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Reflections on the US Supreme Court's 5-4 Ruling on Same-Sex Marriage
By Rev Peter Chan
Oct 2015

I have been asked whether I'll be sharing my thoughts on the recent watershed decision by the US Supreme Court legalizing same-sex marriage across all states of America, though in a narrow margin of 5-4 majority.

The immediate implication is that all state governments have to accept same-sex marriage. This also means taking away the religious liberty of Christians, churches, and people who do not agree that homosexuality and same-sex marriage is something morally right. So, churches and ministers who refused performing solemnization for same-sex marriage might be in danger of being prosecuted and lose tax-free privileges.

Here are some of my thoughts, not in any order of importance or sequence.

FIRST, the decision was a much-expected happening, given the way the LGBT activists (to be distinguished from passive homosexuals who simply wanted to have the freedom to choose sexual orientation and lifestyle) have been campaigning. The issue of homosexuality began in the arena of morality, then shifted to the issue of rights to exercise personal freedom in democracy. But, it then took a turn in redefining the debate, shifting it to become an issue of democratic rights of minority. So, the LGBT activists argued: just as you protect the rights of racial and religious minorities to practise what they believe, so you should also protect the rights of the "sexual minority" (namely the LGBT). So now homosexuality is about protecting minority rights.

However, as the movement moved in this direction, the debate and disagreement between homosexuals and heterosexuals became sharp and ugly. Not that the heterosexuals were actively persecuting the LGBT community or seeking to exterminate them. But, the LGBT activists began portraying themselves to be victims of unjust laws and societal mistreatments. This has great impact, luring a lot of unsuspecting silent majority, who were sitting on the fence, began to be sympathizers and supporters of the LGBT movement. Most may not be actively supporting them but they are speaking up for them whenever anyone disagrees with the LGBT movement. The LGBT activists themselves also took on a more aggressive approach in labelling anyone who disagree with them as un-progressive, not enlightened, a bigot....

So, it is not about fighting for rights to practise homosexuality that the LGBT activists are pursuing. They are not fighting against injustice – real or perceived; they are fighting for a redefinition of societal norms, wanting homosexuality and same-sex marriage to be accepted through the redefinition of gender, marriage and family!

SECOND, personally I don't care whether the S377A of the Singapore Penal Code is repealed or not. After all, it makes sense that, if adultery and fornication are not criminalised, why then the sexual acts between two men or two women (implicitly)! My LGBT friends are grown-ups and they have a personal right to choose a sexual orientation and lifestyle. I firmly believe, the vast majority of people in USA and Singapore, are not going around persecuting and prosecuting anyone who is LGBT. So there's nothing to stop them from a personal lifestyle choice.

Now, this leads to my question, "Why then do the LGBT activists resort to the Courts of laws for their rights to be accepted, and even to be married? This is exactly where I have a problem with the LGBT activists' mission and methodology. It is one thing to pursue personal liberty but quite another to impose your rights of alternative lifestyle on the heterosexual majority, violating their conscience, disallowing them from disagreeing. When they get the Supreme Court ruling, they are now imposing their views on sexuality, marriage and family on the rest of society. Most of them have been silent. In fact, some of them even celebrate with LBGT's progress in getting its views heard and accommodated in a democratic society. Now, the silent majority has a rude awakening and the sympathizers now are feeling betrayed. By the Supreme Court ruling, your fellow Americans who are heterosexuals find their rights and freedom being taken away from them because they cannot disagree with your homosexuality and lifestyle; in fact, some of the religious leaders cannot even reject or decline to solemnize your same-sex marriage!!!

So, what is troubling about this whole thing is that, as what I've warned, democracy has turned on its own head, for in the name of so-called protecting the rights of LGBT community, we are prohibiting the rights and freedom of those who do not agree and accept homosexuality and its lifestyle. They are not "forced" to betray their conscience. No one compel a homosexual to betray his "conscience" in believing that homosexuality is alright. But now, many Americans, especially Christians and Muslims who are known for their clear stance on homosexuality and its lifestyle, have to give up their religious liberty in a supposedly most democratic country in the world! What irony! What tragedy!

I hope what's happening in US today is a wake-up call for many of the silent majority in our society, thinking the LGBT movement as an innocent campaign for justice! We may love our friends and family members who are LGBT, but we cannot allow the LGBT activists to hijack our democratic rights and freedom in this country we love.

Now the floodgate is opened. What comes next? The same argument about protecting the rights and freedom of a minority who wants an alternative lifestyle can now be said of paedophiles. Nothing to stop this right?

THIRD, I turn my attention now to the Church and Christians. As Christians, we grieve with our fellow American brothers and sisters the way things turn out in their country. But before we allow our emotions get the better of us – disappointed, angry, helpless, bitter, etc. – let's focus on getting some understanding and learn some important lessons from it.

#1 – Could American Churches and Christians have done something to prevent something like this from happening? Can the similar thing be done in Asian and African nations to prevent something similar from happening in their respective countries?

