Homosexuality

Pastor Peter’s “Letter to My Grown Children: #lovewins”

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An open letter to my grown children

Hi guys,

The big hoo-ha in recent weeks had been the US Supreme Court legalization of same-sex marriage. The LGBT and liberals gloat. Most Christians groan, fret, get angry, panic, etc. I like to suggest all this commotion is but a red herring to the real issue.

First, I believe the core of this “battle” is the meaning of a word and not LGBT rights. My litmus test is this: If the issue had been to grant “civil-union” rights to homosexual couples similar to normal marriages, we will not see such angst or gloating. If homosexuals win full rights to civil-unions, they get their rights and Christians get to keep the term “marriage.” But the liberals have selected the more ambitious platform of “marriage” rather than “civil-unions” and they won.

On this, my take is that while the Supreme Court has the human authority to determine rights, they do not have authority over the meaning of a word. They can hear the case for same-sex couples to have equal rights as heterosexual couples in “civil-unions,” “domestic partnerships,” etc., but they have no right to change the meaning of a word. Be that as it may, I have not the energy to get involved in this word game – even though this word game brings with it significant social ramifications.

Second, I think not all the ramifications of this legislation are bad. We must not naively believe that all Christian opposition to same-sex unions flow from right views or good motives. Let me illustrate.

Let’s say I own a hotel. Today, I don’t inspect the marriage licenses of man-woman couples checking into a room to ensure they are not engaging in extra-marital intimacy. But when I see a homosexual couple, I refuse to rent them a room and say it is against my religious beliefs and my conscience. Is it really a matter of conscience? Both situations represent a non-biblical practice of sexuality. But I wink at the heterosexual sin and act against the homosexual sin. This is a selective conscience. And why do I have a selective conscience? Is that not prejudice? There is a biasness against the LGBT that is real. You may agree with my theology about homosexuality but you cannot agree with my practice as a hotelier with selective conscience.

This legislation, wrong as it may be, may go some ways to dismantle the sinful discrimination we practice against the LGBT. And this in turn will open opportunities for us to reach out to them; hopefully without our prejudice, and without their defensiveness.

The third reason why I’ve remained on the sideline is that I view America as a post-Christian country, as a secular state. Yes, America retains vestiges of Christian values, more than most western countries, but it is secular and we should expect a godless judgment, which may or may not be ungodly. It is simply a judgment without god, and therefore godless. Godless legislators may inadvertently arrive at godly or ungodly decisions. But their decisions are grounded on godlessness.

The fourth reason for my non-engagement is that there is actually some merit in the argumentation for a legislation that allows legal choice (even though the legislation as it stands is morally wrong). Liberals are actually correct to say they can choose anyone they want for sexual intimacy. Choice is a God-given right. We can choose evil. The ability to choose does not make something right. Cases in point: Hitler chose to kill millions. Genghis Khan chose to become the world’s bloodiest warrior. God has given us free choice, even the choice to kill Jesus. But the right to choose does not mean people choose what is right.

Now, let me share with you where I believe the fight ought to be. The Bible tells us clearly that we are not fighting people. We are to love them and to win them over to the Kingdom of God. Our first duty is to “make disciples” not pass good laws (not mutually exclusive but a matter of priority). “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but … the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).

First, we have the struggle to love. The idea that love wins is powerful because it came from Jesus. When we engage in a fight that is full of vitriol, what good can come out of it? Liberals say “#lovewins” when in reality, they are practicing hatred against those who disagree with them. If we play their game of hatred, we lose, regardless of whether we win or lose. The bigger hater with the bigger, badder lawyers, the more conniving lobbyists, and more favorable justices, win the day. Who loses? What loses? The Kingdom of God.

Christians fight for the Kingdom of Man, for a Christian America. But our real fight is the Kingdom of God through making disciples of Jesus Christ. It is easier to fight with hatred than it is with love. In a hatred fight, we call upon our sinful nature to hate and direct it against those who disagree with us. In the love of Christ that wins, we have to first purge our hearts of prejudice, learn to love our enemies, humble ourselves and not strut around as though we are better, and then engage in the battle to save people from themselves – as we have been saved from ourselves.

