Month: February, 2014

The Christian Approach to Homosexuality – Part 3

Peter Eng

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Romans 1:26-27
26 That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. 27 And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11
Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, 10 or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. 11 Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

1 Timothy 1:9-11
For the law was not intended for people who do what is right. It is for people who are lawless and rebellious, who are ungodly and sinful, who consider nothing sacred and defile what is holy, who kill their father or mother or commit other murders. 10 The law is for people who are sexually immoral, or who practice homosexuality, or are slave traders, liars, promise breakers, or who do anything else that contradicts the wholesome teaching 11 that comes from the glorious Good News entrusted to me by our blessed God.

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Don’t Jump in Yet

I would love to have you in the discussion! But if you missed out on the earlier articles in the series, you need to read them so we can discuss more meaningfully.

1 Corinthians 6 and 1 Timothy 1

The Apostle Paul makes it clear that homosexuality is a sin in Romans 1. In the two references we are discussing today, Paul does not argue why homosexuality is a sin.  One sustained argument is good enough. However, these are the most contested passages by those who say Scripture does not prohibit homosexuality.

In 1 Corinthians 6:9, Paul mentions two terms: “male prostitutes” (Greek: malakoi) and those who “practice homosexuality” (Greek: arsenokoitai). The first is mentioned only here in the NT. The fundamental meaning of malakoi is that which is soft; so “effeminate” (KJV). That is polite speech that may give the wrong impression, that males on the softer side are judged. The judgment is not on men who are soft. NLT is right to take this as the one who plays the female role in male homosexuality; probably a polite designation for “male prostitute.” My own preference is that it refers to men who play the female role in homosexuality.

The second word translated “homosexuality” in both 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:9, is arsenokoitai (singular: arsenokoites), a word that people, who justify homosexuality, vehemently deny to be referring to homosexuality. For their abundant denial, they have produced scant word study evidence to prove their case. They insist it only refers to pederasty. Almost all lexicographers understand this to be men who practice homosexual acts. This is a compound word arsen (a male, with implication of his sexual role) + koite (bed). This refers to a man who goes to “bed” with a man. Koite/bed as a polite reference to sex, is well known, and today (especially in Chinese), the sexual meaning of koite (bed) has become “coitus” in the English language. The objectors refuse to recognize that the Bible is explicit, but uses polite language.  This is about as explicit as one can expect the Bible to be.

This idea of homosexuality is congruent with the flow of the text. Paul first talks about the sin of the male who plays the part of the female, and then the male who plays the part of the male with another male. I think this discussion on whether the Bible rejects homosexuality suffices. The objectors will never be convinced and this is already too much uncomfortable detail for others.

Now, we come to the crux of this conversation. “What is the Christian approach to homosexuality?” Most Christians accept the point I have been making, that homosexuality is not acceptable in God’s eyes, that it is a sin. This in itself does not frame our attitudes towards people who practice homosexuality. For this, I wish to begin with a passage not directly related to homosexuality. 1 Peter 4:17 says: “For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household.” 

[Next Week: Judgment begins with God’s Household]

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The Christian Approach to Homosexuality – Part 2

Peter Eng

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Romans 1
26 That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other.27 And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.
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1 Corinthians 6
Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality,10 or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God.11 Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
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1 Timothy 1
For the law was … for people who are lawless and rebellious, who are ungodly and sinful, who consider nothing sacred and defile what is holy, who kill their father or mother or commit other murders.10 The law is for people who are sexually immoral, or who practice homosexuality, or are slave traders, liars, promise breakers, or who do anything else that contradicts the wholesome teaching 11 that comes from the glorious Good News entrusted to me by our blessed God.

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Wait! Wait!

Before I begin this discourse with you on homosexuality as a sin in the NT, it is important, perhaps even vital, that I skip ahead and emphatically state that homosexuality is NOT the only sexual sin pointed out in Scripture. I will elaborate on this point later, but I fear I will lose my audience who do not have the patience to come to the end of the discourse. My position is that: (1) homosexual acts are sinful—just as (2) certain other heterosexual acts. In view of the reality of both (1) and (2), how do we as Christians regard homosexuality? How should we posture our heart, and align our actions to how God wants us to treat those who are still caught in a sin?

Homosexuality in the NT

Three passages in the NT discuss homosexuality: Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Timothy 1:10.There are two areas of discussion associated with these texts: (1) the words used for homosexuality, and (2) the context. As it is easy to miss out the whole issue on account of the minutiae, let’s discuss the context first and specific words thereafter.

