Sep 28, 2007

Honest Words From A Local Christian Boy On Singapore's Gay Issue

That's a very long title. I didn't come up with it. It was the title of a long email that a reader, T.W Tan, sent to me. With his permission I reproduce his email below (he did request that I not mention the name of his church). The email has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Hi, Mr Wang:

This is my first time writing to you. I appreciate your taking time to read this letter. I'm a 25- year old man who has been a Christian for more than 9 years. I currently attend XXXXX, one of the biggest mega churches in Singapore.

I've been following your blog for quite a while and read with great interest and enjoyment many of your articles. One of the most popular topics has been catching my attention recently (about homosexuality in Singapore).


I respect people with different religious / philosophical preferences. I do know many in our world today are not ready to accept the Christian faith just as I don't accept theirs. The same would apply to people of different sexual orientations. There has been so much buzz generated around the local gay community and Section 377. The potential for misunderstanding is unavoidable.
Please consider that homosexuals are not the only ones on the receiving end of insensitive, hurtful remarks. In fact, as I see it, many Christians (whether here or round the world) are getting attacked for things that they are not guilty of saying or doing.

In the last few months, the war of words between the pro-gay supporters and the anti-homosexual Christians has been a burden in my heart. It's saddening to see the so-called 'righteous' believers declaring war against gays and at the same time, painful to know that people have very negative views of churches being gay 'witch hunters'. I decided that somebody has got to hear what I have to say.

Based on the Bible, homosexuality is indeed a sin. This belief is not based on some religious folks' puritan conclusion. The Holy Book itself states it loud and clear. However, while I'm not for homosexuality, I'm definitely not anti-gay. People who hear these words may dismiss me as a hypocrite. To the individuals with such narrow minds, consider this: Does your intense dislike of your spouse's smoking habit immediately make him/her your bitter enemy ? Does a father who hates dishonesty set out to destroy his 8-year old son for lying about his poor Math results? I believe many will find my remarks reasonable when they think seriously about it.

It would contradict the beliefs of my faith if I said (just to 'appease' people) that homosexuality is not sin. On the other hand, if I set myself against a person just because he's gay, then I'm also disobeying the word of God, which is to love people. So try to understand that this 'against the act but not the person' stance adopted by many good Christians is not based on hypocritical cowardice.

My next few points will likely infuriate my 'other' fellow Christians who find it satisfying to thump the Bible on gays. I do my best to understand the plight of local homosexuals. In fact, during my army days, I had a gay friend for whom I have a healthy respect and I believe that he was one of the nicest and most encouraging guys in camp. It would be disappointing to see overly zealous Christians embarking on what they so believed is a God-approved crusade and hurting people like my friend who just wants to live a peaceful, normal life but has to suffer because he is 'different'.

Well, shame on the zealots. Shame on the principal of a Christian secondary school for punishing a butch right in front of an assembly, her 'crime' for having short hair and looking too much a 'boy'. Shame on the Singapore pastor who mobilized fellow believers against the homosexual community
during one of those gay controversies. Shame on American preachers who are ready to blame gays for the 9/11 attacks. Shame on all those who are quick to condemn but fall short of being compassionate. I only hope that such believers are aware of the sin they are committing.

In closing, I also hope that Section 377 of the Penal Code will be done away with. Yes, you hear me right, straight from the mouth of a Christian. The way I feel it, these laws persecute gays. If adultery can be decriminalized, I don't see why Section 377 can't be scrapped. Really, it's time for the judiciary and general society to be fair and decide that homosexuals need not have to live in fear because of that law.

Lastly, thank you, Mr Wang, for your patience on going through my letter. I hope whatever I had written will help you better understand my position and that of like-minded Christians. And I also hope that your readers and fellow countrymen will share this understanding. Thanks again for your time.

48 comments:

khirsah said...

TK Tan, you have certainly written well.
"Shame on all those who are quick to condemn but fall short of being compassionate"

Kai Jie said...

T.W Tan, you could set up a blog too! Well written letter!

Anonymous said...

Hatred is sometimes born out of fear. Fear of being overcome, overtaken, overwhelmed. Hence the necessity of drawing lines.

Blogter said...

Truth be told, the percentage of Christians actually hell-bent on a gay pogrom is surely very small in Singapore.

Only a handful are making it their war-cry. Part of their branding, no doubt.

w. said...

Being a bisexual female who is out of the closet, I too can vouch for most of my Christian friends and how they did not "turn against me" the moment I came out to them. I just wish that more like TW Tan would come forward, since the only percentage of Christians whose voices are heard (and hidden behind by legislators who don't want to offend them) are the anti-gay crowd.

TW Tan - thank you for writing this, and thanks for posting it, Mr Wang.

recruit ong said...

Hatred is sometimes born out of fear. Fear of being overcome, overtaken, overwhelmed. Hence the necessity of drawing lines.

The way I see it the more homophobic a person is the more likelihood he is a closet case. Basically they are either in denial, or cannot come to terms with themselves. And so they lash out. Thinking that through such actions things will straighten out. It is really about themselves.

Anonymous said...

Let Christian homophobics read:

SEDITION ACT
(CHAPTER 290)

Seditious tendency.
3. —(1) A seditious tendency is a tendency —

e) to promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between different races or classes of the population of Singapore.

George said...

I do not know anyone who is gay, so I wouldn't know how I would react if I come to know one. But I firmly believe in one principle - to live and let live. Be fair.

Anonymous said...

God hates the sin, but loves the sinner.

JB said...

Religion promulgates and renders terrible attitudes toward gays and women.