Second, we have the struggle of the wrong referent. Sexual morality today is expressed by the phrase “consenting adults” against the biblical reference of “marriage.” Let’s see if I represent current sexual mores correctly: Sex before marriage is fine as long as both are consenting adults. Sex outside of marriage is fine as long as it involves consenting adults – better yet, consenting spouses. And by extension, homosexual activities are fine when the people are consenting adults. In contrast, rape, molestation, white slavery, pederasty, child marriages are all wrong. This is because one party is not consenting, or one party is not an adult.

Even when the secular world removes God from their morality, they still have one – even if it is a human fabrication. God has given all mankind an innate sense of morality not seen in animals. So that is the half-filled cup view of the “consenting-adults” morality of the world. The reality is that the struggle biblical Christians have is much bigger than same-sex marriage. It is when we replace “marriage” with “consenting adults” as our moral compass. Too many American Christians have given up on marriage as the moral reference point for our sexuality. And if we implicitly or explicitly adopt “consenting adults” as the reference point, we have lost the grounds for morality. It is no wonder that we cannot win the struggle against those who advocate the normalcy of homosexuality. If I may be blunt, Christians today do not say it, but live out their morality as “consenting heterosexual adults” and not “marriage.” Therein lies our failure and our mistake in the struggle.

Third, we confuse Christian morality and public morality. We seem to think that when we say sexual intimacy is only within marriage, we are saying that there must be legislation to support it. That is not the case. The early Christians were exemplary without legislation. Christians need not legislate all aspects of morality. Even if all legislators were Christians, there can be two standards: a legislated public morality for everyone and a voluntary morality for Christians. Christians are called upon to keep the biblical standards because we love God and we see the value of biblical morality. Eventually, when God’s Kingdom is come to earth, we will see the full expression of all that is right. And that Kingdom does not come through our efforts but at the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I am not suggesting we let the world go to pot, or there is no place to impose a Christian morality on the general population. For example, the abolition of slavery is ultimately an imposition of Christian morality on a secular world. Another example is monogamy. This is a biblical value successfully imposed on society as a whole. What I am saying is that the practice in Christian sexual morality is so far short of the biblical ideal that we need to (1) recognize the difference between Christian and public morality; and (2) clean our own house before cleaning the streets.

Fourth, our failed narrative. Christians respond too slowly and when we respond, we struggle to find a good narrative – which is essential if we wish to advocate a position strongly. E.g. The pro-abortion group style themselves “Pro-Choice” and with the help of the media, those opposed to abortion are labeled “Anti-abortion.” Eventually, we figured out the term “Pro-Life.” If we had been able to label pro-abortion as “baby-killers” the conversation may be different.

The hash tag #lovewins present the narrative that “love” wins over prejudice. We allow the media and other socially destructive parties to define their own narrative and ours. The disciples of Jesus need to consistently and consciously frame our own narrative. We must vigorously deny others the opportunity to frame our narrative. Conversely, we should frame theirs.

Our narrative ought to be like that of Jesus. He dined with sinners who were the equivalents of the LGBT today. He did not ostracize them. Instead, he loved them and offered forgiveness, and the power to lead a new life that is free from that sinful lifestyle. Love wins – Jesus style.

Jesus Touching LeperIn conclusion, I’ll say this. I have never had the privilege to lead an LGBT to faith. I don’t think it is within my known skillset. But the LGBT and same-sex marriage issues force me to examine my own attitudes in light of Jesus my Lord. And I can see areas I need to address so I can become more like Jesus.

