Gay rights - A warning against injustice
Following the footsteps of the Christian Right in America, in Singapore, we have a regular dose of condemnation against Gays from the Christian pulpit at major churches. In the name of Christ, forums have been held on Homosexual relationship and Christian perspective afirming as a tragic disorder needing reparative treatment. Overwhelmed by the strenght and multitude of condemnation, Gay groups have been resigned to the fact that nothing much can be done to oppose such paltforms. Is there any consequences when we are indifferent and worst still persecute societies outcasts? Have we made the grace bestowed by God upon us, cheap by using this liberty to ill treat homosexuals? The Church in Singapore have been persecuting Gays for the last 100 years. Are we collecting for ourselves judgement soon? when God hears us no longer.
ISAIAH or "Yahweh saves." was active in Judah about 740 to 701 B.C. During this period of time, the petty states of Palestine--Syria, Philistia, Moab, Edom, Ammon, Arabia, Tyre, Israel, and Judah--were ultimately conquered or made tributary to Assyria.
During this period of impending trouble and treat, the people of Judah sought salvation from God. Yet, God was seemingly silent in their time of request despite Judah eagerly seeking the Lord through fasting. Their attempts appeared to be in vain, and both Judah and Israel ultimately fell to the foreign invaders. Isaiah whose name aptly describes Yahweh as our savior prophesized that the reason for their unanswered prayers lie not in God not answering but that their indifference and injustice to the poor and outcast in their midst was a hindrance to receiving from God. But God did ultimately answered by sending His son Jesus Christ for which Isaiah prophesized the coming of the messiah. Indeed, it was an anti-climax when Jesus came 700 years later, for He did not bring salvation from the foreign occupiers (which were then the Romans), but He brought equality at the cross at Calvary . Whether one is rich or poor, rejected or accepted, if one believed in Jesus, he become a child of God. There is only one class in the kingdom of God, not whether rich or poor, but whether in Christ or without Christ,
In Singapore, 2700 years later, Christians in general are very well off and consist in general of the middle to upper class English speaking class. It appears that God has indeed blessed us with prosperity and blessings. We dream of being a “world changer” and to bring thousands into the kingdom of God. On the face of it, God has answered our prayers for prosperity, expansion, and blessings. Many great churches have arisen over the last 30 years. Singapore is called the “Antioch of Asia” as a beacon of Christianity to the rest of Asia including China and Taiwan. The Charismatic revival since the late 70s is fanning a strong evangelical movement and call to salvation and holiness.
In the last 30 years however, we have not faced the same trouble and treat as a community which Judah and Israel faced. It was a treat to the very survival of the entire community and their faith. Who knows whether God would answer our prayers? . Just as Israel and Judah came diligently before God to offer sacrifice and to worship God, the Christian community has very diligently kept faith to attend church regularly. Indeed Church attendance has grown and many churches have become mega churches with many thousands of attendees. It is hard for many to naturally identify themselves with Judah and Israel who did not care for their poor of society. In contrast, the modern Christian movement has been movers of God’s compassion to the poor and needy. We have:-
However, Isaiah was not only addressing our indifference to the poor and the outcasts for which the affirmative action to help these groups would clearly demonstrate Christ compassion and love through us. Isaiah was addressing the issue of justice. The religious leaders were supposed to be champions of the oppressed (Isa 58:6), and to be their helping hand (Isa 58:10) and their ‘light’ of hope. But no one did (Isa 59:4). Not only were the religious majority indifferent, they became the instigators and perpetrators of injustice and speaking lies and creating schemes of oppression. In Isa 59:2, it was these sins that stopped God’s move in their community. This was despite them offering sin sacrifice of repentance and abiding in the law of the 10 commandments (Isa 58:2). The Jewish animal sacrifices was meant to be an atonement for their sins being a shadow of the ultimate sacrifice of the true lamb of God at the cross of Calvary. Instead of them receiving just punishment from God, the sin was placed on the animal to be sacrificed whose death was to atone for their sins. Therefore despite them continuing oppressing and peddling injustice over 40 years during Isaiah’s ministry, God had withhold His punishment against the Jews and had mercy on them not giving them what they deserved. But there was no measure of Grace for the saving hand of God when the enemies of Israel came upon them.
Are Christians in Singapore any different from their religious predecessors? Perhaps not much. While we may find it difficult to identify with the Israel and Judah due to the large differences in religious, cultural, and the very distant historical and socio economic settings, perhaps we can identify ourselves with the Christians residing in Germany during the 1930s and 1940s.
In the 1930s, over 80% of the German population were Christians. There were two major groups of outcasts/ minorities in Germany, Jews and Gays. They were by in large well treated prior to the rise of Hitler. In Berlin, was a world center for Gays with many Gay support groups and the well known Dr. Magnus Hirschfiled Institute of Sexual Services was forefront in the move to accept Gays (this is over 40 years before Gays were considered not a psychiatric disorder in America).
