Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Homosexuality, Christianity and Singapore

I've been thinking about the issue of the legality of homosexuality in Singapore for some time now, especially more so every since Otto Fong, a teacher in RI, published his 'open letter' declaring himself homosexual, and the Ministry of Education apparently pressured him into taking it down.

As I'd commented somewhere on LiveJournal, I can totally understand why a Christian might disapprove of homosexuality - the bible practically explicitly instructs us to do so (to kill them, more specifically).

If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them. (Lev. 20:13)

Personally, I don't believe that every word of the bible is infallible or should be taken as an instruction to be applied in everyday life, but I know many people who do, and yes - if the almighty God your creator has told you that homosexuality is wrong, it is altogether sensible that you should do your part to stamp it out. Encourage your homosexual friends to 'turn over a new leaf', if you sincerely believe that will be better for them - fine. Form support groups for homosexuals who want to 'change' - alright, I guess. Have campaigns to educate the public on the evils of homosexuality (whatever those be) - I'm a little dubious about that, but hey, it's (theoretically) just exposing others to your viewpoint, so I guess that's alright.

But where I draw the line is when church groups vocally lobby to retain section 377 of the penal code, that part of Singaporean law which makes it illegal for homosexuals to have sex with one another. It's not a law that is actively enforced (even if they were able to), but it silently signals the government's non-acceptance of homosexuality in Singapore.

Civil law is civil law, and unless every citizen is a member of a certain religion (and even then, perhaps not), there is no reason why religious viewpoints should be mixed in with deciding how to maintain secular social order. As Christians we have no right to force our beliefs upon others, just as the Muslims have no right to make us eat halal food (though as a sidetrack, a lot of Malay food is seriously tasty and hard to avoid eating =P).

Purely from a secular point of view, I fail to see how homosexuality makes a detrimental impact on society as a whole - arguments about the 'breakdown of traditional family structure' and stuff don't quite cut it, for me. In fact, I don't see why homosexuality should be regarded as a greater ill than smoking or alcohol.

I'm not particularly supportive of homosexuality (am personally slightly homophobic, no particular reason - just not particularly comfortable with the concept), but I don't see why they should be discriminated against either, and I am tired of Christians being broadly labelled as 'anti-gay' when really I think it's something we have no business poking our noses into in the first place (on a national legal scale, anyway).


vanilla sister said...

that video nearly made me cry. thanks for posting it, and thanks for this post. <3 if only everyone were as enlightened as you (and i really say that with no sarcasm whatsoever).

the "according to leviticus, we can't eat shrimp" passage mentioned in the video:

And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you. (Lev. 11:10)

has always been something i've used against arguments that quote the passage in leviticus which you did in your post... how would you respond? just curious :)

also, i'm not sure if you've seen this site, but it's really funny!

lost said...

I would venture a guess as to the standard Christian response, which is that the old laws (all those rulings in the Old Testament) were made obsolete after Jesus died for us on the cross. So shrimp is okay now. Although God still hates figs, since the verses for figs were mostly in the NT. =P

However this does not instantly make homosexuality permissible because in the NT Paul goes on to say, in 1 Cor 6:9-10, "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God."

(The 'abusers of themselves with mankind' bit is usually interpreted as referring to homosexual acts in general. 1 Tim 1:9-10 says something similar, I'm not sure if other verses in the NT have anything to say about homosexuality, but I'm guessing that's enough to qualify as a no-no.)

As for myself, I personally believe that the passages in the bible are influenced by the culture and mindsets of its various authors, so I tend to disregard certain portions of the bible I believe to be un-Christian. However I might then be accused (and rightly so) of 'cherry-picking', choosing what I like and disregarding the rest. Which I'm also personally struggling with right now, but as of now is the best solution, from my point of view.

Rokey said...

Well, gays can't have babies, not everyone is as lucky as Ross' wife and her girlfriend! Since singapore is so fuss about having babies, I can see where they are really coming from :P

I think homosexuality is not more sinful than swearing and spitting, certain groups are so vocal probably just to kill off the evil baby who cries out loudest... I mean, c'mon, gay priest? Isn't pedophile enough?

The Singapore Daily said...

Hi lost,

Your entry has been featured in The Singapore Daily. Thank you for your support!

