PM Lee announced at the National Day Rally that the Government intends to repeal the s377A. Churches and denominational groups have responded in the past week, touching on the impact of the repeal on the institution of marriage and public policies. The repeal also reminds the church to stay true to the Gospel and be the light, love and life for all. With the BPCIS statement of the Presbytery’s position, this editorial offers further encouragement to Carmel family as we live out our church vision “to love God and love people” in a post-s377A society.
Biblical vision of God’s love
What unites the church is the universal vision of God’s love for the world in Christ. All people are created by God, all are loved by Christ, and all are accountable to the same ultimate standard of God’s justice. Thus the vision of Carmel is “to love God and love people” as He does. This means we eschew any form of humiliation and stigmatization of persons according to gender identity or sexual orientation. We respect the uniqueness, the dignity, and the infinite worth of every male and female before Him, including LGBTQ persons and heterosexuals.
Biblical vision of God’s ideal for marriage and family
When God made male and female, He brought them together in the covenant of marriage. This reflects God’s love and design for human sexuality. It also fulfils the creation mandate to fill the earth. Thus, the church continues to teach and uphold the institution of marriage as a union between a man and woman and the vision of family with heterosexual parents as the best environment to raise children and impart values for the good of society. In this regard, with the mainline churches and denominations, we appreciate the Government’s consultative approach and assurance to safeguard the institution of marriage and the family unit.
Called to live in grace and truth
Sin and its effects have marred the image of God in each person and in every relationship and family. We therefore continue to regard homosexual acts contrary to God’s created order and human relationships. However, we acknowledge that every person, regardless of sexual orientation, stands in need of God’s grace and mercy. All of us are broken, in one way or another, to one degree or another, in sexual sin. All of us need Christ’s redemptive healing. The church is entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:18) and is called to witness the Gospel. We are called to display Christ’s love, goodness, and justice in our broken world. Yet much work remains to be done. How can we avoid the “Christians versus LGBTQs” trap? How do we love them as persons? How do we dialogue or journey, in grace and truth, with those who grapple with same-sex attraction? The road of healing can only come when people feel safe to connect in a faith community without the threat of humiliation or exclusion. The church must grapple with how to navigate this. It is far from complete.
Called to live in freedom
Many in society welcome the repeal as non-discriminatory and a freedom to express one’s sexuality. At the same time, we uphold the freedom to worship and love God, witness and speak of His love and reconciliation to all, and live out the Christian faith peaceably and in godliness and holiness (1 Tim 1:2b-4). To this end, we pray for our leaders that Christians may live in such freedom to love and follow our Lord (1 Tim 2:1-2a). In such freedom, someone who stands or speaks for the biblical vision of marriage and family may be opposed, even called a bigot. Christians must realize that not everyone holds to same biblical conviction. So we remain calm, gracious and prayerful in the face of such pressures, even as we remain faithful to Scripture.
Called to seek the welfare of society
It has been pointed out that s377A debate is a part of the larger discourse on cultural shifts that are polarizing society along racial, gender, generational and economic divides. The issues are complex, as we live in a secular society which does not subscribe to Christian principles. We do not want to force our views on others that would polarize. At the same time, we also do not retreat to a Christian ghetto, practicing our rituals and teachings in privacy or in isolation. Rather, as Jeremiah the prophet exhorted the Jews, we settle down, take root and are a part of the community (Jeremiah 29:5-6). We live out the Carmel vision to love people when we seek the welfare and peace of the city. Beyond the s377A repeal, in our community service, we have the Christian duty, with other faith communities, to share and promote common values and ideals such as justice, equality, creation care, compassion and kindness. We do so for the simple reason that when society thrives and prospers, so do God’s people (Jer. 29:7).
Called to be disciples of Christ
I believe that the biblical vision of sexual purity, marriage and family is not simply by what we say to the wider community or even to our children, however loud or compelling, but by how we live. Personal holiness, strong marriages, loving families and faithful discipleship in word and deeds are the best witnesses of God’s truth and grace. The task of church renewal through discipleship is urgent. We must disciple this generation and the next to discern the voice of Jesus, to know His word and to follow Him as Savior and Lord.
Many other issues can be raised as we ponder the impact of the repeal: how to extend care to LGBTQ seekers in a church community; how to engage our next generation to meet the challenges; and how might the repeal impact particular church ministries such as premarital counseling? To address some of these issues, the church will be organizing a seminar with Rev Ng Liang Wei on “Navigating Post-s377A in our Community” on 16 September. May the Lord enable us to be faithful, steadfast and winsome as we love Him and love people.
by Senior Pastor Oh Boon Leong