It's Chinese New Year Eve in Singapore. The streets are now empty. The shops shut for the day with major department stores closed after 5.00 pm. With many planning to return home for the family reunion dinner on Chinese New year Eve, there are long queues at the taxi stands at Orchard road with those waiting frantically booking their taxis using the hand phone. For my Gay friends, this will be another occasion of the year meeting inquisitives uncle and aunties probing as to when they are getting married? What does the Chinese culture say about homosexuality, and what should be our priorities as Chinese for this Chinese New Year!.
Some have claimed that homosexuality is a Western inclination. But with 150,000 gay men killed by Hitler in Germany during World War Two because they were gay debunks this theory. On the contrary, the Westerners only bought in the same "Homophorbia" along with their "religion". Hostility and Violence against Homosexuality is not found in the Chinese Culture. Harsh legal punishment, or bashing of same sex lovers cannot be found in historical records of pre-modern China. Instead, the introduction of a sodomy law in Hong Kong in 1865, which could sentence two consenting male adults to life imprisonment, was the result of British colonial rule. On 08 March 2001, there was finally a move in the relaxation of the attitudes towards Gays with the decision by the Chinese Psychiatric Association removal of homosexuality from its lists of mental illnesses. Three years later, in 2004, in a sign that mainstream attitudes towards homosexuals are becoming more liberal, Shanghai's Fudan University, one of the country's leading universities, ran a course on homosexuality.
Being Gay has always been acceptable in the Chinese Culture until unduly influenced in the late 19th century by Western "Christianity". The Anglicans and Methodist churches homophobia is inherited from their Catholic past during the dark ages of religious persecutions and abuses. The early church freely accepted Gays. Hence, the Western type of Christianity has been influenced by Western Culture rather than inspired by the original Word of God. When the bible interpreters wrote the modern bible in English from the Hebrew and Greek text, this homophorbia was reflected and clearly not an inspiration from God.
Western Christianity such as Anglican, and Methodist, and Catholic, are clearly biased towards Western culture. They are also linked to Western Colonialism and the exploitation of the local populace. There is also large distortion to the early Christian Churches and their beliefs hence the unending tasks of theologians to give an interpretative slant to substantiate their form of "modern" Christianity. The negative influences of the Western culture should not however negate the teachings of the bible and the concept of a surpreme God and the notion a sacrifice for sin.
What is the message from the bible for Chinese Gays as they celebrate this New Year.
(Gen 2:18 NKJV) And the LORD God said, "It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him."
The Chinese Culture has a strong emphasis upon family. This emphasis is also a Christian mandate:-
a) We are called to have a Family.
The very clear message is to pray to God for the blessing of a partner. In the mainstream churches in Singapore, there is a strong push especially due to low birth rates and in compliance with the Government's intention, for single men and women to be attached and form a family unit. Cell Group members are often encouraged to seek and look out for suitable partners. It would therefore be inconsistent if we do not apply this concept to the Gay Christian community rather than being so critical of Gays coming to churches with an impure motive. Surely, Gays do not need to come to a Gay affirmative church to find a partner, as there are many other sources such as Pubs, saunas, discos, etc to hitch a partner. These are not the best places to find a partner. But the House of God is.
We need to encourage Gay Christians to come together in fellowship so that they can be equally yoked with Gay Christians for mutual support in their Cristian walk and also for community support to help them maintain a monogamous Christian based relationship. The concepts of being faithful to a single partner and being equally yoked applies whether we are straight or gay. Being Gay does not excuse us from what God intended for relationships. Being a very small minority of less than 5% means that as compared to straight guys we have only 10% of their selection. We may enter into relatioship of Gays from other religion understanding that we need God's grace and much more effort to make the relatiohsip work.
Without being in a stable relationship, it is increadible difficult to remain spiritually and emotionally strong. We would be like a ship in the tempest tossed about by sexual urges and pangs of condemnation every time we fell into sin by having a one night stand. It is sin, not because it is of the same sex, because we are abusing our bodies and violating the sanctity of being a Holy vessel redemeed by Christ and a temple of the Holy Spirit. Every time, we have sex, we are emotionally bound to the person. If we have multiple relationships and having to abruptly break off the relationship after casual sex, we will end of emotionally and spiritually impacted. Our Soul and Spirit would be violated. Being in a monogamous relationship provides a safe place where we can find the companion for our emotional well being.
b) We are called to support our extended family.