The Singapore Daily

Anonymous said...

huh i think there's a lot more to it than that leh... like how most laws actually have religious origin in the first place so it's ironic to say we're imposing our christian views on secular law and even without religious influence, most of the code was just public norm previously anyway. aiyah i'm too lazy to actually think about it properly now and put it into words.
and i'm not always of the opinion that open-mindedness and liberalness is good anyway, altho most of the world seem to worship them now.

Anonymous said...

I wish i was smart enough to write something here.

lost said... how most laws actually have religious origin in the first place so it's ironic to say we're imposing our christian views on secular law and even without religious influence, most of the code was just public norm previously anyway

True enough, but there are (I think) guidelines involved in formulating/revamping secular law, which involve societal cost and benefit as a whole. So regardless of the origin of the law, if people feel that they do not like being murdered, for example, it (murder) becomes a societal cost and civil authorities will probably strive to prevent it from happening.

My point being, on an individual basis it is fine and dandy to form your own opinion of what's right and what's not (like if you don't fully support liberalism that's totally fine with me), but when you try to force this opinion upon others, it's kinda like returning to the days of Inquisition.

-2112- said...

"God gave us a 'freewill' and therefore cannot force us to choose him. We are by far inferior to God, what makes us think we can force a man to choose what we want them to?"

Found it somewhere...can't remember where.. not exact quote also but its roughly there la.

Anonymous said...

oh! hmm well then yah lah i guess so. i suppose then it'd be akin to overly-enthu/pushy evangelism which i don't support

James Chia said...

Great post! I would think that as long as homosexuals are law-abiding citizens, there should not be any discrimination against them. If homosexuality can't be tolerated, racism too.

Jason said...

Wah steady post man! Somehow I wish this topic would be discussed in YCCF just like in the old days.I agree with you on the cherry picking part. I think the Bible is often quoted out of context, and strict adherence to the text without taking into context the reality of social developments can result in extremism. Anyway I just think it's not for us to judge a fellow human being, especially since this seems to be a grey area.

Jean said...

(this has little to do with your main topic....)

it's 12 am and I've been cleaning the kitchen for the entire day so my brain's rather foggy, but I shall type a brief 2cents (which does the topic injustice, naturally, but i'm too tired!) with regard to OT laws. From my understanding the OT laws have passed away with the coming of Christ but they don't necessarily and automatically become redundant. In fact they give an idea of how societies were meant to operate according to the highest humanly-comprehensible standard; they give an idea of God's standard as it looks like on earth. Not the slightest sin would be tolerated and hence the severest punishments (stoning, isolation, etc.). Otherwise Israel might have decimated as a result of mutual murder/disease/what-nots stemming from sin.

With Christ and the resurrection God has granted the redemption from sin and its curses, but it doesn't mean that sin and other negative agents/repercussions aren't in operation today. The idea of God's standard can still well operate today. And tho 'grace' allows for laws and rules to, seemingly, 'slacken', it doesn't meant that the laws and rules are not applicable in spirit and in today's terms. Personally I think seafood is bad and was banned for a reason (high cholestrol? no idea!), and the same for animals with cleft feet and all. And for whatever reason that is, it doesn't just involve us - the consumers - and our feelings and health and desires; I feel strongly that God isn't that trivial. It might have been a sin because it affected the environment, the ecosystem, the world - things on a far larger scale than the direct people involved.

Also the difference between homosexuality and seafood is that for food, Peter received a specific vision in which God tells him to get up and eat the 'unclean' animals. Not sure if seafood was included in that party but I s'pose they would have been invited! Not so for the case of homosexuality though; there seems to be no specific record where God revokes that particular prohibition. So then shrimp and homosexuality are two different issues within one broader issue, the difference however we shall leave for another day... tho once again it might help if we look at the idea of sin bearing the larger scale of things in mind. Sin is sin not simply because it's wrong WRONG wrong! but because it's just not the best way of dealing with things; and not just that but that it'll cause an imbalance or negative consequence either on the parties involved and even on others far removed.

Technically speaking, not taking care of your body (indulging in chocolate/crisps, not exercising enough, etc) is a sin as well isn't it?

Jason said...

"Technically speaking, not taking care of your body (indulging in chocolate/crisps, not exercising enough, etc) is a sin as well isn't it?"

Oei Ailin not eating veg is a sin arh! hurhurhur.... :p

Jean said...


haha.. not saying anything...

(she knows!)