|May grace comes from the China Wine debate|
The Rev Dr Kong Hee of City Harvest Church posted 23 Sep 2009 on his blog (http://konghee.blogspot.com/) an entry entitled “Wholesome Shallowness?” strongly condemning his detractors concerning her wife, Sun Ho, music video entitled “China Wine”. Claiming that Sun was not ordained as a Pastor, even though she was fondly called “Pastor Sun” at City Harvest. However, is there anything wrong with a Pastor or a former Pastor in a scene surrounded by very scantily dressed women and shouting “Hey, what are you doing with this bitch?” Pastor Kong claimed that it portrays a fallen secular world. Is a pastor’s wife required to live a Holy sanitized life?
Pastor Kong calls the Music Video, a Pop culture and equate the different elements of humanity and their longings and frustrations in Pop Culture to the same kind of humanity found in Psalms, Job, proverbs, Songs of Solomon, Ecclesiastes, and Lamentation. Indeed, Pastor Kong rationalized that “pop culture represents a powerful means of communicating to us what the real world is like, and how to live in it”. In a strong rebuke to what Pastor Kong called the “religious and conservatives”, he challenged them to look at the fruits of his ministry which has really been a great blessing to the body of Christ in Singapore with the largest church of more than 30,000. In his parting statement against those who have used nasty, derogatory and expletive terms to describe Sun, Pastor Kong’s parting shot were the words of Jesus Christ from Matthew 21:31, “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.”
Pastor Kong’s defense of his wife Sun, whom he called “one of the best singers in Singapore”, give good arguments why it should not be wrong for Christians to be involved in the Pop and secular world culture. However, the basis of judgment is not whether it is right or wrong morally, but on what basis Pastor Kong and Sun should be judged by. Jesus condemned the Pharisees for adultery and defines it so narrowly to include divorce. He lifted the standards, the rod of measurement far higher for the Pharisees, for Jesus judged them strictly by the Law, not only the Ten commandments but the entire Law, for they have judged others thus to the smallest detail and spec in their eyes without any mercy nor grace.
Pastor Kong has emphasized on teaching the Law, and has condemned gays according to Leviticus, Romans, and Corinthians as sinners needing the cleansing of God to come into truth. Therefore, by the same measurement and basis, Pastor Sun would be committing a sin according to the Jewish Laws, as a woman should be fully clothed with a veil, and definitely should not be saying to the man “Hey, what are you doing with this bitch?”. Therefore, whilst being a Pop star is not wrong per say, it becomes a sin if His basis for judging other issues such as homosexuality is strictly according to the law. The same measure we judge will be used against us. Therefore, if we preach the Law, we will be judged by the condemnation of the law. Alternately, if we preach grace, then even when we errs, there will be God’s grace, mercy and compassion.
Pastor Kong’s reference to John the Baptist is not meaningful as the disciples of John was worried that Jesus was with the outcasts minority of society, the tax collectors, the prostitutes, and sick, whom the majority in the community considered as unclean and not holy for the Messiah to be associated with. It was not a reference to any secular or world culture of the majority, then and today. In today’s context, it would be a Pastor found to be ministering to the outcasts of society, some small minority group that is considered intrinsically sinners and dirty eg gays. We are quickly offended by the likes of Rev Yap Kim Hao, or the late Anthony Yeo for their association with the gay community. Jesus called them blessed, because they share the compassion and heart of Jesus Christ for those that has been despised and rejected by the community who thought that they were somehow more righteous and clean before God and Man.
Many in the Gay community are offended by Pastor Sun, not because she preached and is associated with the despised minority as Jesus was, but because there is seemingly one rule one rule for the Pastor’s wife whilst there is another rule for them, even the very spec in their eyes are judged by the Christian Right whilst there appears a very loose standard of morality for Pastor Sun. A Pastor’s wife scantily dressed was considered acceptable, whereas, two men fully clothed and holding hands because they loved each other and are committed lifelong to each other was considered a big sin, so important as to cause the entire nation to fall down the slippery slope of morality and the need for gays to be put into prison.
The fruits of the ministry mentioned by Rev Kong Hee should not refer to the size of the ministry. The fruits here do not refer to “numbers”, rather the quality of the ministry. Has Pastor Sun’s involvement in the Pop Industry resulted in supernatural healing? the lame walking? the Gospel message being preached to the lost.
In Rev Kong’s parting statement rebuking the religious and conservatives using Mat 21:31 was ironical as he himself is part of the Christian Right or the religious and conservatives in their anti-gay crusade against gays. The context of this verse was that the religious and conservatives were so self righteous in their holiness and morality that they condemned the outcasts minority as intrinsic sinners where God’s grace and salvation would not be available. Jesus was mocking such religious conservatives that their righteousness may be even lesser that those whom they condemned, for it was the outcasts of society who accepted Jesus, who knew that they were sinners requiring redemption in contrast to the religious proud who saw no need for redemption. That is why Mat 21:31 refers to “the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.” Pastor Kong may not have a right to rebuke the religious right and conservative when he is no better than them in condemning gays and putting them in their closets.
As much as Sun is innocent, so too are the Gay community, born as such, and who grew up facing rejection, fear, condemnation, and many being kicked out of their homes and churches. The injustice done to the gay community far surpassed anything that Pastor Sun has suffered. Many have taken their lives. We have faced such half truths and rethoric against the gay community for a thousand years. They are not located deep in the jungle of South America, but reside in the very centre of the mega cities, yet unreached and considered unclean. I turst that through these incidents, Rev Kong will begin to see the hypocrisy and self righteousness of the religious and conservative Christianity, and begin to see God's heart and love for the Gay community, that Jesus came and died for them too. May he realised with God's amazing grace that he has been guilty of condeming gays all this while and not very different than those who came against Sun Ho.