In Search of the New Man: Not Gillette, but Christ

Society has changed. The public arena is no longer the exclusive male domain it once was. Women are now actively participating in all areas of life. Whether in politics, business or family life, men can no longer insist on perpetuating traditional roles or presume to enjoy the benefits long accorded to the privileged gender. But adjusting to new roles in modern society inevitably generates confusion and anxieties amongst men. In this article, I write to challenge my fellow men to address the present confusion and self-doubt confronting us, and to explore the need to define our sexuality, that is, our self-identity and our relationship to the other sex.

What Does it Mean to be a Man?
Just how and when does one become a man? It seemed quite clear-cut especially in traditional societies that practised rites-of-passage that helped boys know for sure that they had made the transition from childhood to manhood. Continue reading “In Search of the New Man: Not Gillette, but Christ”

Practising Homosexuals Can Change: A Simple Biblical Argument & Social-Scientific Evidence. Part 2/2

Can Practising Homosexuals Experience Change through Counselling?
A Report by Stanton Jones & Mark Yarhouse.Publication Sources: Ex-Gays? A Longitudinal Study of Religious Mediated Change in Sexual Orientation. IVP, 2007 and Homosexuality: The Use of Scientific Research in the Church’s Moral Debate (IVP, 2009).

Summary of research: [Stanton Jones, Same Sex Science, First Things Feb 2012]
We are told that homosexual persons are just as psychologically healthy as heterosexuals, that sexual orientation is biologically determined at birth, that sexual orientation cannot be changed and that the attempt to change it is necessarily harmful, that homosexual relationships are equivalent to heterosexual ones in all important characteristics, and that personal identity is properly and legitimately constituted around sexual orientation. These claims are as misguided as the ridiculed beliefs of some social conservatives, as they spring from distorted or incomplete representations of the best findings from the science of same-sex attraction.

Contrary to the assumptions of many social conservatives, biology does appear to play a modest part in determining sexual orientation. Contrary to the assumptions of many social progressives, psychological and environmental variables also appear to play at least a modest part in determining sexual orientation. In contrast to the hubris of those prone to making emphatic pronouncements, what we do not yet know about the causation of sexual orientation dwarfs the bit that we are beginning to know. And the fact that causation is indubitably a complex and mysterious by-product of the interaction of biological and psychological variables confounds the assertion that sexual orientation is just like skin color, determined at birth or even conception. And contrary to the suggestions of some, the involvement of some biological influence does not prove that change in sexual orientation is impossible. One of our foremost behavior genetics experts, Thomas Bouchard, has argued forcefully that “one of the most unfortunate misinterpretations of the heritability coefficient is that it provides an index of trait malleability (i.e., the higher the heritability the less modifiable the trait is through environmental intervention).” Continue reading “Practising Homosexuals Can Change: A Simple Biblical Argument & Social-Scientific Evidence. Part 2/2”

Practising Homosexuals Can Change: A Simple Biblical Argument & Social-Scientific Evidence. Part 1/2

Question posed by “Fractalist” at the previous postA Scripture-Principled and Pastoral-Sensitive Church Response to Homosexual Activism:
What do you think of the position of the American Psychological Association (APA) which states: “Homosexuality is not a mental disorder” and that “therapies that seek to reduce or eliminate same-gender sexual orientation are under extensive debate in the professional literature and the popular media (Davison, 1991; Haldeman, 1994; Wall Street Journal, 1997)”

Answer
Nowadays, no one would bat an eyelid if a great philosopher like Augustine or Aquinas were to share a gripping account of how the troubled soul can find peace with God. However, people would pay rapt attention to a psychologist who assures them that the self is totally good and is oriented towards growth and creativity, and that the purpose of life is to find one’s deepest self by following one’s “orientation” and forging one’s sexual identity in ways that counter all forms of authority represented by family, traditional social norms and religion. [See Paul Vitz, Psychology as Religion: The Cult of Self-Worship 2e (Eerdsman, 1994)]

Recently, the high priesthood of humanistic psychology, the American Psychological Association (APA), issued a new dogma that proclaims that homosexuality is natural and should be accepted, if not encouraged. This amounts to a reprise of ancient papal encyclicals. One of the sacred cows in the pantheon of social sciences has spoken. Whoever dares to question its sublime wisdom will be anathematized by its priestly order, the academia. Continue reading “Practising Homosexuals Can Change: A Simple Biblical Argument & Social-Scientific Evidence. Part 1/2”

A Scripture-Principled and Pastoral-Sensitive Church Response to Homosexual Activism

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.

