Friday, August 17, 2007

Thoughts on homosexuality and being "gay-friendly"

How should we respond to recent news that a "gay church" is being set up? More importantly, how should we seek to honour Christ in this matter? Here are brief reflections, and I want to stress that this is certainly not the last word!

On the one hand, we desperately need to show love and grace to all our homosexual friends. "Those who accept the Bible’s veto on homosexual behaviour must go out of their way to express genuine love for homosexual people (David Field)". For our unbelieving friends, we see to proclaim the gospel to them, while living out that same gospel, knowing that it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:16-17). For our Christian homosexual friends, we continue to love them. If they are persuaded that homosexuality is compatible with being Christian, then we seek to reason from the Scriptures to show that homosexuality is indeed not how God intended it to be without being needlessly insensitive (see link at the end for more on this). At the same time we can rejoice with them that in following Jesus, they have a new identity even stronger than their sexuality. "And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." (1 Corinthians 6:11).

If our friends are Christians who uphold the traditional Christian teaching on homosexuality, it is still the same good news that they (and we!) need to hear. We struggle and pray with them, all the while again reminding them of the gospel, reassuring them that Jesus has paid the price and speaks in our defence. (1 John 2:1). There is no longer any condemnation in Jesus.

At the same time, the Scriptures are clear that we are to oppose error (eg. 1 Timothy 1, Jude, 1 Corinthians 5-6 where Paul takes on both the legalists and the hedonists of his day). The gospel is not to be brought into disrepute. So, with regards to Rev. Ou Yang and the MCC, Christians are right to oppose the setting up of a church which affirms homosexuality, and to be public with such opposition. We should pray, not against homosexual people, but against the progress of a sinful agenda. Nevertheless, it should not be done with a sense of triumphalism. In addition, we should take this opportunity to examine ourselves and repent of any homophobic behaviour.

Christians will not be free from sin in this world. Instances of homosexual behaviour, therefore doesn't mean we're excluded from the kingdom of God anymore than if we lie. Nor are we excluded when we fail to model the gospel of grace to our homosexual friends. Instead, we can all pray

'Heavenly Father, you have loved us with an everlasting love. We have
been stubborn and rebellious, but you have been merciful and kind. For
the sake of your Son who died for us, forgive us, cleanse us, and
change us. By your Holy Spirit, enable us to live for you and to
please you in every way, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.'

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.


This is a summary refinement/restatement of some earlier reflections on homosexuality and the disquiet caused by the Rev. Ou Yang's intentions. Click through too for a list of further reading.

8 comments:

Concerned Christian said...

Stop gay pastor from sowing warped ideas

WELCOMING homosexuals into the church and welcoming a homosexual pastor are two different things. Everyone is welcome to sit in the pews “as sheep to be fed by the shepherd”. But not everyone should be a shepherd.

In law, a judge must abide by the Constitution. And in medicine, a doctor must abide by the Hippocratic Oath. Anything short of this is unlawful, and borders on the criminal.

In Christianity, the pastor must abide by the Bible. The Bible is clear about its stand on homosexuality, and anyone who preaches otherwise is leading sheep astray and destroying impressionable young lives.

Perhaps, there is not enough legislation yet for the law to prosecute. But that does not mean that Malaysians should sit idly by while a church from America tells us that we should accept their warped interpretation of freedom of expression.

On behalf of all concerned Malaysians, I appeal to the authorities to nip this in the bud and close our door to this intrusion once and for all.

A CONCERNED CHRISTIAN,

Seremban.

BK said...

Dear concerned Christian,

I agree that we should not allow someone who affirms homosexuality into the pulpit, as he fails to correctly handle the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15), and as you mention, could lead others astray. And I agree with your high view of the Bible, that is, a pastor should abide by God's word (2 Tim 3:15-16). I think this is made clear in my post, where I say we should oppose the proposed church of Rev. Ou Yang, and the advancement of a gay agenda. I think we are on much common ground.

This post simply tries to take the bigger picture into account, keeping in mind that there are homosexual people in Malaysian society who aren't sure where to turn. Without compromising the Bible's teaching on homosexuality, we hope that homosexual people, particularly those who are Christians, are able to find other Christians who will both be willing to walk with them, struggle with them as they battle with their sexual orientation, and challenge them when they feel like giving up and giving in. Let's keep this in mind even as we "contend for the truth". :-)

Allen said...

Dear Pastors, Bro & Sis,

Gay Church in Malaysia!

