ and His resurrection power through God's grace. For the Gay Christian community, it speaks of redemption from the condemnation of the law, and the bondage that Satan has put us in by locking us up in a closet and hindering us from accepting our true innate sexual orientation, nor seeing that Jesus loves us and accepts us just as we are.
Come to the waters, for the God I know, for the Jesus I know welcomes you home today just as you are.
For Those Tears I Died