Mary Ann Kingston was pulled out of school at 13 and told to prepare for marriage. At 16, she was forced to marry her 33-year-old uncle. The order teaches that incest is a preferred practice to preserve a pure family bloodline originating from Jesus Christ. When Mary Ann ran away, her father took her to a remote ranch near the Utah-Idaho line and beat her with his leather belt. She counted 28 lashes before passing out. [The number of people in polygamous families in Utah is estimated at as many as 50,000.] (J. Nichols. “Wives suing to bring end to abuse under polygamy.” The Arizona Republic. October 15, 2003.)

Kajal Khidr was accused of adultery by her husband's family and held hostage by six family members in Iraqi Kurdistan. Kajal Khidr was tortured and mutilated; family members cut off part of her nose and told her she would be killed after the birth of her child. After fleeing to Syria, two of her abusers were arrested. However, they were both released within twenty-four hours because authorities determined they had acted to safeguard the honor of the family. No charges were ever brought against them. (Amnesty International Website)


The prevailing view under Judaism, Christianity, and Islam is that woman was made in the image of man. Her humanity, therefore, is derivative, contingent, ersatz (Gen: 2-21-22 Koran 4:1; 39.6; 7.189). Of all the animals, woman was the last to be made but the first to sin (Gen 3:12). The Old Testament puts the monetary value of a woman’s life at one-half to two-thirds that of a man’s (Leviticus 27). The Koran elaborates: it requires the testimony of two women to offset that of one man (2:282) and every girl deserves exactly one-half her brother’s share of inheritance (4:11). God suggests in his tenth commandment that the woman next door is your neighbor’s material possession which, along with his house, slaves and oxen, must not be coveted (Exodus 20:17); Deuteronomy 5:21).

The God of Abraham has made it perfectly clear that a woman is expected to live in subjugation to her father until the moment she is pressed into connubial service to her husband. As St. Paul put it: "Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands." (Ephesians 5:22-24). The Koran delivers the same message, and recommends that disobedient wives be whipped (4:34). The suppression of women under Islam achieved hideous precision through the writings of Al-Ghazali (1058-1111), perhaps the most influential Muslim since Muhammad:

She should stay home and get on with her spinning, she should not go out often, she must not be well-informed, nor must she be communicative with her neighbors and only visit them when absolutely necessary; she should take care of her husband and respect him in his presence and his absence and seek to satisfy him in everything…

Recall the blissful lives of Afghan women under the Taliban, or reflect upon how many Muslim girls throughout the world are still obliged to wear the veil, and you will understand that this type of thinking has consequences.

So when faith-heads - Christians or Muslims - say homosexuality or working on the Sabbath or whatever else their bronze-age magic book tells them is a sin, please note that it is offensive to Rationalists/Atheists who do not share your superstitious beliefs.

Every time I hear a Christian say homosexuality is *sin* I cringe. It is also a sin to grow two different crops in the same field or wear garments of two different fabric or other such ignorant nonsense.

And speaking of morals, when any person, god incarnate or not, pronounces that you will go to hell for all eternity on account that you don't believe in him (John 14:6, Catholics "Extra Eccelsiam nulla salus") - never mind if you are a moral person and goodness personified - that person is evil and narcissitic.

By all means, go to your Church and believe what you must but we Rationalists would rather you not vocalise and impose your misguided morals and superstitious beliefs in the public sphere.

Anonymous said...

"Based on the Bible, homosexuality is indeed a sin. This belief is not based on some religious folks' puritan conclusion. The Holy Book itself states it loud and clear."

That I fully agree with. Good to know that this young person has got his fundamentals correct - there is a right or wrong in morality.

The rest of his postings reflect his opinion and attitude regarding how to deal with this issue of homosexuality.

hugewhaleshark said...

"The Holy Book itself states it loud and clear."

Where?

~[z][x]~ said...

"Based on the Bible, homosexuality is indeed a sin. This belief is not based on some religious folks' puritan conclusion. The Holy Book itself states it loud and clear."

http://www.bay-of-fundie.com/know-your-foe/laura-schlessinger/letter-to-dr-laura

Then so are a lot of things you are doing/wearing/eating these days, my friend.

Mezzo said...

The problem here is that there's no real such thing as "hate the sin, love the sinner" which the letter writer is proposing. It sounds pretty, and a lot of Christians use it in a well-meaning way, but it just doesn't work.

To illustrate why it doesn't work:

"Hate the sin, love the sinner" - in the case of homesexuality, it means "I dislike the fact that you are gay, but I embrace you nonetheless as a brother."

Alternatively, it means "I dislike the fact that you practice homesexual sex, but I embrace you nonetheless as a brother."

Now, substitute it for something else, for example, in the case of being, er, Hindu:

"I hate the fact that you are Hindu, but I embrace you as a brother."

or

"I hate that you practice Hinduism, but I embrace you as a brother."

Can you see the problem already? How can you honestly say that you love the sinner, when you hate that which makes him what he is?

While I appreciate the letter writer's honesty, it's not his compassion that is required. It's the realisation that it's simply none of his business, and not his place to judge another.

Anonymous said...

as far as i know, there is no concrete scientific evidence to proof that homosexuality is something you are born with. basically, there's no gene in you that causes you to suddenly like another guy. so my take is that it isn't natural. as to Christians minding their own business, i'm pretty sure they can't. because for as long as we christians have a right to believe in our religion, we have a right to believe in what God tells us to do, which is to help what we see as the sinners. and since the bible says that homosexuality is a sin, i believe that we have every right to try and help others. note now that we are merely trying to help. it's alright if you don't accept it. i hope that most christians will be able to accept the fact that there are people out there who do reject kind intentions. surely it's alright to try to help? it's the same as your friend telling you to quit smoking because it's bad for you. of course he's imposing his own belief, but at the same time he's merely doing it for your benefit.