Continue reading “A Scripture-Principled and Pastoral-Sensitive Church Response to Homosexual Activism”

The ‘Intellectual-yet-Idiot’ and Other Ideas.

The ‘Intellectual-yet-Idiot’ and Other Ideas – Comments on Nassim Nichols Taleb, “Skin in The Game.”

Taleb is an anomaly that a system creates, an asset that has gone rogue. He is a perfect intellectual who has risen to say that the modern intellectual is vastly inferior to your grandmother. “…people are perfectly entitled to rely on their own ancestral instincts and to listen to their grandmothers who have a better track record than these policymaking goons.” He holds that the transformation of local cultures in the name of modernity, democracy, environment and other virtues is a crime that the “intellectual-yet-idiot” is perpetrating. These are the undercurrents in his latest book, Skin In The Game, which is a brief history of risk, and argues, among other things, that problems occur in a society when influential people do not have to face the consequences of their bad ideas.

This article is good reminder to scholars who fancy they are wiser than ordinary people on the streets, just because they have published a few books. Continue reading “The ‘Intellectual-yet-Idiot’ and Other Ideas.”

Azril’s Call for Ban of Evangelicalism is Logically Flawed: Let the Facts on Conversion Speak for Themselves.

Azril Mohd Amin, CEO of Centhra explained to TheMalaysianInsight that his call for a ban on evangelicalism was prompted by the high number of Muslims leaving the faith for Christianity. He added that “there were some 400 conversion cases before the shariah courts and if the trend continued, it could have an impact on the country’s security.” [Azril: Why I said Christian Evangelicalism Should be Banned]

Azril’s charge against Evangelicalism is logically flawed and legally unjust. First, even if there are 400 cases of conversion before the shariah court, he has provided no evidence that they are converted by Evangelicals. Rather than blaming Evangelicals, an educated person like Azril should recognize that these people could be influenced by a variety of powerful media sources or by people they meet when they travel overseas, rather than by a small Christian movement like Evangelicalism in Malaysia. Second, Azril’s argument is logically flawed. Let me explain his flawed logic. Continue reading “Azril’s Call for Ban of Evangelicalism is Logically Flawed: Let the Facts on Conversion Speak for Themselves.”

Evangelical Essentials: Correcting Ill-Informed Muslim Activists and Fitnah Against Christians

Many social critics have ridiculed Azril Mohd Amin, CEO of CENTHRA for his ignorance when he called for Evangelicalism to be outlawed in Malaysia [Outlaw Evangelicalism in Malaysia, says Islamic Coalition]. Some even questioned whether Azril is intellectually competent to address the issue when he confuses and conflates such elementary terms like “Evangelism” and “Evangelicalism”.

“Evangelism” refers simply to the sharing of good news that “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:19) In contrast, “Evangelicalism” refers to the trans-denominational global movement which emphasizes the divine inspiration of the Bible with its central message of Christ work of atonement on the cross, and the necessity of experience of conversion.

In any case, the ignorance displayed by Azril is easily remedied by giving a concise history of Evangelicalism which includes many distinguished thinkers and social reformers. Continue reading “Evangelical Essentials: Correcting Ill-Informed Muslim Activists and Fitnah Against Christians”

Human Dignity: New Paradigm for Religious Liberty **

Precis:

Human rights circumscribe the limits of legitimate authority (including majority rule) and are inalienable for any individual, that is, they cannot be taken from any individual. Since human rights are inalienable and are inherent possession of every individual, they are not given by authorities. Human rights are the pre-political possession of the individual rather than a gift or concession from governing authorities. Otherwise, the state may claim the right to take rights back from citizens. Such a proposition is consistent with the understanding that human rights is not a matter of state policy, it is a matter of universal moral principle…

Man as a being created in God’s image is as such inherently entitled to equal regard regardless of race, gender or social position. It demands impartiality in how persons are treated. Acknowledgment of human equality entails protection from harm and along with it the range of inalienable human rights including the right to respect, the right to life, and the right to certain freedoms exemplified by fundamental liberties or bill of rights enshrined in modern constitutionalism.   In this regard, rights cannot be lost or taken away.

