Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Just another view on the NLB book-banning saga

Regarding the recent NLB saga, I initially told myself I wouldn't comment on it. It wasn't that I had no views on it - I had mighty strong views. But I found the whole incident distasteful and there was already so much mudslinging, I didn't want to add to the controversy. So I stayed silent and I even tried to stop reading articles.

But my FB newsfeed kept flooding with all kinds of headlines that screamed at me. Then yesterday, a reader Grace posted in the comments column asking me what I felt as a mother, writer and Christian. I told her I didn't want to write about it but later, it nagged at me that she was right. This saga hits me on all three fronts. By not addressing it, I was behaving like an ostrich. So I mustered up my courage to write a post and here are my views on the matter:

More than whether I feel that banning the books was right or wrong, I felt that it was UNNECESSARY. It turned a small matter into a colossal one. It widened the rift that had already begun to grow in recent years and became a battle of us against them.

As a result of the book banning, some Christians may congratulate themselves on having "won" this battle but the fact is we have won nothing. We have turned our backs on people, told them they have no place in our public libraries and in doing so, turned away more people from Christ than ever.

As a Christian, I believe that homosexuality is wrong because it says so in the Bible, which I accept as truth.
"Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality." - 1 Cor 6:9

However, the Bible never said to bring out your pitchforks. That's where I think many Christians trip up. I get the impression that Christians sometimes feel like they're obliged to take certain sides. If homosexuality stands on one side, they HAVE to take the other side because that has to be the right one. It's almost as if how hard I wave the anti-Pink flag is an indication of how strong my faith is.

I beg to differ. Taking actions in the name of Christ is dangerous when it's done without thought or love. Just because you call on God's name doesn't mean what you're doing is holy. For example, the witch trials in Salem in 1692 - where they persecuted and put "witches" to death, was done in the name of the church. I'm sure all the people who were for it thought they were fighting the good fight against Satan. It's mob mentality and religious frenzy at its worst, preying on the irrational fears of people.

Standing up for what we believe in should not entitle trampling on what others believe. Otherwise you might as well disband the Presidential Council for Religious Harmony (of which the Archbishop is a member). And going with the majority is a flawed argument. If you lived in a Muslim country, would you readily accept that you had to live by Islamic beliefs because they formed the majority? Or would you want the freedom to live out your own beliefs?

If only Christians would pour as much energy into eradicating some of the other sins listed in the Bible: greed, lust, envy, sloth, anger and pride, for example. Incidentally, the greatest sin is Pride. Not homosexuality. Pride.
"He is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions." - 1 Timothy 6:4

Sometimes, I wonder why some Christians make such a big deal about homosexuality vs all other sins. I suspect it's because for all other sins, it's hard to claim we're blameless. We have all lied at some point, been envious (that rich guy throwing money around!) or been lazy (played Candy Crush when we were supposed to be working!) But in the area of homosexuality, straight Christians know they have not and will never sin there. So it's easy to focus on that. If that's true, then we need to take a long, hard look at ourselves and realise that our feverishness against homosexuality has nothing to do with righteousness and everything to do with self-righteousness. Another possible reason is the fear of a community we don't understand. And so instead of trying to understand and empathise, we choose to shun and despise.

Now, let's come back to the book banning and look at the books in question: parents said they didn't want their four-year-olds to accidentally come across the books and somehow be corrupted by the gay agenda. First, there are like a gazillion books in the library and the chance of your kid picking it up is already slim. Second, if you are a concerned parent, you're likely to pick the books for your four-year-old. But ok, for the sake of argument, let's say your child really does pick out this one book unsupervised and reads about two male penguins looking after a baby penguin. What are the chances he'll make the connection: "Oh! It's telling me a family can have two daddies and no mummy!" And then, finally make the further ludicrous connection: "I therefore want to be gay!" Seriously. Adults are the ones who project their own beliefs and prejudices onto things. Not children. Four-year-olds are more likely to think: "That baby penguin is very cute. I wonder if I can get mummy to buy me a toy penguin."

By banning these books, we're enabling a breed of parents I often come across - protective to the point of paranoia, where they feel they need to bubble wrap their children to shield them from every danger in life, real or imaginary.

And why only ban these books? Do you know there are children and young adult books that feature premarital sex? And divorce? These are all sins in the Bible too. (I sure hope I'm not giving NLB any ideas). And why stop there? What about books that depict greedy, envious, lazy, proud children? As a writer, I'm concerned that an institution should decide for me what sort of books I can let my children read. Already sometimes I feel that in writing, I have to be over-the-top mindful of being politically correct, lest people read some hidden meaning in my books, even if totally unintended. And as a writer, I'm completely opposed to the pulping of books because it disturbs me that a national library should think it's ok to destroy books. That's just a slap in the face.

To me, this unnecessary action of banning the books has snowballed into unhealthy territory. It legitimised zealots who now think that with the "majority" and authorities on their side, it's ok to publicly display their hate and disdain for LGBTs. There's already an anti-Pink Dot group formed. I foresee the LGBTs will retaliate with something else, and so on. Kinda like Palestine vs Israel - after a while, nobody cares who's right and what they're fighting for any more. Each side just wants to win.

It upsets me to see so many Christians behaving in such an un-Christian manner. The problem is that none of these actions were done in the "love thy neighbour" spirit. As long as something is done in the spirit of hate and strife, it's not backed by the Bible.

If you remember, Jesus regularly mingled with the people on the fringe of society - prostitutes, tax-collectors, leprosy sufferers. He never lobbied for these people to be tucked away out of sight. He never lobbied for their rights to be taken away from them. He lived among them and made them feel loved.

It was precisely why the Pharisees were rebuked by Jesus although they were the religious leaders of their time. They were superior and judgmental. Behind their actions was not love for their fellow beings but self-satisfaction.
"Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited." - Romans 12:16
Pope Francis, ever since he became Pope, has steadily conquered hearts and minds across the world. He says unequivocally that homosexuality is a sin. But he also said: “If someone who is gay and is sincerely seeking God who am I to judge? They shouldn't be marginalized.” Here is a man who gets it.
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." - Matthew 7:1-5
These are MY views - I can't stress that enough. You don't have to agree with them. But if it helps seed the idea that perhaps peace is the way forward, not war, then that's enough for me, as a mother, writer and Christian.
"Love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these." - Mark 12: 31



87 comments:

Eileen said...

Love your thoughts..... especially this

""Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited." - Romans 12:16"

For this case is already out of harmony....

I believe other side there are also non believers too but in general I felt of they are worried too cos not time they are with their children but however I felt everybody should have learn to accept decision being made and respect. For what I felt the act protest is not going to help the children too.

And Library have been revising their book every year so what is the big thing here is because of they want their voice to be heard and make their own stand. Is this really helpful?

Surely more to come as God already said clearly in the bible. Let together help one another to stay harmony and not trample cos we are not of this world.

Thanks for the write out too...
It does highlight me as a christian.

God Bless

anivad said...

Thanks for this post! There's been so much hate flung around over this topic that it's great to see something like this.

One nitpick though - the 1 Corinthians verse you quoted doesn't always include 'homosexuality', depending on the translation. The original Greek words (arsenokoites and malakoi) referred to very specific forms of homosexuality. While the definition of 'arsenokoites' is disputed, given that Paul possibly coined it (which is odd if he did intend to refer to homosexuality, because there were already words for that), based on its sparse usage in other writings of the time, it's theorised to be related to prostitution in some way, particularly between men and boys. 'Malakoi' meant 'weak', which had been variously translated as 'womanly' and then 'effeminate', and in later translations lumped in together with 'arsenokoites' under the umbrella of 'homosexual', which is a bit of a stretch. Though the word was also sometimes used in reference to catamites (boys kept for the purpose of sex by older men), which - on the part of the men at least - we would still consider very wrong today, regardless of the gender of the people involved, and was thus justifiably condemned.