You grow up in a generation that is more accepting of the LGBT than mine. Perhaps accepting them and showing them love is not the biggest challenge. Perhaps the biggest challenge of your generation may be a strong narrative for the great value of a biblical morality, a sexuality that is within marriage. My generation has failed to do that thus far. I think Christians tend to hate those who reject our morality, or if we love them, we then justify their wrong morality. Both are wrong. Our example is seen in Jesus. Jesus is clear that God’s moral ideals are unwavering. He is equally clear that he loves us while we are still sinners. He is the powerful conscience to all who do wrong, and the powerful love that draws all wrong doers to himself.

I seek to be more like Jesus. Will you also do that?

With all my love,
papa

Pastor Peter Eng, 25 July, 2015

The Christian Approach to Homosexuality – Part 4

Peter Eng

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World Vision (a Christian Relief Organization) employs homosexuals. Many evangeli­cals who support World Vision object. We are not here to accuse or to excuse World Vision. But this is a good test case for us to understand our own views towards homosexuals. Should Christian organizations hire homosexuals? What about when they are only hired for services? For instance, should I knowingly pay for the services of a plumber when I know he is gay? (Most people don’t have a problem with that.) And how is that different from hiring someone full-time? Does it depend more on the job the person is hired for? For instance, is there a difference between hiring a homosexual who does maintenance compared to one who is in ministry?

Our conversation is not about hiring.  But I think the hiring issue causes us to think and clarifies our view towards homosexuals. The points below are not of equal length because they do not require equal treatment.

#1 Look at our sexuality with eternity in view

What will it be like in the (completed) Kingdom of God? That is, how do we function sexually in the resurrection? Let’s put our present day sexual concerns in light of eternal life in the Kingdom of God. Jesus tells us, “For when the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage. In this respect they will be like the angels in heaven” (Mark 12:25 cf. Matthew 22:30). Our marriage relationship and our sexuality will become irrelevant. (This is not only about marriage but also a polite reference to our sexuality.) 

This does not suggest our sexuality should be ignored as a moral issue because it concerns only our current existence. As much as family, marriage, and sexuality are all of great concern to us now, and God has given us distinct guidelines for life here in this existence, homosexuality falls under the same level of concern. We will continue to sing God’s grace and love into eternity, and we will be pleased to know that any contention about issues of sexuality will pass into oblivion. Our struggles with sexuality, whatever they may be, will be no more

#2 Judgment begins with the household of God

The Apostle Peter gives us the principle that judgment begins with the household of God (1 Peter 4:17). When we make the assertion that homosexuality is wrong according to the moral standards given to us in the Word of God, we are not suggesting that heterosexuals are better people. In the area of our sexuality, heterosexual people are no less sinful, no less failures, and no less in need of redemption or in danger of judgment.

If we remove the sin of homosexuality from the text in 1 Corinthians 6, it reads, “Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, who worship idols, or commit adultery … or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God.” Homosexuality is wrong, but should not be singled out as the only thing that disqualifies us from the Kingdom of God. Adultery is specifically mentioned here. Beside sexual sins, the other sins that keep us from the Kingdom of God are: idolatry, theft, greed, drunkenness, etc.

Evangelical Christians who submit to the authority of Scripture need to recognize that homosexuality is not isolated as a special sin that keeps us from the Kingdom of God.  There are many other sinful aspects of life that would prevent us from entering the Kingdom of God. Many heterosexual people indulge in sexual sins. Many commit adultery. Heterosexual misbehavior is not excused any more than homosexual misbehavior. While we have spent much space asserting the sinfulness of homosexuality, we do so because too many people assert that homosexuality is not a sin. We do it not because it should be singled out. It is like if some group decides to assert that adultery is not sin. We then have a push back to assert it is sin.

The current homosexual assertion that homosexuality is not sin is one reason for our current push-back. We know that the argument has become increasingly strident, and in part, it is due to homosexuals asserting that homosexuality is a choice issue, not a moral issue.

At the same time, we need to recognize that homosexuals are discriminated by much of society. They are not persecuted the way Christians are persecuted, but in some instances they are killed because of their homosexuality.  I think Christians have added to the problem. Let me explain.

