Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Should Christian Morality be Imposed on the Laws of the Secular State?

We've heard the cries from some Christian quarters against the repeal of Section 377A which criminalizes homosexual acts between consenting adults.  What puzzles me is what blooming right has a Christian got to tell the secular state to legislate its laws or not to repeal its laws so that they conform to the teachings of the church?

Before I proceed, let me state clearly that I'm a Christian and I'm not just a pew-warming Sunday Christian.  I have served the Church from my earliest youth to the present day and I will, God willing, continue to serve the Church for as long as I am able.  However religious I may be, I'm not so egocentric as to expect the secular state to ensure that its legislation complies with the moral teachings of my church.

First, we must bear in mind that Singapore is a secular and not a Christian state.  Christians are only a small minority in this city state and let us not forget that.  The United Kingdom from where we got our Section 377A (the section originally came from a similar provision from the Indian Penal Code) has long de-criminalized homosexual acts.  They have even allowed for an official civil partnership of gay couples.  The United Kingdom has a State Church and its bishops sit in the House of Lords and so, the UK can more appropriately be called a Christian nation.

I have noticed that some of my fellow Christians openly oppose the repeal of Section 377A and from their firm stand and loud voices, one would have thought that the God of the Bible is obsessed purely with homosexuality and nothing else.  Of course, that is not so.  My church (as well as all the churches I can think of) is strongly opposed to gambling but nobody has raised his voice against the casinos.  My church (together with churches all over the world) is opposed to abortion but again, nobody has said a word against the killing of foetuses.  The church (all churches included) is dead opposed to divorce and any dissolution of the sacred rite of holy matrimony but again, I do not see my fellow Christians clamouring for an amendment in the Women's Charter to prohibit divorces.

In the heat of their anti-homosexuality rage, some Christians have gone to the extent of saying that those who are tolerant of homosexuality are not true Christians.  I have seen accusations levelled against a former Bishop of my church who, out of his Christian charity and kindness, has gone out of his way to help homosexuals who are rejected by many mainstream churches.

Why is there this rage against homosexuals as if homosexuality is the only thing the Bible condemns?  Most Christian groups are very quick to point out biblical verses that state that homosexual acts are sinful.  Some make references to the Old Testament where the condemnation against homosexual acts is very strongly worded.  But those of us who are Christians know that the Old Testament has similar strongly worded condemnations against the eating of shellfish.  Your common cuttlefish, prawns, lobsters, crabs and pork are all an abomination to our Lord God and anyone who eats any of these is firmly condemned.  Cleverer Christians will make references to the New Testament where some oblique remarks may perhaps be interpreted as a prohibition of homosexual acts.

What these Christians fail to consider is the fact that many other things are stated to be serious sins worthy of being struck dead by our merciful God.  Yes, it's all in the New Testament.  For example, in the Book of Acts in Chap 5 I believe, we read that Anaias and Sapphira (sorry but I'm typing this in the bathroom right now and I'm too lazy to google for the correct spelling) sold all the property they had and gave it to the church.  However, they kept a small portion of the proceeds of sale, presumably for their old age.  God took that to be a heinous sin and struck them both dead for not giving everything to the church.  Now, how many of us are guilty of this hideous sin of not giving EVERYTHING we have to the church?  Or let me put it another way: how many of us are gullible enough not to take that story with a pinch of salt and have given everything we have to the church?  I daresay not a single Christian has.  Do I hear my fellow Christians telling the Government to legislate so that Christians can't own property and everything we have goes immediately to the church?

Finally, every Christian will agree that the greatest sin is the sin of not accepting Jesus as your Lord and Saviour.  This is a universal truth for all Christians.  Should we legislate so that it's an offence not to accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour?  After all, this is the single most terrible sin in all the teachings of the church and the Bible.  Do you see how absolutely bonkers one can get when one forgets that Singapore is what it is today because it's a secular state?  Let any religion bring it under its wing and that's the end of everything we love and cherish in Singapore.

It is easy to hit out at the gay community.   They are a minority and all of us married folks aren't gay so whatever law there is against them doesn't hurt us one bit.  Is it not clear that when we oppose the repeal of Section 377A, we are just being hypocritical and selfish?  Adultery is a sin too so why not legislate to make adultery a crime?  I know someone who is very loud against the repeal of Section 377A.  He says nothing about adultery and fornication which are equally condemned by the Bible.  His own daughter has given birth to a child out of wedlock.  The Old Testament has a penalty for such "sin" - death by stoning!!!  But this man who is a pastor seems more interested in keeping the outmoded law that criminalizes consensual homosexual acts between adults than to deal harshly with his daughter.  I'm not for a moment saying that he should be cruel to his daughter for having "sinned".  I'm glad he's on excellent terms with his daughter and the son born out of wedlock is treated very well.  But he should show the same kindness to homosexuals as he has shown to his own daughter.

My prayer for Singapore is that it will stay secular and it will be strong enough to repel the loud voice of the Christian minority.  Not all of us Christians are that hypocritical and selfish.  I remember when the issue of a repeal of Section 377A was first aired, I supported the repeal and a good Christian friend of mine was horrified.  She told me that I should be responsible since I was a Christian and a family man.  I asked her if she would feel the same way if the government was going to legislate so that it became an offence for a person to reject Christ.  Her reply was startling.  It would be great, she said, if a rejection of Christ was a jailable offence.  So, before you jump on the Christian bandwagon and scream your lungs out for the keeping of Section 377A, just bear in mind that the same people you're screaming with might very well be happy to see you in prison if you happen not to believe in the same things they do.

For some people, there is a bigger agenda than merely cudgelling homosexuals.