Same with the other 5 or so verses in the Bible that mention homosexuality - it's actually not at all that clear-cut in the original Hebrew and Greek, Other forms of male-male sex condemned in those verses included the practice of male soldiers raping their defeated enemies, as well as pagan sex rituals between otherwise-heterosexual men; all of these ended up translated in English as 'homosexuality' or variants thereof, despite bearing as much resemblance to consensual relationships between gay adults as, say, heterosexual rape does to consensual relationships between straight adults.

I just thought I'd put that out there, because you come across as someone who genuinely wants to do the right thing.

- a gay Christian writer, who continues to believe that sin is something one actually does and can actually choose not to do, because believing otherwise means believing that God created some people inherently inferior to others, and denounced sins that, no matter how hard one tries, one can never, ever, cease to do any more than one can change one's race. So many LGBT Christians kill themselves because they're made to believe that their very existence is evil, and decide that death is the only way they can stop sinning, and there is nothing at all good about the fruit those teachings bear.

monlim said...

Eileen: Be blessed and I'm truly glad you found the post helpful.

Anivad: Thanks for your point. I'm not a theologian so can't comment on the definitions you pointed out but I do believe that God created man and woman to be companions for each other, since the very beginning of time, as stated in the Bible. So I'm not quite prepared to accept there's ambiguity in this area.

Nevertheless, quibbling over what we individually believe is not productive and doesn't change the fact that we're supposed to treat everyone with kindness. I agree that driving LGBTs to hate themselves or even death is abhorrent. Thank you for sharing.

Pamela Tan said...

Thanks for taking the time to write this. I agree with what you say, and I'm sharing this! =)

MS said...

Thank you.
Thank you for speaking up.
Thank you for restoring my faith in humans and healing some wounds.

From a Buddhism-leaning gay woman

SL said...

Thanks for the post. I definitely agree with you that people should not incite hate against the LGBT community (or any community), due to religious or other reasons.

One thing I would like to point out, though, is this:

"It upsets me to see so many Christians behaving in such an un-Christian manner. The problem is that none of these actions were done in the "love thy neighbour" spirit. As long as something is done in the spirit of hate and strife, it's not backed by the Bible.

If you remember, Jesus regularly mingled with the people on the fringe of society - prostitutes, tax-collectors, leprosy sufferers. He never lobbied for these people to be tucked away out of sight. He never lobbied for their rights to be taken away from them. He lived among them and made them feel loved."

These two paragraphs were surely written with good intent. However, on first reading I subconsciously got the message that "despite homosexuals being of a lowly position on the fringes of society, we should treat them with kindness". This is because the paragraph on accepting homosexuals was backed up with the following biblical reference that Jesus mingled with people of low position, and readers may form the association (hopefully unintended) that homosexuals are of a lowly position.

Thank you.

monlim said...

SL: I definitely did not mean homosexuals are of a lowly position. What I wrote was that Jesus mingled with those on the fringes of society. But I couldn't find an exact verse to say that and that was the Bible verse I found closest to my point. Hope that clarifies!

steven chung said...

i was already on my way to sending a personal note to NLB when i chanced upon this - champion of an article. So impressed that I'm now struggling to decide whether i should A)still send my own sub-standard ranting which probably would end up being a needle in a haystack of what must be a freaking overflowing mailbox by now; or B) just direct them to this article.

As i try, since the pinkdot-wear white saga surfaced, to make sense of a religion followed by millions and one from which i've seen so much good done, you've offered the brightest spark.

Thank you.

p/s. you need to post this in both of those FB groups.

k said...

"Standing up for what we believe in should not entitle trampling on what others believe."

Best line out of the whole saga! As I was reading the 1st 2 paragraphs, I was nodding profusely. Like you, I have very strong views but I refuse to voice them out in the social media. Once bitten twice shy. I gave a respectful opinion once and was shot down viciously by people, strangers even. They took my words out of context, twisted them, then demeaned and insulted me. Just because I do not agree with them on one single issue. Never mind that I had clarified I'm all for harmony and no discrimination.

Both sides are getting way too riled up it's becoming a situation whereby they group people into either 'for' or 'against' aka haters. Either 'pro' or 'anti'. So polarising. I am neither! I just have my own pov which might not be exactly the same as others. Not everything is so black and white.

That is why I like the line of yours that I quoted that much. It's ok to have our differences in opinions but respect others' too. There is no need to roll-eyes and facepalm at people just because they don't agree with you. And you are right, nowadays more and more people seem not to care about right and wrong anymore.

Anonymous said...

Anivad,
If you think the Corinthian passage is not clear about homosexuality, what do you make of the verse in Roman chpt 1:27? Thks.

Lee Yew Moon said...

Thank you very much, ma'am.

Anna said...

Chanced upon your article and appreciate the effort.

However I do have a question. I have two kids myself, and based on my own experience, kids, especially young ones like to ask if a person is good or bad, or certain thing is right or wrong. They want straight forward and clear cut answers to things. That's why negative characters in cartoons always have this bad look.

As a Christian who acknowledges that the Bible does not endorse homosexuality, how would you answer if your kids ask you if same gender parents family is right or wrong? Other than the Tango book, the other two both explicitly portray same gender family as normal,loving and good, basically in positive light. So what if your kids ask you:"so it's OK to have 2 mummies but no daddy?", how would you address it?

Please be assured that I'm asking purely because I'm curious, it's not a challenge in any way.

Mich said...

Thank you for writing this, especially your thoughts of what the Bible teaches us about living in harmony and judging gay people.

I think NLB could have avoided the whole issue by moving the books to adult section - no need for pulping and the books will be available for the general public, even 4yrs old if their parents so decide.

As for the banned books, they were in the children's section. In most community libraries (eg, those in shopping malls), this section is small.

'And Tango Makes Three' talks about human families, then there are animal families. Then the normal boy-girl penguin couple, then this different boy-boy penguin couple. To me, it promotes the idea that same sex parents family is alright.

If such books are not removed from unsupervised access, there could be more similar themed books in future. I feel it is not being over-protective but reserving the right to be the person there when one's child reads such materials.

monlim said...

Anna: I would tell the truth (and I have told this to my kids). Basically, there are some people in society who believe that it's ok to have same gender parents and it's true that they can have loving families. However, as Christians, the Bible tells us that such relationships are wrong so we cannot practise them.

I don't believe in painting homosexuals as bogeymen or protecting our kids from reality. The truth always works and if our kids are brought up in a strong enough Christian environment, they will embrace scripture for themselves anyway. We've gotta have enough faith in our children and our God.

Mich: I agree that part of the problem was that the situation was not handled well by NLB. I also agree that a compromise could have been reached by placing the books elsewhere (I believe many of the writers who boycotted NLB were also open to this suggestion), instead of simply pulping them.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for writing this. I too am neither of this nor that camp - the only "camp" I take shelter in is that of God's all-encompassing love.
The aggressiveness displayed by some other Christians recently seem, to me, markedly lacking in Christ-like qualities, if I may be so quick to pass judgment.
Although homosexuality is among the various sins mankind is wont to commit - it frankly boggles me why some Churches have directed so much valuable energy towards the condemnation of this one sin out of very many. Is it because, as the author astutely points out, it's a far easier sin to "target"?
Being a Christian is not supposed to be "easy" - recall the faithful in earlier times. The few Christian homosexual friends I know wrestle daily between their sexual inclination and divine teaching. What about the rest of us? Do we take it easy, smug and sure - can our own lives truly stand up to scrutiny?
These homosexual friends I know are highly intelligent, kindly people, from loving families - why would they, with deliberate intent, elect such a terribly difficult path in life for themselves, knowing that many in society would loudly despise, shun, or even attempt to obliterate them? They are not "militant gays" - the near-caricatures in the garish PinkDot camp, parading around in sequins. These people dress normally, hold responsible jobs, and provide for their families. Perhaps they are actually the "silent homosexual majority" - too scared, and, dare I say, actually decent as people, to "come out" demonstratively.
Every day is an attempt to know God better, and I follow his revealed commands as faithfully as I can, but I cannot know Him in all His majesty. I do not know why there are homosexuals, but I know they are not evil, only sinners like the rest of us - who tussle daily with petty and big things. Could it be God's plan for them to cope with this massive struggle, just like some are born with physical impediments, into stark poverty, or otherwise difficult circumstances? I do not profess to know. I only feel that we should perhaps expend more effort in tempering our own self-righteous pride and wrath.
Nothing I read, hear or see can ever turn me gay - I find it inexplicable that many of my brethren appear to have such little faith in their own, or their children's - faith. I hope that my unborn son may, at any age, encounter any challenge his life has to present, and meet it with grace, courage and love. God did not intend for us to be ignorant of evil - and Christ did not die for any man to deny anyone else salvation. I believe God loves homosexuals, just as he loves the greedy, lazy, arrogant, lecherous, and so on. To those who find themselves incapable of handling questions from their own children - may I offer the humble suggestion of fortifying your own hearts and minds through reading more - it's actually really enjoyable.

poky said...