Romans 1—Context

We must not let the issue of homosexuality hijack Paul’s message to the Romans. He is talking to them about the Good News of Christ as “the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).

The Good News concerning Jesus Christ is able to save us from the wrath of God against all who reject God by worshiping idols (Romans 1:18-23) In response to their rejection of God, God abandons them to sexual impurity that leads to the degradation of the body (Romans 1:24-25). A case in point is the widespread shame of homosexuality which serves as evidence that God has abandoned them to their body-destroying sexual abuse(Romans 1:26-27). Their personal depravity is not limited to homosexuality but 29 Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip.30 They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents.31 They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy.”

Paul is describing the lives of people in a certain type of society. He simply uses the generic “they.” He could be referring to Rome, but in principle, it would apply to any society. Homosexuality is singled out as an example of impurity that destroys the body. But other sins are not neglected.

The most stinging statement is left to the last, 32 They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.” In the Bible, both the OT and the NT, the final expression of sin is “mocking.” This is the sin that mocks all things good and praises all things evil. This is reflected here in those who justify their evil deeds by gathering companions for their evil.

The process starts when they “suppress the truth by their wickedness” (Romans 1:18) and is completed when they “encourage others to do them [the same evil they do] too” (Romans 1:32).

On the sexuality issue, the right place to begin is Romans 1:24 “God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.

There is a degrading of the body with certain sexual activities. Here Paul is non-specific. The great sin of rejecting God has resulted in a sexuality that degrades the body.

There are many sexual practices that degrade the body. Sexually transmitted diseases must cross our minds. But that is not all. The degrading of the body by turning people into objects is another degradation of the body. This was very common then, when slaves were used for sexual gratification. A life that is ruled by sexual lusts degrades our life in ways too numerous to recount. Then Scripture points out one specific expression of sexuality that degrades the body—homosexuality.

“God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones.  In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error” (Romans 1:26-27).

Is homosexuality selected because it is more evil than other sexual misconduct? Perhaps, but we can think of worse sexual misconduct. I like to suggest from the context that homosexuality is selected for two reasons: (1) it illustrates the degrading of the body; and (2) it is misconduct that some refuse to recognize as such, and mock those who say it is sinful.

sharing-the-gospel-with-homosexuals1-1030x600The Bible rejects both female and male homosexuality. The text is clear that the judgment is against the act of homosexuality. But an act is never done without first the desire to do so. Homosexuals were “inflamed with lust for one another.” Yet, it is clear that the activity of homosexuality is the point mentioned here.

With reference to men, specifically, the consequence of their action is that they “received in themselves the due penalty for their error.” This is polite speech. Pardon my more direct speech at the expense of politeness just in case we don’t get the point—Scripture is saying that homosexual men received in themselves [their bodies] the consequences of their homosexual activities.

Anoreceptive intercourse regardless of man-man or man-woman, significantly increases bowel incontinence. Not only is this common sense, it has also been documented in scientific studies. (One example: Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine).

I am no sex expert on homosexuality and it would be too indelicate for me to say more. But the above suffices to demonstrate the point that unnatural sexuality can damage the body. (HIV had not arisen then, so I will not raise it in the interpretation of the text.) There are many ways to abuse our bodies, and male homosexuality is one.

“Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done” (Romans 1:28).

God abandoned certain people to their foolish thinking and to their sinful action. In modern day language, we will say, God let them choose their own way of thinking and their own actions without intervening to stop them. The law of God was abandoned and they could do what they wanted, and thought what they liked. That is what happens when the social restraints of a nation’s law freely allows homosexuality.

Here Scripture may be hinting on the contrast between the Jew who had the law of God as a restraint on the Jewish nation, and the Greco-Roman world that did not have such restraints.

But we must not lose sight of the point of the passage.  It is about the power of God saving everyone who believes!

Romans 1—Words

How then can anyone see a justification of homosexuality in this text? We must not underestimate human creativity. The pro-homosexuality argument goes this way:

The issue is about what is “natural.” Scripture is talking about people who are not using their bodies in a natural way. In the case of a homosexual, the natural use of the body is to engage in homosexual acts. So God’s judgment is not on homosexuals to whom homosexuality is natural, but on people who are not real homosexuals, but pervert their heterosexuality to homosexuality. The rest of the argumentation is so tortuous that I am not sure if it is worth following.

