|Freedom in first Loving yourself|
(Mat 22:37 NKJV) Jesus said to him, " 'You shall love the LORD your
God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your
What they don't tell you at many churches in Singapore is that their fight against gays through their proxies such as the Church of Saviour, Exodus, Focus on the Family are heading for a dead end. Desperate measures have been used such as outrageous rethoric from the pulpit, and pseudo science as the acceptance of gays becomes more widespread in the US with the fear that Singapore could follow suit. Their message is being drowned by the increasing world wide acceptance of gays coupled by an uneasy conscience that perhaps they may have been wrong.
The Christian Right groups are calling for dialogue trying to convince themselves that they were the victims rather than the perpetrators much alike a robber coming to your house and asking you to give reasons why you should keep your own belongings! It could never be about dialogue on equal terms as they were debating about your rights and not theirs. Gays should never need to justify for basic human rights and dignity. Freedom of religion does not give us special rights to impose our own theological construction to bind the lives of others unless our faith is so weak that it requires gays as the scapegoat for our own immorality.
The theological construction of condemnation against gays has meant that even the best of Christian writers and thinkers such as Henri Nouwen was never able to reconcile his sexuality and come out in public as a gay person. As a result, he suffered so much emotional toil that had contributed to his early death in 1996. Only a deep revelation that our love for God is intertwined with first loving ourselves would set us free from our theological bondage. Nouwen grew up 50 years ago in a hostile environment very much different from today where we now know that we are not alone and that there are many Gay Christians just like us. Can we go further to love ourselves and have pride.
In the US, even with the advent of the mega churches in the last 20 years, there has been a massive shift in public opinion:-
a) Gay marriage is supported by 42% in 2010, versus just 27% in 1996.
b) Gays serving in the army is supported by 60% in 2010, versus 52% in 1994.
c) To-date, 53% of those born after 1981 supports gay marriage, versus 29% born prior to 1928. ie the acceptance of gay marriage by the younger generations will soon surpass the negative opinion of the older generations with the passing of time.
The profound change may be hastened by more gays coming out, loving and accepting themselves and be "out" to friends and family at a much younger age, thus effectively negating the vicious rethoric of the Christian Right. It is much harder to believe their half truths if gays were not much different from the straight people and are our friends and family. We are becoming proud and coming out as never before:-
a) According to Stonewall report in Nov 2010, the average age of coming out for over-60s was 37; for people in their 30s it was 21; and for those now aged 18-24 was 17.
b) In Asia, the first Taipei Pride was held in 2003 with many gays wearing masks. In 2010, the Pride grew to 30,000 attendance and not a mask was to be seen.
c) India's first gay pride was held in Nov 2010 with 2,000 in attendance, made possible, by the legalization of gay relationships in 2009.
The legalization of gay relationships and same sex marriage are only a matter of time as more gays begin to accept and love themselves instead of carrying a baggage of self denial. As we begin to take the journey of loving ourselves, we start the journey of having the self confidence to be how God has created us, and begin to relate to people as who we are authentically rather than hiding behind a mask.
Loving ourselves comes so naturally to straight people, but for many gay christians, the negative construction by society and by the church has bound us in a theological construct to hate ourselves. We must consciously "consume" Jesus as one preacher has said, not to deny ourselves and put on Christ as he had proposed, rather to see and visualise Christ acceptance and love for us as a special and unique queer people of faith.
The recent strong reaction to Rev Ou Young of MCCNY in Malaysiakini highlighting the existence of gays in the community shows that Malaysia even more than Singapore are far behind. Some in the Gay Christian community seemed perturbed by Rev Ou Young stirring the issue even though he was not outing them in any way. It showed a deep seated self loathing instead of pride, of how God has created us wonderfully as a gay person. We were not rejecting Rev Ou Young, rather rejecting ourselves. The key to coming out of the closet is not only about coming out to family and friends, but whether we could love and accept ourselves as who we are.
The mere mention of the gay issue seems to cause a Holy indignation amongst many gay christians who instead prefer to focus on being Christians who happens to be gay. However, if we cannot fully love ourselves, how can we say we love God, or worship Him fully in Spirit and in truth. We can preach and worship God from the pulpit and in public within the safe space of a "gay church" yet when our worship to God is broadcasted in the Youtube we become defensive and ashamed of worshiping God as a Gay Christian.
There is a strong calling of God for gays to love and accept themselves. When we love ourselves, we have the freedom to love others and to love God. Being free is not only first realising that all are equal in God's eyes, but to realise that we are equal ourselves. There is little point to see others as equal without the basis of loving ourselves first. We are able to love ourselves especially our sexual orientation, when we see the love and acceptance of God through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour.
Freedom is seeing yourself in the mirror and loving yourself because you are beloved in Christ Jesus. It doesn't really matter when Singapore eventually decriminalises Homosexuality, for we must first be decriminalised it in our own hearts and mind, in the deepest recess of our sub-conscious. Only the Holy Spirit can do this work of revelation in our lives to love and accept ourselves first, so that the Love of God can come into our hearts.
We can't worship and praise God effectively, unless we are bold enough to yearn for freedom. The Holy Spirit is put in a box when we praise God with our face in the ground, afraid to see God as a Gay Christian community, afraid to raise our hands to worship God in the World Wide Web lest others see us and question whether we were gay!.
It is time for us to start loving ourselves first, and to live with oneself.