Hi Anna, I agree with monlim, just tell the truth, as you would if they ask you about sorcery (or is it wizardry) in Harry Potter, that certain practices exist, regardless of whether we agree with them or not, and then further explain to them your stand or belief. Ultimately, they will grow up one day and form their own convictions. As adults, we should guide them to discern, not simply shelter them from what we believe is wrong because the bubble world we build for them will burst one day and they won't be equipped to discern by then.

Joseph Yeo said...

Monlim, I think you are mistaken. We love the LGBT people (as the/a person) - just like how Jesus did to those who do not know him. What Christians are fighting is not against the people, it is against pushing the LGBT agenda in our law and system. You talked about other sins in your blog, i.e. Pride, greed etc etc... Yes, our pastors addressed those during church services and we are being warned. But take for example, if there is a group of say 20,000 people trying to push an agenda that robbery is not a crime and this law should be taken out from our Singapore law and system. Would you stand up and fight against it? Will this "sin - call stealing" becomes more apparent to fight against now because it is an agenda that will alter our way of life, next generation and to any religious group - wrong?

Please think through this... Pastors are fighting against the LGBT agenda being pushed into and altering our system - not against the LGBT people. Just like if any of the LGBT people is willing to turn back to God, any pastors will be willing to help them.

I hope you see the light... Thanks.
Joe

Daddy Bear said...

Thanks Monica for writing this piece. I think fear is a very strong emotion, and many are fearful of what they do not understand, and hence quick to put it down or eradicate it entirely.

I share your thoughts, and couldnt have worded your piece better. Thanks for sharing. I shared this on my FB page. Bottomline, I hate to see books go to waste.

Adrian Tan

Nicole Ong said...

Thank you for restoring some of the respect I had lost, as an agnostic, for religion to do any 'good' in this world. To show compassion, empathy and to love thy neighbour. Not to push people over the edge when they're already standing there on tipping point.

esther said...

Thanks for writing this monlim. I do believe that we shouldn't be going the other way of hatred and war.
However, I do agree with anna. There is a time and age that is appropriate for kids to be exposed to such issues. Maybe when they are teenagers or primary school going age. Exposing them to such issues at the tender age of 4 I'm afraid may cause them to be very confused, just like how I was filled with confusion and trouble when I found out that there was such a thing called LGBT, probably as a teenager. How much more so to small children, who tend to regard things as only black and white!

monlim said...

Joseph: Yes, love the sinner, hate the sin. But I wonder how many people really make that distinction. I don't think you can say "we love the LGBT people" as a fact speaking for all Christians because I know there are many who don't.

Please don't stretch one point to extremes so as to invalidate it. Of course if 20,000 pple want to legalise robbery, I will oppose it. I'm saying the point of getting 3 children's books removed from NLB was unnecessary. Why does it always have to be an "all or nothing" approach?

I'd like to share this link that was sent to me. I thought it was a good read: http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2013/fall/gospel-in-lgbt-world.html

Darren Yeo said...

Joseph Yeo, I think you are similarly mistaken. It is easy to say you love the LGBT people, but have you actually bothered to interact with them, to talk to them, as Jesus did to the sinners in the bible? If you did, you would find that there isn't an "LGBT agenda" that these pastors keep throwing about but never actually define. You will find that they are people just trying to live their lives with the basic freedoms you and I enjoy, but are often denied to them because of social stigma and unfair legislation.

You also set up a strawman argument about people trying to push an agenda about legitimizing robbery. Now we know that robbery causes harm to the victim by the perpetrator, but can you really say the same about the LGBT community? Who and what do they harm exactly? Your sensibilities? Let us try to understand the principles behind law and legislation before trying to draw such tenuous parallels.

I find it to see how some of these pastors, who are fighting against this amorphous "LGBT agenda", are not against the people themselves. Some even go to the extent of saying HIV is God's punishment on this community - a statement so scientifically incorrect and so vicious that it is clear that the hate and resentment is hardly in line with the teachings of the bible.

I hope you see the light as well.

nigel said...

I'm just writing in to affirm something you said: doing something in the name of Jesus doesn't make it right, especially if it is done without care or love.

I myself have often considered that the Christian obsession with policing sexual sins above all others particularly odd. That we demonise others more harshly for things that we ourselves are by default innocent of in order to affirm our faith and our own goodness is, I think, a brilliant explanation, and one that bears not only on this issue but all forms of moral thought.

We've found in homosexuals a splinter in the eyes of others with no corresponding beam in our own. I suppose some people think that gives them carte blanche to do whatever they want. On this issue at least, they say, we have not sinned, and therefore we can throw the first stone.

I'm so, so glad to hear voices out there that say otherwise :)

Anonymous said...

I'm the "Anonymous" who posted above at 12:03am, and just feel I have to type this one more comment - I will stop after this, as I respect monlim's authority over her own blog.
Please, fellow Christians, it does not help yourselves using terms like "LGBT agenda". Question yourselves if you can truly enumerate the terms of this alleged agenda, or have you merely received the transmitted articulation of dominant personalities - using simplistic (or far-flung extremist) analogies and scare stories? These men may have attracted many to their interpretation of Christianity, but they have also driven many away - to other churches (by God's grace), to solitude, or altogether away from faith. Do not project the various acts of a few loud LGBTs upon a whole group of humans - exercise the subtlety God has placed it within your remit to enjoy, and realise that not all things are binary. I say this, again, because I count Christian homosexuals among my friends, and have met more overseas in the course of work. Yes - a few of them offend my good taste - but I do not have the right to judge them unless they harm me, which they have never done. More importantly, most of them are actually quiet-living, modest, average people whose "agenda" are the same as most other people, Christian or not - to live, work, and enjoy peace.
I do NOT accept homosexuality as something to promote - this is in line with my Christian aversion to sins of any kind, although I have committed and continue to shamefully commit some of them. However, persistent exaggeration and rhetoric-to-the-point-of-hysteria are pushing beyond the fold countless people who otherwise might have received God's grace. Do you pursue the same animus towards all-you-can-eat buffets, casually suggestive TV ads, or overpriced, leisurely cruises? - if so, then you can claim justness in demonstrating the same inflammatory zeal against homosexuality.
To esther: I'm sad to hear you were filled with confusion and trouble. However, many children are in fact extremely intelligent, and far less likely to be "confused" than adults, long removed from childhood, might think.

Belle said...

I loved every bit of what you wrote and you are an inspiration as a mother, Christian and writer. Thank you for your voice.

If we were to burn books and people with our words, values, beliefs and "laws", we are no different from the nazi and heretics that burnt people. The burning of books has never been a wise thing to do in any history of records, pun intended. A library should provide (to enlighten and evoke), not take away.

