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Ending the War
Articles - Faith
Written by Indu   
Sunday, 21 February 2010 10:16

Image from Glenkirk

 

"Fridae has been told that a total of 85 people including filmmakers Sun Koh and Royston Tan have lodged police reports over the long Chinese New Year weekend about pastor Rony Tan's offensive comments concerning gay men and lesbians in an online video."

Read the rest of the article here.

 

Freedom of religion is a tricky thing. Take it too far and you can justify theocracy, give it too little and you have oppression. When freedom of religion and freedom of speech attempts to go together, it becomes even more of an unnavigable thicket.

Did Pastor Rony Tan make a mistake? Of course he did. He said things that were both ignorant and arrogant, as well as extremely bigoted. He acted in a way that no religious leader should have, in openly disparaging another religion, especially without much basis. Very few people would say that what he said was completely acceptable. And he has been reprimanded for it, by the ISD no less. The implications on this being considered a national security issue are for another author to debate thoroughly, but this author believes the use of the ISD to be heavy-handed and to send a chilling effect on political discourse and legitimate criticism of religion.

The ground gets more slippery when one considers his remarks against the queer community. I watched the video and found myself rolling my eyes at his ignorance. But what's new? He is only echoing what every other pastor says, when they might choose to speak on the issue. I am not sure he has had the opportunity to know better, and even if he hasn't, whether he even realises the damage he is doing. After all, he is doing what a lot of religious leaders do: latch on to one issue of moral significance and use it to gain popularity and following.

Last Updated on Saturday, 06 March 2010 19:02
 
Militant Christians
Articles - Faith
Written by AnJ   
Monday, 07 January 2008 00:00
Today, immediately after church, kai and i had the honor of being escorted from the overflow room to a windowless tiny ‘prayer and healing room’ by a lady usher. When i said escorted, i meant the lady usher was holding on firmly to kai and I. Pastor Matthew wanted a word with us. The well-furnished room was empty, but for the lady usher, the pastor and us.

He stood before us in a formal suit, his body tall and broad, between us and the door. The lady usher on his right, quiet and petite.

‘Hi, i am Pastor Matthew. I suppose the two of you are new?’ He shook Kai’s hand.
‘No, i am not new.’ I answered.
‘How long?’
‘I have been attending this church since 1999.’ I replied. ‘I know you, Pastor Matthew. You have been a pastor ever since i stepped in.’
‘How long have you been saved?’
‘I have been a Christian since the age of 5.’

Pastor Matthew asked me of Kai, ‘Is she a girl?’
I raised my eyebrows, ‘Is that not apparent? I am a girl too. We are both girls.’

I needed to go to the washroom since before the end of service. But held out till the end of service. So you can imagine me having a high tide. Thought i could go to the washroom first. But he stopped me. Two seconds, he said. Two seconds sounds short. Okay. I held my bladder for longer.

He mentioned our behavior i.e. leaning on shoulders and holding hands. He asked, ‘Are the two of you in a relationship?’ He elaborated- people were observing us and we are causing others to stumble through our display of affections.

I gave him a look of bewilderment, ‘How are we causing people to stumble?’ A male usher outside shut the door of our room.

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 17:04
 
The God-issue- Part 3
Articles - Faith
Written by AnJ   
Saturday, 12 May 2007 00:00
Being gay- a Christian inadequacy.

Dr. Tan Kim Huat spoke about God’s laws. He mentioned that the debate revolved around whether the homosexual sex is exploitative. The pro-gay argument said that it’s for exploitative relationships only. The counter-argument is: Apostle Paul meant all kinds of homosexual relationships. [I have no clue about this argument. All i know is that lesbian sex is explicitly left out of Moses law: both men and women were mentioned for bestiality but only men were mentioned for human same-sex encounters. Whether Moses perceived sex as penile-penetrative acts only is anyone’s guess.]

Dr. Tan also mentioned the tenor of the bible- which is the love of God and justification by faith. There also seemed to be a suggestion that sin from Adam’s fall gave rise to predispositions (i suppose he meant homosexuality, adultery and all other vices). He made this link: that those who see God’s love change (stop being gay).