In essence, while it's alright to reject one's help, let's not be too quick to label everyone with kind intentions as trying to impose their beliefs on you. actually, even if you do, i still hope Christians will continue to try working in your lives.

Finally, i leave everyone who thinks he has homosexual tendencies with this advice, are you sure you are not mistaken? For instance you quickly assume that you're in love with a guy just because your heart races when he's close by. Then again, could it be simply that you're nervous because he has the desirable attributes that you want to have? (it is also possible that what you've been hearing from the media influences you to think that way. i.e. media says being gay is natural, therefore you think you're born gay. which is NOT true)

i hope that after reading this, you'll not discard everything i say instantly as christian bullshit. but instead, consider it.

FatBoi IN MaeSai said...

"Based on the Bible, homosexuality is indeed a sin. This belief is not based on some religious folks' puritan conclusion. The Holy Book itself states it loud and clear.">

The Bible (especially the New Testaments) is actually a book compiled by people in wanting to exert some control over what should be in it and what should not be. Interested to know more do watch these series from youtube. Banned from the BiblePart 1 and 2 from History Channel.

Mr Wang Says So said...

"as far as i know, there is no concrete scientific evidence to proof that homosexuality is something you are born with."

There is actually plenty of scientific evidence that homosexuality is found across a wide range of animal species -

chimpanzees, dolphins, whales, seagulls, lizards, penguins, monkeys etc etc.

Mr Wang Says So said...

"surely it's alright to try to help? it's the same as your friend telling you to quit smoking because it's bad for you. of course he's imposing his own belief, but at the same time he's merely doing it for your benefit."

I see two important differences:

(a) there is no law in Singapore saying that smokers can be imprisoned for life;

(b) Christians aren't lobbying in favour of such a law.

~[z][x]~ said...

anon 11:15,

You said, "and since the bible says that homosexuality is a sin, i believe that we have every right to try and help others."

And how might you help? Pls explain what the "cure" for homosexuality is?

JB said...

i hope that after reading this, you'll not discard everything i say instantly as christian bullshit. but instead, consider it.

What is there to consider of stupid and hateful attitudes based on ignorance?

let's not be too quick to label everyone with kind intentions as trying to impose their beliefs on you. actually, even if you do, i still hope Christians will continue to try working in your lives.

Fine.

In similar vein, I hope you don't mind if I impose my Talibanistic morals on your mother, sister or wife that they should cover themselves up with the burkha and not expose any skin. It's immoral and a sin for women to show any skin in public.

I am only trying to help and am obliged to give it even if you disagree because it's for your own good. Shame on your immoral women and their immoral ways.

I am of course being facetious here.

The point is, what makes you think that your Christian moral compass points true north?

I posit that if Christians can't see that their saviour's pronouncement and decree of consigning anyone who isn't a Christian to suffer in hell for all eternity regardless of their morals - as evil, their moral compass needs some serious recalibrating.

Your attitude on homosexuality is no different from the Taliban's attitude on women. Both are based in the belief of a supernatural god that does not exist and taken out of ridiculous magic books written by ignorant men in the stone age.

Believe in the Juju man of the Mountain and that eating certain foods or sex other than the "missionary position" is a sin by all means but please stop preaching your ignorant, stone-age morality to others.

It's tiresome and condescending.

TW Tan said...

hi guys, TW Tan here. i have read through your various comments and very thankful for the positive feedback and understanding from many of the readers. unfortunately, there are a few who wanted to draw me into a theology debate (if that's their intention) and I can only say that I'm not interested in any arguments on whether the Holy Bible or The God Delusion is the right book to follow. Settle that with the pastors of the local churches. as far as i'm concerned, i'm only voicing out my personal opinion on the s'pore gay issue.

the reason why I post this comment today is mainly in response to Mezzo's assumption that it's highly impossible for a Christian to love someone who's committing a sin the former's not supportive of. well, I beg to differ....

first, your viewpoint is ,in some way, irrelevant and do not make sense. I believe that there's a lot of sg gays, hindus, muslims, buddhists, etc who can testify of having enjoyable friendships with Christians (i think that's more evident for those who are or have served NS). I had witnessed these from my pre-christian secondary school days up to now and i'm sure others have. so how can it not happen?

and i thought i already illustrate quite clearly in my letter:

"Does your intense dislike of your spouse's smoking habit immediately make him/her your bitter enemy ? Does a father who hates dishonesty set out to destroy his 8-year old son for lying about his poor Math results?"

yes, i'm religiously convicted that my army friend's homosexuality is in contrary to my beliefs. but that does not mean he can't be my friend or can't be loved or be respected by me. in fact, this guy appreciated me as a friend to the point that he wrote a friendster testimony for me. here's a excerpt:

"Posted 03/09/2004 05:01
Hey Tan! Well, what's to say about
him...? He's a great guy lah, used to be
from my bunk, or rather I used to be
from his bunk! One of the most sincere,
unassuming people I have ever met....
Tan's also an extremely spiritual
person, and always communicates with
God every night when I was in his bunk. I
admire that..."

why does a gay even bothered to write good things about me if I'm just a christian who cannot accept him as a friend because he has a lifstyle i'm in no agreement with?

it does not stop here. a few years back, i got invited by one of my indian friends, to his sister's hindu wedding. i gladly went for it. how's it possible for him to do that if I belong to a religion that forbids me to believe in any other faiths? be it atheists, muslims, buddhists or even jehovae witnesses, i have been making friends with people from various different backgrounds, spiritual / philosophical beliefs and lifestyles. so with good honestly, i can say i love being friends with people who aren't chrisitans or hetrosexuals.

lastly, whether it's my business to be in other people's life is not even your business in the first place. this, i believe, is left to the person who decide how much he/she allow me into his/her life.

