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Who made you the judge?

by | 12 December 2017, 1:54 PM

In every court case, there’s always a hearing.

The judge, before pronouncing the defender innocent or guilty – and meting out due punishment for the guilty – has the obligation to hear both sides of the story in order to give a fair sentence.

This is typical court procedure to best uphold justice, but I find this practice unfortunately absent from our day-to-day life, when we judge people without giving them a chance to explain themselves first.

There was once when I struggled tremendously to love a particular friend of mine. He was going through some difficulties in his personal life and it was affecting his mood and behaviour. I had a brief idea of what was going on, but did not know the details.

Initially understanding, I soon got frustrated. It didn’t help that the way we processed our emotions and problems in life was so different that I couldn’t understand why he was acting the way he did. He was also easily irritable, and I bore the brunt of it. His mood swings eventually rubbed off me and my attitude towards him became defensively volatile as well.

To make things worse, he was in charge of a project we were both tasked to handle. It was difficult to work together when we were not on good terms. How could I trust his judgement when it was hard to even think good thoughts about him?

His healing process took quite some time, but he eventually got better. It was only then that he began to confide in me what he was going through and how he felt.

Listening to him softened my heart. It didn’t change the fact that he’d acted unreasonably or that he shouldn’t have done certain things, but it helped me clearly identify the struggles he was going through.

It also made me realise I could have been too harsh with my mental pronouncement of him.

INNOCENT TILL PROVEN GUILTY

Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” (Matthew 7:1)

The word itself in the English language makes it slightly more confusing. Judging, as referred to in Matthew 7 and other similar verses in the Bible (1 Corinthians 4:3-5, Romans 2:1-3), can be understood to be similar to what is done in court – the measuring or meting out of a sentence, a determination of what is deserved according to the law.

You’d recognise this sort of judgement – we’ve all done it, pronouncing sentences or even carrying them out ourselves. She deserves this for what she has done. He should be paying for that with his life. Revenge movies are always the rage.

But it’s clear as day in the Word: Don’t do it. Why? More on that later.

I want to point us to this “other” type of judging first. Judging doubles up as a synonym for discerning – which is to distinguish right from wrong, true from false. The Bible tells us to correct fellow believers in order to point them back to the right paths (1 Timothy 5:20, 2 Timothy 2:23-26, Galatians 6:1). We can’t do that without the discerning judgement, which judges the act but not the person.

However, I find that even in discernment, we also tend to jump to conclusions too easily, and too readily.

A story that surfaced on Facebook comes to my mind: In a shipwreck, a husband and wife were struggling to stay afloat in the open sea. When a plank of driftwood big enough only for one person appears, the husband clings onto it, leaving his wife to fight against the tide. Eventually, the husband survived, while the wife drowned.

Upon reaching this point in the story, many would feel enraged by the husband’s decision. How could he be so selfish?

Yet, that wasn’t the end of the story. It was later revealed that the wife had been diagnosed with an incurable disease, and her chances of surviving – even if she had made it out of the shipwreck – were low. Knowing that one of them had to live on for the sake of their child, the husband decided to save himself rather than his wife.

When we look at a situation as it is, with our human eyes and logic, we tend to react rather than respond. It’s intuitive. Psychologists term this as heuristics – mental shortcuts people use to form judgements and make decisions.

In his book Thinking, Fast and Slow, psychologists Daniel Kahneman frames it like this: “When faced with a difficult question, we often answer an easier one instead, usually without noticing the substitution.”

The confidence that individuals have in their beliefs depends mostly on the quality of the story they can tell about what they see, even if they see little.

Based on intuitive logic, it’s hard to comprehend why a husband would ever leave his wife to die, and so we substitute this with an easier question – why would anyone ever leave anyone to die? The easiest answer is: Self-preservation. And with that conclusion, we label this husband as a selfish man.

Quick judgement, or instinctive discernment, is not a bad thing. It is required in our daily lives, especially in times of danger. When we see a person acting suspiciously, we have to quickly sum that individual up as a potential threat and be prepared to act accordingly.

But we also need to be aware of our tendency to jump to conclusions. After all, it’s easy to overestimate what we know based on what is revealed to us.

As Kahneman discovers, “The confidence that individuals have in their beliefs depends mostly on the quality of the story they can tell about what they see, even if they see little.”

RESTORATIVE, NOT RETRIBUTIVE 

In the recent case of Annie Ee, many angry netizens flooded online forums and comment boxes with hateful comments, wishing the worse upon the perpetrators.

I understand the rage and the vicarious pain – even though I’m clear on what true justice is, it’s still difficult to not be furious over what has been done.

But what also saddens and scares me is seeing public sentiments – and sentences – such as “string them up”, “send them to hell” and “the couple should be eaten by dogs” proliferate.

Will cursing them help? Will these judgements rectify anything? And who are we as sinful beings ourselves, who must also be judged for our wrongdoings, to be trusted with pronouncing the right judgements on anyone? Take it from the wisdom of the Bible: Judge not. Sentence not.

“For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” (2 Corinthians 5:10)

I’m currently reading the book of Ezekiel. Prophet Ezekiel was appointed by God as a watchman to warn Israel of the impending consequences because of their wrongdoings (Ezekiel 33:7).