Let’s say homosexuals are bullied in a community, in school, in the military, or at work. What is our response as Christians? Do we stand with the person or against him? We can join the crowd and marginalize him further because of his sexual sin, or we can stand with him because he is a person made in the image of God and in need of redemption.

Now, when we look at our own attitudes, we see it is easier to join the crowd in marginalizing a homosexual than to behave as Jesus did. The person is first a human being before he is a homosexual. When we look at 1 Corinthians 6, we see that adultery is confronted in the same way as homosexuality.  To help us clear our own head, and heart, it is useful for us to compare how we respond to adultery and homosexuality, because we see Scriptures placing them beside each other.

I suspect heterosexual sin is more prevalent than homosexual sin! Some place the incidence of adultery to be around 50%, but it is likely that it is no lower than 30%. In a country like America we see adulterers sitting comfortably in churches singing praise to God as though they have done no wrong.  On our part, we see no evil, hear no evil and say no evil.

If we will be fair to homosexuals, why do we not address the sexual sin of adultery with equal vigor as we do the sin of homosexuality? I think if we dare to look within us, we will find the answer, notwithstanding the point that we are in a push-back response to the assertions made by the homosexual community.

Many of us have deep seated animosity against people who practice homosexuality.  Perhaps in part because we are not them, so we can afford this animosity. Perhaps we are deflecting our own guilt onto them. Perhaps we are not guilty and like to use them as examples that we are not sinners like these people. The reality is that homosexual people have suffered prejudice.  They respond to this prejudice by asserting that homosexuality is not a sin. That is also incorrect!

At some point, we need to ask if the current homosexual assertion that homosexuality is not wrong is the result of the prejudice they have suffered, and if we have contributed to their current assertion.

Let’s take a step back and ask, “Why?” Why do we have this prejudice in the first place? 

I believe that in part, we see homosexuality as worse because it is a perversion of the natural order of sexuality.  Adultery, on the other hand is a sin by excessive indulgence, or in taking pleasure beyond where we have the right to do so. Adultery is engaging in normal sexuality to sinful excess. Homosexuality is engaging in abnormal sexuality.

There is some justification to say that homosexuality is worse than adultery, like it is to say incest is worse than adultery.  But what the Bible makes clear is that either homosexuality or adultery disqualifies us from the Kingdom of God.  If we leap from the 50th floor and die, does it make any practical difference if we leap from the 49th floor and also die?  Do we say it is terrible to leap from the 50th floor but quite alright to leap from the 49th?

At the same time, I am puzzled. If we have 5 people leaping from the 50th floor and 100 people leaping from the 49th floor, which should be the greater concern if we can address only one issue at a time? Would it not be that we would do a triage of trying to save as many people as possible first? Why do we address homosexuality so much more than adultery when adultery is more common than homosexuality?

Do you think Jesus’ injunction to first remove the log out of your own eye before you try to remove the speck of sawdust from your brother’s eye applies to us in our approach to sexuality?

When we place homosexuality and adultery side by side, we begin to see our own picture emerging. We see we have been discriminating against homosexuals. We see our own failure and our own double standards. We see that perhaps we should not be the guiltless party entitled to cast the first stone.

Jesus told the crowd ready to stone the woman caught in adultery, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” (John 8:7 KJV), the principle applies to homosexuality. Let the one who does not commit adultery, who does not have sexual sin, who does not watch porn, who is not greedy for money, who does not love things more than God … cast the first stone.

Jesus does not excuse the sin of the woman caught in adultery.  What Jesus brings to the table is the sin of the other people who surround this woman caught in adultery. Jesus is asking for equal justice.

I like to suggest to you that we need to affirm two things: (1) homosexuality is sin because the Bible affirms it; (2) homosexuals have been unfairly targeted and are right to say they have suffered discrimination.  In the first point, I know I will have evangelicals agree with me readily.  But in the second, I am out on a limb.

