377a - A non issue causing a major impact
In the Episcopal Church in the United States, for the last 40 years, there has been dialog between its "bible" believing Christians and their liberal counterparts. The key areas of debate have been hitheto an Exclusive church (centred on Christ) versus a Inclusive Church where all religions are said to be possible pathways to God (centered on a mysterious god with many faces). Yet, at the end of the day, when the Gay issue came up, this was used this as a stepping stone for which to get their Liberal counterparts in line. Hence, we have an incredible situation where the Anglican Church is on the verge of schism on an issue which does not impact 95% of the congregation whilst the real and fundamental issue on the foundation of Christianity is conveniently de-emphasised by the conservatives and the liberals. Effectively, the Church is on the verge of splitting on a non issue. There is a need for sincerity before any dialog begins and not to repackage the issue. For example, the conservatives in Singapore has framed 377A as the will of the majority and for protection of the family with their true reason being a personnal religious moral convictions and a move against the feared Liberal form of Christianity with its emphasis on social justice and equality as part of the freedom through Christ. Could they be inviting new laws to limit the Christian faith on the basis of the majority will and for religious harmony? A dangerous precedence is set. If the Gays do not have the right to exist legally, then the rights of the church will be ultimately impacted.
There are certain issues so fundamental that it should not be subjected to dialogue. The Episcopal Church affirmed at the 1976 General Convention that homosexuals are "children of God" who deserve acceptance and pastoral care from the church. It also called for homosexual persons to have equal protection under secular law. Even the conservatives in the states and in England have established 30 years ago that laws such as 377a has no place in a civil society let alone advocated by the church. How do we start to have dialog when we do not respect the other party but seek to put them in jail when there is no harm done to us. How would the Bible believing Conservatives be a salt and light (to reveal Christ) within their denominations when they are so eager to go it alone and to break communion with those who seemingly opposed them. And what happens when the salt looses its saltiness and is no better than the rest for which it is showing the truth to. Whilst we claim that Gays have violated the Mosaic laws, by the same judgement Christians have never followed the Mosaic laws which are steep in Jewish rituals and religious ceremonies. For example, we do not have the temple, the tabernacle, built to its precise measurements - the centre of Jewish religious worship. We can't be so naive as to judge others based on laws which we have clearly never followed nor was ever part of our Church doctrines. Dialog only starts when 377a is repealed and when we return to common sense and consistency in our own religious faith. It may be too late for dialog.
It is said that maintaining 377a whilst not actively pursuing it would undermine the respect for the law. The Conservative Christians have not considered this as law symbolic rather that it should be enforced and further strengtened. The issue has arisen not because of globalization but that justice must prevail. The Children of Israel waited 400 years for justice being enslaved in the land of Goshen. The Jews waiting 1900 years (from AD70 to 1967) for the return to their homeland and paid the price of bloodshed that killed millions through the inquisitions and finally in the concerntration camps. Time has a way of bringing the wrongs done, to make it right. The blood of Abel cries out to God against Cane. Justice will flow down like a river from the mountain guided by the Holy Spirit, and along with it will make all the crooked paths straight again. We may stand as a nation, a people, a country to stop justice, like the nation of Egypt who steadfastly refuse "to let my people go" and had to pay the price of Gold and the deaths of their finest first born. The water has been flowing at an increasingly rapid rate down the river and it waits for no one. If we do not see the times, we will be drowned.
Selective and biased interpretation of the bible in order to support 377a, requires great effort that will ultimately undermine the bible and the gospel. At the core, is the reputation of the church being impacted and seen to be overtly unreasonable in an issue that most considered to be genetically based. It raises the argument of science versus religion and raises the credibility of those who challenged the creation view of the bible versus evolution. Whilsts creation and evolution is not scientifically observable, sexual orientation has been well studied. Are we preaching Christ today? Is Christ glorifed in all this fiasco? Do we see this in the ministry of the believer mandated by God? Are we taking on the role of the Pharisees, the religious leaders, rather than the discples who is defined by their ministry to be salt to this world not in condemnation but by the ministry of physical healing, the miraculous signs, which follows our preaching of the Gospel of Christ? Has there ever been an instance in the Gospel where Christians demand legal persecution of an outcast group? There would be a time where we preach the gospel like an empty gong without love, without signs, and being seen as hypocritical and clouded by an anti-gay aggenda. We have preached a different Gospel, for Christ came to sacrifice Himself at the Cross whilst we are eager to sacrifice others for our doctrinal expediency.
Now that the "keep 377a" has won the argument of the day, the battle has just begun. In the classic debate between conservative churches in Singapore on the Law versus God's Grace and Mercy, the question is asked whether our repeated lawless actions will bring us judgement in spite of God's grace and mercy in Christ Jesus. Consider a guy walking along the street minding his own on Orchard Road. when he inadvertantly made eye contact with a bouncer who proceeded to bash him up. The bouncer may have diplomatic immunity and so the law cannot touched him. So too are Christians, we have immunity for God sees us totally cleansed by the blood of the Lamb. Our sins (whether known or unknown) does not require Jesus to die again for us. His death once and for all is more than sufficient to redeem us for our sins, yesterday, today and tommorow. However, the natural law of justice becomes a factor over time when we keep doing this over and over again. Over time, our sins is accumulated and the demand for justice grows until a point where God's grace and mercy leaves us. We are not judged by God, but our actions results automatically in the lifting of God's hands upon our lives and we be subjected to retribution. We will one day meet our match in a WWF character who will really retaliate. The battle has just begun for just like in the States, the church will be repeatedly put in the spotlight by exposures after exposures be-it of sin, abuse, adultery and wrong doing. The Singapore versions of the likes of Larry Craig, and Ted Haggard, Lonnie Lantham, Jimmy Swaggart, will define the church. By the measure we judged, we too will be judged and no grace and mercy shown by others to us. The church which is so eager to insist on the 10 commandments will be judged by it!. and furthermore our prayers to God will be blocked.