|Beware of Religious Extremism
In the Sept issue 2006 of the Trinitarian by the Trinity Church in Singapore, in the article by Rev Gerald Tan, on exposing the works of the enemy in sensual world, he said that
One of the greatest weapons of the enemy is to twist the truth and sometimes even in church teachings. The worship of Asherah did exist and was very common. It was a goddess where men would have sex with temple prostitutes and that not being enough, it extreme passion even men would have sex with men. These were straight men who were going against their nature to have sex with men. However, the worship was primarily a sex orgies between men and women. It was the goddess they are worshiping and not a naked male idol and so no gays would likely be involved. Its only straight men who would likely indulged. If we interpret the same manner as the extremist Christians, ie based on the action only, then the sin would be heterosexuality. Instead, the Pastor conveniently compared this to to Homosexuality, which in our day defined as loving and committed relationships betwen men. So something vulgar and sex orgies primarily beween men and women in a hetosexual hedonism in idol worship is blamed upon loving gay couples 4000 years later which has nothing to do with them. The Pastor was correct concerning Asherah and incorrect when comparing this to modern day Homosexuality. He was not careful enough to understand that the works of the enemy is deception, and one can be deceived only by half truths.
The Holman dictionary calls Asherah was the fertility goddess of the Phoenicians and Canaanites. She was called "Lady Asherah of the Sea." It was a naked woman and not a man. It was straight men was was worshipping this idol just like straight men worshiped and have sex with Aprohdite in the city of Corinth. The female naked idol would naturally not find fancy with gay man. However, even a very quick sanity check of any person of sound mind, would know that Gays are only 5 to 10% of the population, and even if legalized would never be pervasive as spreading to the moral heartlands and so enticing the entire nation to same sex sexual orgies. God did not judge Israel because 5% of the population engage in this idol worship (if at all the Pastor's sermon was correct). He judged because the entire nation become intertwined into it and not just a few percentage. Calling it as Homosexuality and blamming gays is an obvious distortion of the facts. On the contrary, if it were straight men, we could easily have understood the meaning by observing Geylang where prostitutes will lined her streets. The symptom of religious extreminism is that we seldom see our own sins, and use the weak and defenceless and those who can't answer back as scapegoats. Because the real issue are too challenging to resolve and we rather believe in a half truth.
(2 Cor 6:14,15 NKJV) Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?
When bible talks about being unequally yoked with the non believer, it is talking about sex, and more correctly sex with the temple prostitutes. When straight men have sex with them, they are actually having sex with Spirit behind it whether Baal, Asherah or Aprohdite. The seductive nature of the statue of the goddess itself gives the obvious hint of female seduction and naturally the temple prostitutes would likewise be female prostitutes out to seduce the straight men. The prostitutes represent the spirit of the goddess. therefore, when we have sex with them, we are having sex with the goddess. Therefore, having sex with the temple prostitute became an abomination because it is actually having sex with the goddess. For the writers of the bible gay sex presented the ultimate of this abomination, because it in, the straight men would loose all their natural self and inhibitation in this sexual orgies and begin to have sex even with other men for the sake of pleasing the goddess. An example would be extreme porn movies, the men would have sex with the women, and after a while, you see the women having sex with the women. The women were not Lesbians or else they would never have sex with the men in the first place. When we assign homosexuality between two loving copules as a sin, we will have great difficulty of hamonising the bible, and consequently even female goddess become effectively a "male nude" as in the Pastor's sermon and become the domain of homosexuality and the object of obsession by gays. A modern example is going to Geylang and having such great delusion and tinted glasses as to see the prostitutes and the men there as gay men. Not only this is not biblical, it is extreme delusion and borders on denial. Perhaps the religious extremist sees gays everywhere and in everything like the ghost of their own self, and the ghost of their own fears that they many be deluded.
Our teachings will be prone to falsehood when we attempt to harmonise the bible based on our own culture and historical context. As Letivicus and Romans appear to call the act of men having sex with men an abomination, the church had attempted to make it fit their theology by making the reference to Baal worship entirely gay related. If we have known the culture of the day, even by just reading the bible, we would have known that Woman were considered objects and therefore, it was not immoral to have sex orgies with women. However, to reduce oneself to act like women and have sex with men, is not acceptable because it degrades the status of men. Therefore, it became an abomination because their passion for idol worship became such that straight men were having sex with other men, in addition to having sex with women. When we try to harmonise the bible based on a lie, it will lead to other lies and will ultimately distort the Gospel message. An entire tribe of people is effectively cut off from the Gospel.