Then on the fateful day of Jan 30, 1933, the “Christian” Germans voted in Hitler as chancellor of Germany. Within the next 2 years, all the Gay gatherings were outlawed, and thousands of Gays were sent to prison and to death camps. Hitler and Himmler continually endorsed the purging of the Germany from the “homosexual treat”. The Christian movement in Germany became the force behind the religious authority for the German Nazi party for peddling lies and planning schemes to manipulate the truth so much condemned by Isaiah in Isa 59:4, putting blame and persecution against Jews and Gays to fulfilled both their religious and political agenda.
In Isa 58:10, it is clear that doing justice – keeping things absolutely fair for everybody – is the work of Christians. In Nazi Germany, the Christian Churches went on singing hymns, praying and preaching whilst the Third Reich whom they supported arrested, tortured and murdered millions. Imagine how the young German gays who died must have felt about God when those hymns of praise echoes in their ears as they were forced into the trains that would carry them to their death at the concentration camps. As God did not answer the pleading of Judah and Israel for salvation, so too God was silent as the Allied bombers destroyed Germany. A few years later, during WW2, Hamburg became a major target of the British Royal Air Force. In July and August 1943, the bombing resulted in firestorms causing the deaths of 50,000 people. Over a million people fled Hamburg. The Dresden Bombing using incendiary bombs, filled with highly combustible chemicals, almost totally destroyed Dresden. More then 135,000 were killed during the Dresden Bombing. Overall, more than 6 million Germans or 10% of the population died. Where was God? The prayers of the Christians went unanswered because of the gross injustice and crimes against the outcasts whom they instigated and whom they were totally indifferent to. The tragedy in Isaiah was repeated over again.
There were some in the Christian Church epitomized by Rev Karl Barth, then professor of systematic theology in Bonn, who became the leading spokesman for a small but articulate group within the Protestant churches that challenged the Nazi party by an abrasive call to return to the prophetic witness of the biblical revelation. He had to leave Germany in 1935 after he refused to swear allegiance to Adolf Hitler. For Karl Barth, the base foundation theology is in Jesus Christ and not biblical inerrancy for which the German Church over focused on. Our understanding of Scriptural accuracy and worth can only properly emerge from consideration of what it means for it to be a true witness to the incarnate word, Jesus. Christ is truly presented in scripture and the preaching of the church.
In 1990s and until today, a war was literally declared by mainstream Christianity lead by leaders such as Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and James Dobson on Gays appealing for donations to fight against this imaginary Gay agenda. Millions of letters and request for donations were sent out in the name of Christ but loaded with half truths, hyperboles, and lies about gay people. The Christian Right today have an almost an uncanny resemblance to the Nazi party of the 1930s and early 40s. The same language of death to homosexuals and the blame game against them are carefully orchestrated to pump up support. The motivation giving rise to the Christian Right political activism is based Christian “Reconstructionism” championed by R.J. Rushdoony and Pat Robertson where the believers are mandated to remake the nation’s declining, secular, humanistic society through strict and literal adherence to biblical commandments both Old and New Testament. Death penalty was mandated for homosexuals.
The Christian right in America and Singapore has been misleading millions of people to fear and to hate gay people, to discriminate and legislate against them, and inadvertently motivating extremists to kill gays. There is long term damage of such anti-homosexual broadcasts, sermons, book, magazines in terms of ruined lives, deep hurts, rejection, depression, suicides, inferiority complex, broken families, and murdered souls.
Will God answer the prayers of Singaporean Christians as a community in the time of dire needs when and if it happens? Nobody knows, for no one can comprehend the extent and depth of God’s grace and mercy. It is nothing but Grace and absolute Grace. Let us not take this extreme grace for granted and cheapen it by our disregard by continuing to persecute Gays in our midst. For every public sermon speaking out against this minority group is only but putting another nail in our own coffin. The Jews did not changed, neither did our German counterparts. Will Singaporeans learn the lesson of history and abide by God’s word before it may be too late.
Whilst Christians in Singapore desire to please God by great sacrifices of funds to support the outreach and the growth of Christianity such as building massive titanium churches (which is all noteworthy), pleasing God is not just a matter of outward sacrifice but changing our actions. As a Christian community, we have instigated so much injustice, blame, and arrogance in our actions against Gays. Much harder to sacrifice is to do the good thing to do what is just to defend and stand up for the outcasts, not to blame them, and to walk humbly and not to be so proud that we are superior because we are straights. We do not love mercy if we do not act justly and humbly. It's time to come humbly before God to ask for repentance so that we will have an open heaven to receive God's grace when we truly need it before it is too late.