He pointed out the reasons why Jews were against homosexuality.
1. Lack of Gender distinction: men giving up their superior roles to take the submissive role.
2. It is not natural, against God’s order.
3. Lack of procreational potential.

I wonder what Dr Tan thinks of the patriarchy that is slowly loosening its grips on modern day society? Androgynous attributes are in. More women are taking on leadership roles. And i wonder what he thinks of medical procedures that intervene in the natural course of diseases, preventing death that naturally would have otherwise occurred? And i wonder if birth control pills are considered the worst bane of the human race, since it successfully prevented thousands of babies being born. [Saving lots of people from starving and improving the quality of life in over-populated places in the process.]

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 17:01
 
Safehaven Dialogue Session- Part 1
Articles - Faith
Written by AnJ   
Saturday, 12 May 2007 00:00

It was held at Amara hotel, on 10 May 2007, pertaining to the Christian perspective on homosexuality. The church that hosted it is FCC (Free Community Church), the only gay-affirming church in Singapore.There are 4 Speakers: (in order as presented on the panel yesterday)
1. Rev. Dr. Tan Kim Huat
(Chen Su Lan Professor of New Testament and
Dean of Studies at Trinity Theological College)
2.Anthony Yeo
(Clinical Director of Counselling and Care Centre)
3. Edmund Smith
(Founder of ex-gay movement Real Life Ministry)
4. Rev. Dr. Yap Kim Hao, PhD
(Boston University, Mass, USA)
(First Asian Bishop of The Methodist Church in Malaysia and Singapore, Pastoral Advisor- Free Community Church)

The Moderator:
Augustine Anthuvan

(Assistant Programme Manager, MediaCorp Radio)

————————————————————-

Someone said that the panel is not balanced, since noone is anti-gay.

I think we need to differentiate between homosexuality and the homosexual person. If you are against people (and you can't get them out of your argument), you will find your arguments framed as personal attacks. Therefore, to have a constructive discussion on homosexuality, it is better to seek panelists who are neutral towards gay persons, but divided on the issue of homosexuality. [Speakers 1 and 3 are not for homosexuality; Speakers 2 and 4 are gay-affirming.]

Is it possible to divide the person from the sexual orientation in a discussion?
Yes. But many gay people find it difficult to separate the two because sexuality is such a salient component of their sense of self. And hence the civilized verbal attacks on Edmund Smith (ex-gay pastor).

Because so much was touched on, i am going to share my thoughts in a series.

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 16:58
 
Life-Stories- Part 4
Articles - Faith
Written by AnJ   
Saturday, 12 May 2007 00:00
Life Stories- Weaving the fabric of your life.

The two story-tellers are J and KW. But there are actually three story-tellers. Edmund Smith is the unspoken third.

J is a pre-school teacher, an ex-lesbian, who looked like she is in her late-teens or early twenties. And she talked about how she was abused by her mother. This abuse sparked in her a desire for a mother-figure. She was butch and called her long tresses a  ‘miracle of God’.

I don’t know why the theory of childhood abuse as the cause of homosexuality is frequently used. It is an ancient theory from Freud on why gay men exist. Now Freud is studied in literature, not psychology- which gives you a hint about how dependable a science it is. The closest thing to abuse i can think of in my life is: getting caned with those bamboo twigs you see in mama-shops with colored hooks as handles when i misbehaved as a kid. And i donned long wavy tresses all my life. I suppose you can say i have been living God’s miracle.

I think life stories have the tendency to be woven around what people say about us- if we believe them. Thanks to the confirming bias. At some point in your life, something that resembles what they say about you would exist. And some of the  ‘symptoms ‘ that they say would appear in your life at some stage. Haven ‘t we felt blue at certain periods of our lives? That doesn’t make you depressed. Haven ‘t we experienced low self-esteem at some points? That doesn’t make you problematic. Most people experience emotions in periods, but they are temporal.

People tend to feel a need to explain things. It gives you a sense of control. What’s the best way out of feeling completely helpless about your situation? Look for something that resembles a reason and hold on to it.

