Gays – the victim of ecumenical battles
02 Jan 2007, Singapore:- At an Inter-faith dinner at the Expo centre, it was highlighted that dialogue is an important way to root out prejudices since extremist groups are using every chance to sow distrust and hatred between communities. Some call this an ecumenical gathering especially with a common prayer. "Ecumenical" means worldwide, universal whose goal is bring all religious groups together into one worldwide group. In their words, we all still worship the same God; but we do it in 'our own way' Therefore, It was not surprising that the National Council of Churches was not well represented being opposed to any ecumenical movement. Before Gays jump into the bandwagon of inter-faith dialog, it should be insightful that Gays suffered even greater in Islam dominated countries where the religious authorities have killed many with support from the general populace.
The intention of the Government for an interfaith dialog may be perhaps more pragmatic. The primary plan or Plan A was to put the terrorists into captivity (as at 2006, 37 of Al-Qaeda-affiliated Jemaah Islamiyah were still being detained without trial, under the Internal Security Act.), and Plan B maybe to mitigate any religious backlash if a major terrorist act does occur with dialog being “a bridge over troubled waters”. The ultimate aim is to ensure the continuing prosperity for Singapore. At the Inter-faith dinner, it was highlighted that there was an equal freedom given to all religions, i.e. no special rights. This should be contrasted to the limited freedom given to Gays as not to offend the conservative religious sensitivities. We are not too secular after all. With the world coming closer together with air travel and Internet, it would be mindful that rapid changes and growth are norm and Singapore would be too slow to react only when the world do change to be more gay accepting. God hears our prayers not because we gather together under various religions to pray, but rather when there is justice to the weakest/less privileged groups in our society (Isa 59:4).
John 17:20 have been commonly used to call for Christian unity. However, there is some confusion on what Christian unity practically means. Does unity depends on our position on Gay Unions? In Canada, Ontario, for a second year in a row, Anglicans, Lutherans and Roman Catholics won't be holding a unity service in the Anglican diocese of Niagara to renew their baptismal vows. The service was set to take place during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in late January, but agreement couldn't be reached over the controversial issue of homosexuality. Catholic leaders were concerned that having the joint worship service might sow confusion among Catholics regarding the issue of gay unions.
We are united by our belief in Jesus Christ through our testimonies and confession. For the Jews such act would be a major decision in confessing that Jesus was the Messiah and Savior that they were waiting for. John 17:17 declared that we are sanctified i.e. made whole and part of God’s family by the truth preached by Christ, the "word" or core message of Christ in John 14:6 that He alone is the way and the truth. We are united as Christians by our common identification that:-
Our baptism into Christ by submersion into water (John 3:22) represents a decision to believe by faith the above and identification with His death (by submersion) and resurrection (by arising from the water) into God’s family as a new child of God, a new creation. We are united into our baptism in Christ. Our baptism is a reflection of our change of hearts to turn to God and believe the truth concerning Christ. Therefore, any coming together for “Christian” unity should be based on our theology concerning Christ. However, we have long departed from a biblical faith. The Anglicans have become increasing liberal and now do not believe that Christ is the only way to God. The Catholics have long departed from this truth with Mary being the co-redeemer with Christ. Call it presumptuous that Christ is the only way to God but we dare not call into doubt the universal relevance of His finished work at the Cross, a light in a world of darkness filled by man’s attempted groping to reach God through religion. If other religions are valid, then there is no need for Christ and we become gods for whatever religion we made becomes possibly valid ways to reach God. When we dare call this as “Christian”, we call into question our own faith.
Christian unity should be based on our union with Christ, i.e. we are all relatives and brothers and sisters in Christ. Individually and as a denomination we are in a marriage relationship with Christ. Christ is the bridegroom and we are the bridesmaids. As the bridemaids, we are to remain sanctified and separate ourselves from identifying with the Patron Saints or gods of our cities/ towns or our culture. We are already married and should not have affairs. There is a call for separation with the practices of the world where open relationships are common. The Corinthian Christians also indulged in the worship of Aphrodite based on female prostitution. The call "not to be unequally yoked", is a call not to participate in the worship of gods of other religions (or by tacitly acknowledging their status as equivalent to Jesus). Paul called these religions “darkness” when contrasted to the light of Jesus Christ.
A story was told of a Muslim Girl who converted to Christianity and the difficulty and the rejection she felt from family and friends. Whilst conversion from Islam to Christianity is rare, I wonder how rare is it for Gays to come into an understanding that Jesus love them, died for them, rose again that they may have eternal life, and loved them just as they are, a gay person no more than He distinguish between a Chinese and a Anglo Saxon. The message must be preached without fear nor compromise nor perverted. On 1 st Jan 2007, the Archbishop of Canterbury has admitted that he fears losing control of the worldwide Anglican Church, which is on the brink of schism over homosexuality. "And because I am an ordinary, sinful human being, I fear the situation slipping out of my control, such as it is," he said. I fear schism, not because I think it's the worst thing in the world but because, at this particular juncture, it's going to be bad for us. It's going to drive people into recrimination and bitterness." The schism apparently over Homosexuality has nothing to do with Homosexuality though both sides would refuse to admit it. Gays are just the victims, the scapegoats used by both parties. The real underlying question is the debate between the Conservatives and the Liberals is over the centrality and core of the Christian Faith i.e. whether Jesus Christ is God, sinless, died for us, rose again and is the truth and the only way to God.