I hope that this is my last comment here and that my answers have clear some things up.

Anonymous said...

There is actually plenty of scientific evidence that homosexuality is found across a wide range of animal species -

chimpanzees, dolphins, whales, seagulls, lizards, penguins, monkeys etc etc.


Mr Wang: those are animals, i don't really think there's such a gene for humans. according to the bible (which i have no qualms about referring to) man and animals were created separately. not together. some scientists have also actually proven this quite extensively but i'm not going to dwell into the details of creation here. point is, animals and humans are two separate things altogether, just because one is homosexual doesn't mean the other is.


The Bible (especially the New Testaments) is actually a book compiled by people in wanting to exert some control over what should be in it and what should not be.


This is the Christian perspective (in case some of us get lost in the seemingly more persuasive belief). The bible is inspired by God himself. Do note that what may seem more believable may not actually be the truth.


And how might you help? Pls explain what the "cure" for homosexuality is?


As i already said, homosexuality is a misunderstanding. the cure is realization.


What is there to consider of stupid and hateful attitudes based on ignorance?


You've just considered them and even evaluated them as "hateful attitudes based on ignorance". While it's not really the desirable result, it's a start.

JB said...

unfortunately, there are a few who wanted to draw me into a theology debate (if that's their intention) and I can only say that I'm not interested in any arguments on whether the Holy Bible or The God Delusion is the right book to follow.

The argument against religion in this context is very pertinent.

Where do you get this notion that homosexuality is wrong if not from your magic juju book? If you don't get it from your religion, please let me know what is your source?

lastly, whether it's my business to be in other people's life is not even your business in the first place

If you choose to use a public forum to do this, then it becomes my right to rebut and express what I think of your opinion formed from ignorance and bronze-age magic books.

I am curious. What is an immoral/sinful act for you? Is wearing revealing clothes sinful? If so, define "revealing". Is oral sex sinful since it does not lead to procreation?

Or perhaps you don't use your critical faculty at all and believe EVERYTHING your magic book tells you? If so why don't you stone to death those who work on the Sabbath? Or own slaves?

Mezzo said...

"why does a gay even bothered to write good things about me if I'm just a christian who cannot accept him as a friend because he has a lifstyle i'm in no agreement with? "

Actually, all it means is that he's pretty tolerant about you. It doesn't mean that he thinks it's ok for you to be against his homosexuality, it just means that he's recognised that he values certain things about you, beyond your religious condemnation about his homosexuality.

"i'm religiously convicted that my army friend's homosexuality is in contrary to my beliefs. but that does not mean he can't be my friend or can't be loved or be respected by me"

That is absolutely true. However, does your friendship and respect extend to supporting changes in the law that will allow him to live his life, respected by others? Does your friendship extend to influencing others that he, as a homosexual, is worth of respect, and that he deserves all the respect of the law, and the full privileges of a citizen, ie. marriage and protection from discrimination?

If you don't, then regretfully, however much you value him as a friend, you're not acting in his best interests either.

"Settle that with the pastors of the local churches. as far as i'm concerned, i'm only voicing out my personal opinion on the s'pore gay issue"

That's a shame. You've explained several times that you are against homosexuality because it's against Christian belief. Shouldn't you be at least interested in **why** it's against Christian belief?

It's always good to understand where your faith is coming from. I've personally found that it makes my own faith stronger, when I understand why certain things are decided the way they are, or why such-and-such a ruling was made.

True faith doesn't mean ignorance.

TW Tan said...

Mezzo, thanks for the recent reply you have given me. your views have been fair and polite so here's my take on some of your comments:

"Actually, all it means is that he's pretty tolerant about you. It doesn't mean that he thinks it's ok for you to be against his homosexuality, it just means that he's recognised that he values certain things about you, beyond your religious condemnation about his homosexuality."

well quite true.however, this is more than just about tolerance. i notice one thing people (including myself) always do when it comes to friendship between a christian and a gay; the unneccesary classification of 'Christian friend' and/or 'gay friend'. it may not be making things any better when you get this coming. what i feel is that we need to look at homosexuality not as the whole character of a person but rather as one of many aspects of him/her. being nice, being friendly, being outgoing, being helpful, all these are not 'gay' qualities. all these, i believe, is what we should focus on in a friendship, the things that makes him/her a friend we love and respect. does that mean i'm unaware of the fact that he's gay and i'm christian? no. but I focus on being a good (blot out 'chrisitan') friend towards him. and despite the difficulties, the friendship can improve (as it's already shown in strong relationships like marriages where spouses who have differences with their partners).

"That is absolutely true. However, does your friendship and respect extend to supporting changes in the law that will allow him to live his life, respected by others? Does your friendship extend to influencing others that he, as a homosexual, is worth of respect, and that he deserves all the respect of the law, and the full privileges of a citizen, ie. marriage and protection from discrimination?