Let’s appeal to integrity in reading. Scripture starts with a gasp of horror at the depth of sexual depravity, which is usually initiated by men, by saying the depravity has gone so deep that women are also engaged in homosexuality. The very literal translation (NASB)says:“for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,” and call to attention that there is a separate and distinct word in the Greek for “function,” also translated “use” (KJV), “way,” (NLT) and “sexual relations,” (NIV). All the versions can only translate the Greek one way, i.e. by demonstrating that it is the act that is rejected and not some hypothetical construct of what constitutes “natural” with whom. It’s the physical function that is addressed.

The text is clearly talking about the act itself that is not natural. Any woman-woman or man-man sexuality is action that is not natural.  There is no discussion about what is natural to a person as opposed to what he actually does.

The point that the homosexual acts are committed by those who first “burned with lust” disqualifies the view that there is a naturally occurring homosexuality that is acceptable.

Some try to argue that Scripture is condemning the Greek custom of pederasty (taken over by some Romans), of older men taking teenage boys and making lovers out of these. Romans generally disapproved of this, but the boys were not criticized unless they continued their effeminate role into adulthood.

Apart from pederasty, coerced homosexuality was rare and attracted much unwanted attention. A case in point was when Emperor Nero kicked and killed his wife Poppaea, but then missed her terribly. He saw a young man, Sporus, who looked like Poppaea. Nero had him castrated and married him. 

If we allow the argument that coerced homosexuality is the issue, we are saying that the wrath of God falls on the young boys (or Sporus) who were not homosexual by nature but were subject to an erotic relationship with older men (or Nero). So God picks on the victim!!! You be the judge of whether or not we ought to make God judge the victim and justify the perpetrator.

It is more honest to say, “OK, that is what the Bible says, but I do not accept its authority.” That ends the discussion based on the Bible and we can discuss using other bases for consideration. The reality is that not many Christians or honest readers can accept the “natural” argument to justify the meaning of the text, and thankfully, such a reading has not gained wide acceptance.

[Next week: 1 Corinthians, 1 Timothy, etc.]

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Apostle Peter 22: Judgement Begins with God’s Household (Part 2)

Bible Reference: 1 Peter 4:12-19

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Apostle Peter 22: Judgement Begins with God’s Household (Part 1)

Bible Reference: 1 Peter 4:12-19

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The Christian Approach to Homosexuality – Part 1

Peter Eng

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Leviticus 18
22“Do not practice homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman. It is a detestable sin.
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Leviticus 20
13“If a man practices homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman, both men have committed a detestable act. They must both be put to death, for they are guilty of a capital offense.
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Romans 1
26That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other.27And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.
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1 Corinthians 6
9Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality,10or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God.
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1 Timothy 1
10The law is for people who are sexually immoral, or who practice homosexuality, or are slave traders, liars, promise breakers, or who do anything else that contradicts the wholesome teaching.

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The LGBT community is completely off target when they accuse Christians of homophobia. Homophobia is the fear of homosexuality. Christians disagree with the practice, but are not afraid of it. I think the reality is that homosexuals are the fearful ones. They are afraid of the truth about homosexuality and have been engaged in aggressive dissemination of false information. The LGBT are heterophobic. Regardless of this reality, phobia is not a productive defining relationship between the Christians and homosexuals. Today, I will discuss with you how Christians should relate to homosexuals.

My position is the mainstream evangelical position, so I am advocating the evangelical position in what I present here.

What is homosexuality?

Homosexuality is the indulgence of sexual activity among people of the same gender. An easy reference point is heterosexuality. What we consider sexual behavior between a man and a woman can be applied to sexual behavior between people of the same gender. Homosexuality is the physical act of a “romantic” relationship between man and man or woman and woman.

The participation in sexuality is a physical act, but it originates from the desires of the heart. As much as heterosexual sensual activity starts with the cultivation of a desire, the same applies to homosexual sensuality. It is therefore right to say that homosexuality includes the cultivating of romantic passion for people of the same gender.

What is not homosexuality?

Homosexuality is not the preference for the company of, or admiration of, or a personal commitment and devotion to a person of the same gender. People of the same gender have lived together in devotion to each other as friends, as leader-follower, or simply as singles who have found companionship and comfort with each other. Such relations must not be misconstrued as homosexual.  Jonathan loved David; Jesus loved John; etc. The homosexual success in wrongly grouping same gender commitment to each other as examples of the normality of homosexual romance is incorrect. There are same gender connections that are clearly not homosexual in nature.

