How do we avoid religious fundamentalism ?

Mar 27, 2008, the short documentary, Fitna, was released this day, and within days, the number of viewings grew to millions. it showed a number of sutras, together with news clippings, and preaching amongst others, the Sheikh Bakr Al-Samarai, Ayatollah 'Ali Meshkini. The term Fitna is a term for a Civil War. It drew strong protest by Iran, Indonesia and Pakistan with protesters holding signs of death sentence for humiliating their religion. Naturally, the show is biased with half truths, but again, these are real verses, real events, and preaching, with many of such sentiments widely held in the countries where there were strong protests. There were also hundreds of similar websites with religious extremist messages having a popular following. However, the West is also historically guilty with the Catholic Church led crusades and inquisitions taking more lives than any modern acts of terror would ever do. More recent, is the invasion of Iraq for the WMD that never existed. Both sides of the divide are not innocent.

In any religious fundamentalism, there is no concept of rights or wrongs, it is always certain to be morally wrong and result in many innocent lives lost. No religion is ever immuned. The symptom of religious fundamentalism is that we often put ourselves and religion beyond reproach, always claiming that we have god given mandate to act as such and therefore are infallible. Another symptom, is the lack of reciprosity, where a religion would demand that they have a right to setup a place of worhsip in a foreign land, whilst there is no such rights given to other minority religions in their own countries. Fundamentalist religions often demands special rights and have no reflection of the wrongs and the harm they have committed. Religious dogma usually takes precedence above humanity and basic human rights, respect, and tolerance.

There are principles which will help Christians to avoid fundamentalism.

We should treasure God's grace

.(Mat 7:2 NKJV) "For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.

Whilst many described the show as provocative, which it was, the actual reality is the many thousands of gays are put to death in Iran for which there is hardly a sound of reaction World wide and certainly not from Christian churches in the West. In many countries, there is a war out there against gays in the name of religion, who claim a heavenly mandate to do so. Even in this nation, a similar theme is being repeated with the Christian Churches claiming that

- gays are destroying Christianity and the family
- Pro-Gay aggenda is spreading like wild fire
- Ex-Gays have rights too (as if Gays are having special rights).

when the rights of gays are very limited with the gay church in Malaysia being denied and anti-gay teachings predominates without being challenged, and gays are being criminalized. Why should the church claim the right to expand when they give so little rights to their gay bethren to even exist? The way that we treated the gay community, the same judgement will be used against us. The Christian church may claim all manner of fanciful rhetoric against gays in the name of the conservative majority and morality, but the world will inturn judge them on the same basis. It is not a matter of having different opinions, or having a sincere religious opinions, for we are the champions in persecuting an entire group of people, and God will withold grace when we come against the defenceless in the name of the majority. We need God's grace. We should not make it cheap.

We are sinners needing redemption

(Mat 5:17 NKJV) "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.

Natural justice will prevail and even if the church change overnight and started to accept the gay community. Jesus came to fulfill the requirements of the Law in Himself, because the justice needed to be fulfilled. The cries of Gay men suffering because of the church must be answered. The cries up to heaven because horrendous mental conflicts and confusions caused by the chrches' "reparative treatment", rejection, and condemnation cannot be denied as God is righteous. Relationships and long term commitments denied when we banned gay marriages and claimed that it is destroying our own families!.

There is a redemption. When the Jews escaped from Egypt, they took Gold and Silver from the Egyptians. Similarly, when Gays are now being freed from the closets and prisons setup by Christians, after the previous generations suffered in a lifetime of hiding their orientation because of religious persecution, the new generation of gays have a right to ask for redemption from the Christian community. The Pastor Derek Hong of the Church of our Saviour may be prophetic when He claimed that Gays seek to destroy Christian ministries, for gays have a moral right to sue the church. When such a small minority as the Jews in the nation of Egpyt impacted the first born and the wealth of the entire nation, dare not we continue this injustice and slavery of the gay community which form no more than 5% of the population yet will one day impact the church like never before.

The Church has an oppressive aggenda and perhaps deep within sees no choice but to continue to oppress gays and put them in closets, claim that they have special rights when gays have no rights, and put them down. For if the gay community ever starts to come out of the closets and begin to escape from this condemnation put upon them by the church, this very small minority will become the antagonist of the church and they have every moral and spiritual right to claim damages against the church.

When we realized that we are sinners and have sinned greatly, then only then there is true repentance and forgiveness. When we do not see ourselves as sinners needing redemption, we are truly liable for the consequences of the sins that we have committed against the gay community..

The turth is in dying for others and not demanding the death of others

(Rom 5:6,7 NKJV) For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.

We claim that Gays are ungodly hedonistic sinners are so needed to be criminalized and sent away before they destroy our family. If indeed this was true, we forget that God never did condemn us whilsts we were weak and did not know the truth concerning God's plan for salvation, yet He came not to condemn and put us into prison, but He came to love and be with us, in the very midst of our sinful rebellion in refusing to believe God. He went to the extent of dying for us.

There are more than 1.5 billion "Christians" but many are involved in the worship of other man made gods, and saints and made to be on par with Christ, with many ways it seems of reaching heaven apart from Christ, or on the other extreme, with a strong military like movement against sin and sinners. True Christianity is not about having a "Rev" in front of the name, or attending bible collge, it is by faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for our sins. Very few, truly believed in the truth about Christianity not because it is hidden but it is so contrary to human nature. Christianity is about dying for others and not demanding that others die. It is willing to be killed and have our rights taken away, that Christ may be glofied in us. We are Christians because we are followers of Christ that that means dying for others. Yet, our form of Christianity is to put gays in prison and put condemnation upon gays. We have digrest to the religion of the Pharisees who had no remorse whilst Jesus was being tortured and nailed to the Cross. They thought they stood on the scriptures and were biblical but they ended up in killing the Son of God.

People go against all the principles, teachings & the commandments of the bible to come against Gay people as if sex defines the person. The very vast majority of churches do this, and we are perhaps a small voice saying, this is not right, when the clobber verses mentioned are at best neutral or they are referring to something in a different context. We should defend the word of God, because the Word is precious and gives Life. If it is misused, the focus will shift and it has to a perception that christianity is all about the gay issue to the extent that churches are split over this. We create a dogma based on very debatable verses and context and put an entire people group outside the hope of Christ, the hope of glory. That is to me, saddens the heart of God.  At the end, people need the Lord, not to change their given sexual orientation, but that they will spend eternity in heaven and be reconciled with God. When our reconciliation is based on a concept of sex, we detract people from that precious name of Jesus.

We truly come to the Cross of Jesus Christ, when we die to religious fundamentalism and extremism, and instead willingly die for others and not demand that they die based on our religious dogma or the religious laws. This is true inclusivity. Nations battle against each other for control, but true Christianity if it represents the true religion is the battle to lay down our lives for others that they may live an abundant life that Christ may truly be reflected in our lives.

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