It would be good take note of the background of the ETHOS Forum on Human Sexuality, Marriage & the Church. The Church in Singapore and homosexual activists are locked in a contestation to determine whether homosexuality should be normalized in society. At the centre of this dispute is whether section 377A of the Singapore Penal Code, which criminalizes male homosexual sex should be repealed.*
Dr. Roland Chia writes in his latest article published in ETHOS, “Normalizing Homosexuality: How Should Christians Respond?”
The main strategy of these advocates is to convince the world that homosexuality is normal, that people who are same-sex attracted are born that way. Many have appealed to the modern concept of sexual orientation and insist that the genetic and neurological basis for homosexuality is well supported by science.
If homosexual orientation has a biological basis, then discrimination against people with same-sex attraction amounts to bigotry and the infringement of their fundamental rights and liberties – so goes the argument.
How should Christians respond to the obvious agenda of LGBT activists to normalize homosexuality in society? Because of the multi-faceted nature of the LGBT strategy, the Christian response must take different forms and be made at various levels of society.
The publications by ETHOS is one of the many responses initiated by the Singapore Church. The Conference talks together seek to provide a scripture-principled and pastoral-sensitive response:
(1) It affirms that the foundation of human sexuality and morality be set in the context of heterosexual marriage as defined by God.
(2) It provides an exegetical reading of Scripture that is consistent with the consensus held by the Church for the last 2000 years.
(3) It provides a critical assessment of the claims of social scientific studies on homosexuality. It is a good reminder that all ‘ social-scientific studies’ are objective. We are mindful that some of the studies carried out by academics are not objective research, but are intended to legitimize homosexual activists as they promote their ideology to normalize homosexuality for society.
(4) It is important that the Church differentiates between the homosexual activist and ordinary church member/neighbor. The former organizes social action to change the law to normalize homosexuality while the latter is often caught in lonely struggles with issues of same sex attraction and sexual identity. These differentiated groups call for a two-tiered response by the Church:
First, a scripture-principled response: it is the responsibility of the ecclesiastical office and its theological institutions to provide scriptural principles and priorities for Christian engagement in the public arena. In response to the ideological challenge of homosexual activism, the Church organizes forums to educate the public and promote moral values that are consistent with the biblical teaching that heterosexual marriage is God’s intention in the creation order.
Second, a pastoral-sensitive response: the Church is mindful that it must never lose sight of the personal dimensions of sexual morality and sexual identity even as it engages with homosexual activists in the public arena. A good beginning is seen in Bishop Solomon’s helpful counseling guidelines to pastors who are ministering to church members/neighbors in their personal struggles. These guidelines are effective only if they are implemented by pastors with love, integrity and discernment.
*Footnote: While the Penal Code of Malaysia and Singapore both criminalize homosexual acts, it is necessary to take into account the different social dynamics at work in these countries. While I am sympathetic/supportive with the concerns by the Singapore Church, I would like to put on record that I have been advocating that the provisions of the Malaysia Penal Code that criminalize homosexual acts be repealed ever since I spoke at the Advocates International Lawyers Conference in Kuala Lumpur sometime around 2002. Different contexts call for dynamic and nuanced responses by the church.
Related Post: ETHOS Conference: Human Sexuality, Marriage & the Church