Being gay and Christian is not easy. In fact, there are very few Gay or inclusive churches in Asia and perhaps less than 1000 in the total congregation out of a Church in Asia that exceeds 300 million. We are called to minister the love of Christ, the love of God, to our Gay community, our extended family. Our Christian ministry should extend to all aspects of the Gay community including conselling, taking care of those with AIDS, and making our voices heard in the public forum.
The Christian community was a very closed knit community bounded by common faith and struggles. We too are part of the Gay community and our extended family comes first. Whilst, it is honorable to support a host of causes, it would be pertinent that we first take care of our family. There are many other minority and special needs groups. But, we need to focus on the Gay community.
It is imperative that we as Gay Christians and churches sent out missions to various parts of the world where the Gay Chirstian community is not well established and facing great challenges to be a helping hand both physically and in finances. The Christians in Nigeria for example suffers great persecution. In Malaysia and Indonesia, there are no well established Christian Gay support groups. Yet, the Gay Christian community in America is well esthablished since the late 60s and is much stronger in numbers and financially stable. There is such a great need which has not been met and a call to the American Churches to take the example of the Macedonian Church to built up the Asian gay churches.
(2 Cor 8:1 NKJV) Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: (2 Cor 8:2 NKJV) that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. (2 Cor 8:3 NKJV) For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, (2 Cor 8:4 NKJV) imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.
Above all, we are called to preach Christ to our Gay family rather than giving unhindered airtime to the Christian Right. We have to declare strongly that God accepts them as Gays and does not consider them as sinners. We cannot let the Christian Right take the moral highground nor represent an incorrect notion of Christianity as a God who condemns them.
c) We are called to have reunion with our family.
Like a Voice calling out in the desert, we are to call out to Gay Christians in the mainstream churches to come back and to come home to churches that are inclusive or affirmative and that supports them in their walk of faith. The Gays are sent to special cell groups or lived highly closeted in the mainstream chruches or are forced to remained celibate.
The call to the Gay Chirstians in Singapore is not live as individual islands. Neither can much work be done for Christ if we are not united and stay closeted within our respective churches. Rather than focussing on our differences in theology and personality, out focus should be on what bind us, our common identity as Gay Christians. If we cross the barrier of our comfort zone, and walk towards to journey of accepting our own sexuality, and unite together as a group, out strenght could be easily multiplied by a 1000%. With the large numbers, there is mutual support and much greater impact in outreach to the gay community.
John the Baptist had a special calling to make a way in the desert. We are called to make a highway in the desert, to make a road in the wilderness where Gays Christians can be encouraged and strengtened in their walk with God. We have to reached out and not wait for people to come into our sanctuary. But we have to go out, and call them in. Gay Christians are hurting and many have difficulties coming out to themselves and to struggling spiritually. Like an unbroken circle, let us lift and support each other that we may walk the straight path.
There are very few Gay Christian Chinese labourers. The work is so much. There are 200,000 gays in Singapore and they are hardly any Christians. For them, their world was far worst off having religion. These were good people, decent, kind, friendly, caring, lovable, gentle, innocent, and humble. You would not see them at pubs, discos, prostitute dens, gambling dens, drunken orgies or with rowdy crowds. But they were Gays, and I suppose for the Church this is the greatest sin that matters most. Could it be that the only sin that Jesus would ever condemned them will be that they did not believed in Him.
The Chinese New Year Eve ended with fire crackers after midnight to usher in the new year. The crowds were very large and human traffic was almost unbearable. The Chinese People returned to their roots symbolized by Chinatown. and many returned to their homes in Malaysia. Let us to remember Chinese New Year and consider having a family and going into a long term relationship, settling down, and coming back home to join other Gay christians in a reunion to extend the outreach to our extended family, the gay community. There will be a quasi shutdown of Singapore in the next two days as people spend time with their families and do a clean up. Let us spend time with our families and exalt Christ and prepare the highway of righteousness in this very dry and deserted land.