A Mind Trap in Politics and in Faith

I have listened to the Singapore Media coverage on the Malaysian election and it tells me more about Singapore Media than it does about the Malaysian election.

Before the election, I hear this: the opposition (DAP & PAS) is strong, BN is not playing the race card this election, if the opposition wins, the Islamic Party (PAS) wants to introduce Hudud (Islamic penal code).

After the election, I hear this: BN won. Opposition is unhappy and claims there are irregularities at the polls, but not a single specific is given.

If I just listen to such information, I would be quite concerned that the opposition might win.  And after the opposition lost, it sounds like they are sore losers. Perhaps there is real danger of Hudud, perhaps there isn’t. I don’t know enough.

The Roman statesman Cicero used to ask his slaves to go to the market place to see what the satirists and comedians are saying. They have a pulse on what is happening politically. And by chance, I came across a YouTube video.  A satire on the election.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjGG5sxt0WM[/youtube]

I didn’t understand everything he was saying, but what I could understand was quite amusing.  So I decided to ask Malaysians what he meant, and I got a earful!  It seems the grievances of the opposition are not frivolous after all.

Suddenly I realize I am a victim of Channel News Asia – again. How so?  They raise issues like Hudud.  The net result of listening to the discussion on the danger of Hudud being introduced into Malaysia is that some will think it is a problem if the opposition wins because it is a coalition that includes PAS which wants to introduce Hudud.  Some will think it is not a problem for the opposition to win because the introduction of Hudud would require a change in the constitution which PAS will never be able to swing.  Those who think Hudud is a real danger if the opposition wins will lean towards BN.  Those who do not think it is a problem do not necessarily lean towards the opposition.  So raising the issue of Hudud is a net loss for the opposition and a net gain for BN.

Channel News Asia does not address the issue of why Bangladeshis show up in droves with new Malaysian identifications and money in their pockets, and does not press home the issue of the finger ink that can be easily washed off.  If Channel News Asia focuses on these, again, some will form the opinion that BN is not guilty of fraud, and others will think they are guilty.  The net result of such deliberations will be a net loss for BN and a net gain for the opposition.

I don’t know enough about Malaysian politics to render an opinion about who is better or worse.  But I want you to be aware that Channel News Asia has highly biased reporting.  They do not tell lies, but by selecting the issues in a certain way, they create a prejudice in us. They support BN.

Why I am talking about this?  For one, I am interested in how information is disseminated.  I don’t have a dog in the fight in Malaysia’s General Election.  But I have an interest in how people try to condition our thinking with the information they give.

I find this to be true in the realm of faith and life.

Let’s take the example of homosexual marriage. If the subject is framed as a “tolerance” issue, it is hard to say, “I choose to be intolerant.”  But the issue is not about tolerance, it is about God’s intention for us.  The Bible is clear that homosexuality is not God’s intention, and that it is sinful in his eyes. But that is probably not the way to frame the conversation.

The agenda to promote homosexuality as no more than an alternative is clearly grievous to God.  Evangelical Christians begin to polarize at the other end, and see their task as confronting the homosexual agenda. Our response is due in part to how we frame the issue.

Homosexuality, like many other anti-God agendas, are grievous to God.  Infanticide is grievous to God. Pre-marital sex is grievous to God. Abortion is grievous to God.  Substance abuse is grievous to God.  How do we frame these other issues?  Do we not oppose these agendas by declaring the Good News that they can be delivered from these sins through Jesus Christ who loved them and died for them?

The devil is sly – like the media.  He frames the issue in such a way that he wins.  If we become tolerant of homosexuality, then this sin becomes acceptable and he wins.  If we become intolerant of homosexuality, then homosexuals become unreachable for Christ and he wins.  The only question is whether he wins big or small.

Christians need to reframe the homosexual issue.  We should not enter into a conversation that gives the devil the victory regardless of the outcome of that conversation.

I am not the expert in this conversation, but I like to suggest that Christian conversation should focus on how to be effective agents of the Holy Spirit to convict the world of sin and redemption in Jesus Christ.  Perhaps we should talk about how to reach people with a certain sexual proclivity. We need to talk about how they need Jesus like any other person.  If a person has a proclivity to substance abuse, we frame our conversation with them in terms of hope in Jesus.  If a person has a proclivity to steal, we speak of salvation in Jesus.  These people may or may not see the need for salvation – just like the homosexual. But we do not have a conversation with these people as though they are our “enemies.” We see them as victims of sin and we love them and long for their deliverance.  We should learn to extend the same love towards homosexuals.  They are not our enemies. Like us, they are sinners in need of redemption.

The public conversation about homosexuality is framed in such a way that the devil wins.  I invite better minds than myself to reframe the conversation so that Jesus wins regardless of how the conversation goes.

In your humble service,

Peter Eng

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