If you don't, then regretfully, however much you value him as a friend, you're not acting in his best interests either."

i believe homoseuxals deserve the respect and rights we should give to them. In fact, about section 377a, here's what i have to say in my first letter:

"In closing, I also hope that Section 377 of the Penal Code will be done away with. Yes, you hear me right, straight from the mouth of a Christian. The way I feel it, these laws persecute gays. If adultery can be decriminalized, I don't see why Section 377 can't be scrapped. Really, it's time for the judiciary and general society to be fair and decide that homosexuals need not have to live in fear because of that law."

I do agree that gays deserve the rights of a sg citizen such as fair employment and protection from discrimination. however, i have to admit when it comes to gay marriages, i could not go any further. again, this is a matter of balancing out my respect for homosexuals and my religious convictions. you may percieve this as a 'weakness' among chrisitan (or as JB put it, a stupid faith ,in an non exisiting god of a magic juju book religion, based on the failure of the critical faculty thinking) and i'm sorry if it has to be this way cos I treasured my God more than anything else in the world. while i cannot act in best interest of my friend's homosexuality, i can still do it in other areas of his life. call me a hypocrite if you have to.... that's the best i can do....

btw, if people are so adamant to lash out reckless accusations and arguments against us christians, dont you think they are acting like the pastors who lashed out against the gays?

"That's a shame. You've explained several times that you are against homosexuality because it's against Christian belief. Shouldn't you be at least interested in **why** it's against Christian belief?

It's always good to understand where your faith is coming from. I've personally found that it makes my own faith stronger, when I understand why certain things are decided the way they are, or why such-and-such a ruling was made.

True faith doesn't mean ignorance."

mezzo, you have to understand in the first place what i mean by that quote you highlighted. the main intention of my letter was not to promote my faith or as our friend, JB so wonderfully put it, ' preaching your ignorant, stone-age morality to others'. the whole focus has been about my personal feelings and opinions, not a theolgical belief debate. there's always other sites, forums and blogs for you to settle that.

you can also say that my goal is to clear up the misunderstandings that many christians has been recieving from others.

so i hope you can see that i'm not being ignorant of the things of my faith. otherwise, this much i can explain. if you want to know more, you can check out online sources for countless explainations of the christian take on homosexuality. i don't to talk much bout it, partly cos i don't want to be accused of preaching a 'irrational magic juju book religion' though somehow, i will be made guilty of regardless what.

James Chia said...

I am not a Christian but I would think that being tolerant and compassionate towards people from different background, belief, sexuality etc is important.

JB said...

according to the bible (which i have no qualms about referring to) man and animals were created separately.

Quoting the Bible as Gospel truth?

When faced with mountains of evidence contrary to their silly beliefs, believers plug their ears and continue to espouse verbal mule dung.

Try reading Darwin's, The Origin of Species, who knows, even you might learn something.

We can eat any fruit or seed from any plant or tree. Genesis 1:29

Bugs have four legs. Leviticus 11:23

The earth does not rotate or revolve, and frankly doesn't move at all. 1 Corinthians 16:30, Job 38:4, Ecclesiastes 1:5

People think with their hearts. Esther 6:6, Proverbs 23:7, Matthew 9:22

The earth is flat. Psalm 74:17, Isaiah 11:12; 40:22, Ezekial 7:2, Daniel 2:35

Illnesses, deafness and blindness are caused by devils. Matthew 12:22; 17:15, Mark 6:13


OK, I get it. You believe in your bronze-age magic book. Why, it's such an infallible guide to truth and knowledge. And spoken like the true-blue, self-deluded, ignorant faith-head only can.

brian koh said...

sometimes, arguments like these seems to be about who has the louder voice.

most here have given very well thought out arguments, and there are some who are just discontent with certain answers given.

i suppose it's only "fair" that christians be on the wrong side of the fence now because we've spent so long harping on the "moral wrongdoings" of others, maybe it's time to balance the scales and have what ever we believe on a theological, intellectual, spiritual and moral level be lambasted as ignorance or ideas from a magic juju book.

for those who want discussion, like TW, i believe his stance and posture of being rather considerate show open doors of discussion as we learn to live with one another.

but there are some closed arguments which i am uncomfortable with, and it almost feels/seems like the liberal sexual freedom is being traded for fundamentalist liberalisation of all thiings post modern.

or to put it bluntly. if you believe in a religion, you must be ignorant based on the post modern developments in terms of society and science.

is that essentially what some people want to say of others with a faith? or form of spirituality.

this discussion has many cultural, historical and spiritual layers to it, and won't be settled on one level of social intellect.

why do i say that? it might be rather long, but i'll just put down some points:

1. yes. as christians, we do know about emperor constantine and how various books didn't make it into the modern bible. if that proves the fallacy of man, then it proves the fallacy of every other "choice" that man has chosen to publish and not to publish. (history, culture)

2. the bible does state what it thinks of "men lying with other men" or "women trading natural relations for unnatural ones" in both leviticus and romans. how you want to interpret that is open to discussion, and even bible scholars are divided over issues like that.

3. is faith based on fact or doubt? basically, if you knew all the answers, would you even need to have faith? i think none of us here know everything, and we've all chosen different things to put our faith in. some in the christian idea of God, some in liberal society or human understanding, some in science, some in another religion's idea of God.

4. and finally, as a practicing chrsitian, of course some of my own perspectives are shaped by my personal experiences, and for others, your own. in our own eyes, we're probably all correct, but if we choose to see in other eyes, we may not be so correct.

i guess on the side of christians, we shouldn't need to go around telling people right from wrong when.. maybe we haven't figured everything out ourselves. we can tell people about God, but the decision to believe is always in your own hands and your own choice.

so isn't that what discussion is about? we're not looking for arguments to shut down, not all christians are ignorant, but if anyone chooses to believe that, i can't change it. i can change myself to be more open minded, but we still have to arrive at an answer as well.

sorry, i know it's long, and the argument is somewhat circular, bottom line, is a religious person automatically wrong or ignorant?