Don't like, don't borrow - there is indeed a personal choice. Remove that choice and we get a dictatorship which decides everything. If we want to ban any of those books, we should go on to remove Smurfs, Snow White & her dwarfs and hyena (female dominated) stories. They promote however far-fetched analogies these may be, co-habitation, discrimination and incest. While we're at it, we should look at just how dark nursery rhymes really are and maybe burn those too. Jack and Jill and rockabye-baby all fell, Little Miss got scared off and the old woman in the shoe abused her many children, sending them off to bed hungry. These reflect the dark ages they were written in, so why shouldn't we read books and shift our mindsets to the times that we live in today? We need to evolve and be involved. Parents ought to get more involved to educate their own children than to leave it to pastors, priests, government, libraries and most certainly not just books! to school their kids.

Cyanide said...

Hi Mon, after reading this I actually felt that the prayer that I've prayed to God has been answered. I am a Christian and I am gay. Reading online about all these other Christians that have been passing judgement on LGBTs only brought memories that i was struggling when i was younger, I was a devoted Christian and because of that I was ashamed of myself, I stopped going to church after awhile, after stares and unfavorable comments i get from the church leaders. It hurt me deeply for these people are the ones i grew up with, I certainly did not choose to be gay, if it was really a choice i would have choose the other so i would have one less problem in this problematic world. But that was not the Case, I've prayed very hard to God but I am still the same.

But after many years, I've found Jesus again, I finally understood why Jesus came, it is so we will not be judge for all our sins.

Sorry for being so long-winded, what i am trying to say that, I wished that when i was young and struggling, I wished I've met a Christian like you, who when encounter with a situation that is different from yours, you do not use the bible to judge, you use the bible to show grace and tolerance. It is because of people like you, that my faith is restored, even though we might disagree but we have one thing in common which is God is the center of everything and God is about love, Jesus is about Grace.

Those Christians who uses the bible to judge have no idea what they are doing to young LGBT Christians who are struggling inside of them. I wish there are more people who think like you. And i thank God for answering my prayers, that there are still True Christians around who will speak up against the rest of them.

Thank you Mon, thank you.

Anonymous said...

Not used to commenting on blogs so this comes in a two parts. Sorry about this.

Part 1

As a Christian who also happens to be gay, I obviously would not agree with your stance on homosexuality but that is for another day.

I love God (I hope) and I love the Bible, which is a book of such beauty, horror and yet grace, which is why while I am not Catholic, Pope Francis' point about who is he to judge, resonates deeply with me. I contrast this with my experience with a prominent Singaporean Christian leader who once told me publicly that if indeed I loved God and loved the Bible I would not be gay and then refused to have lunch with me unless I "repented". His behaviour may have arguably been Pauline but it was not Christ that spoke to me that day.

I am traveling on work at the moment and as is my usual practice called up my partner of 15 years. He said he was feeling down because of the level of vitriol he felt the community was getting from Christians. Unlike me, he is a far gentler soul who decided long ago that this homeland of his did not want him despite his many talents - it was a land that will suck out what he can give but will not give him the room to be and to live as he is.

He remains here really only because of me. Listening to him was heart wrenching because I know that he would not be feeling like this today if I had agreed with him to pack up and go when he first broached the issue some years back. But, No, I said - Singapore was my home. I have never doubted that decision - never - not until these last few weeks.

Sojourner

Anonymous said...

Part 2

A couple of weeks ago, after the Wear White campaign his mother with whom we have worked hard to get to a point of agreeing to disagree and yet agreeing to love and be there for one another sat him down and told him how much she was suffering due to his gayness. He had to remind her how much he too had suffered in her hands because of her Christian faith. His father who has always tried his best to accommodate both his wife and his son sat there torn and tearing. The relationships we had worked years to rebuild were shattered again because she was told she needed to Wear White and we are now on both sides grasping for ways to build again.

The reality is that where a community is marginalised when we go about such campaigns what we are doing is mob-bish. When you look at the outcome of the actions with the NLB it sends a chill because that is how campaigns on extermination and eradication begin. I do not believe that that will happen in Spore but the reality is that the spirit that underlies such behaviour is no different from those that led to extermination campaigns elsewhere because it is based on a reactive and irrational fear that leads to vehement action - I am still flabbergasted that someone could say with a straight face to the Straits Times that those who object to the book banning and pulping are intolerant. I feel sad for the person who said this - is there no reflexivity in their world view?

When fear begins to twist logic but continues to manipulate the language of faith to mask irrationality, love is banished and the seeds of evil are sown, even if we continue to masquerade such evil as love. Therein lies the travesty of a delusion.

But my main point in writing this post is not to debate these issues (though I have alluded to them). I write instead to share a slice of the pain we as gay people go through daily and to say a heartfelt thank you. Sitting here at from 5am this morning worrying about my partner who I will not be able to see until the end of this week, It was comforting to read your thoughts, knowing that there are Christians out there who will speak up for us, even if they don't agree.

I am so glad you wrote - a friend of mine told me he was speaking privately with church leaders. My reply was that while private conversations are important, when something is brought into the public square by Christians who are behaving extremely, other right minded Christians have the obligation to speak out in the public square. I am glad you tapped into your courage. It does not change the pains of the last few weeks but it comforts, and perhaps for now that is all people like me can hope for.

I hope one day our paths will cross, it would be an honor for me and I would love to sit over coffee and have a long chat about the Bible.

Sojourner

Love Your Family said...

Good Morning,

I happened to come across your blog and read this journal entry, and I found to be very insightful and englightening. May I have your permission to share this on the FB page?

Just for your info, Love Your Family is a page that celebrates the Family in all its various configurations, from trans-generational families to same sex couples with children. We seek to cultivate understanding and support for all families.

Meanwhile, I hope you have a wonderful day ahead. :)

Selina Ang said...

Thanks for this. Really spoke my thoughts. I'm Christian, a mother and have many LGBT friends who i must admit are the most kindhearted, understanding and loving bunch of friends. Yes, love the sinner and hate the sin. As a mother I believe in grounding my son in the words of God. Like you rightfully pointed out, have faith in our child and God. I would choose to pray for my son unceasingly that he receives the wisdom from God to discern what is right or wrong. Like i always tell my son about things like lying, stealing, cheating etc, I always ask him to think if God will be pleased with him if those things were committed. Immediately he knows the answer.

Thank you once again. I'll share this on my F

Raymond Quah said...

“If only Christians would pour as much energy into eradicating some of the other sins listed in the Bible.” and self-righteous Pharisees says it all. This recent article affirms the same thing. That there are better ways to spend your time than witch hunts.

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/07/evangelicals-gay-marriage-108608.html

Michael said...

What is your pastor telling you is "the LGBT agenda"? I've never understood this and no one has been able to answer the question.

Michael said...

A great lesson. Much respect! Thanks!

Samuel Ong said...

I read your piece. I am very sad. I am sad because you are the only few Christian that I ever know as righteous.

Anonymous said...

There is incest in the Book of Genesis 19:30-36 where Lot's daughter made him drunk and lay with him to get pregnant. Would that mean that censorship or banning of the bible has to be carried out? I believe in the book of Genesis, the story related is more obvious than the Penguin story in the much talk about book from the NLB. Why not ask the government to ban prostitution and casino altogether in the country? Even Jesus accepted the prostitute mentioned in the bible (Luke 7:36-50), why would Christians behave otherwise? Probably they have been taught the wrong way by their elders who are no difference from the Pharisees and the Sadducees mentioned in the bible!

Anonymous said...

While I understand your sentiment, I find your statement detestable:
" As a Christian, I believe that homosexuality is wrong because it says so in the Bible, which I accept as truth."

As a Christian myself, I used to say this, but now I find this statement hypocritical, because I've come to realize that there are so many other things that the bible says that we don't follow.

Specifically in the realm of marriage. The Bible's ideals of "righteous men" are all guilty of polygamy, sexual slavery and exploitation, incest and a host of other very problematic issues, yet we so adamantly focus on the issue of homosexuality and call this a sin while rejecting other biblical ideals.

How about we just not judge both in word and in deed and stop saying it's a sin. Eating shellfish, wearing mixed cloth and all that other stuff is also sinful, why don't we call people out for those things?

monlim said...

