Gays - Condemned but innocent
On 02 Dec 2005, a Vietnamese Australian, Mr Nguyen Tuong Van is set to be hanged to death at Singapore's Changi Prison. Van was sentenced to death for trafficking in drugs of 396 grams of heroin in Dec 2002. The Australian Government has appealed strongly to the Prime Minister of Singapore but to no avail. The plea for clemency to the President of Singapore has been turned down. Van would soon be another statistic in a rather morbid record Singapore holds for having the highest per capita execution rate in the world with more than 420 people executed since 1991 for a very small population of just over 4 million. Van although undeserved of the penalty is guilty of the crime. But there are some in our commununity who are undeserved on the penalty and is not guilty but nevertheless face a self inflicted gallows. There will be no newspaper support for clemency but an entry in the statistics. Such is the life of many Gays - condemed but innocent.
The Singapore Government is also in a dilemma. It is important to maintain control. But, Australia has been a good friend and a serious consideration would have been made for clemency. It would have been much easier to grant reprieve if it was just two pills as in the case of Michelle Leslie in Bali. But the quantum of the drugs sufficient for 10,000 doses makes it almost impossible to do so. It would set an morally undefensible preceedence. In addition, it would expose the Government to claims of partiallity when dealing with an "Ang Moh", and makes it appear weak and bowing down to Australian pressure i.e. "loose face". The Government has much more to loose for granting leaniency. The relationship with Australia is based on mutual economic benefits which would not be impacted in anyway. In summary, there is no motivation for change.
In Singapore, whilst the rest of the community remained silent, some support for My Nguyen came from the gay community leaders and its supporters. A public forum - "Night of Solidarity" was held on 07 Nov 2005 at Asia Hotel to show support for Van. They need not do so as Van is not a gay person, and it has no bearing on the predicament of Gays in Singapore. Whilst many of the attendees were not gays, a large number were. Ultimately just like the discrimination against Gays, the hanging of Van Nguyen is extremely immoral and unjust.
On the surface, the bible appear to support the death penalty. There is a mandatory death penalty in the bible. Jesus was condemed by the religious leaders (aka Christian Right) of blashemy and sentenced to death. Blashemy is a translation of a Greek word meaning "to speak harm". It is an attitude of disrespect that finds expression in an act directed against the character of God. Leviticus 24:14-16 guides the Hebrew definition of blasphemy.
The incident to blaspheme the name of the Lord was a result of a fight between two man. One of the man had an Egyptian dad. In the heat of the battle, the foreigner begin to criticise and demean the name of the Lord. It was not a one off afair, but the man was continually hurling insults at God. This could be liken to fights where people insult each other, and seeing who can utter the greatest or worst insults. This insult usually extends to their family members, so that one's feelings can be agrieved. Hence, in this case, the Egyptian angered a large group of Israelites by insulting their God whom they treasured and refusing to stop. So it became not just a fight with one person, but extended to an entire crowd who took the man to prison.
Does cursing God deserves the mandatory death penalty? The death penalty is only applicable in the context of the Jewish nation. Israel entered into a agreement with God with the entire nation agreeing in Exo 34:3 that there will obey the law. Immediately thereafter the actual broke the law and many died as a result. It is this agreement that binds both parties, for God to bless if they obey, and for judgement if they do not (Deu 8:19). Therefore when the Egyptian Jew blatantly violated the law without remorse, he must die so that judgement will not come upon the nation of Israel. If the Israelties failed to abide, then the judgement provided by the law will come upon the entire nation killing many more people starting with plaques and diseases (Deut 28:58,59). It was indeed mercy that God directed the person to be killed.
The law was by far not the best solution and not what God has intended for Israel to bear. But it was necesarry because Israel was a stubborn nation, totally proud of their own achievements. It was a witness or a corrective sentence to the nation that the harshnest of this bondage may bring Israel to recognized their need of God.
This was the same law that Jesus was convicted. Under the law (Deu 8:19), ther Jews are not supposed to worship other religions prevailing in the region. When Jesus arrived, He claim Himself to be God essentially demanding worship to Himself. When Jesus died at the cross, He provided a way out for God's mercy and grace to flow. It is mercy, not to be condemned by the Law. It is grace because we are automatically righteous by putting on the righteousness of Christ. Hence, we inherit the blessings of obedience to the law without actually abiding by it perfectly. It is receiving grace and mercy that changes people and that change is inward instead of obedience to a set of rules. But first we need to be willing to humble ourselves to admit our frailty and in need of God's grace and mercy. That is the role of the law.
The heart of God was not for the law. He knew that the Jews will fail. But they need to fail in order to come back to God not only outwardly but will a soft heart willing to depend on God. God is full of grace and mercy with incredible patience.
The Christian Right have used the law to judge Gays. Even when the scripture is used, it is used out of context as it is referring to God's covenant with israel as a baseline and even if it is relevant, it has been applied incorrectly. For the clobber verses condeming Gays are all centered upon the Jews incessent attraction to foreign Gods and the resulting sexual orgies. Hence, the strong condemnation. It has nothing to do with loving relationship between same sex couples. The strong need by the Christian Right to insists on the law mirrors the pride that the Jews had claiming that the could observed it. Anyone who wants the law brings upon himself curses for the law will act as a testimony against him which he can never be clean because all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
The Christian Right movement believed in a day of judgement even for Christians and that Christ is the only way. They have obiously forgotten that If one is in any way wrong concerning their interpretation of the bible on the Gay issue, the judgement one received will be great, for they have closed the gates to those seeking redemption. To the innocent children we have called guilty and caused them to fall. How awful is this and great the judgement may be in store. But at is the cross, the condemned made free. Praise Lord we live in the dispensation of Grace.
As Van Nguyen facing death and many Gays rightly suppoted actions to plead for clemency, we have in our midst many many more deaths in the Gay community. It is not the hangman's noose, but societies and religious persecutions that has forced many to take their own lives. In addition, we have condemed Gays to eternal hell by closing the gates of the church. We have blashpemed God by misrepresenting the character and attributes of God causing a great number to be misled and rejected.
Gays are innocent but condemed and there is a cry coming out that justice must be restored. Let us preach the Word of God that Christ accepts them as Gays. Singapore only executes on a Friday, but everyday another Gay person contemplates to take His/Her life. Gays are innocent but condemed.