The church in Singapore could do herself much good by reorienting her focus on God’s agenda for the gays, instead of the publicly perceived homophobia of the church and its fear of the gays’ agenda for the world. The gays may have an agenda, but so does God, and God’s agenda and love plan for the gays and the world is what will prevail. The church can ask, “Lord, how can we partner with You in what You are doing among the gays, and how can we join You in Your work”? One thing this would involve is the church seeking to understand and inculcate compassion and develop church ministry and care of gay inclined believers. It will take the church out of a war footing into a posture of peacemaking, towels and basins. It will mean the church identifying with the marginalized, taking risks, and serving with humility.
I was reading a friend’s review of a book titled, ‘Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality’ by Wesley Hill, who is Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies at Trinity School for Ministry. Sze Zeng summarized three lessons he picked up. They helped me see the struggles and loneliness of believers who experience same sex attraction. It helped me feel the plight and pain of brothers and sisters who often endure it all in anonymity. I have quoted two of his lessons. For the third lesson, please read his full blogpost.
Lesson 1: Same-sex attraction is real—the need to struggle with it.
There are those among us who are really and genuinely feel attracted to people of the same gender. For this reason, many have tried to find a connection between same-sex attraction and their childhood. Some even try to link sexuality to gene. Hence the whole debate between ‘nature versus nurture’. Accordingly, there are ‘therapies’ designed to help people to change their sexuality.
The author cuts through this impasse debate by talking about his own personal discovery of his homosexual orientation. He was brought up in a non-abusive childhood and had a fairly good upbringing. It was during high school years that he sensed a “steady, strong, unremitting, exclusive sexual attraction to persons of the same sex” (p.13). The unchangeable sexual desire for homosexual relationship is real to him and to those who experience it. Since then his life is marked by fear, persistent loneliness and inner conflict.
Hill asked a probing question, which I think many homosexual Christians are asking as well, “Can we gay and lesbian Christians who experience no change in our homoerotic desires live in the joyful assurance that our lives are satisfying to God? Can we who remain homosexually inclined actually please God?” (p.135).
To Hill, the answer depends on our understanding of homosexuality: What do the Scripture and Church tradition say? Hill is clear that same-sex attraction is “one of the myriad tragic consequences of living in a fallen world stalked by the specters of sin and death” (p.32). With full conviction and tireless struggle, Hill writes, “I abstain from homosexual behaviour because of the power of that scriptural story” (p.61), and such endurance is a “daily dying” (p.71). As Hill further affirms, “I am waiting for the day when I will receive the divine accolade, […] “Well done, good and faithful servant” (p.150). Hill’s spiritual persistence is exemplary for all Christians in dealing with our own temptation, be it on sexuality or otherwise.
Lesson 2: Homosexuality comes with unbearable loneliness—the necessity of a trustworthy and supportive community within the church.
The loneliness experienced by those with homosexual inclination is not easily understood by heterosexuals. Gay Christians cannot relate to their heterosexual peers’ interest in the opposite gender. They have to be careful not to jeopardize their friendship by developing romantic interest with friends of the same gender. They are afraid that they will be rejected and discriminated when their sexuality is known by their family, friends, and church-mates. They have to constantly struggle against the desire of entering into a monogamous homosexual relationship, especially in society where homosexual practice is widely accepted and legally protected (e.g. civil partnership and same-sex ‘marriage’). On top of these, they have to face negligence in various degrees by their heterosexual friends who eventually get married and start their own family. To Hill, loneliness is the “defining struggle” of his life (p.92) that makes him feels “painfully contradictory” (p.115).
“What I wish,” as Hill once said to his pastor, “is that I could feel the church to be a safe place” (p.42). “The remedy for loneliness—if there is such a thing this side of God’s future—is to learn, over and over again, to do this: to feel God’s keeping presence embodied in the human members of the community of faith, the church” (p.113). Writing from Hill’s own experience with his church, “I began to learn to wrestle with my homosexuality in community over many late-night cups of coffee and in tear-soaked, face-on-the-floor times of prayer with members of my church” (p.48, italics original) Are we, as part of the local churches, willing to learn to provide the kind of safe space for our brothers and sisters in Christ to wrestle with their same-sex attraction?
The 2nd article is evidence of progress ?
Depends on who you talk to, some will see progress and others moral decay towards social pandemonium – since the “church” as is constituted in Singapore is not my cup of tea, my perspective will not be add to furthering this discussion, except to say SEX is a primordial that seems to have some functions in productively perpetuating the human race through an effective interchange of genes. Guess for the moment it is not possible to use technology to enhance or replace this reproductive ritual between humans of the “opposite” sex. If the “virgin” birth is to be believed, then reproduction should be possible without the bio ritual of penetration, ejaculation and fertilization. Whilst this outcome seems probable in foreseeable future, the resultant “new society” will not be felt for a longtime – can imagine SEX not disembodied from procreation. We already have humans carrying vital organs from another – liver, kidneys, lungs, eyes etc – we have not be able to transfer the software yet (soul?/head/brain) between bodies yet – is this going to be more morally offensive than simple anal sex between members of the “same sex” (does this include those that have had transgender changes physically and psychologically? )
Methinks in the 21Century, technological and scientific advances are speeding up and religion including Christianity has to adapt or perish. We are 2000 years behind and continue to be obsessed by SEX – my thinking is that is a personal decision for the individual but many see prosecution and promotion as ladders to influence and power, hence the potential for all out war to solve this situation temporarily but it will recur as it is seems impossible to eliminate. Love your neighbour as whatever you do to him, he/she can do back to you. Jesus is right.
Humans have interfered with many “Natural” processes – many Christians have led from the rational leading edge, developing technologies and science that give us us new potentials and also problems.
Have concluded that economics drives all human activity since we always have to exploit (kill) another in order to survive. Economics is the dismal science of allocating scarce resources.
Suggest we should not be shallow in our theology, this is a great God and not obsessed with SEXUAL practise of a dominant life form
Hi guys, thanks for all the responses and interaction here but I will give you one last word each before I close the comment box for this post as the scope for discussion has been exhausted already.
Thanks BP for your graciousness and open minded approach to a vexing topic for many.
My thanks to the other contributors for making this discourse possible – hopefully it has edified and encourage reflection amongst your many blog visitors.
Thanks Pastor. My hope is we will all understand the difference between homsexuality and the LGBT movement and agenda which is a global movement and a very powerful one as demostrated in the west esp US. As christians, we must continue to learn and love them as they struggle with their sexual orientation issue and pray that they will encounter God and experience the transformation power. At the same time we must understand the fallacy of the arguments of the activists and not be drawn in innocently and unknowlingly to support their agenda of mainstreaming, normalising and celebrating the LGBT lifestyle as an alternative lifestyle all in the name of tolerance, pluralism , diversity and even love.This is just the beginning and once we give in , then tehy will fight fore sex marriage etc etc . I am thankful that we can still share differing views in Singapore unlike some of the western countries where this will be considered as hate speech and there is a rising tide of christophobia. “All it takes for evil to succeed is for a few good men to do nothing…” Edmund Burke .