|When we are no different than Pastor Rony Tan|
We often forget about the Law, that what we sow is what we sometimes reap in this world unless we repent and seek God's grace. His condemnation of the gay community last year in Feb 2009 was really terrible far worst than his mocking of the Buddhists Faith in Feb 2010. He had used the testimony of a Lesbian, to say that all gays are peadophiles and predators of children, when there was no mention of the lesbian abusing young boys in the testimony. We laughed it off and say that this is Rony Tan. But the seeds were planted for a downfall
His allegations against gays were borrowed from the Christian Right in America and was factually incorrect, and a deliberate false witness just to further his claim that Homosexuality was a grave sin.Under the OT law (Exo 23:1, 23;7, Dut 5:20), the deliberate false witness in a court of law to gain advantage of another person is a very serious transgression mentioned in the Ten Commandments. Even Jesus spoke about it in Mat 19:18 in the same context as committing murder and adultery which makes sense since we are proclaiming a curse on the gay community through these allegations. Jesus and some say the bible speaks very little about same sex orientation (and I am not talking about evil men raping both men and women to show who was in control or having mass sex orgies as part of their faith worship).
What we do and say as leaders in the church is said in "the name of Jesus Christ", ie we represent God. If we commit a grave false witness in what we say, it implicates God. God will have to answer and make the necesarry corrections in order to maintain the glory and sanctity of that precious name of Jesus Christ. Pastor Rony had insulted the gay community publicaly in the name of Jesus Christ, when Jesus hardly mention gays and definately not in the same mocking manner Pastor Rony did. God is gracious, and did not send thunder down when Pastor Rony erred but waiting one whole year for God is long suffering.
In the book of Judges, God sometimes strengthens the hands of our opposition to come against us when we sin against God and don't follow strictly to the instructions given. We will be humbled and repent. Pastor Rony Tan's ministry was in the area of God's love - demonstrated in the power of healing and miracles, and for evangelism. When he spoke out against gays in self righteous condemnation, he strayed away from his calling. This transgression was not just any small sin but very serious, because he was hindering the gay community from coming to church to receive God's love and salvation in Christ.
Despite the seriousness of the false allegations he made against the gay community, the fallout a year later was many fold what he actually sowed. Now he had to bow down to the Buddhist venerable which is really humbling not only personally because as one of the key Christian leaders in Singapore, he represented the face of Christianity. The entire Christian Faith in Singapore is implicated. Pastor Rony Tan just doesn't deserved this after all his 40 years of faithful ministry. He is a very good Pastor and I have been blessed by his ministry. So, I really feel bad that Pastor Rony is suffering so much, when all of us have a part to play as the laughing audience.
In reflection of the deep pain and suffering Pastor Rony Tan is enduring, I am reminded of the many millions of faceless gay people suffering silently, their face, dignity, and humanity taken away, robbed even their basic rights. Who feels bad for the suffering of these voiceless ones justified by many in the name of Christianity? Who sees the photos of gay men hanging from the gallows in Iran simply because they are gay? Perhaps, God almighty in Heaven does, and cares for these little ones. When we have shown little mercy nor compassion, perhaps we don't deserved any.
God is interested in our character first and not our enjoyment, and its a lesson for the whole church in Singapore not just for Pastor Rony to be factual, gracious, loving, compassionate, and kind because we present Christ to a broken and fallen world. We should speak with restrain and be mindful of our spiritual and religious pride and not say too much lest we sin against God Himself in our speech.
The blog pastor asked a very good question, but gave no answers to the question raised:-
"Elijah mocked the Baal of the prophets in the payroll of Jezebel. The Old Testament prophets made derogatory remarks about idols and other gods. And even Paul spoke of “worthless” idols. What are we to do? Are we living in a different environment? Would these prophets have said in Singapore church pulpits, the same things they had said in their historical cultural context?" Blog Pastor, "Towards a Loving a loving and respectful witness".
The answer lies in understanding not the "historical cultural context", but the "historical religious context", something that is not often taught in our churches. The worship of Baal and Ashtoreth of whom the OT judges and prophets spoke against, were the Cannanite Gods, and not just any other idols and cannot be compared to most major religions today. In the OT, they were living under a very different dispensation of the Law and not under Grace.
The ancient gods were interlinked and associated with particular peoples groups, cities and towns. They became one with the gods they worshipped. Their identity is merged with the gods they worshipped until they loose all decent humanity. In the case of the gods Baal and Ashtoreth, there were fetility gods and involved sacrifice of babies, and mass scale sex orgies. Ashtoreth was the female version, and was a naked deity worshipped by men, who had sex with the temple prostitutes in the act of worship.
In the ultimate act of faith, they even had sex with each other. It was in this context that the OT laws were devised, to reject these Cannanite gods, and not against same sex orientation per say. It was a particularly evil religion, and Israel as God's very own people, was instructed to carry out God's mandate to destroy the Cannanites which they failed to do.
The OT idols were carried forward to the NT, and the Greek god Aphrodite was the then modern version of Ashtoreth. The patron god of Corinth was Aphrodite, and sailors would come to Corinth to visit the temple of Aphrodite and had sex with the temple prostitute. It was their culture and common practise in the city, and Paul had to condemn such practices and remind the Corinthians to keep clean for they also had indugled in this practise and obviously still enjoyed it and was tempted by it. It was obviously not about same sex orientation as many pastors had claimed.
We have Pastors in Singapore quoting from the Book Corinthians to codemn gays, which is equavalent to saying that the problem in Geylang (a major prostitute city in Singapore) is men having sex with men!. They did not bother to check the accuracy of the translations or the historical facts they had preached from. The situation in Singapore is very different. We do have a god common and worshiped by all - cash, condors, car, country club, credit card which is understandable since a large church building is 1 billion dollars.
One of the amazing revelations in the NT, is that it seldoms denigrates other religions. Jesus seldom mention or criticised other faiths even though He lived in a multi cultural and multi religious environment. This was inspite of the strong public opinion then of really disliking the Romans for they were considered as pagans and had Roman and Greek gods. Jesus could have leveraged on this ill feeling and spoken against these other faiths, but He did not. He simply affirmed the truth about Himself, that He is the Son of God, the true Way back to God and a reflection of the truth concerning the nature and character of God ie as God is, so is Christ. Because of His claim that He is one with God, He was crucified. We are called to follow the ministry of Christ, to preach Christ rather than to criticise the faith of others.
We have no right to blame Pastor Rony Tan, for we are just as guilty as him in how we condemn, ridicule, and criticise the Gay community, the Feminist movement standing up for women's basic rights, and the other Faith Communities. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God in Christ Jesus. We all need God's Grace, mercy, love, and compassion in our lives. When we act in self righteousness in the Spirit of condemnation, we begin to receive the curse of the law, to receive what we have sowed. Let us desire to come under grace by giving others God's grace and mercy, and never to raise ourselves so high that God needs to bring us back down to earthly realities.