I hope to persuade more fellow evangelicals the sinfulness of homosexuality does not give us the right to behave the way we have been behaving towards them. We need to apply the same rules. That is one way to determine our own bias. Next we need to stand in their shoes to determine if our actions are righteous.

#3 Standing in their shoes

Let’s return to the test case of World Vision. Does World Vision allow openly adulterous people to be employed? If so, they need to allow openly homosexual people in their employment. If they allow one and not the other, there is an immediate failure in being consistent. So let an employer ask if he employs adulterers and homosexuals, and use that as a platform in social justice. We are not discussing if World Vision should or should not do this or that. My suggestion is this: if we will have justice we can let the stones fly or let the stone lay on the ground. We cannot have selective stoning. There is grave injustice in selective stoning.

Next, we need to stand in their shoes. Let’s say you have employers who are homosexuals and you apply for a job. He looks at you and sees you are heterosexual. He decides he will not employ you because you are heterosexual, would you accept that?

But I need to qualify. There is a clear justification for a religious organization not to employ people who continue to engage in activities contrary to their moral requirements and there is no injustice in that.  A Christian organization can dismiss practicing homosexuals as it dismisses practicing adulterers.  A Buddhist organization can dismiss people who eat animals just as a Muslim organization can dismiss people who eat pork. But there must be a consistent adherence to the tenets of one’s own belief system.  We cannot selectively fire people for one and not another when they fall under the same consideration.

Perhaps another scenario is this. You discover that among your employees, one is an adulterer and one is a homosexual. Do you fire both of them, one of them, or neither? If yours is a secular business, do you fire them?

The challenge we face is this: If we are sympathetic to the injustice suffered by homosexuals, people think we accept homosexuality. But that is not the case. Not any more than the suggestion that when Jesus defended the woman about to be stoned, he justified her adultery. We affirm both the sinfulness of adultery/homosexuality and also affirm the need for a righteous and compassionate handling of sexual sins. Jesus gave us many examples.

Many of us have friends and loved ones who are homosexuals. We face the tension of loving them without approving their action.  This struggle brings home the attitude we ought to have. The Christian view towards sin is redemption. We all need redemption from sin as much as the homosexual or the adulterer. At the same time, we are much more than our sin.  The homosexual and the adulterer is more than his sin. He is the person Jesus loves. He is the person for whom Jesus died.

#4 Homosexuality and the law of the land

The challenge we have before us are man-made laws and man-made protocols. If we submit to the moral laws of God and construct our legal system according to God’s moral law, we will have a different approach to many things. The world’s justice system is not aligned with Scripture. So how do we address the issue of homosexuality in a country’s legal system?

In previous conversations, we talked about the Singapore Penal Code S377A.  It is a very imperfect law.  But there is nothing in its place if it is abolished. I do not think all imperfect laws should be abolished as the resulting vacuum is worse. S377A continues to serve the function of identifying homosexuality as wrong. For me that is the most important function of S377A.

S377A is quite bad in that the penalties connected to it are terrible.  Let’s use adultery as a comparison again. Does an adulterer get sent to prison? I think not.  At the same time, adultery remains in the books as something wrong. Homosexuality should be recognized as a moral wrong but not singled out for disproportionate penalties. As there are penalties for the adulterer so the homosexual should not expect to go scot- free. The good thing is that Singapore has applied a light hand on S377A and as a legal system, we have not made victims of homosexuals.

Conclusion

I like to propose to you the biblical view of homosexuality as follows:

  1. Homosexuality is a sin. Adultery and other sexual sins are also addressed in the Bible and homosexuality is not singled out as a sin for special attention.
  2. All sexual sins are linked to our present corruptible body, and all sexual sins will be resolved when we rise from the dead and live in the fullness of the Kingdom of God.
  3. We use adultery as a comparison to search our own hearts concerning possible bias against homosexuals and have discovered that there is merit in the homosexual complaint that we discriminate. We must desist.
  4. The Christian approach to homosexuals and adulterers is one of redemption.  We affirm they need help and we are called to be agents to help them, not to inflict harm on them.
  5. The State has laws that are more confusing than consistent. The law of the land is not particularly helpful in the redemption of homosexuals (or adulterers). We are called to reach people at their place of need and empower their life with the presence of the Holy Spirit who transforms the heart and the mind.

