Oct 2, 2007

A Response To TW Tan's Letter

I have received another interesting email, this time from a reader, D. He writes in response to the earlier letter from TW Tan (see two posts below).
Dear TW Tan,

As a young gay Christian myself, I applaud you for your letter. From the bottom of my heart I thank you. Of the many responses Christians have towards people like us, yours is the most Christ-like I've seen.

Most Christians today are unfortunately unable to see past the black and white of the issue. I dare say their faith is one-dimensional, based on a book. Sure, it's a very important book, but I don't believe that it is the be-all and end-all of Christianity. God is so much more than just the Bible. One-dimensional faith is easily destroyed. That's why many Christians defend the Bible so vehemently. Without it, their faith is reduced to nothing. Conceding the fallacy of some verses in it will render it questionable, and that is inconceivable in their eyes.

I think the important point here is for everyone to engage in a process of open and thoughtful exploration. The vast majority of Bible-thumpers don't even know how many verses are there in the Bible which say that homosexuality is wrong, where they are or in what context they were written. To have these people spit in my face and tell me I'm an abomination reeks of spiritual blindness and arrogance. Yes, I admit I may be wrong to think that being gay is ok, but do homophobic Christians realise that they could be wrong too?

The sad part of this debate is that the vitriolic reaction of the larger Christian community towards us has ruined the name of Christianity. Not only have they made a fool of themselves by spreading untruths about us, but in doing so they have portrayed a very negative image of Christianity. But the gay Christian community is not without blame. Many a time we have responded with harsh words, only to realise later that we could have done better...

I feel that society's reaction to the queer community is one motivated by self-preservation. Although many claim that Christians only want to help, their words and actions seek more to discredit and keep us out than anything else. This vexes me greatly, because gay people are not out to destroy anything! We are labeled as destroyers of families, corrupters of youth and agents of disease. None of this is true! I fail to see how accepting us and\nallowing us to form loving relationships will ruin family structure. Ask any gay person and they will tell you that they never made the choice to be gay, much like how you never made the conscious choice to be straight. And just like how straight men are capable of celibacy and fidelity, so are we! And hard as this is to believe, we are not out to discredit religion and faith. The reaction of the gay community to Christians all round is no more than a knee jerk response. Just like how you leave non-believers and people of other faith alone, we only ask that you preach your message in a considerate and sensitive way.

"We are only protecting our children" seems to be a trump card played by conservatives to silence gay-affirming groups. That one statement appears to allow people to at once stop their ears and reject all opinions contrary to their own, regardless of how rational or logical they are. For those of us in the gay community who are trying to reach out to engage, inform and educate, this is a frustrating statement to hear, because it instantly halts all exchange. What we fail to understand is what they are protecting their children from? No amount of exposure to gay people will convert a child who is not gay. If only people would come round to this fact. I grew up with absolutely no idea of homosexuality. What the silence only fuels is the torment that youths who are gay go through. The road to healthy self-acceptance and a well rounded life is fraught with much loneliness and depression. What the conservatives are doing only increases the struggles which gay youths have to go through, and here I am speaking from personal experience.

Having said all this, I must concede that the gay community as it is leaves much to be desired. There is a tremendous lack of positive role models, while unhealthy practices are common and tolerated. I firmly believe that before we ask for society's acceptance, we have to hold ourselves to a standard that is beyond reproach. As it stands, the gay community is simply not a safe place for youths who are in the process of coming out. But not all gay people are predatory. Many of us are working hard to provide safe platforms for those new to the community, but there is a verylong way to go.

Homophobia is a vicious cycle. Fear of discrimination andrejection drives us into the shadows, forcing us to engage in risky andclandestine behavior. This behavior then only serves to fuel the negative image which the community suffers from, and causes people to fear and reject us. The solution to all this lies not with the government (though what we asked of them was not exactly very difficult or demanding), but with each person. All I ask is for you to reexamine the way in which you react about, and to, gay people. A little thought on our parts goes a really long way...

"Before you seek to condemn, have you sought to understand?"
A quick note. I receive many emails from readers all the time. I do read all the emails, but I do not have time to respond to all of them. If I do respond, my reply may be very brief, for lack of time. Sometimes readers send me articles which they'd like me to publish on my blog - please note that I won't do so unless I find the articles interesting (like TW Tan's and Darryl's letters).

Recently I've also turned on the comment moderation function. I have adopted this practice for a variety of reasons: (1) to prepare myself for the arrival of the revised Penal Code, (2) to screen out comments of certain undesirable, blacklisted individuals; and (3) to improve the noise-to-signal ratio in the comment sections. I discourage flame wars, personal attacks and unnecessarily insulting remarks.

In the near future, I will post an "editorial policy" of sorts, where I'll explain in greater detail about the kinds of emails that I will or will not respond to, and the kind of comments that I will or will not publish. Also I may explain some new directions that I intend to take for this blog, so that if these are not to your tastes, you can start looking elsewhere for your Internet readings.

