Gays, the first Christians in the bible.
A bus passed by a Church and a Hindu mission somewhere in Singapore. They lived peacefully. Bounded by a strict code to respect each others religion, even the most fundamentalist and conservative Christian group rarely publicly condemn another religion. The very same church would without hesitation condemn gays but not the Hindu mission. The church in Singapore is well accepted. They don't face persecutions because they are not a treat - to the status quo, to other religions, to other ethnic groups, and perhaps to the aggenda of the authorities. Is the church walking in the will and move of God? or are they succumbing to the powers of this world. Has the salt lost its taste?.
The church have came a long way from Jerusalem. From a minority sect persecuted by the established religious institution and by the governing authority, it became the very religious institution of whom it fought against. If the early church was in Singapore, it would have no hesitation to come against worship of idols, created beings such as saints, and worship of money irrespective of their religion. They would not back down in proclaiming the good news of the resurrected Christ as the only way to salvation even to other faiths. However, after 2000 years, the church have become the institution it so vehemently opposed. Instead of walking in the road of martyrdom for Christ, it became the prosecutor general of who? Of Gays? The weakest and most despised minority group in society. It is with incredible irony that the first Christian groups outside the community in Jerusalem were actually Samarians and the Eunuchs or gays and not even the gentiles. The gospel has reached the globe all over. Before, it returns to Jerusalem, ushering the second coming of Christ, it must again addressed the two groups of people.
In Acts 1:4, Jesus appeared to the disciples for a final time after His resurrection from the death. It was His farewell speech of the things to come before He departed to the heavens. The disciples must have been concerned and asked the obvious question. “When are you coming back?”. “When will you return and restore the Kingdom of Israel over its occupiers?” (Acts 1:6). Jesus replied that it is not for them to know the times but they will be a witness of Jesus in their city (Jerusalem), then to their nation (Judea), to the outcast groups in their midst (Jerusalem), and only then to the different people groups of the world – to the end of the earth. Did the disciples understood the answer? Jesus did not actually answer to their question raised which was essentially confined to their personal motivation for restoration of Israel. The rest of the nations, the gentiles, were unclean. Therefore, Jesus’ reply was a challenge their fixed mind set and to prepare their hearts when they would need to address their prejudices. But to do so, they would need power, supernatural power. It is only when we receive the Holy Spirit and anointed by His power that there will be breakthroughs resulting in successful and authentic witness of Christ’s resurrection power that transcends to the nations. They must have been shocked with Jesus for they have not met the Holy Spirit.
As promised by Jesus, the Holy Spirit came, Acts 2:2-4, and the disciples were changed totally when the Holy Spirit filled them and move in the power of God. They became authentic witness for Jesus and just like Jesus demonstrated the power of the kingdom. So great were the miracles and signs that preceeded their message that in Acts 4:41, three thousand souls repented. They were baptized and received the gift of the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues which (Acts 2:38) whom they saw the disciples having. The religious authorities reacted strongly to the new move of God. They sent Saul, their most zealous persecutor. In Acts 8:3-4, Saul went from house to house in a search and destroy mission to weed out the "Christian sect". The believers had to escape from Jerusalem.
Of the many exodus from Jerusalem, the writer of Acts highlighted the work of Phillip. Phillip, a Hellenist Jew, was one of the first seven deacons of the church. He was a unique position, one who was a Jew, yet experienced the alienation of being a minority group from a Greek culture in a Hebrew majority. In Acts 6, the increasing number of the Hellenist Jews (Jews of Greek background) as the overall size of the disciples or the church grew. This resulted in many disputes which took up much of the energy of the leaders hence was impacting the overall ministry of the church. Finally, the Apostles or "the twelve" selected seven devout men to manage the day to day affairs whilst they concerntrate of Prayer and preaching of the word of God (Acts 6:4). With this focus and the unity of the Spirit, the church grew cultimating in the increase in persecution.
With increasing persecution by Saul, in Acts 8:1, the desciples were scattered over all Judea and Samaria, preaching the word of God hence fulfilling Jesus' prophecy in Acts 1:8. that "..... you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.". It is plausible that no disciple wanted to go to Samaria even though it was very close to Jerusalem and would be the best place to hide. But God sent Phillip there, a men of faith who must have understood what it must have felt like being an outcasts in order to minister to the Samaritans. In Acts 8:5-13, amazing miracles broke out in Samaria and many believed. The fact that the Samaritans (of all the people and not the rest of Judea) believed in the gospel with revival breaking out so shocked the Apostles that Peter and John went down to Samaria to witness for themselves. Confirming that the Samaritans had indeed believed and had received Jesus as their Lord and saviour and were baptised unto repentance (Acts 8:16 ... baptised in the name of Lord Jesus Christ), they prayed for the Samaritans that they may receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:15) and be baptized in the Holy Spirit. The resulting signs and wonders of tongues were so profound that a new believer Simon in his exitement offered money to receive this gift even though he was already believer and Peter would have prayed for him regardless (Acts 8:18-20, 8:13).