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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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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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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.


 

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

XIN MSN, the LGBT Agenda, and the Pope

by Peter Eng

 

 

 

Romans 1:21-32 (NLT)

21 Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. …

24 So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies.  … 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.

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.


I depend on XIN MSN (Channel 5) for much of the international news I get because it is one of two English channels here in Singapore. What most people do not realize is that MSN (Microsoft Networks), the parent body of our local XIN MSN, is extremely left-wing. In fact, MSN is one channel I rarely watch when I am in the US because of their extreme bias. They are the advocates of all things anti-Christian, and their value system is against values that we hold dear.

A case in point is the Ellen Show, given to us five days a week on XIN MSN. The host, Ellen DeGeneres, is an openly practicing lesbian. Her public persona as a lesbian has been instrumental in changing the American conversation about homosexual marriage. When there was a small window of time that same-sex marriage was legal, Ellen DeGeneres married Portia Rossi to much media support and accolade.

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Ellen DeGeneres

Ellen DeGeneres is instrumental in the gains of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, and Transgender) advocates for homosexuality as legitimate. She was already well accepted before she openly declared herself a lesbian. She became the poster child of what it is like to be homosexual and yet normal. This is the image cultivated by MSN and XIN MSN. In comparison, we look at Dr Oz, also on XIN MSN. Dr Oz is a Muslim, but he is not an advocate of Islam. I would therefore hesitate to say that MSN is promoting a certain image of Islam (because Dr Oz did not use his position to influence people). If you were to look at the MSN programs, it becomes clear they are up to something. Singapore does not have the “Ed Show,” but it is part of the MSN programming and it illustrates an outrageous left-wing position. The aggregate of these programs on MSN point to a consistent trend: the agenda to promote the left-wing agenda.

Singapore’s gay-rights activism has a strong support in XIN MSN. The slide to depravity in public opinion about homosexuality is of concern. At the same time, homosexual bashing is the last thing we should do. While we accept that moral wrongs is a reality in life (e.g. prostitution), that reality does not change a wrong to a right, regardless of the legal status. Christians today engage in the legal fight to prevent the LGBT from becoming legally main stream. That struggle is secondary to winning the hearts and minds of the people. Allow me to use prostitution as a comparison again. Prostitution is legal in Singapore, but there is a public consensus that the legalization of prostitution does not make it morally right.

The issue we have with the LGBT agenda is their concerted effort to represent their sinful lifestyle to be a mere preference.

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Pope Francis when he was cardinal Jorge Bergolio
in an AIDS hospice (2001)

The left-wing media hated Pope Benedict XVI because he has conservative values. Regardless of what we may think of him as a person or of his theology, he deserves the right to be correctly represented. But the media said things about him that are just not true, things designed to make him look bad.

Pope Francis (Cardinal Bergoglio) is loved by the media because he has consistently led a simple life, and a proven record of identifying with the poor. He even took on the name “Francis,” after Francis of Assisi, the stoutest advocate for Christian simplicity. All these are good attributes, and we are glad for his rejection of opulence following the simplicity of our Lord Jesus Christ.

One aspect of the self-deprecation of Pope Francis which media noticed is his preference to be called the “Bishop of Rome” rather than “Pope.” This is important to Christians because the claim as Pope over all Christians is never accepted by non-Catholics. Historically, there were bishops over different territories, and Rome, like other cities, had a bishop. When other cities fell to the invading Muslims who then decimated the Christian population, their status diminished. Rome was also sacked but the “barbarians” who invaded Rome converted to Christianity. The prestige of the Bishop of Rome continued to rise. When Constantinople (Istanbul today) fell to the Muslims, the Eastern Church lost prestige, and the claims coming out of Rome that the Bishop of Rome represents all Christians took on greater force.

