(Written by Rev Miak Siew on Facebook, Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 5:33am. NB. The webmaster is unable to post or reply to any comments.)
Dear Pastor Khong,
I wrestled at length how to reply to your statement. I believe you spoke out from your own firm beliefs, and I respect your right to those beliefs and your right to speak up, even though I do not agree with you.
I want to point out several things you have brought up that need to be clarified. You are misrepresenting the truth.
You stated that “examples from around the world …have shown that the repeal of similar laws have led to negative social changes, especially the breakdown of the family as a basic building block and foundation of society.” Can you give me an example? And what do you mean by the breakdown of the family? Higher divorce rates? You see, you are repeating the rhetoric of the Christian Right in America. England, where we inherited Section 377A from, repealed their version of the law in 1967. I do not see the United Kingdom falling apart. The United States of America eliminated their laws in 2003. Australia, Fiji, Hong Kong, New Zealand and India inherited the same British law like us in Singapore have abolished theirs. These societies are not crumbling.
The idea that “the family unit comprises of a man as Father, a woman as Mother, and Children” is not biblical. As Dale Martin, the Woolsey Professor of Religious Studies at Yale University, writes, “Most Christians assume that the current centrality of marriage and family represents a long tradition in Christianity, it is actually about 150 years old. One could even make the argument that the current focus on the heterosexual nuclear family dates back only to the 1950s.”
Strong families are not defined by their composition. I know of many families that do not fit into your mould of “one man as the father, one woman as the mother, and their children.” I know families of single parents, families of grandchildren raised by their grandparents, families of couples without children – some by choice, some by circumstance. But what makes strong families is the love that binds them.
In the Gospels, when Jesus was told that his mother and his brothers wanted to see him, Jesus refused to identify with his traditional family and instead shared a new vision how what family means in the kin-dom of God. He said, “Whosoever does the will of God, that one is my brother and sister and mother.”
The repeal of 377A poses no threat to families bound together by love. It is the continued stigmatization of LGBT people that you are perpetuating that is a threat to families – because you have placed obstacles in how parents understand their children who are different, and create huge rifts in these families.
Your statement not only hurts and stigmatizes LGBT persons, but also people who do not fit in to your cookie cutter idea of a “traditional family”. You have made people who do not fit in – whether they are single parents, divorcees, or children who are orphaned, whose parents are not around by circumstance – ashamed of who they are.
I am saddened every time I counsel straight people who come to my church because they fear that their own pastors would reject them like how they reject LGBT persons. That instead of being a place of healing, love and forgiveness, their home church has become a hostile place of condemnation and judgement.
As an activist who fights for human rights and free speech – I believe that you have the right to say what you want to say, even if it challenges the status quo and make people feel uneasy. Free speech is not just my right to say what I want to say, but everybody’s right to say what they want to say. That also means that I must be willing to allow other people who disagree with me to have their right to say what they want. One of the ten commandments is not to bear false testimony against your neighbours – and in that spirit, I ask you to please desist in your claims that I am attacking your religious freedom, or your right to say what you want to say. I am doing neither. Free speech also has to be responsible and based on facts and the latest research.
When you speak against homosexuality, I only ask you to think of the psychological and emotional damage you inflict on LGBT persons and their families. As Rev. Steve Chalke, Senior Minister of Oasis Church, London, writes, “Why am I so passionate about this issue? Because people’s lives are at stake. Numerous studies show that suicide rates among gay people, especially young people, are comparatively high. Church leaders sometimes use this data to argue that homosexuality is unhealthy when tragically it’s anti-gay stigma, propped up by Church attitudes, which, all too often, drives these statistics.” So many LGBT persons are broken by what you say and driven away from their families and their communities. So many have attempted to take their own lives, and some, sadly, succeeded in doing so.
I would like to invite you to a dialogue, so that we can listen to one another, in love, in respect, and learn to understand each other better, so we can work together to build a better Singapore.
Your Brother in Christ,
Rev Miak Siew
Pastor, Free Community Church