Very shortly after Phillip's successful and controversial mission to Samaria, came perhaps one of most the controversial event ever recorded. In Acts 8:26, an Angel directed Phillip to go down to the road in the desert from Jerusalem to Gaza. He arose to start the journey even though he had no idea of what was expecting. It was a journey of faith into the desert road, no water, no villages to buy food, absolute wilderness with no end. Along this desert road, there happened to be an Ethiopian Eunuch, a man of great standing who had come to Jerusalem to worship (Acts 8:27). He sought God at Jerusalem, but must have been rejected for this man was an eunuch and a non Jew which would have disqualified him from entering the temple into the presence of God. Why did he sought the Hebrew God? We know that the Eunuch was well verse with Isaiah. Perhaps he was intrigued by the prospect of a Messiah that accepted him as who he was. Did not Isa 56:3-5 mentioned that God will accept the Eunuchs and give them a special place in His kingdom that they will be taken good care of even though they would not have any descendents to care for them. But now coming back dissapointed for a hope so eager yet a hope dashed, he was returning to Ethiopia. He was not accepted at Jerusalem and furthermore the messiah apparently had not appeared.
In the desert place, God met the Ethiopian Eunuch. Phillip would have rode passed his caravan except that he heard the Eunuch reading the book of Isaiah - a strange scene for only the very rich owned their own scriptures and very few would be so immersed and interested that they read aloud for the many days of the journey. In Acts 8:30-35 Phillip explained to him of the prophecies concerning the Messiah spoken in Isaiah that the Eunuch have sought so much to travel 2000 km to seek. And the prophecy has been fulfilled this day in Jesus Christ.
The question that Eunuch asked echoes in history "What hinders me [an Eunuch] from being baptized, to be a Christian?". The Eunuch is a very general term used. Although in modern terminology, it refers to male with their sexual organs removed, the word Eunuch is a general term to describe Gays. In Mat 19:12, Jesus describes Eunuchs not only as men who are forcefully castrated but also those who despite having their sexual organs intact, are born not having the desire to have a sexual relationship with woman, i.e. those who are naturally Gays.
The notion of Gays as as "natural" Eunuchs are consistent with the then Jewish writings. In the Jewish Talmud (Yebamoth VIII, folios 79b-84a), a Rabbi Eliezer describes how a natural eunuch ("Saris Chmeh") can be identified, including lateness or absence of pubic hair, the fact that his urine does not form an arch, the absence of a beard, the softness of his hair, the smoothness of his skin, the lack of froth in his urine, the wateriness of his semen, the lack of fermentation of his urine, the fact that his body does not steam after bathing in the wintertime, and finally the fact that his voice is so abnormal that one cannot distinguish whether it is that of a man or a woman. None of their tests involves checking for the presence of anatomical defects in reproductive organs. While the above is amusing, there is no difference in todays commonly held negative stereotype of Gays being weak and feminine.
As Phillip baptized the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8:37, the prophecy of Isaiah 53 was fulfilled that Gays would finally be accepted into the Kingdom of God and that God would take special care of them for they do not have desendents. The Gates of the Kingdom of God has been opened. There is no reason why Gays should be stopped from coming in by the mainstream churches in Singapore. If it is of God, who can go against the will of God?. In Acts 5:34, there was a dissenter in the Jewish council against the persecution of the "Christian sect". A highly regarded Pharisee named Gamaliel raised the need for caution for acting too harshly against ".. these men" and that if it not of God such movements will dispered by itself naturally.
It would be sad if the Christian Church which has started so well in accepting Gays then turned its back for the next 2000 years, be found fighting against the move of God. This is indeed a sad indictment. As the church revert back to a "closed door" policy, the conditions for Jesus return that Christ is witnesed to the ends of the world remains a distant dream and a delusion to Christians who have sought to reach the most tiniest of people's group yet forgotten the largest one in their midst. Many have traveled and come from afar just as the Ethiopian Eunuch traveled 2000 km to seek God in Jerusalem. But at the Gates of the Church, they are still strangers. May God have mercy on us.
In the desert place there was a small oasis of water where the Ethiopian Eunuch was baptised. There was no one nearby only the sound of enless rushing of wind and sand. But in the midst of all the dryness, a picture of the pain that gays have suffered from eternity to eternity, was a God who thought of them before even the Gospel spread to gentiles - to you and me. That is the heart of God. it is a heart for gays and not against them. In that small Oasis of water, God was there. Today, two thousand years later, there is a small Oasis in each city as a witness to God's love for them.