|A Question of Dignity|
(Gal 2:20 KJV) I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
"A sharp bitching voice" from a gay singaporean in the same plane as me going to Bangkok complaining about exchange rates, appear so typical of gay Singaporeans amongsts the throng of people visiting Bangkok during this Chinese New Year Festival. I am often amazed how similar Gay Singaporeans are. In Silom, another sharp bitching noise again rattle my peace for dinner, this time by the Hong Kong Gays unhappy about the error in the bill at Bugs and Bee restaurant. In both cases, the bitching was only a minute or so, but unmistakably gay. Sometimes, Gays are seemingly an unhappy lot - and not surprisingly since they are so badly rejected, discriminated, and denied of basic rights and liberty. Their dignity and basic humanity has been taken away from them, and so this respect and dignity will be often demanded from others to compensate for the loss. So, the smallest incident seems to start their bitching, and it takes great effort to be aware of oneself.
The cure for bitching is to forgive. The central message of Christianity is often said to be about love, God's love, which is true, but the test of love comes not in loving others more, but in the depth of forgiving others. The trip to Bangkok was a test, not because of the bitching gays, but the Hotel seemingly did not get my reservation despite booking sometime ago, and paid in full for the hotel. Stranded in Bangkok on one of the busiest night of the year and walking pass me was the group of gays from Singapore from the same plane duly checked into the hotel with no issues, does raises one's agitation especially after waiting for an hour or so. After they "resolved" the issue which meant I have to check in and out of several hotels/rooms over the next few days thus making my holidays a disaster, they bowed and apologized to me, and in response I too bowed and smiled at them. No point harping at the fault of others or seeing the wrong in others.
The choice to condemn others or to insist on one's right is not a choice, because it comes naturally. But the decision to forgive when being wronged, and instead to see the best in others and not their weaknesses, is a choice because we have to make a decision against our carnal self. The anger arising that we are being wronged or made used of, must be crucified, our self being emptied out of all our rights to respond in kind, with a decision to love and to forgive. For "people like us" who have been so greatly wronged by others, the decision to forgive is very much harder because it will invoke the deep hurts of our bitter past especially for those who has tried to be good Christians but has been rejected and wounded by the church. The younger gay christians have of course much less baggage.
In God's grace however, the deeper measure that we have been wronged, the greater measure would be our ability to show forth God's grace and mercy in forgiveness if we respond with God's love and to deny our right to respond in kind. The pathway to grace is obtained not only by the preaching of grace, but in the dark valley of being tested and responding correctly. And for Gays, the tests is daily, because we are robbed, in many cases of our lives and relationships especially those coming from the conservative Christianity. By the time, we moved out of the wrong theology imposed by others that being gay is somehow a sin, and the incredible self condemnation imposed, we may have very little years left to live. We could have lived with freedom, from a self imposed jail, if we had known and accepted the facts that God loves and accept us no differently whether gay or straight. The loss and the pain is intense, of being "con" by the Christian Right.Yet, where there is incredible sin perpetrated by others on us, there is also God's Amazing Grace.
We can never obtain our dignity by insisting that others gives us our dignity or respect, neither is in outward clothing or material wealth. I am reminded of a dear friend who had a broken handbag for which I agreed to buy her a new one on account that she is not well off. Amazingly, she wanted an expensive bag, when I told her that it would be a cheap bag from Chinatown. Even in the midst of deep poverty, she wanted dignity that she had lost. The need for dignity is a major issue as it can cause one to live in delusion, to seek importance and self worth in serving God not for His glory but to gain one's dignity and respect from others. eg in inviting oneself to the mission field.
The need for dignity can also be seen in being unduly sensitive to what other's think of us, until we fail to see our own faults and weaknesses. Our ego and self worth is so destroyed through the rejection of others because we were gay, that we become either extremely defensive of how others see us, or conversely, focus on the faults and failings of others. Hence, we fall into two traps, being self pre-occupied of seemingly how good we are (when we are really rotten), or pre-occupied with the failings of others - often exagerrating others faults whilsts denying our own failings and humanity. The taking away of one's dignity at a deep level, causes incredible damage.
How we see ourselves no longer depend on how others see or judge us, nor how we see and judge others, because our dignity, respect and self worth is in Christ Jesus, our Lord and Saviour. The world can stripped away all our dignity, respect and humanity, and we be left bare naked with shame hanging on the Cross crucified by the church because we were gay, but nevertheless, they can never take away our dignity and acceptance in Christ Jesus. We are to be God conscious instead of self conscious.
When we have a correct revelation of dignity in our lives, we would not look into the mirror, and see the fault of others, but we would begin to see our own humanity, our weaknesses and faults, humbling ourselves and considering others much better than us rather than having a spirit of condemnation. The measure of a man is therefore not necesarrily how zealous he is for God, how zealous to avail himself for ministry, or the good works he has done giving money to the poor and the outcasts, but humility before the Cross of Calvary, and giving God's grace and mercy, to others, always forgiving (even when others do not repent), fully aware of the great measure of God's love and redemption for us, and our resurrected life in Christ Jesus. I believe that the heart of God today calls out for those, who knows His heart and be assured of their dignity, humanity and accpetance to make in difference for Christ in the Gay Community, those that have been incredibly broken and humbled but choosing to respond in Love and not hate nor revenge.