Two issues define American evangelicals or Christian conservatives for a very long time – abortion and homosexuality. The American Church has locked itself in the defensive and offensive modes regarding the two issues. Oftentimes, the American Church appears to be concerned only about these two ethical issues than many other social injustices and poverty in the country and beyond. Also, oftentimes, there seems to be aggressive and incisive attacks on those who differ from them on these two issues – pro-choice and LGBT community. Could the long-standing tough aggressive stance particularly against homosexuality issue drove many of the LBGT and even heterosexuals to fall prey to the agenda of the LGBT activists – that homosexuals were under threats, oppressed, denied of their rights and freedom to practice homosexuality, etc.

I have said it many times that Singapore Churches and Christians must not be seen as being preoccupied only with homosexuality. Also, we have for most times seen as unaccepting, unreasonable, and uncivil towards LGBT community! If we speak up our views on homosexuality, especially in the public square, we need not sound self-righteous and aggressive. Also, we should also show the same zeal, if not more passion, in fighting against social injustice for immigrants, migrant workers, poor, and marginalised in our society!

Now, one more thing we can do as Christians to prevent similar situation from happening here in Singapore.

#2 – How then should we live in these last days?

First, don't despair! Don't think that it's another sure sign of the last days and that Jesus is coming real soon! It's attributed to Martin Luther who said, "Even if I know Christ is coming tomorrow, I will still grow an apple tree today." What wisdom it is for us to live our lives in the light of Christ's coming where none of us know the day and the hour. So don't live our lives as if this world is a sinking ship and we are only interested in getting ourselves to the rescue ship, which we know for sure is coming. Such kind of attitude irks even non-believers because it's a very selfish and irresponsible way to live our lives, not seeking to make positive construction to better the world in which we live and move!

Second, we should not give up reversing the situation. As long as there is still a democratic system and process, there is a way to engage ourselves to ensure there is still freedom to speak and to differ, at least on the premise of conscience.

Third, someone once said, "The reason why we think and feel that the world is getting darker is because the children of light are not shining brightly and bravely!" (See Matthew 5:13 – 16) The Christian community has a fair share of breakdowns in marriage and family. If marital infidelity happens in heterosexual marriages, even in Christian marriages, then shouldn't we succeed in monogamous same-sex marriage? This is one of the arguments put forth by the LGBT activists. Perhaps, one of the foremost tasks of the church today, especially in urban contexts, is to strengthen marriages and families. Perhaps, in our day where the world is cynical about the God-instituted man-woman marriage, the Church may be one of the few places where the biblical principles of marriage and family are lifted up and lived out! But the urban church across the world is too preoccupied with church growth – bigger buildings, facilities, congregations and budgets. We are more interested in being appealing and attracting crowds. Fewer churches are interested and intentional about dismissing the crowds and discipling the congregation! (Matthew 14:22)

Fourth, now that even the laws distorts gender, marriage and family, we should make it an integral part of our parenting to affirm our children's sexuality in the most healthy way, leaving them with not a single shred of doubt about their own sexuality! Dysfunctional parent-children relationship lends our children easy prey to being led into doubting and deserting their Godgiven sexuality! This aspect is probably not uppermost in the minds of many parents, especially Asian parents!

Fifth, the Christian community must be authentic, especially in relating to LGBT, genuinely welcome them into our midst and relate with them. We don't have to pretend we don't have our hang-ups; but we must be sincere. Sincerity is something that can be discerned and felt. Similarly, hypocrisy or pretension can also be discerned and felt! If the Christian community is a community of people who were once sinners but have experienced God's mercy (undeserving kindness) and grace (undeserving favour), then it should be the first place for anyone who is in need of forgiveness and restoration! But why is it not the first place but the last place? Because many LGBT think they will be judged and condemned in the midst of a Christian community! Perhaps, they also extend our behaviour to that of a reflection of God as being unforgiving!

#3 – Don't say it's none of our business what is happening there in US!

Three reasons why we shouldn't think this way: (1) The LGBT activists are a group of pros who are very well organised and have extensive global networks. We saw this in the AWARE saga where many foreigners turned up in support of the local LGBT activists. (2) We live in an increasingly globalised world where there is interconnectivity through travels and communications. (3) The era of internet, especially social media, helps spread the agenda and arguments of the LGBT activists. Such technological advances are both a blessing and a bane!

The LGBT activists are not contented until and unless what they are seeking to achieve in the West is also realized on Asian and African continents! So don't think that the challenge is a typical American problem and that it will end there! Trust me, it will soon make its inroads here!

Churches and Christians must stay socially engaged – always shows its genuine interests in the betterment of society by participating in the debate on public policies.

Besides this, we need to learn the art of engaging in public debate on these issues so that we may be effective in discerning and dismantling any false, incongruent, and socially destructive arguments. Whether we like it or not, we need to learn the language and techniques of formulating and presenting our arguments. The change in use of words change the meaning and nature of the argument. For example, the LGBT activists framed the issue of homosexuality in the context of constitutional rights, especially as minority! I must say that is a clever and cunning way of redefining the debate! Most of us would have missed the change without any help from people such as politicians, social activists, lawyers, etc.

In conclusion, in sharing my views here, it is my prayer that the Singapore Church and Christians will be awakened to the need to be socially aware and engaged!

May God continues to manifest His glory in His Church so that the world may know in it there is truth, love and hope through Christ for every man and woman, young and old!

Soli Gloria Deo!




 
 




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