Michael Jackson - his pain, our pain

The King of Pop, Michael Jackson, died Friday 26 June 2009. He unified the world as never before in his death, being mourned by people across culture, religion and race. The news of his demise resulted in a major overload of the Internet and telecommunications, with over 6 times the normal load for a network in United States which experienced a peak of 65,000 SMS per second as the news spread and rippled or twitted around the world.

Whilst the news of Michael Jackson’s demise was front page on all the news papers around the world, from China, to Saudi Arabia, it hardly made a ripple in the Christian Web sites. For example, there was no mention of it at the Christian Post SG, and Christianity Today (“A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction”) made more mention of the hit movie Transformers. Why the reluctance to comment on a superstar who epitomized a pop world culture of the 80s, and 90s when they are so eager to link gays to their idea of a world culture. Perhaps Michael, a heterosexual married and divorced twice and was once charged for pedophilia reflects a heterosexual world culture which the Christians would want to deny in their delusion that all blame be placed on the gay lamb.

Michael was apparently beaten by his strict father for not performing well enough. I remember Anthony Yeo reflecting on his 35 years on ministry that troubled children came out of straight marriages and not gay marriages. It appears that there was much deeper pain that was surfaced in Michael’s later years in surgeries to change his looks, and his apparent fondness with kids. It was as though, a childhood lost and Michael was reliving that painful experience of not being good enough even though he was a really good singer and one of the best. Any mention and reflection of his family life by the Christian media would again detract from their assertion that it is gay marriages that causes such unhappy childhood.

What are the lessons to be learnt from the life of Michael Jackson? It is to be able to forgive others for their transgressions against us, and to give up that part of our lives that we have lost that we may be able to move forward. At the Christian perspectives on Homosexuality in 2007, Anthony Yeo mentioned that gays faced so many challenges that they do not need the Christian churches to make it any harder. Indeed, gays faced a world culture which promotes manliness, tough acting, patriarchal societies who would scorn at “feminine” men as the man was supposed to take the lead, and a Christian culture that considers gays as intrinsically sinners even though Christians themselves do not abide by the same OT laws which the accused Gays of sinning. As “homosexuality” is not mentioned under the 10 commandments, Christians had to really find hard those verses condemning idol worship and their sexual practices to equate it to same sex orientation. For many gays, it is a life lost in the jail of the closet with who we are being suppressed. Many grew up, hiding and in great pain and hurt resulting in later life, symptoms of post traumatic stress syndrome.

For many gays, it has been a journey to be at peace with ourselves and with their God who created them. Without peace and acceptance of oneself, we often hide and try to change what we could not, internalizing the rejection we faced by the World culture, our society, family, friends and Christian faith. We may outwardly proclaimed our freedom, and desire to move on, but the journey to be at peace with oneself is often fraught with denial, denial that we still have an issue, and a failure to understand that as Christians our freedom is bound to the freedom of others. We are not really free until we reached beyond a point of indifference, where we start viewing our own freedom being linked to the closets that others are in. When our hearts and compassion are not with those who are conflicted and suffering due to their orientation, and our priority is not helping to set them free to accept themselves, then we are not really free indeed. Jesus was not of this world, yet chose to identify with us, to share in our humanity, pain and suffering, that in His death and resurrection for us, we too be free and gain new life.

We have reached the point of grace, when we chose to forgive even though not compensated, and live by faith knowing that God will restore those wasted years trapped in the closet, and then in the show of grace to be willing to give up our lives for the sake of others, ie to give up our time, effort, and to sacrifice so that others are free as well to be how God has created them wonderfully, a gay men or women. It is a willingness to die, to the past, and to future that has not come, that our lives may give glory to God and we be a testimony of Christ working in our lives such that we be the hands and feet of Christ to proclaim the living Gospel to the world. The Gospel is no Gospel if it only reaches to well to do, but only when God’s grace and mercy extends to the most despised in the community.

I know that there is lots of pain in the Gay community, but freedom is found in Christ who will bear all our pain and sorrow at the Cross and Calvary, and in Christ we will find the perfect love of God to accept of ourselves, and a new heart to love others just as God loves us. When we become like Christ putting on the bandages to heal the broken hearted, then shall arise our healing as well.

We trust that Michael Jackson before his death, found peace with himself and with God. May Christ heal the deep wounding and hurts of the Gay community, and give us freedom to live for Christ, to live for tomorrow and for each other.

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