Gay lifestyle - Hurricane Katrina, the blame game by the Christian Church
The Christian community and most other religions have regularly condemed the Gay lifestlye. Such lifestyles have been said to be immoral and attracting the judgement of God. An evangelical christian group, Repent America, says that God "destroyed" New Orleans in the recent Katrina hurricane because of Southern Decadene, the gay destival that was to have taken over the labor day weekend. Could this be true?
The Christian right absolve themselves from blame and sympathy with the victims by explaining Katrina as God's wrath on the Sodom-and-Gomorrah sins of New Orleans. However, when Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast on Monday 28 Aug 2005, the New Orleans' historic mostly gay French Quarter the area appeared late in the afternoon to have avoided the brunt of the storm. Other areas of city were not as fortunate. If it was God's fury, surely this gay area would be destroyed, and the rest who are 'innocent 'spared. The comparison with New Orleans and Sodom and Gomorrah by the conservative and evangelical christians has a certain irony. The 'sinners' are perhaps not gays but could it be the Christian right?. God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because the people living therein were extremely wicked (Gen 19:20). It was not just a small portion of the population, from whence we could justify it was Gays since they are only 5% of the population, but the entire population of Sodom and Gomorrah were wicket. When Abraham pleaded before God in Gen 18:26, he was advised that there were not even fifty righteous in these cities. For New Orleans with a 'Christian' population of 80%, any blame (if at all) based on Sodom and Gomorrah must fall squarely on the Evangelical and conservative Christian populations.
The people of Sodom were said to be exceedingly wicket and sinful. This resulted in an outcry against this city by the people who have suffered under them that even reached to the heavens. Who were this people who were so ill treated by the people of Sodom and Gomorrah that they cried out bitterly to God? What were the sins against God that were so great. A clearer picture emerges in Ezek 16:49 when Ezekial describes Sodom not in terms of homosexuality. The Sodomites were arrogant, and wealthy people who cares very little about the poor and needy in their midst. It is very likely that Sodom and Gomorrah were rich and very powerful cities that really cared very little about others, and acted as a law onto themselves with full impunity doing whatever they like to do not concerning of the impact nor consequences. The bible first mention on Sodom was in Gen 13:13 where they were described as very cruel people ('wicked') and did great atrocities ('sin against the lord'). It was a warlike nation which plundered nations around and put people into slavery. In Gen 14:21, 22 it was clear that the King of Sodom were very much into slavery trade, and Abraham wanted to have nothing to do with them nor their wealth. Therefore their plundering of the nations and peoples around the region leaving behind deaths, putting people into bondage, and raping the victims (raping both men and woman as an act of forcing them into submission) became infamous for extreme wickedness and sin which is aptly described in Gen 13:13. It had nothing to do with homosexuality.
The story of Sodom and Gomorrah in the bible came to light because of Lot, Abraham's nephew. God had already made up His mind to destroy the cities and because of Abraham, angels were sent to 'extract' Lot out of the danger zone. Why would anyone stay in such a city? In Gen 13:6, we see that Lot's livestock which even matches that of Abraham and the land was not able to support both of them. Therefore in Gen 13:10, Lot left to settle in the plain of Jordon near Sodom because it was a very good land, well watered for his very large livestock. Therefore Lot's decision was guided by business oppotunities and wealth. Lot soon settled within the city and became very successful. When the angels arrived at Sodom, they found him at the "Gate of sodom" where usually the leaders and powerful man of the city congregate as the centre of power and business. Lot invited the angels to stay over with him. Soon the news of Lot's visitors spread and a large group assembled outside Lot's house in Gen 19:4. They demanded that to have sex with the Angels. and Lot pleaded with them in Gen 19:7 not to behave so cruely and wickedly.
Approximately three years ago, New Creation Church in Singapore occasionally makes fun of Gays, with the senior pastor depicting the King of Sodom as a feminine and a weak soft spoken Gay person. In New Creation, Grace is emphasized but sometimes little grace was given. The crowd that Lot was facing was not a bunch of soft spoken gentle Gay queens. The description given in Gen 19:4-6 was that of a very violent, strong, group of heterosexual macho men who tried to break through the door to enter into Lot's house and screaming their demands. Lot was outside trying to reasoned with them but to no avail. The people of Sodom had violently abused the peoples surrounding region and based on the ancient practices of subjugation, they would have raped both men and women. They were looking for new pleasures and 'fun' and Lot's visitors were just too tempting. In modern days, one can look no further than the abuse and torture of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib Prison in Badgdad many sexual in nature committed by the American Army in order to emphasize total power and control by demeaning the subjects. These actions are obiously not commited by Gays, and similarly for Sodom and Gomorroh, any suggestion that the sins committed were homosexualy motivated commited by Gays are nothing more than deliberate lies and a blame game.