Cloudywind said...

in the 1st place, who decides that to gay is to sin? the bible? so the bible decides everyone's life in the whole wide world?

Mr Wang Says So said...

Reminder to all - please maintain some degree of civility and politeness in your discussions here. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I sincerely think that one should not impose our beliefs on others.

IF everyone of us, especially our world leaders who are fighting wars based on disputed religious beliefs, share the universal principle of "Live and Let Live", this world would definitely be a better place for all mankind.

JB said...

is faith based on fact or doubt?

Faith is defined as "belief without evidence". Indeed, for anyone to believe in Thor, Apollo, Ra or the Juju Man of the Sea without evidence, that person has to abandon fact and reason.

The faithful are asked to abandon the most important thing that man possesses - his critical faculty.

The theological spin is that to abandon reason is a good thing. To doubt is bad. It is called religious indoctrination. Brainwashing - to everybody else.

bottom line, is a religious person automatically wrong or ignorant?

For the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, it boggles the mind that any person should consider a being who consigns anyone who does not worship him to his satisfaction to an eternity of agonizing torment as "wise". A being like that is by definition a horrendously wicked and evil tyrant.

Any God who refuses to make his existence unambiguously clear, and then is willing to consign individuals to eternal torture simply for doubting his existence, can only be evil.

The fact that Christians think that such a God is a paragon of goodness is a view that quite simply perverts any meaning the notion of "goodness" could possibly have.

For a Christian to hold such a view reveals the intellectually and morally corrupting force of Christian "faith". Their moral compass needs some serious recalibrating but they are blind to it.

This is the power of religious indoctrination. This is why there are Islamist suicide bombers and Christian murderers of abortion doctors. They are not motivated by evil. They are motivated by what they perceive to be righteousness, faithfully pursuing what their religion tells them.

They are religious idealists who, by their own lights, are rational. and perceive their acts to be good.

They commit these murderous acts not because they are evil but because they have been brought up, from the cradle, to have total and unquestioning faith.

brian koh said...

in response to JB:

with respect to a moral compass, most post modern arguments choose to see all things as relative, and there really is no right or wrong.

so basically, anything being discussed has no real semblance to be practiced in everyday life.

and i will question, why are all things "done in faith" seen merely as unquestioning?

if you have doubt, you question, and when you choose to believe in something that has no answer yet, that is a form of faith.

if the answer to everything in the world right now is "there is no real right or wrong", then there is no real answer, and our faith is in a statement like that. it's the perspective we choose to view the world.

and yes, many heinous and murderous acts were performed in the name of faith, but then isn't it for democracy's sake that the war in vietnam happened and is currently happening in Iraq?

faith should not be the one being attacked here, or at least the only thing.

perhaps, we're all just impossibly evil people to begin with.

Anonymous said...

Mr jb, i do hope that you do some checking yourself before making such wild claims.

The earth does not rotate or revolve, and frankly doesn't move at all. 1 Corinthians 16:30, Job 38:4, Ecclesiastes 1:5

first off, 1 corinthians 16:30 doesnt exist. you can try looking it up at http://www.biblegateway.com

next, this is what Job 38:4 says -

4 "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.

This was the Lord speaking to Job, in no where does it state that the earth does not rotate.

finally, Ecclesiastes 1:5 -

4 Generations come and generations go,
but the earth remains forever.

5 The sun rises and the sun sets,
and hurries back to where it rises.

6 The wind blows to the south
and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
ever returning on its course.

this is the context of the verse. i doubt we should take it literally.

Bugs have four legs. Leviticus 11:23

I refer everyone to this article at http://www.infidels.org/library/magazines/tsr/1999/5/995ins.html

I quote: "According to J.H. Hertz (referred to in his commentary as "the chief rabbi of the British Empire"), the phrase to "go upon all fours" cannot be taken to mean that insects were possessed of only four legs but that the words probably referred to a method of locomotion and signified only that they "move like quadrupeds" (Pentateuch and Haftorahs, second edition, Soncino Press, 1960, p. 451)."

and "He explains that they have four legs that are used for simple walking, while the other two are used for jumping" (Mesorah Publications, Ltd., 1993, p. 601)"

We can eat any fruit or seed from any plant or tree. Genesis 1:29

that was in the garden of eden and before Man sinned. enough said, read Genesis 3 for more about the fall of man and its consequences.

People think with their hearts. Esther 6:6, Proverbs 23:7, Matthew 9:22

This is what Esther 6:6 says, and no where in it mentions thinking with the heart. (i beg of you not to mislead anyone here)

Esther 6:6 When Haman entered, the king asked him, "What should be done for the man the king delights to honor?"
Now Haman thought to himself, "Who is there that the king would rather honor than me?"

Proverbs 23:7
for he is the kind of man
who is always thinking about the cost.
"Eat and drink," he says to you,
but his heart is not with you.

it's a proverbial saying not to be taken literally.

Matthew 9:22
Jesus turned and saw her. "Take heart, daughter," he said, "your faith has healed you." And the woman was healed from that moment.

just a saying again, not to be taken literally.
However, while your brain may the only thinking faculty in the physical world, it is your spirit that is thinking in the spiritual world. since the heart is the root of your life, thinking is sometimes also referred to the heart.