Anon: Let's not confuse the teachings of the Bible with the fallibility of humans. Just because humans find it difficult to stop sinning, doesn't mean we should stop acknowledging the sin. And I think I already addressed the part about fixating on homosexuality in my post.

Anonymous said...

I could not have written a better article myself. I totally agree with your viewpoint. We are called to spread the Word and evangelise to ALL, not selected people. And we cannot do so without accepting that God loves everyone, including the LGBT, and calls them to be one with Himself. This being is the case, who are we to judge? Rather, we should spread God's love to everyone, and look beyond whatever humanly attributes that may be attached to a person.

DC said...

Michael, one of the example was refering LGBT activist as drug dealers, trying to sell drugs to the innocent ones.(selling the idea of freedom to love)

Anonymous said...

Inspired, heartfelt and thoughtful. As an gay atheist leaning towards Buddhism with a distinction in bible studies, I am, like some other bloggers, terribly worn out and tired by these seemingly endless battle of hate and insults. Both sides in the issue have to share the blame for how this culture war came about here in Singapore, my home.
But truly for those who fit nicely into the existing 'social norm' u would never know how privileged you are in your life. I had to, as like other gay people I know, fight for everything I wanted in my life and more. To fight for respect, dignity and self-worth in every aspect of my life. And my challenges are never ending; now in this present time they seem even more challenging then before.
The pain, sadness and depression that we gay people go through is truly crippling; it's no wonder that gay people seem to be always happy and flamboyant. If we weren't, then our days will be truly dark
But there are sparks of light in our downer days and reading your post has lit such a light for me. I am thankful for your words and sharing and I know that with Christians like you, people like us may eventually see more peaceful days.

Steve

Anonymous said...

hi Monica, thanks for this article. The world needs more love and tolerance, not hate. As an aunt to 6 kids, i can tell you that 4 year olds don't go running to the borrow books. They just go running... (duh!).

NLB could have just left the books where they are or simply reclassify them.

Rgds - kjj

Joe said...

Darren/author: the difference between homosexuality and other sins is this - society sees some sins (e.g. adultery) as legal but undesired, some sins (e.g. murder) as illegal, but homosexuality is the only sin which is being promoted and celebrated. In the US, this is being fed to children who are not old enough to produce sex hormones on their own yet. Check http://standupforthetruth.com/2014/06/grade-school-children-brainwashed-celebrate-gay-pride/ out for reference.

Michael, many other countries have gone down the path of celebrating and promoting LGBT. Studies done on the genetic link are inconclusive - many are contradictory. Why be allowed to promote something which has not been proven to be natural?

Joe said...

Monlim: you would oppose robbery because of the harm it does to society, regardless of its popularity. In the same way, do not LGBT activities harm both the individual and society in the transmission of HIV and the lower probability of birthrates?

monlim said...

Joe: I think why sometimes the LGBT community feels victimised is because of these massive claims which sweep everyone with the same brush. Not spreading hate message against LGBTs = celebrating a gay lifestyle and brainwashing children?

Would you not feel equally offended by people who say Christian = bigot?

I chose to focus on the Gospel of love and peace in this post because I feel it has disappeared in the clatter of today's society. You can choose not to agree with me, as mentioned, but I will not be engaged in a discussion that fixates on singling out LGBTs for all the ills in the world.

Unknown said...

monlim said...

Unknown: I am not linking NLB to Christians. I know there are many non-Christians who supported the banning. This post was written for Christians because I wanted to offer the alternative idea that supporting the ban was not a good call, based on our Christian beliefs.

Unknown said...

We all do operate and make decisions based on our values which differ between individuals. Even amongst Christians, there will always be differences. It differs somewhat from society to society how differences are handled. In a democratic country, even Singapore, we do go with the majority in most areas, except in areas which are clearly wrong. This is regardless of whether one is Christian or any other religion. So you should also accept that Christians will have differences. More importantly, while we may hold differing values based on what we believe in, we should not bring religion into disrepute in the secular disputes.

monlim said...

Unknown: First, not sure how come your earlier comment was accidentally deleted, sorry about that.

Second, of course not all Christians think the same way. That's why some Christians love my post and others, not so much. As mentioned, my post was directed at Christian parents offering my personal view.

I'm sorry that you think it brought Christianity into disrepute but are you sure it did? All I did was bring up the Gospel of peace and love. Some comments have indicated that this view restored their faith in Christianity.

What I think some Christians are unhappy about is that it made them look bad. If that's the case, as I told a friend, I'm sorry that you're more concerned about that than whether there's any truth in what I said. Peace.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this. It needed to be written.

Unknown said...

I am only saying that in this debate over NLB, wise decision-making by a public agency is the issue, Christianity is not the issue and should not be brought in. This is true for all other religions too.

Anonymous said...

I read above regarding the robbery thing and again, a strawman brought up very commonly to equate homosexuality == crime hurting others; theft in particular. First and foremost, what has been stolen? Do you think homosexuality will steal your kids/husband/brother/sister, etc? Secondly, if robbery is changed to free slaves or allow mixed marriages, what do you say? I'm sure years ago, the Bible was used to justify slavery. In fact, until recently, so was mixed marriages, also called miscegenation. Search for this word and on the laws to ban it. So slavery was legal and now not and is banned. While miscegenation was deemed illegal but now allowed. So how? It goes to show if nothing else, laws change and so does society. Note that in both cases, the Bible was used to justify them. Explain to me how the morality in the Bible has changed in them.

Johnny said...

Joe, are you sure homosexuality is the ONLY sin being promoted and celebrated? Surely, the greatest sin of all, rejection of Christ and His ways, is being celebrated and promoted regularly. Did I blink and Singapore stopped celebrating Vesak Day, Deepavali and Ramadan?

Or did you mean that homosexuality is the only sin being promoted and celebrated that you can attack without worrying about being thrown into jail?

monlim said...

Unknown: Christians themselves brought religion into the issue. Many of them have been pressurising their fellow believers to sign the petition, saying "If you're a Christian, you should sign this." Some of my friends were upset that they were made to feel like bad Christians if they didn't sign something they didn't believe in. So you may call it a secular issue but some people advertently decided to bring religion into it.

Anonymous said...

Hi Monlim, your comment at 5:49pm reminded me of another Christian who said, "You are either with us or against us". At the end, how many lay dead?

Although I'm not a Christian, I find the pressuring attitude despicable.

Anonymous said...

Coming back to original issue on the books, it is amusing and frankly illogical to think that books will "convert" children into gay. Let me put it this way, there are a lot more books out there depicting heterosexual relationships in children, young adult and adult books. Have they ever converted gay people straight?

Another pejorative used is that homosexual is a choice. How many gays wished that they are straight? How many have honestly succeeded? Don't talk to me about the conversion therapy which had been rejected by official mental health authorities round the world. If people still think that it is a choice, try this experiment: for 1 month, try changing your sexual "choice". Can you honestly make yourself attracted to what you normally is not?

As for the unnatural comment about homosexuality, there are historical documentation that monkeys, dolphins and many other animals exhibited homosexual relationship over a period of time. However, there is no animal in the world that would inhale smoke from the burning of a dried plant that would poison them and shorten their lives (read: smoking tobacco). So which is more unnatural?



Anonymous said...

Thank you monlim. I truly appreciate that you took the time to write this post. It is really comforting to know that there are people like you. Since the start of these issues this year (wear white movement and NLB's decision), I have been wondering why must things be this way. It really doesn't have to be. I don't know about others but I get so tired with the intolerant and unforgiving people in this society that I just want to keep my mouth shut and leave one day.

I am gay and I didn't choose to be one. Believe me. If I have the choice, I would rather not live than live as a gay man. And it irritates me very much when people keep shoving claims that "it is not proven that being gay is natural". Anyway, that is not the point here.