Like:  ‘I don’t want to be gay; i think it’s causing me all this depression and low self-esteem. Can you tell me why i am gay and give me hope as to how i can get out? ‘

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 17:31
 
Ted Haggard and me
Articles - Faith
Written by lublub   
Tuesday, 12 December 2006 00:00
I guess everyone would have heard of the Ted Haggard scandal by now. If you haven’t, here is a brief summary of what happened: One of America’s most influential evangelist, Pastor Ted Haggard, who heads a ten-thousand strong church and is a fierce opponent against gay marriage, has been exposed as living a double life as a gay person. Apparently, he had employed the services of a call boy over an extended period of time. When the call boy saw Ted on TV opposing homosexuality and gay marriage, he decided to spill the beans on Ted to the media. Enraged by Ted’s hypocrisy, the call boy decided to break the code of silence and bring the truth to light.

I guess in a surreal way, this is a fantasy come true. Let me explain why’.

For many of us, we have been attacked by religious people at some point of our lives with regards to sexuality. And it hurts. Badly. These emotional wounds that will heal over time (forgiven but not forgotten); leave an unmistakable scar on our psyches. And there is nothing that triggers past pains more strongly than an old scar being dug at. I should know, after all, the strongest homophobia I encountered was from fellow Christian friends when I came out. And it hurt me really badly because I was at that point of my life when I was vulnerable and needed support, not condemnation.

There were some hurtful things said. For example, I was likened to ‘an animal’. Worse, it came from a friend who identified as ‘ex-gay’. And it cut me so badly I cried buckets, at home, in school. To others. It also developed in me a deep hatred (at that point of time) for religious homophobia. I couldn’t imagine anything worse than those moments.

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 16:58
 
Where do I go from here?
Articles - Faith
Written by Jin   
Sunday, 12 March 2006 00:00

So today at 5pm I'm supposed to go meet up with my aunt's ex-gay friend. (How did this happen?)
Yes! I finally came out to my uncle and aunt. This was two Thursdays ago (every time we have dinner at their house it seems to be a Thursday). After dinner, we were still loitering around the dinner table, and I said to my uncle, 'I have something to tell you, I am gay.'

It was something like jumping into a chilly swimming pool on a hot day. You are comfy and warm on the deck chair. Yet you know you want to go into the pool. You know it's going to be deliciously cold and refreshing once you're in, but you also know that the transition, the split second that the icy water hits your sun-warmed skin, is going to be a jolt. So you steel your nerves, grit your teeth, take a deep breath and jump in.

And once I had said it, it really was kinda like being underwater; a shiver ran through my body and I was still holding my breath and adjusting to the shock of the transition. And there was silence. A few seconds where everything sounded very distant and dull.

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 February 2010 15:48
 
Being a christian, Being a lesbian…
Articles - Faith
Written by Jin   
Sunday, 08 January 2006 00:00
This is the monthly column by jin on being a gay christian and the journey towards finding God and herself.

Wow! My own column! With people to read it! I feel like Carrie Bradshaw. Yes, you may imagine me tapping this out on my laptop, sprawled on my bed, propped up by my elbows, thoughtful faraway look in my eyes. But I ‘m not thin. And not American. And, actually, I am scribbling this on the MRT.

My name is Jin, you may know me as one of the founders and facilitators of LUSH: Lesbians United for Self-Help. This group was started in November this year, for Christian lesbians from various walks of life to come together and share their experiences in life, and form a safe support network for each other.

You may also know me as the elder of 2 daughters, with a large, lively (read: noisy) extended family. It’s hard for you to know me without some mention of my family because they are part of my life, and growing up surrounded by so many relatives must have had an impact in shaping me in some way or other. So the story of my life thus far, will definitely include some information about my family. Or  ‘clan ‘ as we sometimes call it.

Background knowledge: The whole family is Christian, mostly Methodist.

My sister and I went to a Methodist school, and our mother was very active in the church. We lived quite simply; after our father moved away we lived in a terrace house that our mother rented from her uncle. It was the house next to his, so we are to this day very close to him and his family.

Our mother brought us up well; she was strict but kind and fair. We, of course, were put through Sunday School, and had the usual religious education that you get in mission schools.

I didn’t think we were overly religious; we didn’t say grace before meals, and when we ate with friends or other relatives who did say grace, I sometimes thought ‘Wah, they are so good, I should remember to say grace too!’

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 February 2010 16:55