When people in the LGBT community discovered Abraham Lincoln shared a bed with another man at a point in his life when he was poor, they argue that Abraham Lincoln was gay. This is no different from older Chinese culture where we see poor men sharing bed with the same gender.

Poverty is not the only reason. Chinese aristocrats sometimes decide to drink and talk the night away with one another, and when they are drunk, to just sleep in the same room.

When two persons of the same gender share a life together, it does not mean homosexuality. It can be quite the opposite.  The Chinese Bible-women were evangelists who took vows of celibacy and were mutually supportive of each other as they preached the Gospel in two-person teams. This phenomenon extends beyond religious motivation. In Singapore’s history, the early twentieth century saw the phenomenon of the samsui women and the amah (or ma cheh). The samsui were a sisterhood of women who did construction work and wear a red bandana to identify themselves. The amahs were domestic workers who serve rich families. Both these groups take vows of celibacy and form sisterhoods. Social conditions sometimes promote same gender bonds without suggestion of homosexuality.

A similar situation happened in America after the transcontinental railway was completed. America did not allow the immigration of Chinese women, and made interracial marriage illegal. This resulted in many celibate Chinese men working in America as miners, launderers and domestic helpers.  Their all male contacts were by necessity and in no way suggested homosexuality.

Cultural expressions differ. Singapore has Bangladeshi men to assist us in our construction, and they live in all men dormitories. When they are not working and strolling in the streets, we would see some of them holding hands. It is easy for some people to think there is some gay activity going on, but that would be wrong. Holding hands among men is an expression of deep friendship for them.

The LGBT try to corral as much same gender relations into their camp as possible, giving the impression they are normal by arguing we are all along a spectrum of homosexuality or heterosexuality with bisexuality in the center.  The deliberate comingling of the normal and the LGBT is used to convey the impression of normality. We need to reject this confusion. The reality is quite to opposite. If we conduct a poll, we will find the vast majority are heterosexual but only a fringe are LGBT. The numbers (and function) determine normality. If we find some frogs with one hind leg and some with three, four or five legs, we do not conclude they are all normal, on a spectrum of one to five hind legs. The numbers and the biological construct of two hind legs make that normal.

We also reject the notion that attraction to people of the same gender should culminate in a romantic liaison. It is entirely possible for some people of the same gender to feel attraction to the same gender. Too many rush to the conclusion this is a homosexual tendency. It can certainly be cultivated into an appetite for homosexual romance but there is no such necessity.

At the same time, it is important to note that the lack of social comfort with a different gender does not suggest homosexuality. If I am awkward with women it does not make me a homosexual. Misandry (the hatred of men) and misogyny (hatred of women) are particular conditions. These can look very much like homosexuality but they are not. For instance, a young girl who has been raped can develop a social comfort with other women and a hatred for men, and thinks she is lesbian without her truly being one. A young boy can be raped and feel great shame in the event, and develops a lust for the power that the other men had over him. This can develop into a desire to exercise control over other men through sexual conquest, and he can mistakenly think he is homosexual when he is not.

Is there a genetically programmed homosexual? In my humble opinion, I think most people who think they are homosexual are not. They have suffered from some environmental damage to them. But I will give allowance for a very small number of people who are born homosexuals. How small? I will say they are as infrequent as true hermaphrodites (people born with both male and female parts). But I am wandering into speculation here.

Now that we have discussed the phenomenon of homosexuality in itself, we turn to the biblical view of homosexuality.

Homosexuality as a sin in the OT

Leviticus 18:22 “‘Do not practice homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman. It is a detestable sin.”

Leviticus 20:13 “‘If a man practices homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman, both men have committed a detestable act. They must both be put to death, for they are guilty of a capital offense.”

Another passage to consider is the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 18:16–19:29.

The implication concerning Sodom and Gomorrah is that homosexuality was the sin that significantly contributed to their destruction. “So the Lord told Abraham, ‘I have heard a great outcry from Sodom and Gomorrah, because their sin is so flagrant.’” (Genesis 18:20). Homosexuality was not singled out. When the two messengers arrived in Sodom, the problem they encountered was homo-sexuality (Genesis 19). This resulted in the destruction of the cities. It is right for us to note that homosexuality was not the only evil done in the city. There were some things done in the city that merited their destruction, and homo-sexuality was the prominent sin that was clearly described. It is unlikely that we can deduce from this passage that homosexuality was the only or primary sin that caused their destruction. We can say confidently it was the final sin that caused their destruction.