I write this mail to you with a grieving spirit. Some of you may have known about a Malaysian gay being ordained as pastor in USA. His name is Oyoung Wen Feng, a journalist as well as a columnist for Sin Chew
Jit Poh, Malaysia.
Oyoung have been wrting articles on Homosexuality since 5 years ago.
He spoke on behalf of the homosexuals as well as the lesbians. He
claimed that the bible did not say homosexuality being a sin. If you
think it is a sin, then you have actually misinterpreted the bible!
Over the past years, some writers, including myself, have written
several articles to refute him, and were published by Sin Chew. But
unfortunately, for the past 2 years, Sin Chew refused to publish our
articles!
At first the readers thought that Oyoung was a hero speaking on behalf
of the weak. But about one and a half years ago, he openly admitted in
his column that he was a gay. And at the same time he published a
Chinese book entitled "God Loves Gays". In his book he revealed his
story for having sex with a few guys.
Last year, Oyoung divorced his wife of 7 years, claiming that it was a
mistake to marry her since he was a gay.
We christians have no platforms to speak against him when Sin Chew
refuses to allow us to voice out. Could you believe me? The boss of
Sin Chew, Zhang Xiao Qing, is a christian!!! What will be the boss'
fate for condoning such an evil? Only God knows!
Could any organization please pressurize Sin Chew? Believe me, evil is
looming large in Malaysia if churches in Malaysia ignored his deeds!
Because Oyoung is bringing his senior pastor, Rev. Troy Perry, over to
Malaysia to launch a gay church!
On Aug 11 is Q & A time for people who are persecuted as gays and
lesbians.
On Aug 12 is Sunday Worship.
Venue: Grand Olympic Hotel, KL.
Co-ordinator: Joseph, 012-2087 949.
News about the meetings was published in Sin Chew on July 29 & 31.
Oyoung thinks this is America, and we could do everything freely like
America. He wants to turn Malaysia into another Sodom & Gomorrah. The
reason that he is so bold to confront the Malaysian churches because
our leaders usually don't want to be so-called "busybody"!
The consequence is: more people are getting HIV, and souls won by
them would head for hell!
A few of us are trying to do something to stop the 2 meetings. You can
do your part in these manners: 1) Praying for us. 2) Send an sms to
Joseph. 3) Give a call to Sin Chew and speak to the Executive Editor:
03-7965 8888.

Thank you. God bless you.
Rev Allen Tan

Joseph Lim (Right Path ministry) said...

Dear Allen Tan,

I read your mail forwarded to me by one of my friend.
Firstly, I can understand your passion and upset of what is
happening around Ao Yang, using christianity and his title as
Reverand, to advance his gay-right activist campaign.
He was here last Saturday in Penang, and I was there.


But, Allen, I am concern of your reaction to this whole issue.
The main reason of gay-right activist is the outburst reaction to
the un-compassionate, self-righteous, and one-sided criticism and
condemnation, without offering reason and grace to homosexuals,
in the pass.


Many good Christians, who are homosexual oriented, live constantly,
daily, in pain and guilt. I observe the stages in the change of mind
in
them as follows:
1. Curious and fear of their tendency.
2. Deep sense of guilt.
3. Loneliness and isolation.
4. Doubt and anger to God creep in.
On the lowest point, they will find way to ease their pain by
reasoning that:
1. I was born this way. Maybe it is God's will.
2. God loves me just as I am, so homosexual should be acceptable to
God.
3. It is fine to live as a homosexual partnerships.
4. All other un-reasonable reasoning follows.


Ao Yang is right in certain aspect.
The redicule, condemnation of homosexual as the GREATEST SIN,
persecution, despise,
is unjustice, and in itself a sin.
Ao Yang has to use Christianity. Because other than Christianity, it
is difficult to build the
dignity and intrinsic value of man.


Therefore, my approach and my suggestion to church, is extent love and
grace to them, PARTICULARLY
to homosexual Christians who living in guilt, fear and loneliness.
I believe how we relate to them is determine by what stage of struggle
they are in.
For the activist like Ao Yang, it is intellectual argument and debate
(in gentleness).
For those mind have not yet been changed to accept homosexual marriage
as right, they need compassion,
love, and counselling. Redicule and condemn will only accelerate the
process of becoming another Ao Yang.


As a church of Christ,
we need to learn from Christ how to love and be with sinners and tax
collectors without condon to their
thinking and behavior.
We need to give people like Ao Yang another option:
Walk out from the closet to accept the love and grace of God, through
support and warm fellowship
in the church, while admitting that homosexuality is the tragic
consequence of the Fall, just like any other
sin. By God's grace and Christ redeeming power, we struggle together
in the road of holiness, both homosexual
and heterosexual.


It is no point making effort to stop him from speaking.
It is impossible.
It is no point to curse him and swear at him.
It will lead to no where and giving the wrong impression that
Christians are incompetent to defence their moral law.
Apologia, as we have learned, is speaking the truth in love, for in
love, there is no FEAR.


regards,


joseph

Josh said...

