Wear White Campaign
The Wear White campaign is supposedly a peaceful protest led by Singaporean Muslim teacher, Ustaz Noor Deros, seeking to encourage “a return to values as guided by Islam” in the effort to remind Muslims not to take part in Pink Dot and to encourage prioritising family and marriage (Loh, 29 June 2014).
Ps Khong, the longstanding opponent of a campaign to repeal Section 377A, a provision in the Singapore penal code that makes sex between men a crime, professed support for the Wear White campaign and mobilised thousands of worshippers from FCBC and the LoveSingapore’s network of churches, to join effort with like-minded groups such as Muslims to oppose Pink Dot. He reiterated that he worked with homosexuals and did not have issues with them but chose to take a stand out of love for Singapore and future generations, to defend the idea of a family unit as one comprising a man and a woman and oppose the Pink Dot event (Ng, 30 June 2014).
Being a local church within the LoveSingapore’s network of churches, Christians are suddenly awakened by this call to stand up for our faith, to take a certain position on a current issue, largely claimed-to-be of social and morality.
Pink Dot event
The Pink Dot event is the annual gay rights rally celebrating sexual diversity in the city-state. Reports show that despite fierce opposition from religious conservatives, Pink Dot 2014 is a success with significant increase in number of participants from 20,000 in 2013 to 26,000 this year and now enjoys the support of local celebrities as well as internet giant Google and financial firms Barclays and J.P. Morgan. An actress and appointed lawmaker representing the arts industry, Koh, said that it goes to show more Singaporeans are becoming open about showing their support for the LGBT community (Jaipragas, 30 June 2014).
Whose Right is this?
It seems to be all about taking a position, having a say and identifying the right and the wrong. In the effort to promote what we believe is of good morality and social standards, we pull in political and corporate influences and created a power struggle. Everyone now has an opinion and a right. People are awakened from their slumber, their hearts are stirred for a good cause. Is crying out for a good cause enough? Does our faith only warrant us to cry out for good social and moral values?
Parnell (17 June 2013) expresses in his article that there are deathly important questions in our world, and our conviction is indispensable. We need to say it. And then say it again. And at the same time, we need to remember that our mission in this world is not about a stance, but a message. We have deathly important things to say about marriage, but the most radical, controversial thing that we will ever say is “Jesus is Lord.” There is nothing more counter-cultural than telling the world that the crucified Messiah is raised and reigning, and that therefore now “God commands all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30).
The boldness we need to have as Christians today is the same boldness that was given by God to Moses, Joshua, John the Baptist, Jesus, Paul and so many others in the biblical history and symbolism, started their ministry in the desert where it’s a place of testing and transformation. They gave their lives to proclaim the Gospel. It wasn’t their rights that matter. Even Jesus didn’t claim His rights as Son of God but gave Himself to die for our sins as Son of Man.
Black, White or Grey?
Ps Khong made it a huge deal to stand and defend now, on what is right. There were various, almost no-brainer, reasons surfaced to substantiate our stance against LGBT. This ranges from the idea of protecting family unit, the lifeblood of our nation to the possible deadly consequences of homosexuality-Sexually Transmitted Diseases. In my opinion, Ps Khong’s argument thus far, was more a display of power struggle-rallying the strong (majority) against the weak (minority), political strategy to pull strings-defending official position of our government and general disagreement because of conservativeness and standards imposed for sake of good social and moral values. Overall, there seem to be a lack of depth in our understanding of what we are exactly fighting for. Our stance becomes a personal preference for things and/ or fear of choosing the wrong thing. The wrong that most perceive are not rooted with truths but ideals, rules, norms and traditions.
Ideals, rules, norms and traditions can be changed and history has proven itself that people work hard to change it. We may be majority now but if it’s a choice out of conservativeness, there will come a time, people are fickle-minded, preferences change. Homosexuality may really become just one of the lifestyles we can choose from.
What is law? Is law the truth? Does repeal of a section of the law change truth? What exactly do we believe is true? Law can change and history has shown that it changes accordingly the times and culture. The repeal of S377A can be successful one day but does that change God’s original intention for His creation?
Are we too quick to simply throw ourselves in allegiance with the Muslims to the Wear White campaign in response to the clash of FamFest and Pink Dot? It seems like in the event of responding out of an urgent need to rally Christians to stand up for what is right, we forgo the truth. “We are not pushing a religious issue on our nation; we are standing here on a social and moral issue,” Ps Khong said. “Today, we wear white not because we want to preach to people, but (because) we want to share with them that we stand on the same moral ground that is healthy for our nation” (Ng, 30 Jun 2014). I am challenged-where is Christ here?