The earth is flat. Psalm 74:17, Isaiah 11:12; 40:22, Ezekial 7:2, Daniel 2:35

Psalm 74:17 It was you who set all the boundaries of the earth;
you made both summer and winter.

Now here's Genesis 1:3-10

3 And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

6 And God said, "Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water." 7 So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the expanse "sky." And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.

9 And God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear." And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground "land," and the gathered waters he called "seas." And God saw that it was good.

As you can see, during the first 6 days of creation, God did set boundaries, however these aren't the boundaries that you think they are. It's the boundaries of night and day, land and sea.

Isaiah 11:12 He will raise a banner for the nations
and gather the exiles of Israel;
he will assemble the scattered people of Judah
from the four quarters of the earth.

Again, no literal interpretation please.


Isaiah 40:22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
and spreads them out like a tent to live in.

Metaphorical, not literal.

The other verses should also not be interpreted literally.

Illnesses, deafness and blindness are caused by devils. Matthew 12:22; 17:15, Mark 6:13

It's true.


jb, let me quote you 3 verses.

Psalm 92:6
6 The senseless man does not know,
fools do not understand,

Psalm 74:22
22 Rise up, O God, and defend your cause;
remember how fools mock you all day long.

Proverbs 1:7
7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

I hope this quells some of your doubts.

my thoughts on faith... well no time for that now.

Anonymous said...

TK Tan, who are we to judge on those people who condemn the homosexuals? I think we should all leave it to God to bring judgement.

reader said...

jb, I don't think many would take your interpretation of the Bible verses quoted seriously.

But it's good that you take an interest in the Bible. My suggestion is that you read through it thoroughly and carefully. I'm pretty certain that you would have a very different view of it after that.

TW Tan said...

Anonymous said...

"TK Tan, who are we to judge on those people who condemn the homosexuals? I think we should all leave it to God to bring judgement."

true. when i look back at my letter, i found that my tone is rather harsh, perhaps even judgemental and biased. either way, nobody's perfect, everybody's human and i feel it's important to highlight the mistakes of the christian community as a way of conveying my feelings against anti gays sentiments. we, as believers, have to acknowlegde such things are happening and admit our wrongs. otherwise, the negative perception of local christians will only increase and much respect will be lost over time.

i will be more diplomatic and fair the next time i ever get to write this kind of letters... thanks for the feedback.

JB said...

Mr jb, i do hope that you do some checking yourself before making such wild claims.
first off, 1 corinthians 16:30 doesnt exist.


I agree. Facts are important. Let's not make wild claims, or worse, wrongful accusations.

King James Version 1Ch 16:30 can be found
here
- Fear before him, all the earth: the world also shall be stable, that it be not moved.

i doubt we should take it literally.

it's a proverbial saying not to be taken literally.


Yes the bible is highly interpretive and we don't take many things in it literally any more. But that is my whole point. We pick and choose which bits of scripture to believe, which bits to write off as metaphors or allegories.

It is supposed to be the inerrant word of god but yet can be cherry picked and interpreted any which way. Is it not ironical that no one can claim with any certainty just what it is which is supposed to be inerrant?

Such picking and choosing is a matter of personal decision without an absolute foundation.

And yet the theist still claim to know! Not just to know that god exists, but also to know what "he" demands of us — from our diet to our observances to our sexual morality.

We're all atheists with respect to Zeus, Thor and the thousands of other dead gods whom now nobody worships. The believers today are too blinded by Faith to realise that theirs too belong in that same heap.

JB said...

and i will question, why are all things "done in faith" seen merely as unquestioning?

I was not suggesting that believers do not question, some of course do.

The Christian is indoctrinated to have unquestioning faith. To be a doubting Thomas is bad.

Jhn 20:27 - Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust [it] into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.

Jhn 20:29 - Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed [are] they that have not seen, and [yet] have believed.

The warrant to believe without evidence comes from Jesus himself. Abandoning your critical faculty is "blessed".

Now imagine Kim Jong Il saying this AND that you will be tortured in the Gulag for the rest of your life if you don't ... and everyone will immediately recognise him to be an evil despot and tyrant.

Yet when Jesus says worse things - that you will suffer the torment of Hell for all eternity (at least with Kim Jong Il there is relief after death) simply for not believing - Christians think that such a God is a paragon of goodness.

For Christians to hold such a view reveals the intellectually and morally corrupting force of Christian "faith".

But it's good that you take an interest in the Bible. My suggestion is that you read through it thoroughly and carefully. I'm pretty certain that you would have a very different view of it after that.

Religious brainwashing evidently works too well and the faithful read their scriptures through a thick lens of "confirmation bias".

There are two ways in which scripture might be a source of morals or rules for living.

One is by direct instruction, for example through the Ten Commandments.

The other is by example: God, or some other biblical character, might serve as a role model.

Both scriptural routes, if followed through religiously encourage a system of morals which any civilized modern person, whether religious or not, would find obnoxious.

If you think the bible is a fount of goodness and a source of morals, either you have not read it or have read it through the tinted glass of the unthinking, blind faithful.

with respect to a moral compass, most post modern arguments choose to see all things as relative, and there really is no right or wrong.

I'm not a moral relativist. I think it's quite common among religious people to believe that atheism entails moral relativism.

I think there is an absolute right and wrong. I think honor killing, for example, is unambiguously wrong and evil.

A society that kills women and girls for sexual indiscretion, even the indiscretion of being raped, is a society that has killed compassion, that has failed to teach men to value women and has eradicated empathy.