The crux of the issue here is that their religion became so extreme that they were willing to forgo the societal norms of decency, to surpress the normal humanity, to act in an extreme manner even opposite to their natural desires. The comparisons of the worship of Asherah is not homosexuality but religious extremism where men commit extreme violence which they would naturally not do such as suicide bombings and the like. It is not normal to put of posters that "God hate fags" in the funeral of Soldiers killed in the Iraq war. It is not normal for people to argue that 5% of the population being allowed to have a committed marriage would destroy the marriage of 95% of the straight population. Religious Extremism causes people to act irrationally, illogically our of their normal self, without consideration of others.We talk about dialog between Christians on various divides on homosexuality, but this is on the assummption that each will have basic respect, common humanity and dignity for others, and a rational disposition. However, discussion with religious extremist is like thowing good food to swine, because nothing could change their irrational thoughts and extreme actions. It is self deception at the highest level and we when we are challenged we try even harder to rationalise our theology and insist on calling it biblical.
The symptom of religious extremism is self justification of our actions and usually our reactions borders on the extreme and an over reactionl. Consider the Sept 911, 2001 incident in America where religious extremist killed more than 3000 people. The ensuing reaction by extremists elements in America led to the invasion of Afganistan and Iraq with more than a million people killed. The "holy" indignation for revenge, cruelty and disdain of lives of religous extremism goes beyond every moral law, and common and natural humanity. We go to the extreme to justify our actions and self delusion and create arguments such as the weapons of mass destruction which was never found. We have had "No mercy" and total intolerance. Hate and cruelty fills our wardrobe in the name of God.
When straight men have sex with the female prostitutes, they were actually having sex with Spirit behind it The more sex you have with the goddess, the more that she would apparently bless the land and make it more fertile. These were farmers and so the crops were very important. Most of us are not farmers but we also work and till our "land" each day. So what seduces us? What is the seduction of Christianity? It is not Homosexuality as claimed by the Anglican South of Singapore. We blame gays because deep inside we dare not address the works of the enemy of seduction. The seduction of Christianity is self righteousness and every time we come against gays, we exalt our own righteousness and morality. We are feeding this god. We become more extreme and fundamentalist until we see everything as black and white - sin/ not a sin. We take on the Spirit of the Pharisees and put people in bondage under the law. The Spirit is so seductive because jut like the farmers wanting to ensure a good crop, we want to ensure our salvation and go to heaven. We will do anything and everything just as the straight farmers would have sex with men to worship the fertility goddess. Are we any different? There is nothing new under the sun.
Biblical Christianity however is about Faith to believe in the finished work of the Cross and faith is something unseen and not following a set of rules. Jesus is our righteousness. There is a call to return to biblical Christianity away from the religious extremism we see infecting mainstream Christianity in Singapore. It is not Gays or Homosexuality infecting the moral HDB heartland but rather religious extremism and we see day by day greater religious polarization in the World.
Jesus was killed because He went opposite to the religious extremism of His day. Even at the cross of calvary He displayed the opposite Spirit to His detractors. He forgave them. The old syaing still applies - WWJD - What Would Jesus do? He would have forgiven the terrorist that caused 911, for what they did. He would not have sent troops to kill a million people in revenge. He could have sent legions of angels to detroy Jerusalem. Yet, He did not but showed mercy and forgiveness. True religion as opposed to extremist religion is the willingness to give up our rights and our lives, that others may be blessed in return. It is a road of suffering bearing our own cross for the sake of others. Whilst religious extremist only caused suffering to others with no remorse nor rationality and whose greatest tool is deception. Jesus desire us to show kindness, great humility, mercy, and grace and not meaningless outward sacrifice of worship of the religious zealots who put people in bondage by their religious laws and proclamations. Whilst there is so much abounding grace, we are reminded that Jerusalem fell in 70AD, 40 years later with its population annihilated. So to, the church must reprent for their treatment of gays for judgement is not too far away so that the church will change from glory to glory and be of Christ in this broken world.