The two passages in Leviticus are found in the context of prohibitions of certain sexual activities such as bestiality, etc. It is clear that the context outlines what God considers perverse sexuality. There is no getting around the fact of the prohibitions grouped together.

These regulations were for national Israel. So were all the commands such as the Ten Commandments. Israel was called to be a holy nation accountable to God. Those who breach these regulations will suffer the appropriate penalty for their infraction. All sovereign states need a penal code and this is Israel’s code.

At the point, we are simply answering the question of what the OT teaches. And it should be incontrovertible that homosexuality is regarded as a sin in the OT.

[Coming weeks: NT teachings; homosexuality compared to others sins; the Christian response; the role of Christian morals in society; etc.]

The Christian Approach to Homosexuality – Part 2

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Apostle Peter 21: Risen with Healing (Part 2)

Bible Reference: Mark 10:46-52

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Apostle Peter 21: Risen with Healing (Part 1)

Bible Reference: Mark 10:46-52

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Penal Code S377A

Peter Eng

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Singapore Constitution Article 12

(1) All persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law.

(2) Except as expressly authorised by this Constitution, there shall be no discrimination against citizens of Singapore on the ground only of religion, race, descent or place of birth in any law or in the appointment to any office or employment under a public authority or in the administration of any law relating to the acquisition, holding or disposition of property or the establishing or carrying on of any trade, business, profession, vocation or employment.

(3) This Article does not invalidate or prohibit —

(a) any provision regulating personal law; or

(b) any provision or practice restricting office or employment connected with the affairs of any religion, or of an institution managed by a group professing any religion, to persons professing that religion.

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Singapore Penal Code S377A, says, Any male person who, in public or private, commits, or abets the commission of, or procures or attempts to procure the commission by any male person of, any gross indecency with another male person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 2 years.

This law has been challenged and will be challenged repeatedly.  Singapore, India and Australia with other countries have upheld this law, while perhaps many more have abandoned it.

This article is not about faith but about law and public morality. I join this conversation as a clergyman not as a legal professional.  But the issue at hand is a legal one. At another point, I will argue my religious position, but at this juncture, I will limit my conversation to the legal issue at hand, being persuaded that law must not be beyond the comprehension of ordinary people unschooled in legal matters.  It is because law derives a large part of its authority on the moral mores of the population at large. But that is again a different conversation. This conversation is limited to Penal Code S377A.

Why I support S377A

In November 2012, homosexual partners, Gary Lim and Kenneth Chee, challenged Singapore’s Penal code S377A which criminalises homosexual acts between men, on grounds that it is discriminatory as it targets men, and it is in breach of their constitutional right to equality (Article 12). In April 2013, High Court judge, Justice Loh dismissed the challenge by referring to the objective set in 1938 for the law. Yap Po Jen, Associate Professor of the University of Hong Kong regards the reasons given by Justice Loh to be inadequate (“Section 377A and equal protection in Singapore. Back to 1938?”Singapore Academy of Law Journal (2013) 25:630-640). K.C. Vijayan, (Senior Law Correspondent) echoes the observations of Yap Po Jen in “Better reasons needed for gay sex law” (Straits Times, 13 Oct, 2013). I like to suggest some reasons that I hope some will find more satisfactory.

The plaintiff argues that the criminalisation of male homosexuality (and not female homosexuality) is discriminatory. However, laws regularly make distinctions or criminalise one sex for a certain activity and make no mention of the other because it reflects reality. Laws criminalizing rape, polygamy, or concubinage, typically criminalise male behaviour. The intent of the law can be extended to females, but these laws have not been invalidated on account that they discriminate against men, when there is good reason to specify men. Given the change insocial behaviour, it is perhaps right that female homosexuality should also be criminalised to ensurea sense of equality.

Redeeming-the-Rainbow (1)Homosexual activists represent homosexuality as no more than a “sexual orientation” and this is closely related to claims that people are born homosexual, and thus should not be penalised for homosexual sex.  Consideration about orientation or genetic predisposition is irrelevant because the same argument can be made for rape, sex with children, incest, bestiality, etc. It is not the orientation that is criminalised but the action.

Another popular concept is that mutual consent justifies the homosexual relationship. Mutual consent is relevant to morality and criminality when the act itself is right but coercion makes it wrong (e.g. heterosexual rape). But if the act is wrong in itself, mutual consent does not make it right (e.g. incest, polygamy, concubinage). Mutual consent among homosexual adults begs the question if the consenting parties are morally right.