We see evil perpetrated by people in the name of their faith everyday. They believe they are doing God's will.

Empathy and compassion are our most basic moral impulses, and we can teach the golden rule without lying to ourselves or our children about virgin births, burning bushes or visions in cave.

What is making you someone who is not a Muslim? I presume that you are not losing sleep wondering whether to convert to Islam. And if you're not, it is because when the Muslims say, "We have a book that's the perfect word of the creator of the universe, it's the Qur'an, it was dictated to Muhammad in his cave by the archangel Gabriel," you see a variety of claims there that aren't backed up by sufficient evidence. If the evidence were sufficient, you would be compelled to be Muslim.

You are a Christian because of happenstance. If you were born in Saudi Arabia you would be a Wahabbi Muslim, in Iran a Shiite, in ancient Greece a worshipper of Zeus and in Africa, pre-colony times, a believer in the Juju Man.

Revel in your wishful thinking if you must but please spare us Rationalists the annoying refrain in the public sphere that we keep hearing of your wonderful *morality*.

We are neither interested nor care to know that you think homosexuality or eating certain foods or other such stone-age belief based on a chaotically cobbled-together anthology of disjointed documents, composed, revised, translated, distorted and 'improved' by hundreds of anonymous authors, editors and copyists, unknown to us and mostly unknown to each other, spanning nine centuries is a sin or not.

Anonymous said...

There is one way to look at homosexuality.....it is a sin and those that walk this way will be denyed entrance into God's prepared Kingdom for the righteous.....The homoseuxal has to repent like everyone else....Hebrews 10 26verse...
who is judging? Our creator himself...anyone that has a bible and can read will find the condemnation there.....
With the homosexuals decisions, we will have to let the PRACTICING murder, adulter robber child molester hold the same rang as they do....that is that the christian churches must let them come in, join teach us be our ministers without even repenting to God and turning from this sin....

Anonymous said...

For those who don't know where the Bible states explicitly that homosexuality is wrong, refer to Rom 1: 26 - 27 below:

Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
Rom 1:19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them.
Rom 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

Rom 1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
Rom 1:22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
Rom 1:23 And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
Rom 1:24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves:
Rom 1:25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

Rom 1:26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
Rom 1:27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.

Rom 1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
Rom 1:29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
Rom 1:30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
Rom 1:31 Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
Rom 1:32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

(Rather than hurl any more attacks on the Bible or have any skewed interpretations of it, study the original Greek text and the context in which it was written)

Mr Wang Says So said...

This kinda illustrates more or less why we can't use the Bible as a justification to put gays in jail ... Eg:

"Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
Rom 1:30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
Rom 1:31 Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
Rom 1:32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death,
"

.... for consistency's sake, we'd have to hang a lot of other people,

eg those who gossip; those who are disobedient to their parents; those who are envious; those who don't believe in the Christian version of God and hate it; those who are boastful ...

etc etc

Anonymous said...

This is where our knowledge of God is so dim. We don’t know what kind of a God we are dealing with. His holiness is beyond what fallible man can imagine.

Psa 47:8 God reigneth over the heathen: God sitteth upon the throne of his holiness.

Isa 40:25 To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One.

Isa 40:28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.

Isa 5:24 Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.

Isa 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

In the presence of God we are as filthy rags, worthy of death. But He provided us a way out of course. I’m sure you know what it is. Christians call it saving faith, to come to a point of time in your life when you realize in despair that nothing you can do is ever going to save you from the mess and sin you are in, and this brings you on your knees to Jesus, to surrender self. Not every person who calls himself a Christian has saving faith.

We often examine our own actions and find nothing wrong with them, but God looks at the heart, our intents, our motives, our thoughts.


Have you heard of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Bible?
These were 2 cities that had reached the point where homosexuality was rampant.
When angels came in the form of men to visit Lot (who lived in Sodom). He brought them into his house. Men came from all over Sodom when they knew about Lot’s visitors.

Gen 19:4 But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter:
Gen 19:5 And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know (have sexual relations with) them.


Gen 19:6 And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him,
Gen 19:7 And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly.
Gen 19:8 Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.
Gen 19:9 And they said, Stand back. And they said again, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with thee, than with them. And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door.

Lot, in desperation to protect his guests, even tried to offer his daughters to the homosexual men, but to no avail.

Gen 19:13 For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it.

The angels later told Lot that God had sent them to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah.

Gen 19:24 Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven;
Gen 19:25 And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.

This is how the term “sodomize” came about.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t wish for Singapore to end up in the state of depravity that Sodom and Gomorrah was. When Man is left to his own devices, ignoring God-given laws, there is nothing to stop him from propelling to that state of depravity. We have to draw the line clearly, or else, a hundred years later, what’s stopping me from marrying my pet cat whom I adore so much?

Agagooga said...

Funny, if your god was ineffable, how come everyone else is speaking for him?

In fact, you just did.

Sicarii said...

JB:

The initial quote from your post states 1 Corinthians, but you are quoting from 1 Chronicles.

These are two totally different books in the Bible, not to mention that the latter is from the Old Testament, and the former the New Testament.

Anonymous said...

BEYOND BELIEF;A Buddhist Critique of Christianity

Spider63 said...

One reason that homosexuals attract so much attention is that they seek attention to themselves. At least that is how it is in the USA. I am not for the criminal prosecution of homosexuals. However, it would be nice if they lived in happiness without evangelizing to everyone else.

KoMMa said...

"Live peaceably with all" Roman 12:18b.
2008 Indonesia Christmas Theme
http://www.gkj-sarimulyo.110mb.com/