|Time to walk by faith and come out|
The response by Rev Dr Kong Hee of City Harvest Church (CHC) to the Prime Minister National Day Rally was an attempt to convince the public that its practices were consistent despite the fact there had not been great involvement in the inter faith dialog. Instead, CHC has been actively be involved in Market Place evangelism to spread the Christian Influence in all spheres of the Singaporean society – to be the salt opposing what was deemed a corrupt and decaying World Culture, versus a Christian Culture.
The world culture was epitomized by what was deemed as the Homosexual lifestyle. Overhearing a CHC Youth Cell Group in the MRT Train who when they saw two Indian men (due to culture not because they were gay) holding hands, quickly remarked that Pastor Kong should preach to them about “world Culture”. The Sin of the World appears to be heaped upon the poor Gay sheep. Nevertheless, Pastor Kong’s use of the term “gay” instead of the “homosexual” in his blog entry on 24 Aug 09 may be reflective of a change of heart to start considering them as people of worth and dignity rather than by their sexuality.
The City Harvest Church has been previously associated with the Church of Our Saviour (COOS) with Pastors from their “Choices” ministry such as the transsexual Syd Rogers conducting anti-gay seminars. Gays would be counseled and told to leave the church unless they repent. Clearly, the church has been hostile to Gays, and many Christian Gays had left the Church. The Love of God was not evident but replaced with rhetoric, hate and prejudice. Such approach by COOS are harmful but consistent with the positions of the NCCS, Methodist churches, Assemblies of God, Cornerstone, FCBC, Lighthouse Evangelism, and para-church organizations such as YWAM or Navigators having listened to their sermons on homosexuality.
The National Council of Churches (NCCS) in Singapore where CHC is a key member has repeatedly called for Gays to be put in jail for having same sex relationships. Therefore, any adoption by CHC of a ‘live and let live” approach would be meaningless, and contradictory. Whilst Pastor Kong’s intention is to introduce the love of Jesus Christ to the GLBT community, he had caused much harm instead. The biblical way is to call for justice and equality, and standing up for the weak and the outcasts as Jesus did and would have done if He was here today.
There appears to be an inherent prejudice to treat gays as ‘predatory’ and having negative influence to the flock whilst we do not normally draw such conclusions with straight folks in the first instance. This deep seated prejudice is the result of decades of Christian Right rhetoric and half truths. Hence, Gays are treated as outcasts with suspicion lest they corrupt of our ‘righteous” and “Holy” congregations with their “lifestyles”. They are expected keep to a closeted life so as not to pose a “direct threat” by spreading their “lifestyle”. This deep prejudice would be clearly evident and gays would not be fully welcomed nor accepted equally in the communion and life of the church.
In the Aware saga, the argument based on homosexuality had no substance. Much of the evidence was extracted only after the takeover, with the neutral stance on homosexuality hardly mentioned, in a program being taught only at a handful of schools was hardly sufficient reason to take over a secular organization whose main focus was on women’s issues. Their strongly held religious opinions made them irrational and delusional seeing a gay agenda under every rock. It sets a dangerous precedence for other religion to use the same argument and religious authority. They lost the debate on close scrutiny because Homosexuality was a non issue, and was made up as an excuse and grossly exaggerated for a purely religious agenda which crossed the line ordained by the Government for racial and religious harmony. If they were allowed to take over Aware, soon they will be taking over the secular authority as they did in America by infiltrating the Republican Party.
It is unfortunate that the church is holding back only after it is being told by a secular government that it had crossed the line. However, there is a far higher standard that is expected of the church of moral purity and righteousness. You can’t lift your sword to kill, to cause harm, and to persecute the innocent and at the same time talk about Jesus. It contradicts the ministry of Christ and His message of God’s inclusive love.
Apart from New Creation, the mega churches tend to preach on adherence to the Jewish Laws, but forget that the Law has a long memory. There is a call for judgment against the church for persecuting and executing gays from the 14 th century onwards until the late 19 th century. For righteousness sake, every capital sin against weak and defenseless must be surely be accounted for; otherwise our God would not be considered a just and righteousness God if there was a special treatment for the church. In Christian Germany, gays were tortured, and murdered, no fewer than 150,000 in WWII just because they were gays. Their blood still cries out for justice and compensation especially when the mainstream churches still calls for gays to be put in jail. The termed “cheap Grace” came out of World War II in Germany when Christians there took God’s grace for granted and persecuted the outcasts with no fear of judgment.
The Holy Spirit is there when we caused harm, when we raised the same hands that worshiped God to persecute Gays. He is there grieving, when we take God’s grace for granted to persecute the innocent and defenseless misrepresenting the love of Jesus Christ to the GLBT community. It does not really matters whether the Church changes its position, for great harm has already been committed, and the line of judgment perhaps crossed. The greatest judgment against the church is not persecution, nor lack, but when the Holy Spirit slowly but reluctantly withdraws His presence not willing to be associated with the harm done to the Gay community. May there still be grace for the church to start listening to the Holy Spirit and be led to all truth and sanctification lest our prayers be heard no more.
I have lost many gay friends at CHC, their faith was not strong enough to stand against the condemnation and stigmatization of the church. I have failed to encourage them lest I exposed my own orientation and get ostracized. This is my great regret for I was too fearful, but I know that by God’s grace He will make all things beautiful. As a Gay Christian community, we should start to walk by Faith and not fear, to take the step of faith to come out of the closet and to speak out against the church. In the process, we will have to die to ourselves, be treated with much shame and loose all our dignity. The test of our Christian Walk is not how many Benny Hinn, AR Bernard, or Hillsong seminars we attend, or whether we can lead cell group well, and preach to hundreds. When the “music stops” and all is taken away, do we still continue to worship God.
It is when we have nothing left, innocent yet condemned and persecuted, our dignity taken away but in His grace yet standing firm and bold in faith and trusting in God. It is through the dark valleys and deep tribulations, that as we walk by faith in Christ and not fear, then we will be changed from glory to glory. Alas, there will be nothing to fear, for soon our hearts we will be comforted and we will see Christ walking with us, hand in hand bearing our Cross. When they condemn us, they will be condemning Christ. When they take away our basic rights, and throw us to prisons, they will be persecuting Christ. He hides us under the shadows of His wings. Faith comes when we act and step out of our closets, for when we take this step of Faith not knowing what tomorrow holds, we begin walk in the footsteps of Jesus. It is time for us to COME OUT of the boat into the raging sea, and start to walk and stand proud and surely Jesus would be standing right in front encouraging us. No more hiding.