I have to be very honest, and say that the last few days have presented the biggest challenge to my Christian faith.
These days, I find it so increasingly impossible to identify with a group that seeks to use the law — a tool that jails & oppresses — against homosexuals it claims to “love”. First it was FCBC Pastor Lawrence Khong’s FB posts (here & here) calling for homosexual men to be jailed. Then it was Cornerstone Community’s note calling Christians to battle LGBTs. The last straw was National Council of Churches of Singapore calling for homosexual women to be jailed as well.
Since I was young, the church has preached the importance of communal worship to me, but I honestly cannot worship with such people. You know, I respect & would even defend the church’s right to believe that homosexuality is sinful in the eyes of God.
But I cannot support the use of force and violence (Cornerstone Comm church calls Christians to battle against homosexuals). I dread to think that our church might be no different from countries that seek to pass a law that executes homosexuals, if our law had originally called for execution rather than a jail term.
What holds my faith together though, are stories of how Prophets and Jesus himself, stood against the religious leaders & organisations of their day, when they believed the religious organisations sinful. I remind myself that one can still remain in God’s grace and salvation even if one rejects or speaks against the teachings and actions of the earthly institution of God.
And so, yes, after everything, I still believe in God & Jesus Christ.
But the Jesus Christ I love & worship is one who’d rather drink from a Samaritan woman’s jar than the Pharisee’s cup; one who would rather stand with the non-religious Humanists who have unfailingly stood by the persecuted LGBT, than a church who claims to love but seeks to jail homosexual children of God.
I found it very touching to see the Humanist Society (who believe being good without god) supporting the Freedom to Love. At the same time, it’s so disappointing that there was not a single church (whose founder said “by this all men will know you are my disciples, that you love one another”).
People who do not subscribe to a religion, or who do not believe in the divine/deities, often get stereotyped as immoral, materialistic people who have no reason to do good. Humanists (http://humanist.org.sg/) are people who do not subscribe to a religion, or who do not believe in the divine/deities, yet believe in being/doing good, simply for the sake of being good.
I believe in the Christian God. I love the parable the founder, Jesus Christ, told, when he summarized the essence of Christianity :
The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25 – 37 (NIV))
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite(a member of the religious class), when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan (a member of a group that religious leaders considered ‘ungodly’), as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii(ancient currency) and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
In Singapore’s context today, the majority of lesbian,gay,bisexual or trangender (LGBT) people “ have experienced verbal or physical abuse, ranging from derogatory name-calling to sexual harassment and physical assault.” (June 17, 2012 Straits Times “Many gays, transgender people teased, bullied: Survey” by Candice Neo http://www.straitstimes.com/BreakingNews/Singapore/Story/STIStory_811916.html )
To any LGBT person at PinkDot yesterday, where the Humanist Society banner stood, where not a single church banner stood it was clear who loved, who supported the freedom to love, who was their neighbor. As a believer of Christ, I was deeply disappointed.
Yes, there were many Christians who turned up at PinkDot, in their own personal capacity, to support family and friends. Christians who reflected the love of Christ. Yet, I’m quite certain, none of their churches officially thanked and commended them for their love and support. Like Jesus, who was condemned by the religious authorities of his own community for healing the sick on the holy days, or hanging out with the community’s outcasts, I’m sure Christians who support the Freedom to Love have faced similar disapproval. I’m so glad there are such Christians who have chosen love over religious self-righteousness/unquestioning faith. I’m sure their LGBT friends deeply appreciate their love too.
What do I hope for at next year’s PinkDot? I hope we will see banners from all the different religious groups, showing that their messages of love, compassion, kindness, justice does not extend only to straight people, but people of all colors of the rainbow.