It is really pointless for Christians/Christian groups/or Christian Organisations to lobby for a ban against them on the grounds that they promote homosexual lifestyle or that they disagree with their “perversion” of theology.

Dont “crucify” me yet; I dont agree with what they teach or their homosexual lifestyle just like i dont agree with anyone who teaches others to lie, cheat and con others for a living. Or for that matter, anyone who promotes violent act against those who dont believe in the same God. For me, homosexual act is a sin just like greed, lying or cheating is a sin.

Although I may not agree with this “Gay Church” goals as a whole, I would certainly not want the government to deny them their civil rights to practice their own set of beliefs (be it orthodox or not) and I would not want our government to deny their right to establish their form of organisation here if it is permissible under the law.

For me the way to go about this by protesting is not going to reap the best result.

You see my reasoning is this:

1. All negative publicity is still publicity – Christians who raise a ruckus of issue would end up helping to advertise the very organisation they are trying to discourage. Any outrage, protest and ban-lobbying will only serve to attract the curious & gays or just plain liberal anti-establishment folks to this organisation (if it is established). We would be shooting ourselves on the foot.

2. A petition to ‘ban’ this gay-church would send 2 signals:
1. That the government should ban any deviant Christian group
2. That Christians are now in support of suppressing other religious groups (that they don’t agree with)

Would it not set a precedent for government to ban any “deviant” Christian groups? Who decides which is deviant? Should this authority be given to the government? Who is to know that one day the Pentecostals will be considered deviant?

It also gives sends the wrong signal to the general public (who are more liberal and embracing of differences), that Christians are no different from extremist Muslims – afraid of ‘deviants’, are narrow minded and fearful of a challenge to their orthodoxy.

3. If ordinary Malaysians are against any movement towards this gay lifestyle, this “venture” wont get far anyway. It would attract some curious people, but not the majority.

The way forward is through education - that we teach the young and our people what is wrong with a gay lifestyle - just as we approach any other sinful lifestyle, if we are worried that the kids and young people are “influenced/attracted” into it.

4. If we are to protest anything or speak out and not be silent about anything, it is the injustice, discrimination and outright racism in this country. And for that, the majority of Christian organizations have been silent. Why don’t we petition for the abolishment of racist political parties such as UMNO, MCA and MIC instead?

What do you think?

Yuki said...

I would agree with most of what you said here, but here is where I have to part:

"The way forward is through education - that we teach the young and our people what is wrong with a gay lifestyle - just as we approach any other sinful lifestyle, if we are worried that the kids and young people are “influenced/attracted” into it."

As we head for more discussions in the coming future, we need to detach the 'gay' and the 'lifestyle'.

A lifestyle is just a part and parcel of how a person runs her or his life, there is always confusion when the orientation is not separated from the sexual behaviour.

When we speak of the gay 'lifestyle', we tend to overfocus on the sex, rather than the person. It paints a negative picture that gays think about sex all the time.

But truth is, homosexuals are just like heterosexuals in terms of sexual behaviour. The only difference being the love shared is by the person of the same sex.

Therefore I urge you, please do not use the word 'lifestyle'. It bears by itself a negative and prejudicial connotation, especially to homosexuals who are still single and choose career rather than relationships. Thanks.

Dave said...

Perhaps by gay lifestyle, Josh was referring to a gay person who also engages in homosexual behavior/practices? Semantics maybe, but very good distinctions u brought up here yuki

Yuki said...

Actually, Josh stated:

'if we are worried that the kids and young people are “influenced/attracted” into it'

I do not think it is that easy to influence someone to become gay. And I would point out that even heterosexuals have their own sexual behaviour 'pattern'.

But my concerns are always the equations. It is worrysome.

For example, a careful study on Edmund of RLM would reveal he is never gay to begin with but straight. Being a straight that was socially constructed when he was young into possible temporary shift of orientation (the complex matrix of environmental, cognitive and biological factors as mentioned by the APA) he then incorrectly equates his 'gayness' as a lifestyle.

When lines are not drawn, the general public, when they hear Edmund speak they would assume 'gay' as a non orientation and only a lifestyle, something that would add to an already grown stigma, like the one you have, Dave, apologies for saying this:

'Perhaps by gay lifestyle, Josh was referring to a gay person who also engages in homosexual behavior/practices?'

Homosexuality is not a 'practise' at all. It is a sexual orientation, the word was invented in 1869 to represent same sex attraction.

If heterosexuals were to have BDSM sex with candles, is it any different from homosexuals having BDSM sex with candles except it is sex between two same sex attracted individuals? This is why clear distinctions are really badly needed.

I really appreciate you hearing me out, Dave. Most of us are tired of explaining to people who are not listening, especially in the Cristianity circles. But you are looking between the lines now, I hope. You are a blessing to society as a whole because of it.