I was born into a Christian family and my parents would faint on the spot if I were to let them know about me. I plan to keep it from them for as long as they are alive. I know and have seen their reactions towards LGBT issues and they are not giving a chance to people like me. I would not give them a chance with me either. Someday I would leave them and leave them to wonder why. It is still better than seeing them devastated and fainting all around me because I have sinned, not to mention all the things they would want to do "guide me back". That would only hurt us further.

It is really sad that people are giving their opinions like it is some plague that is destroying the country. Some people like me had fought it like a battle inside of me, and potentially at home with my parents if they knew, for the longest time. And it doesn't help knowing the society has so many people who think like them. They don't even know how hurtful their reactions and discussions are at a personal level for the minority of this population. Minority like me.

Thank you once again for the this post. It, like what many have said, restored my faith in this religion. I am sorry if I sounded like a struggling teenager with daddy/mommy issues (no offence there). I just wanted to let you know that i felt comforted reading your entry.

Anonymous said...

Tango... Is a far from offensive book. It's well-written, nicely illustrated, and we have a copy at home if anyone wants to borrow it. We also have The Family Book, by Todd Parr, which in a loving and playful way explains that some children are adopted by their parents, some kids only have one parent, some have two, some families eat the same things and others do not, some kids have a mum and a dad, some have two dads or mums, all families like to hug each other. This is modern childhood in a book, explained simply and in a way that lets kids in minority families understand who they are, when all the other books on the shelf have a mum & dad or often, just a mum in the story. These books should be encouraged for spreading love and understanding, helping kids, not pulped.

monlim said...

Anon at 6.52pm: To be fair, the pressurising comes from the LGBT camp as well and ironically, some of them use religion too. I've had friends who were pressured by their LGBT friends to sign the petition, saying "how can you say your God is loving and you're so unaccepting of us?"

Basically, whether we want to or not, religion is being dragged into the secular world and those who have friends in both camps are the ones stuck in the middle. It's really not fair to emotionally blackmail anyone into taking sides and that's why I think my post has struck a chord with them.

givemecleanhands said...

I am grateful for an alternative to the Pinkdot/Wear White sided that have done nothing but widen the gulf between Christ/Christians and the LGBT community. I, too, believe the Bible lists homosexual acts as a sin, but one of many. And we Christians can easily turn people away from Christ by our actions if we do not carefully weigh our beliefs, words and actions. Thank you monlim for this article that has given me a lot of think about as a Christian - I'm not sure I agree with everything (I'm still in the midst of finding something that works) but I do agree with a large part of it, at least for now.

@anon: I have some thoughts I would like to share with you. I agree that no one sin is worse than another. The focus on homosexuality is certainly disproportionate. However, I believe we should draw a distinction between distinguishing what the bible says is right/wrong and what it means to be judgemental. Distinguishing between what the bible says is right/wrong/grey area isn't the same as judging, which implies despising and/or condemning someone. If we do not make that distinction, and fail to distinguish between what the bible says is right or wrong, we risk losing our saltiness as salt of the earth.

Also, not all Old Testament laws apply to Christians because we are under the new covenant. Some scholars will say that OT laws do not apply unless repeated in the NT because the OT laws were conditions of the covenant between ancient Israel and God and the old covenant has been replaced by a new one (sometimes more exacting than the old). That does not, however, mean that we throw out the OT. On the contrary, we value it as something that shows us God's character. So I wouldn't be too quick to apply the OT laws: after all, the early church did decide that Gentiles did not need to become Jews in order to be Christians.

That said, I'm still grappling with what it means to "love the sinner but hate the sin" when the sinner and the sin are so intertwined. How do the rest of you deal with this?

monlim said...

Givemecleanhands: Someone just asked me, if I'm invited to attend a gay friend's civil ceremony to his partner, should I go if I'm a Christian? If it were me, I would because he's my friend and he invited me to celebrate with him on his special day. It's like attending a Malay wedding - you don't have to be a Muslim to celebrate an event with a friend. I would be a bad friend to refuse to be with him. However, if a gay friend asked me to sign a petition for gay marriages, I would not because according to the Bible, a marriage is between a man and a woman, so I cannot endorse something saying otherwise. However, I also would not judge or condemn him if he does.

To me, this is what it means to love the sinner but hate the sin. I understand it's controversial and not everyone will agree with me. Few things are ever black and white but in each situation, I would ask myself whether I'm loving my neighbour without going against the basic tenets in the Bible. Then the choice usually becomes clearer.

Again, I stress that this is what I would do, based on my beliefs. You don't have to agree with me.

Chentin said...

I think you miss the point. And since my friends are sharing your post I feel I should write my views.

Banning the book is not victimizing anyone.
It is the person ( in this case NLB acting on the interests of its readers) drawing the boundaries for its readers, and deeming it unsuitable for children.
You are talking about a Penguin book.
A Penguin book meant for children . (Ok adults can read it too but that's missing the point again).
Are you then propagating 'gay' culture for your kids?

The gay population is free to choose their beliefs and live their lives the way they see fit.
But if they now want to propagate their lifestyle into your own children's education, into your house, by telling your child that it is normal to have 2 fathers, no, that is not something I will tolerate.

It is like you are nonchalant about pornography, and you accept 'child pronography' in your library, and books written for children into accepting pornography into their lives as they grow into adults.

You should know, since you mentioned you are a mother. How do you feel about this education for your kids?

Peter Ng said...

Hi Monica, was my post the one that you accidentally deleted? I signed off as Peter Ng. I'm just curious if it was deleted or if you censored it for any reason. I can't help feeling disappointed because I took quite a bit of time to express my thoughts but I understand if it was an accident.

Phonics Plus said...

I am on the same side as you but I do think that you need to develop your critical analysis of this issue.

"As a Christian, I believe that homosexuality is wrong because it says so in the Bible, which I accept as truth."

As an educator of critical thinking, I cringe when I see such moral absolutist statements......Critical thinking involves questioning everything.....especially how and where you obtain your "truths" from. In addition, what is "wrong"..what constitutes "wrong"?

On an ethical level, moral absolutism gets us nowhere. We will never be able to achieve progressive win-win outcomes.

In addition, the definition of "truth" is that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality. Therefore it must be supported with evidence. Therefore this person has used the term "truth" in an erroneous manner.

It would have been more acceptable if you had written, "As a Christian, my stand is that homosexuality is wrong in a certain way (which must be clarified and supported with evidence) and because it says so in the Bible, which I accept as a matter of my faith."

Thank you for your kind time and attention.

monlim said...

Phonics Plus: I think it's pointless to fight over semantics. As a Christian, I believe that the Bible is the Word of God and therefore truth for Christians. It serves as evidence in itself. Actually, I think my original sentence pretty much sums up what I meant. This is not a GP class.

monlim said...

Chentin: It sounds like you haven't read my post at all (or refused to understand it). As I said, standing up for our beliefs doesn't mean imposing them on others. You had the choice of not reading the book if it offended you. But by removing it, we're saying nobody has the right to read it. Oh yes, they can buy it but they have to fork out money. The public library is not for them. That's called imposing our beliefs on others.

I find it sad that you'll actually try to guilt me into agreeing with you just because I'm a mother. I teach my children that there are many different types of people with different beliefs. Whether we agree with them, we cannot judge them or impose our own beliefs on them. I tell them that homosexuality is a sin according the Bible so we cannot adopt a gay lifestyle. But there are LGBTs in society and we can most certainly befriend them. I also know that my children are not gay and they cannot "catch gayness" by simply reading gay books.

I guess I believe in educating my children, not sheltering them from reality.

Peter: I haven't deliberately deleted any comment (except for one that was advertising something) and I'm pretty sure I didn't accidentally delete yours. I never received it. Are you sure your comment got through? Sorry you have to type it again!

Anna said...

Hi, your comment about if you would attend a gay friend's wedding got me interested. Just sharing this article for your reading pleasure.
http://www.gotquestions.org/gay-wedding.html

You don't have to reply me, and I appreciate your patience in dealing with all the comments.

monlim said...