It is quite clear that Pope Francis, even if he wants, is not able to shed the title of pope. But his preference to be considered the Bishop of Rome is a return to correctness. He does not speak for me, as a non-Catholic, and when he styles himself as the Bishop of Rome, it is a recognition of his true historical position. It is one that diminishes the papacy, but a correct one.

The media love-fest with Pope Francis will last as long he does not infringe on values that liberals hold dear. My guess is that he will offend them eventually because he opposes the values of LGBT, and they will begin to undermine him. As long as the attacks are based on reality rather than lies, they are fair. And I see the stirrings of underhanded attacks.

The reporting of Reuters (27 March, 2013), is reproduced by MSN. The first story is about Jorge Bergoglio as a 19 year old. They recount his sister’s story that when he was 19, he had said he wanted to study medicine and the family made room for him to do so. But they found religious rather than medicine related books, and it is claimed that he replied, “It’s medicine for the soul.” The point of the article is that Pope Francis is a political pope. It is suggesting that we have an unscrupulous pope who will say things that sound good to the hearers when he has something else in mind.

Perhaps that is what he is. But the evidence to support such a charge is extrapolated from an event when he was a teenager and that from a third party. This is unworthy, agenda-filled reporting.

Next the article attacked him because he called homosexual marriage “the work of the devil.” MSN is quick to come to the defense of the likes of Ellen DeGeneres and depict this view as though it were strange. I affirm the evil of homosexual marriage as do the majority of people in the world. The liberals are the minority who control the media and talk as though they represent the consensus.

Singapore is infected by XIN MSN with the wrong type of inclusivism. Jesus is the most inclusive person in history and teaches inclusivism unmatched by any. He says to “love your enemy.” That is true inclusivism. Jesus’ teaching is blind to ethnicity, to wealth, to social class, to ability, to disabilities, etc. And just in case Christians misunderstand what Jesus is saying, let us now affirm that he does not call us to hate the LGBT, but to love them and offer them forgiveness of sin. All who respond to the offer of forgiveness of sin receive it – including the LGBT. We oppose the LGBT agenda to turn wrong into right, but our goal is not to destroy the people. Instead, we proclaim the good news of how God can change their lives. We must hold out a message of love and hope in Christ, but we also affirm that there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is destruction – such as the way of LGBT.

What is the point of this article? It is a warning. I wish to warn Christians in Singapore about how the extreme left-wing media (MSN and its affiliates), try to poison our minds with unjust reporting. 

We all have positions. For me as an evangelical Christian, I like Pope Francis to the extent he rolls back false teachings within Catholicism and returns to truth found in the Bible. The liberal media has the right to approve or disapprove Pope Francis (or anyone) on the basis of whether that person fits their liberal values. What I object to is the false reporting such as by Reuters, and carried by MSN. Of course, I also reject the agenda of MSN and wish to warn my Christian friends about the left-wing media.

When people rely on falsehood or speculation to convince you, you should be immediately alerted to these people as dishonest, and should take a very cautious position when listening to them.

Are there conservative Christians guilty of such bias or falsehood? Of course! When conservative Christians do not speak the truth so they can get their point across, they do our position a great disservice. Their lies will be discovered and our position discredited, or at least diminished. There is truth in the Evangelical faith and the use of false evidence or argument makes the truth look weak.

We all make honest mistakes. We tend to be less rigorous when we examine a position we like, and more rigorous when we examine a view we do not like. Consequently, we can misrepresent our evidence or the evidence of our ideological opponents. We need to make room for such errors in others and ask others to make room for us when we commit such errors. They are inevitable. This is why conversation or even debate will expose weaknesses on both sides. Eventually, falsehood will be revealed and truth affirmed.

Singaporeans are savvy people, but we have limited media exposure. On this account, I like to point out to you that XIN MSN is an agenda-heavy network intent of promoting the LGBT and other left-wing agenda.