A New Beginning and Prayer for the Pentecost Sunday
10 May Singapore. A dialogue session, "Christian Perspectives on Homosexuality and Pastoral Care" was held today at nearby Amara Hotel. Organized by a Safehaven, a ministry of Free Community Church, it seeks to provide dialog with a panel of "anti-gay" and "pro-gay" perspectives. The panel includes heavy weight from both camps - Professor Dr. Tan Kim Huat of Trinity Bible College, and Rev. Dr. Yap Kim Hao, former Bishop of the Methodist. Others on the panel were Anthony Yeo, a Clinical Director of Counselling, and Edmund Smith, the founder Real Love Ministry (ex-gay). The meeting ended with a call to provide space for gays (even to the extent of legalizing homosexuality) and to look at the human face of the issue rather than just the theological divide.
Whilst the Pro-Gay supporters claim that the PC 377A is unjust and immoral, the Anti-Gay position led by Dr. Tan justifies the "small" spaces to be given to Gays because "Singapore is a pluralistic society". If Singapore had been a "Christian" country, would it have made it any different? It is simply unchristian, unjust and immoral to insist on laws that is a matter of private preference between two willing individuals within their private confines. Prof Tan went on to implicate that the problem lies not with the church's opposition but with "the Singapore government" and "they don't how to deal with it". Surely, this is an issue and consequence that is feared by the church and not the Government, for it is the religious community that have been harping on issues not even on the gardar such as same sex marriages. When Christian Community restrict the spaces to others whilst having the maximum space ourselves, we are reminded of the story that Nathan told to King David, of the rich man taking the little that the poor man have. The Christian Community and churches holds that prime locations in the city and ranks of the Government and Industry. Yet, they want to restrict the very little space that Gays have.
Next was Edmund Smith from RLM whose [ex-gay] ministry is only here for those who want to "come out" of homosexuality. He alleged that homosexuality is caused by "gender confusion", resulting in a "homosexual
lifestyle' which though he did not define infers sexual immorality. He
As the case was presented by both camps, it was pertinent to note that we are talking about real people, real lives, and the churches' strong opposition (whether biblically defensible or not) results in a mass exodus from the church. Many Gays as observed in the on-line forums when discussing about religion have made their choices to have nothing to do with Christianity. Whilst we debate on our various perspective, we fail to see that "People need the Lord" and not closed doors. We are presenting Christ not ourselves or our theology. When the doors of the church will be finally opened, there would be few remaining at the Gate. Those that have been rejected wrongfully may one day be our ardent antagonists. We are burning bridges to the community that Jesus came to particularly minister to rather than to the rich and religious which has been the current domain of the established church.
As one walked through Tanjung Pagar, one can see gay couples and they now do come out so early even in their teens. In ten years time when they are in their twenties, I believed the world would have changed. Homosexuality would be legalized and they would be debating on Gay Unions and marriages. This will come and the Church has a choice whether to be the head or the tail, whether to fight for justice and equality or to be in opposition. Regardless, justice and freedom for the oppressed will come, soomer rather than later. At the end of the day, two outcomes may come as a result of the crusade by the Christian church against gays and the anti-gay movement is that the witness of the bible may be undermined, the witness of God's Agape Love diminished.
The Church has primarily used the Bible to justify against actions Gays. Though unsaid, at the core of it is the assertion that Gays are "living in Sin", because they broke Jewish Biblical laws. We ignore that these were religious practices of Idol Worshippers and not even part of the 10 commandments. These Laws we do not ourselves follow, we insist that others follow and condemn them as sinners if they do not. As a result, we will deflect the focus from the core message of the Bible that is Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection for our Sins.
The Church has been called to follow Jesus Christ. We should reflect that Jesus' greatest angst was against the Self Righteous Law abiding religious leaders. When the condemn Gays, we take upon the identity of the religious Pharisees. We assert that Christians must display Agape, God's conditional love as evidenced by His death for us, totally undeserving. But yet, we display the same hatred that the Jews had for Jesus. The NCCS not only calls for the existing Penal Codes to be retained but to be extended to cover Lesbians and we have the audacity to call this love. When we have a confused and inconsistent message of love, the fundamental message of the Church, the good news of Jesus, will not be heard above our hypocrisy.
The debate sparked by MM Lee Kuan Yew has been countered by sweeping statements by Christian Leaders of a Homosexual lifestyle of hedonism and Promiscuity. In reality, such public show sexual immorality occurs primarily in Geylang by Heterosexuals. This straight hedonistic lifestyle occurs at a massive scale with little notice and condemnation from the Church. We do not hear any rumblings from the church against such "Heterosexual lifestyles". The "lifestyle" of the majority of gays is no different from their straight counterparts. They have friendships, long term partners, family and friends. Their hopes, fears and dreams are no different from the rest of the community.
Ex-Gay Groups have asserted that "outward Homosexual lifestyle" changes are possible but Jesus looks at the Spirit of the Law in addition to the Letter of the Law. If homosexual sex is sin, whether outward action or inward desires without acting it out is still sin. The "solution" by Ex-Gay Groups is for Gays to be celibate and to be "Priests" to Christ. We asked Gays to be "consumed by Jesus" hoping that they will be made straight, claiming "all things being possible in Christ". We forget that Mat 19:25 talks about the miracle of God's salvation in Christ alone. We need a miracle, and the miracle is not changing Gays to straight, but the miracle is bringing GLBT into the Kingdom of God. The solution is not being about gays "consuming Jesus" but the straight community doing so.
A large banner outside the Fairfield Methodist Church (at Tanjung Pagar aka Gay Ghetto) calls for a day of prayer and reads:-
During the Pentecost, when Christians gathered together in unity, the Holy Spirit fell upon their midst thus ushered in the New Testament Church. We are called again to humble ourselves to see whether there is any wicked ways in us that God may forgive us and bless Singapore. On this coming 27 May Sunday 2007, Christians will again gather for a time of reflection and prayer in unity at the Singapore National Station organized by the Evangelical Fellowship of Singapore. The Global Day of Prayer (GDOP) in Singapore was first organized in 4 June 2006 attended by 25,000 people. The Core message was to come humbly before God in Repentance, in Reconciliation with one another, for Restoration of our lives, families, Church and nation. They prayed that Justice and Righteousness will prevail in the Nations. In the bible, the term "wicked ways" are best described in the context of a majority persecuting the outcasts (Isa 58:1-3) including the Eunuchs. There is a call in the Spirit for the Church to humble themselves for how they have badly treated and persecuted the Gay community. It is not about having good people in both sides of the divide, but understanding that if the church has interpreted in Bible wrongly in this case, then we have rejected a People whom Jesus died for as well. Humility is needed to admit that we have done great injustice.
In year 2007, I believe that God is calling Gay Christians to humble themselves, to ask God for forgiveness on behalf of the Christian Community for their pride, arrogance, and prejudice against the Gay Community. Although, we are not the guilty party, the biblical witness and the Testimony of the Gospel of the Agape Love of God has been impacted. At the end, the Gay community sees the church as a whole, and we included as part of those who have banished and persecuted them.
Let us pray,
Lord prepare me, to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true.
Lord prepare me, to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true.