Anna: Thanks for sharing! It's true many of these are grey areas and I would still go for the wedding because if that's my friend, he will know that I do not condone gay weddings - I'm there because I value his friendship. It's like I would never reject my son just because he was gay. But whatever Christians feel convicted to do, in these grey areas, that's an individual decision.

Anonymous said...

Don't throw stones if you live in glass houses..

If you have no sin., throw the first stone.

Guide them... Love them..

But share with them "to go and sin no more".. They may not know it is sinful.

I share your view.. live their life but dont propagate their lifestyle as normal

Anonymous said...

To live a lifestyle that is not natural is bad enough... But to promote it as natural ?

http://books.google.com.sg/books/about/And_Tango_Makes_Three.html?id=CGPUPsQQm24C&redir_esc=y

Reminds me of the story of camel and the tent in the desert:

http://camelphotos.com/tales_nose.html

Anonymous said...

As a married woman with two young children, having friends and relatives who are homosexuals, I have been very disillusioned with Singapore following this. I have not seen this much ugliness except perhaps over the P1 registration. (interesting what makes people bare their fangs - education and religion/gender.)Reading your post and replies made me feel that there is still some sanity prevailing though I have already given up saying anything to the Christian conservatives.

They do not see that the tactics they employed can also work against them one day, and that whether or not they are for the pulping, they should support a more transparent process whereby a public institution like NLB makes decision on these grey areas. There are principles at stake here beyond the gender issues.

Anonymous said...

Hi Momlim,
I have been following ur blog regarding this issue. I certainly agree with you that the books could have been placed in the reference or PG section.
While your aim is not to dispute with the Christian community but regarding their handling of the ban books by Christians, I see many gay Christians reading ur blog and now feeling glad and comforted, affirming that it is alright to be a Christian n a homosexual after all. Do you feel good for them to feel this way?
In Roman 1 esp. verse 27, the bible makes it very clear in no uncertain term God's anger on unnatural sex.
Christians here are not witch hunting to destroy the LGBT community. We have not been really bothered by them until a couple of years ago when the challenge against 377A and write up by some in social media and in court to repeal this law. And are you aware how the proportion of HIV among the gay community is reaching epidemic level despite all the preventive education n research according to WHO n US health Centre.
We are indeed caught in the struggle between truth and love. How can we strike a balance: how to tell the truth in love and show love by telling the truth?

monlim said...

Anon (10.27am): It is true that homosexuality is a sin, as pointed out. However, it seems like this is the only sin where Christians expect instant repentance before we will accept people in our churches. Why? We all know of church members who continue to gamble or drink or cheat on their spouses or struggle with other sins. Nobody in the church can say they have "sinned no more". In these instances, we keep encouraging them and praying for them instead of chasing them out. Why can't we do the same for LGBTs? Why do we reject them first? The message of salvation is for everyone - it's not up to humans to place conditions or filter people for suitability.

Many gay Christians here, I believe, are feeling comforted because they're not judged, not because they suddenly think it's alright (again, I've said clearly the Bible states it's a sin). I'm sure you would have read that many of them struggle daily with this issue. Whatever it is, the point is that it's really not for us to judge. That's between them and God. As fellow Christians, we're just supposed to love our brothers and sisters.

That's why this piece resonated with me: http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2013/fall/gospel-in-lgbt-world.html

monlim said...

As for the problem with rising cases of HIV, here's my take on it: Yes, of course it's a problem. But it's a problem caused by promiscuity, not homosexuality. Plenty of heterosexuals spread HIV too. It's spreading faster among homosexuals because a bigger proportion of them engage in promiscuous behaviour. Not gonna mince my words here.

However, to say that homosexuality = HIV is false. Many LGBTs live quiet lives doing everyday things that you and I do. To say that we therefore need to clamp down hard on LGBTs because of the threat of HIV is misleading. To counter the spread of HIV, we need to make a stand against promiscuity (which is definitely a sin in the Bible). Gay or straight, if anyone has a problem in this area, pray for them and support them.

I know I'm sounding a little cheong hei but this is my personal opinion. Agree or disagree, that's up to you.

Anonymous said...

I having nothing to say except "THANK YOU". Really, thank you.

Anonymous said...

Stay strong. Trust and have in God, He is a healer and transformer of our lives! God loves u!

Daniel Tan said...

Nicely articulated. I'd like to share my stance as a fellow Christian.

It's entirely true that we shouldn't trample on what others believe. God gave all of us the freedom to choose our faith, and surrendering to God is an active, personal choice. It's one of our prerogatives.

Though I can't claim to know what you have seen in your circles, I feel the point being made now by religious authorities is not that homosexuality should not exist at all. The point being made is that homosexuality shouldn't be promoted. There is a difference. The latter allows for the existence of a homosexual community in Singapore. Undoubtedly there have been gays in Singapore long before this year's Pink Dot. But only recently has the religious community really become vocal about the issue. It's evident that they are opposing the active promotion of homosexuality to other people, not the practice of homosexuality per se.

It might be true that some are opposing out of self-righteousness. If that is true, then they are not following God's example of open love. However, I feel the main reason for the opposition is again the active promotion of the homosexual lifestyle.

There aren't any groups in Singapore promoting lying, murder, rape, envy, laziness or anything. Nobody is claiming that these sins are ok. If there was a group saying so, no doubt the religious community would rise up against them too. The religious community is acting in what it perceives to be society's best interests. You can't fault them for that, because we live in a democracy and they are entitled to establish their opinion as well.

I do feel the original decision may have been a tad hasty, though in NLB's defense they apparently had been reviewing the book 3 months prior to the reporting. And well, NLB isn't really deciding anything for you. The book is still available. You can still get the book online or from other people who have it. It's bad, but maybe not that bad.

Let me just end off by saying that this is in the spirit of discussion, and that I respect your views. All the best in your future endeavours.

Anonymous said...

Daniel,
I totally agree with you, clear n precise! And lots of carefully selected words n yet accurately explains the struggle the non LGBT community has towards the vocal n aggressive promotion of the alternative lifestyle in Singapore. We wish we never have to confront this issue with our minority fellow citizens. Many churches are reaching out to the down and out in the community with acts of kindness n kind. Why would we want to stir the quiet nest of the lgbt community had they been minding their own business.

monlim said...

Anon: "Minding their own business"? Somehow that reminds me of our attitudes towards foreign workers. We don't mind having them around as long as they're not visible, so that we don't have to be reminded that they exist.

Daniel: Appreciate and always open to discussion and I definitely take your point. Yes, some in the church oppose the promotion of gay lifestyle and I can't fault that. I think the problem arises when people are unable to distinguish between the lifestyle and the people, so that's where the tension arises. It's perhaps helpful to also recognise that just as there are very vocal Christians, there are also very vocal LGBTs and they do not represent the entire community.

As for the books, while some people say it was an act of propagating the gay lifestyle, I would like to point out that it was 3 books in the entire children's section. If we had only 3 Chinese books in the section, would we say that we were promoting Chinese culture? I think sometimes a little perspective is helpful. Anyway, I think everyone should just put the book issue behind us. It's already happened, we should look forward instead.

PS While there are no groups promoting laziness, murder, envy, etc, I think there are many groups promoting gluttony (one of the seven deadly sins)! But I think that is a tough one to tackle, especially in Singapore :P

ken tin said...

Thank for your honest perspective.

monlim said...

Daniel: A night's sleep opened up more thoughts on the subject, which I thought I'd share with you. If I were to hazard a guess, many LGBTs, especially the vocal ones who advocate a gay lifestyle, are non-Christians. So if I were to walk in their shoes, I'd be understandably indignant at Christians who try to tell me homosexuality is a sin and I should repent/lay low when all I want to do is celebrate my identity. In other words, why can't they promote their gay beliefs when Christians are equally trying to impose our religious beliefs on them?

