Pink Dot 2012 took place yesterday. I was there with James and some of our favourite friends; it was my 2nd Pink Dot and I was very glad to be one of the 15,000 Singaporeans and PRs who took a stand for freedom to love.
I’m a Christian, and in some circles that’s taken to mean that I should not be supportive of gay people. “Pray away the gay”, etc. There are a good many reasons why I don’t agree with the conventional Christian mindset towards gay people and gay rights, and since I’ve given them some additional thought lately, here they are.
1. Jesus didn’t die for only straight people
In the oft-quoted verse from John’s gospel, it says that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”. It doesn’t say that God so loved straight people (or wealthy people / beautiful people / good-natured people) – it says he loved the world so much that he sent Jesus to die for everyone in it.
The life of Jesus in the gospels shows that he cared a lot for the marginalised people of society. He eschewed hobnobbing with the glitterati of the day, but spent time with women, children, foreigners, the ill and disabled etc. Today, it would be political suicide for prominent political or religious figures to entirely discount the needs of any of those groups, but back in 30-ish A.D. society didn’t give them time of day at all. Fast forward to our present-day world, where it’s gay people whose needs and rights are curtailed by Singaporean society at large. Would Jesus hang out with them and care about them? Personally, I think he would.
2. I don’t agree with many of the Bible-based arguments against homosexuality
I am completely sick and tired of Sodom and Gomorrah being hauled up as proof that God punishes gay people. (The short version: the men of Sodom rocked up at the house of Lot, who was sheltering two angels, and demanded to have sex with the two (male) angels. To punish their wickedness, God destroyed their city.) Many Christians interpret the behaviour of those would-be rapists as homosexual urges run amok, such that they would attempt to rape two visitors to their town.
So here’s the thing – this isn’t homosexual behaviour, it’s rape. Rape isn’t about sex, it’s about power and domination. Till today, men are raped in war zones by other men who want to subdue and humiliate them. That, to me, is what those beasts in Sodom were trying to do. Because, if they were merely running rampant with gay urges, why on earth didn’t they just have sex with each other?
There’s another popular example from Paul’s letter to the Romans, where he writes that “…women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another.” This tells me that heterosexual people left their partners and set about experimenting with others of the same sex, which is infidelity/adultery – a topic that is unequivocally covered in the 10 Commandments. Cheating on your spouse is bad, and I don’t know for sure that God splits hairs over whether you do so with a guy or a girl.
(Some years ago I watched HBO’s Rome and became curious about how homosexuality was regarded in the ancient world. Turns out – it was pretty entrenched in Roman society. (Here’s the Wikipedia entry.) I get that Christianity was – and still is – rather anti-establishment, but of all the debauchery of ancient Rome, I can’t help but think that gayness would have been a strange bone for the Christians to pick.)
3. I don’t agree with how the ‘gay agenda’ has been typecast
I know two men approaching their 50s who have spent the last few decades in a committed relationship. Both are white-collar professionals, own property together, and have two dogs. They call each other their ‘housemate’, which I think is sweet.
Whenever someone starts going off on a tirade about the promiscuity of gay people and how their irresponsible lifestyles endanger the fabric of society – I think about this middle-aged gay couple, and how their suburban life together is virtually indistinguishable from that of a straight couple in the same demographic.
Then there are people who resent certain gay people for being loud and proud that they’re gay. But when you’re straight, you don’t think about being straight because the vast majority of people around you are also straight. I’m straight, so by way of an analogy for other straight people – think about how being Chinese in Singapore makes you believe that the world is not a racist place, simply because you belong to the majority group. Only when I moved overseas to a place where white people outnumbered me 80 to one, did I realise how it felt to be different.
When you’re the one who’s in the minority, and a glass bottle hurled out of a moving car explodes half a metre from you, you’ll never know if someone tried to hurt you because you’re different or simply because you were in the wrong place at the wrong time. All you feel is threatened. And for many gay people, it’s hard not to feel threatened by a society that wants to deny them the right to just be who they are.
I don’t think my viewpoint will be very popular among the community of Christians I belong to, and that worries me a little. But all the same? I don’t believe God intends for us to persecute gay people. The greatest commandment is to love God and love your neighbour – and there is no fine print that says I’m to only love straight neighbours.