The people of Sodom and Gomorrah did great evil and they were rightly punished. They were punished by God because justice was demanded by the people whom they did great atrocities against. Gay lifestyle is about Justice, the right to be treated equally, the right not be discriminated, the demand to be recompense for the hurt, abuse and suffering. Is getting married to the person you love asking too much? Is being left alone to live our lives as who God created us minding our own and not in any way harming others asking too much? Is having the right to live a peaceful life, not abused pyhsically and verbally because you are Gay asking too much? The cry of Gays just like the cry of the countless people that the people of Sodom had violated will never be quenched until there is justice.
The mainstream Christian Church being in a position of power and might just as Sodom was has acted with arrogance and they have at a spiritual level violated Gays no much less that a person can be violated physically by rape. In Singapore, the Christian population is rich and in a way divorced from the needs of the poor and needy. We are wealthy just like Sodom, and many attracted to the prosperity teachings of the church just as Lot was attracted to the riches offered by Sodom. We make great fanfare of our support of the Tsunami victims living far away as to show our good deeds yet we have forgotten about the AIDS victims especially gays dying in our midst, or the many people in death row in our jails. We have continued to peddle our "conservative" position against gays so much so that the Government could not lift the criminal codes against homosexuality. We have tried to deny Gays the right to work, and closed the gates of heavens to Gays unless they change of course. We are proponents to change Gays to straights causing great emotional and phsycological damage and even suicides. Instead of championing for the outcasts, we came to be like the pharisees whom Jesus challenged to throw the first stone.
In 'Christian America', the reaction to the Katrina crises came far too late, and far too little because just like Sodom, they cared very little for the poor and needy. For President Bush and his christian right support base, there is no political mileage to be gained nor sympathy. This was best reflected by mother of the nation, Barbara Bush, to perfectly capture rich America's distance from the scene. Visiting refugees in the Houston Astrodome, she pronounced them lucky: "So many of the people were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them." What the Louisiana catastrophe has revealed is a country that is segmented between the very rich and the poor. living parallel lives as far apart as possible, with nothing to unite them beyond the idea of a flag.
The blame game continues in Singapore and in America. Gays are blamed for all the nation ills from family breakdown, divorce, prostitution, diseases, morality, declining birth rates, natural disasters, etc. But look clearly under the lid, we may see ourselves, our wealth, power, pride, arrogance, self righteousness, indifference, and cruelty not much different would you say from people of Sodom and Gomorrah. Without Christ, many cities would eventually be destroyed. But Jesus Christ death 2000 years ago made a difference. As Gays, Jesus death at the cross gives us the motivation to forgive. We forgive because Christ forgave us. We do still cry out to God for justice and compensation. But vengence was taken out at the Cross of Calvary on His Son, Jesus. The blame game was ultimately heaped on the person that least deserved it, a person totally innocent, on Christ our saviour.
In the midst of the Katrina hurricane, within the superdome where thousands were stranded, there arose the singing of a hymn "We have an anchor" that kept the spirits of many survivors over the many days of the storm and rising water. The hurricane has now passed New Orleans, the repairs will take months and even years. But for Gays, our lives we live constantly in a hurricane unwavering in its strenght and intensity - the hurricane that first started when we knew were gay since young. It is not a week of pain, loss, and loneliness, but for many gays it is a lifetime of struggle that even words cannot comprehend. We do not understand why life has dealth with us so badly, why God has created us Gays - into this life of injustice where we cannot but suffer discrimination and abuse so much more than we otherwise would. But when all is said and done, we will have faith because we know that Jesus will be with us and keep us afloat. When the storms of condemnation and persecution is rising around us, let us hold fast by faith to Jesus, our eternal rock and saviour that cannot be moved. We will be grounded by the Love of Jesus for us. And this Love never fails.
We Have An Anchor
Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,