Love the Sinners but Hate the Sin
We cannot emphasize enough to assure the world including ourselves that despite our disagreement with the homosexuality, we love the homosexuals. However, no matter what we say, with the way we have chosen to respond all these years, the homosexuals, like any other groups of sinners that may include ourselves, can and will choose not to believe us but react from a place of pain and hurts, being the rejects, the weaker group, out of defence, fighting for survival, and the list goes on and on.
How then can we love the sinners but hate the sin?
I am appalled by how we can use God’s name in vain. We claim to do things that glorify God’s name but we easily only adopt the selective but not the whole truth. What does it mean to be a church in today’s world? Are we all about being free, inclusive, community, relational, open, ecumenical, living, relevant and missional? Free Community Church claims to be all of that but blatantly dismiss God’s holiness and the sacrament of union within marriage of a man and a woman.
Archbishop Goh says the Church does not disapprove of a loving relationship between same-sex individuals that is chaste and faithful but a sexual relationship between same-sex individuals as it is not in accordance with the divine plan of God. Same-sex inclination in itself is not a sin but as love often seeks to express itself physically, the challenge to be chaste and faithful to the divine plan of God is ever present. In his letter, he also states that Jesus who is the Way, the Truth and the Life requires that His disciples live in truth and in love. Love and truth must go together. One cannot speak of love and compassion without speaking the truth at the same time. As the truth is often difficult to accept, it is understandable that the world would react with hostility. Against the trends in the world, the Church needs to affirm the truth as revealed in scripture. This applies also to other difficult moral teachings of the Church. The disciples themselves struggled with the truth and many deserted Jesus (Jn 6:60-65, 67-69). Can anyone then say that “I am right” and the Word of God is in error? The Church does not condemn sinners but only points out the sin as expressed in the Word of God. Judgement is reserved for God alone, as only He knows the heart and struggles of the person. So though perfection may seem impossible, yet we must strive for it, growing in humility by accepting our imperfections and weaknesses and seeking forgiveness when we fail.
Blogger Junyan posted an impressive heartfelt message to our dear homosexual friends, addressing the pain, hurts, disappointments and challenges that plague the rest of us the same way when we are confronted by our own sins. This, in my view, is a message of hope and through God’s love, there is acceptance and restoration. God’s mercy and grace is not for us to abuse and celebrate sin outrightly.
Science has not proven conclusively if human sexuality is genetically or hormonally induced (Osmundson, 2011) and homosexuality is not an immutable characteristic; it is behavioural and hence is fundamentally different from traits such as race, gender, or alienage, which define already existing suspect and quasi-suspect classes. The behaviour or conduct of such already recognized classes is irrelevant to their identification (High Tech Gays v. Defense Industrial Security Clearance Office 1990).
God did not and cannot make mistakes and He created us in His image, male and female (Gen 1:27). Since we cannot prove that our human sexuality is genetically or hormonally induced, we can only assume then that homosexuality is a lifestyle like some other behaviour, influenced by undesired circumstances and situations, including certain physical deformity at birth that may affect sexuality. Back to basics-God’s unfailing love has set us free from bondages and given us the freedom to choose according to His will. “…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Romans 8:37 is the promise that we can claim to overcome all unnatural tendencies that is acquired by nature or developed through nurture. We do not have to live in sin, same applies to homosexuals in our midst. We are dead to sin and alive in Christ.
Andrew Loh, Muslim group launches WearWhite campaign against homosexuality, article posted on The Online Citizen on 29 June 2014
Ng Jing Ying, Thousands wear white at church service to defend family values, article posted on CNA online, on 30 June 2014
Bhavan Jaipragas (AFP), Thousands in Singapore gay rights rally despite opposition, article posted on In-sing.com on 30 June 2014
Jonathan Parnell, Redemptive History-Why Boldness Matters Now, article posted on desiringgod.org on 17 June 2013
Free Community Church
Archbishop William Goh, Pastoral Letter To Catholics With Same-sex Orientation, 4 July 2014
Blogger-Junyan, What happens if I press this button?-An apology to homosexuals, posted on blogspot.sg on 2 July 2014
Joseph Osmundson, “I Was Born this Way”: Is Sexuality Innate, and Should It Matter? LGBTQ Policy Journal at the Harvard Kennedy School: 2011 Edition
High Tech Gays v. Defense Ind. Clearance Office, United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
July 23, 1990.