In summary, recognizing human beings as created in the image of God entails (1) equal dignity and interdependence of man and woman; (2) personal rights such as equality, freedom and dignity of the individual; (3) social rights arising from interdependence of  community members in matters of justice; and (4) stewardship of creation.

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I. Presuppositions and Social Realities
This paper is premised on three theses about the logical outcome of conventional Malaysian politics.

Thesis 1 – So long as Malaysian politics is negotiated on racial/religious terms, political discourse and public policies will increasingly become more Islamic. Only an Islam that undertakes a process of Ijtihad which reforms the Shariah Law can prevent the eventual emergence of an Islamic state. Itjihad is unacceptable to Sunni Islam practiced in Malaysia.

Thesis2 – Non-Muslims must reject the myth of monolithic identity of race and religion based politics (c.f. rebuttal by Amatya Sen, (Identity and Violence) and shift the terms of politics to one based on the human rights and equal citizenship in a modern pluralistic democracy.

Thesis 3 – Democratic rights are not just ideals but the outcome of political power, law and public policies enforced through social institutions. Furthermore, democracy practices can flourish only if it is supported by a strong civil society that nurtures democratic culture and democratic discipline.

This situation calls for a new paradigm of public discourse based on human rights and equal citizenship that can provide a robust social and moral critique of Islamic hegemony in a pluralistic society. Continue reading “Human Dignity: New Paradigm for Religious Liberty **”

Mourn for Maligned Alkitab

Friends and Countrymen, lend me your ears.
I come to share Alkitab goodness, not to use it to spread confusion.
This evil from the government will be remembered even after its downfall;
For the good Alkitab is suppressed by injustice of the Court.
The honorable judges declared Alkitab is dangerous to Muslims.
This is a serious slander and Alkitab paid dearly for it.
Do Christians threaten violence like Perkasa when Alkitab is banned?
And the Court insists Alkitab is dangerous!
Dangerous books make men spiteful and vindictive;
But Christians offer a message of God’s love and forgiveness.
Yet the court insists Alkitab is dangerous;
And the Court judges are honorable men.
I am not here to refute the Court judgment,
But I am here to speak what I know;
You all who love justice and peace, and not without reason:
What holds you from mourning for maligned Alkitab?
O Sound Judgment! You have fled from brutish beasts,
And honorable men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is with Alkitab interred in dark storerooms of the authorities,
And I must grieve till it is returned to the Christians.

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NEWS LINKS:

MalaysianInsider – Christian paper loses battle to use ‘Allah’

MalayMailOnline – ‘Allah’ ruling vindicates Mais, Jais in bible tussle, says Perkasa

Prime Minister Najib Gave Christians a Bounced Check

Finally, the truth is out. The 10-point may bear the signature of PM Najib, but it has no cash value. Honestly, it is a bounced check.

To be sure, it is imprinted with high face value – 10 points to be exact. This includes freedom for Christians to print and circulate the Alkitab and other indigenous Bibles in Peninsula Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak; it even threatens punishment for government officials who failed to honor the PM’s check, and much besides.

But now the PM says, whatever the face value of his personally signed check, the final decision whether the check is cash-able is up to the State Bank. Unfortunately, nine of the eleven State Banks have since long ago circulated directives which say the kind of checks that the Prime Minister gave to Christians have no cash value. Regardless, the PM assured Christians his check will be honored, especially when the Sarawak State elections was just round the corner in 2011. Continue reading “Prime Minister Najib Gave Christians a Bounced Check”