While different societies may adopt different ideas of sexual morality at different times, and what is gross indecency in one society may be deemed normal inanother, it does not follow that moral relativity in some areas necessitates moral relativity in all areas.

I suggest that the question of morality is primarily driven by the biological necessity of heterosexuality and secondarily by the social norm that regards homosexuality as aberrant.In the course of ordinary events, heterosexual engagements are necessary for human reproduction, and the survival of the human race. Homosexual engagements preclude human reproduction. The biological imperative of heterosexuality for our survival (and the self-destructive consequences of homosexuality) instructs us clearly that homosexuality is contrary to the law of nature. Heterosexuality is a biological imperative. Conversely, homosexuality is biologically self-destructive. This should be the primary consideration in the non-religious consideration of the moral rightness of homosexuality.

The second compelling consideration is the mosmaiorum (the moral mores of the majority).  The moral sensitivity and agreement of a society on a subject is important in determining laws. 78% of Singaporeans are religiously affiliated and 22% are not. Those with religious affiliationwould regard homosexuality as deviant (especially Muslims and Christians).  It is likely that a majority of the 22% without religious affiliation would also consider homosexuality an aberration. This is different from the question of whether homosexuality should be criminalised.  It is very possible that one can regard an action as immoral but chooses not to criminalise that immoral behaviour.

There are fundamentally two approaches to the formulation of laws. One approach sets forth the ideal morality but the execution of such a law is done with deliberate laxity because too many fail to attain to it. An example of this would be the monogamy laws given at a time when polygamy or concubinage was rampant. It is common knowledge that when it comes to the estate of a person, the Singapore legal system makes provisions for common law wives and their children, and completely ignores the illegality that leads to such a situation. Over time, the ideal morality of monogamy and the prohibition of concubinage are strengthened in the society.

The second approach to the formulation of laws is to make allowances for actions recognised as immoral.  These immoral but legal actions are limited by law. For example, prostitution is legal in Singapore, but solicitation which promotes prostitution is illegal. If there is no moral issue with prostitution, why should solicitation be criminalised? At the same time, if prostitution is immoral why allow it? The reason for legalising prostitution is simply that the law we formulate for prostitution is one that limits immorality rather strives for the ideal.  This is an arguable manner of legislating as it makes a concession, but does not remove all legal restraints.

Penal Code S377A is a law that supports the ideal rather than concedes to a social reality that is difficult to fully enforce. The removal of S377A is possible if alternative legislation is created that recogniseshomosexuality as aberrant and needs to be controlled for the greater good of society, along the lines of Singapore’s laws on prostitution.  But the removal of S377A without an alternative law that restrains homosexuality is damaging to society at large.

There is a strong current of social opinion that what is done in private should not be legislated. This is an arguable position. However, Singapore has led the world in arguing that acts done in private can have significant social impact and therefore ought to be legislated. For example: (1) Banning pornography; (2) private nudity visible to the public; and more recently, (3) websites that promote marital infidelity. These are all private actions, but the precedence in Singapore law has been to limit social immorality by addressing certain issues at the level of private action. While one can argue on whether male homosexual activity ought to come under such consideration, it is clear that Singapore does legislate private morality and S377A is not unique in this regard.

The fact that many countries decriminalise homosexual acts should cause us to question our own laws. But we should retain what is good without fear of how we may appear on the world stage.

I would like to suggest that S377A should standfor the following reasons:

1.    Homosexuality is regarded as morally wrong by majority of the society in Singapore.

2.    For the sake of argument, even if the majority were to accept homosexuality, it is still wrong because it defies the biological imperative of heterosexuality for reproduction.

3.    We do not have an alternative legislation to regulate the immorality of homosexuality instead of criminalising it as in S377A.

4.    Private morality affects public welfare.

In conclusion, I wish to emphasize that my support for S377A is not support for intolerance towards homosexual persons. Their value as persons and potential for spirituality are assured in the Bible. And on those bases, I affirm their great potential to live in greater conformity to the image of God – a goal we all need to live out, both homosexuals and heterosexuals.


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Apostle Peter 20: Big Ego and Fragile Faith (Part 2)

Bible Reference: Mark 9:38-50

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Apostle Peter 20: Big Ego and Fragile Faith (Part 1)

Bible Reference: Mark 9:38-50

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