I'm not trying to justify their actions, but rather to understand their viewpoint. If we see it in this light, then we recognise they are not evil folks with the intent to "corrupt" society, as some Christians seem to think. In my personal opinion, this might be helpful in providing some perspective when Christians reach out to them. Not adopting a morally superior or pitying approach but one of genuine friendship and care. Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

It's not easy, of course. There will always be rejection and it will become harder to turn the other cheek. Areas will get even greyer. But you sound like a Christian who sincerely wants to reach out to your neighbours and I believe there are many like you in SG. We just have to keep trusting that God will continue to show us what to do. He will take care of the outcomes.

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." - Matthew 5:9

Anonymous said...

The Dominionist Christians in Singapore do not care (do a Google search for 'Dominionism').

As far as they are concerned, this secular world is godless and depraved, and they want to 'take back the world for Christ' reinstate God's laws upon this earth, oversee a revival and hasten the second coming of Christ.

How do they do it? By placing their fellow like-minded members in positions of leadership, including but not limited to the government and public institutions. From there they will implement laws and policies which reflect Christian principles e.g. against same sex marriage, against abortion, against porn, against pre-marital sex, against boozing... you get the idea.

You should see the eerie parallels between them and fanatic Muslims who want to set up a Caliphate under Shariah laws.

Connecting the dots, I have little doubt that certain leaders of NLB have already been infiltrated by the Christian Dominionists. 'Pro-family' is the euphemism, the justification for their actions. Because 'won't you think of the children' is a very effective method of emotional blackmail.

I am sorry, but this latest episode is a mockery of the Singapore pledge 'regardless of race, language or religion. The non-religious folks do not appreciate religious ethics encroaching secular space.

Anonymous said...

Hi Monlim,
When I said if they mind their own business, I m referring that they should not attempt to vocally challenge the law or seek to push the alternative lifestyle in the schools. I have no bad intent that these fellow human beings should be kept out of sight. Of course they have every right to jobs, education, etc.
You are saying Christians should not use the bible to condemn their homosexuality as sin to these non christians. Of course we should not. But in ur blog, you mention ur stand that as Christian, you consider homosexuality as sin. Thus the Christians r relating to you as fellow Christians.
Most of us Christians are told by our churches not to use religion as the base to condemn the lgbts as sinful. We r appealing to the harmful HIV diseases that such lifestyle can bring to them. The fact is very clear; new HIV cases among heterosexual is moving downtrend in the past five years whereas the reverse is true for the homosexuals and bisexuals. And as a percentage to their lgbt population the diseases among them is alarmingly high! And the trend across the western society is that the LGBT communities are getting more and more vocal in promoting this lifestyle the world over. They have successfully challenged and caused new laws in many countries to be established to insist that all children must be taught compulsorily about the alternative lifestyle in elementary schools.

monlim said...

Anon (9.10pm): Even if you're right, I would suggest as I do to all who read this blog not to use alarmist language or paint all with the same brush. It doesn't help anyone.

Anon (1.38am): I understand your concern but let's not confuse cause and occurrence. I think part of the problem is the usage of the term "gay lifestyle" or "alternative lifestyle" which implies that all LGBTs automatically engage in behaviour that causes HIV. A gay couple who practises monogamy will not get or spread HIV.

What we're really against is the promotion of casual sex, which is the true cause of rising HIV rates, not homosexuality. If a gay man suddenly turns straight but continues his habit of sleeping around, would that mean he suddenly wouldn't get HIV? No. As mentioned earlier, a larger proportion of homosexuals have HIV than heterosexuals but this doesn't mean homosexuality is the cause. Otherwise we might as well as say men are the cause of HIV because an overwhelmingly larger proportion of men get HIV than women.

In other words, I do share your concern about rising HIV rates, as do most Christians. But to me, trying to quash the homosexuality voice in society is fighting a losing battle because to them, it's a right to legimitise who they are. IMO, the approach with the most hope of success is to reach out to the LGBT community to help stamp out promiscuity. And also standing up against the portrayal of casual sex as ok (even if not just for HIV, also because it's a sin), particularly among the young.

We're fighting the same battle here - to eradicate HIV. To me, the most effective way to achieve this is to reject a promiscuous lifestyle.

Anonymous said...

Monlim

I am grateful for your balanced views on book banning & LGBT issues. Thank you very much!

As a gay Christian, I identify with the pains the other gay Christians have shared on this blog as we reconcile our faith and who we are. As why I am gay, I will ask my Maker when my time is due and I meet Him. In the meantime, I take comfort that my Saviour and Redeemer loves me.
I wish to remind fellow Christians the central theme of the Christian faith is LOVE. That is to be practised in ALL situation and circumstances.

I have personally experienced hate, group hating, malicious gossips and ostracizing from other Christians. The talk about “hate the sin, love the sinner” is just theory. Sadly, it is rarely practised.

On LGBT & LGBT agenda (whatever that means): I can’t help but feel that this has been the main scapegoat for anti-family. Someone has used the analogy of robbery and wanting to stop it because it harms and applies to same to LGBT.

Wait a minute; let’s take a step back. Geylang has been around for the longest time. Why didn’t any Christian publicly come out against it and organize campaigns of the same or larger magnitude to eradicate it? Why isn’t Geylang and prostitution anti-family while LGBT is? You have conveniently forgotten it. Isn’t Geylang straight man’s play ground? Or, has anyone actively evangelized to the street walkers and showed love to them like Christ did? When did you last do that?

On book banning, just look up history. Whenever book burning is practised, it was never for the good of the society. Eradication of knowledge cannot be positive. Often, it is driven by hate and other negative reasons including annihilation of a race or groups of people with differing ideologies.

Lastly, I ask everyone who profess to be a Christian to ask yourself honestly. Are your actions driven by LOVE or HATE? For you to answer to your God.

Anonymous said...

The rejection of Christ is not a sin, but just turning away from salvation from sin that one already has. Please don't try to stir this into debate between religions. There are laws against that.

There ought to be a civil discourse on this issue rather than hate. But frankly the Christians have done nothing to threaten or persecute anyone who is LGBT. They are expressing opposition to the repeal of 377a and homosexual marriages. These are their rights as citizens, even if they stem from religious convictions.

That's not forgetting that Christians are not alone in this. The Muslim community has also taken the same position. They have also done nothing to harm or persecute people who are LGBT.

Be mindful of that before describing Christians or Muslims or anyone who is against homosexual marriage as hateful or discriminatory.

Finally, marriage is not a right, much less human right. It is a privileged status and commitment, a social institution. Its legitimacy is derived from the recognition by society, and institutionalised by state instrument. If society doesn't agree recognise homosexual marriage, it becomes very divisive to force a top down change via the state.

Changing the fundamentals of the marriage institution is a slippery slope. If we ask why should a marriage be only man and one woman today, rejecting the biological reproduction foundation of marriage, then tomorrow we may ask why it must be between only two persons. The following day, why not marriage between adult and child, or those with incestuous relationship?

monlim said...

Anon: This is not a debate between religions and I've explained why my post was directed at only Christians.

Frankly, I find it a little sad when people say sweeping statements like "Christians have done nothing to persecute anyone who is LGBT" when it's obvious from all the anecdotes and personal experiences that such incidents of hate have and are occurring. Do you think all of them are lying? I have never claimed that ALL Christians do such things but to deny that they happen is just turning a blind eye to the truth.

And I'm not sure how this debate suddenly turned to one of marriage. Are you suggesting that not banning 3 gay books suddenly means recognising homosexual marriage? I can easily use the "slippery slope" argument on the other side as well. If all books featuring single sex adults living together promote gay marriages, then we might as well ban Sesame Street cos Bert and Ernie live together with no female in sight. Let's refrain from fear-mongering using extreme case extensions.

Anyway, NLB has now reshelved the books under the Adult section, so the incident is resolved. I feel it's a fair decision, one that considers the concerns and rights of all parties.

monlim said...

I've decided to close comments for this post as I think we've debated the issue quite thoroughly and I'd like to move on now.

I didn't reply to every comment because there were too many but I wanted to say that for those who shared your struggles, I was very moved that you found comfort in this post. I wish you God's peace and blessings.

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