14 comments:

tim said...

Thanks Mr. Wang, for publishing the 2 letters.

Thanks Tw & Darryl, for coming forward as you did.

LuckySingaporean said...

The only people treated worst in our society are members of the opposition party - they too have to go hide their secret urge to disagree with the govt, paint in bad light in the media, part take in activities that is legal in other countries except Singapore and both can't get permits for like minded people from overseas to speak at their forums...or organise bicycle events.

The only thing worst that being gay is being a gay opposition member.

Anonymous said...

I am gay, and I used to be a Christian. After I was so tormented by the mean, hateful comments so many fellow church-goers made about gay people, I changed. If heaven is anything like church, then it may be a pretty hateful place too. I think I'd rather not go there.

Anonymous said...

or a gay muslim opposition member.

lolz.

ash said...

Mr. Wang,

You mentioned you are studying the impact of the ammendment of penal code on your blog entries and comments. As you are one of the untitled leader of Singaporean bloggers, perhaps you can share with your readers the results of your study, pitfalls other bloggers should avoid and suggestions to write without get into trouble.

There is not much reference available on this area and your legal expertise will provide us with some sense of security. But at the end of the day, what one writes in his journal is his creation and the consequences should be borne by him only.

reader said...

"Most Christians today are unfortunately unable to see past the black and white of the issue. I dare say their faith is one-dimensional, based on a book. Sure, it's a very important book, but I don't believe that it is the be-all and end-all of Christianity. God is so much more than just the Bible. One-dimensional faith is easily destroyed. That's why many Christians defend the Bible so vehemently. Without it, their faith is reduced to nothing. Conceding the fallacy of some verses in it will render it questionable, and that is inconceivable in their eyes."

A lot has been said about the Bible. And I suspect, by many who have not really read through it. Thoroughly and carefully. You may change your mind about it after reading it.

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

Brilliant stuff, Daryl. I say this as a heterosexual Christian. Do set up a blog or something. There are A LOT of people in our society today who need to hear views like yours. :)

God bless.

Anonymous said...

I am gg to ask something that is not relevant to this post.

I wonder that given Mr Wang you are working in the finance industry what is your thought on the sky-rocketing stock price in the past few days?

To me the fundamentals did not improve after the 0.5% rate cut, in fact it looked worse. The credit mkt is not improving, but yet the stocks are shooting through the roof everywhere!

Mr Wang Says So said...

My thoughts are that I am getting rich ... rich .... rich ... I have been going long on equities since the beginning of September (not just Singapore, but certain other markets, especially Australia & India).

I'm of the view that there was definitely some overselling due to the US subprime (you cannot not have overselling, when markets in general were already at all-time highs and then something as drastic as US subprime happens). So the question is - when is the bottom going to happen?

The thing is that apart from the US, technical indicators for the economy in other parts of the world are holding up quite well. Latest good news is the tankan survey (Japan) which showed no dip in business confidence among large Japanese manufacturers. India is chugging along fine, and it's economy is relatively closed to the US (and therefore relatively insulated from US subprime crisis). I believe another prop for equity prices will be the newly setup investment firm of China (their equivalent of a Temasek or GIC) which holds USD 200 billion which opened shop on Saturday (and being extremely cash rich, will rush right into any major markets anywhere to grab equities, if there is a dip). The sense of the market is also that a falling USD means that big US investors will simply pull their money out of USD-denominated investments and move their money to safer havens, and gasp ... that actually means emerging markets!

I must be stupid said...

Hi Mr Wang,

"My thoughts are that I am getting rich ... rich .... rich"

Is that your TAR technique? Hehe.

Anonymous said...

bottom line:

A person who believes in one religion easily sees the follies of other religions while remaining amazingly ignorant of how sad their own faith seems to unbelievers.

Anonymous said...

Great letter! I hope more Christians get to read this before they get influenced by more hateful anti-gay bigotry.

Anonymous said...

"All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work."

"God is bigger than the Bible" or similar statements do no make sense because it implies that God and the Bible have nothing to do with each other.

God is the author of the whole Bible and Christians read the Bible to find God's will and purpose for their lives. Those who truly love God will obey/ accept His teachings and reproof and not try to make excuses to discredit the Bible to justify their own actions.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Unfortunately, you forget that you're not God.

While the Bible may be inspired by God, your own understanding of the Bible is really just that ... your own understanding.

Which may or may not be correct.

And your display of reasoning ability clearly isn't very impressive. For example:

""God is bigger than the Bible" or similar statements do no make sense because it implies that God and the Bible have nothing to do with each other."

No. God is bigger than the Bible implies that the sum total of God is greater than the sum total of words, paragraphs and punctuation marks in that Book.

You should try talking directly to God yourself. Some people call that prayer. If you approach this with a sincere heart, you may hear some direct messages. And no, they won't just be a word-for-word recitation of selected Biblical verses. God IS bigger than the Bible.