You can refer to Ezekiel 16 for the full list of sins that the Israelites had committed in the eyes of God, but one offence stood out to me – child sacrifices. People literally offered their babies through rings of fire in order to appease whatever gods they were serving (Ezekiel 16:21).

This is, to me, as appalling as torturing an intellectually disabled person to death. It is no wonder why God was so enraged! Page after page, Ezekiel penned down the punishment God would inflict on Israel if they remained unrepentant.

After ploughing through the depressing chapters, I came to a part where God revealed the heart behind His judgement.

Therefore you, O son of man, say to the house of Israel: ‘Thus you say, “If our transgressions and our sins lie upon us, and we pine away in them, how can we then live?” Say to them: “As I live,” says the Lord God, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?”‘ (Ezekiel 33:10)

Turn from your evil ways and live.

At the end of the day, God desired for Israel to come to repentance through their punishment more than it simply being a sentence of what they deserved. He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked – for the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) – but He is delighted when they turn from their sinful ways.

God’s judgement was rooted in love and compassion for His sinful people, as it is for all of mankind. And knowing that no man could ever be sinless and thus worthy of a place in Heaven, He offered the free gift of eternal life for all who believe in His son Jesus Christ (Romans 6:23), who was sent to earth as a baby – the reason for Christmas – and later took on the full sentence of death for the sins of the world.

God’s judgement was rooted in love and compassion for His sinful people, as it is for all of mankind.

The heart of God’s judgement for those He loves is always to restore, not to repay.

If I’d had this same spirit with regards to my difficult-to-love friend, I would have gently pointed out his mistakes to him in order to help him grow. But I didn’t. I simply let my frustrations bubble and spill over, and sought my own restitution in my not-so-loving thoughts and remarks towards him.

Looking back, I found justification for my bitterness when I repaid his attitude with my attitude, his frustration with my frustration. It was my judgement, my punishment – my sentence on him. Better, love-driven judgement would have discerned the need to restore our relationship with a kind but firm word.

We need to be clear of our motives. What is the root of our judgement? Do we seek to restore others? Or do we simply have a thirst for vengeance?

When the teachers of the Law brought an adulteress before Jesus and demanded to know what they should do with her – the proper answer being to stone her to death, as written in Mosaic Law – Jesus’ reply was “let him who is without sin, cast the first stone” (John 8:7).

Hearing this, the crowd slowly dispersed, till only the woman and Jesus remained. Then He said to her, “Has no one condemned you? Neither do I condemn you. Go, and sin no more.”

People tried to expose the adulteress, but Jesus exposed their hypocrisy.

It’s easier to cast judgement from afar than to come close and understand a person’s plight; it’s easier to see the flaws in others than to acknowledge our own. But aren’t we all the same? People in need of compassion and mercy.

Instead of condemnation, let’s help each other to lead a changed life – to go and sin no more.

/ siqi@thir.st

Siqi loves to eat. Except for peas, egg yolk, cucumbers, livers, intestines. Among others. She also happens to be a writer.

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Full-time under 30: From academia to the heart of Africa

by Jemima Ooi, Justice Rising | 4 June 2018, 2:14 PM

Before I was called into missions in my early twenties, I remember chatting with a close friend who was feeling the nudge towards full-time ministry. She asked me what I thought, and with gutsy conviction, I replied, “Being called out by God is the most humbling privilege anyone can ever receive.”

I still feel the same way now, after seven years in the field, and perhaps all the more convinced – although I have to admit my convictions waned a little when I was first called into the fray!

Truth is, I’ve caught whispers of my calling since I was a young girl. Since God lives outside of time, I believe He peppers glimpses of our callings throughout our lives. I recall having visions of working in refugee camps at the age of 14, and having recurring dreams about being amongst the poor as a child.

Sometimes the knowing was so deep, I would tell my mum as a little girl that I didn’t think my life would be very ordinary.

Life in the Congo

The faith journey that led me into full-time missions started while I was in university. At that time, I saw my contemporaries fizzle out in the faith, pursuing lifestyles that weren’t healthy for them.

I was deeply saddened in my spirit – some of my closest friends left God, and I couldn’t convince them to stay.

It occurred to me then that it wasn’t just about good deeds or character; it wasn’t about knowing right and wrong – these things alone didn’t go down deep enough into the heart of a person to establish them, anchor them in God.

Something was missing and I needed to find God for myself. I needed Him to be so real that nothing on earth could tear me away from our relationship. I needed to live in intimacy, in oneness with Him.

This was where my deep and personal relationship with God took off. I began to seek Him out. I would take walks alone with Him late at night for over two hours almost every day. I talked to Him about everything on my heart, and He listened.

He encouraged me, taught me how to study, how to write my essays. I felt deeply at peace and known by my Creator. Soon God began to speak to me about “going places with Him”. I heartily agreed but didn’t exactly know how it would unfold.

Being called out by God is the most humbling privilege anyone can ever receive.

As I walked and talked with Him, God helped me to excel in university. Some people described me as a “late bloomer”, but I know it was nothing apart from God.

My professors talked to me about scholarships and asked if I would consider a career in academia. Coming from my bumbling academic background growing up, this was by far the most prestigious offer I’d ever received in my life. I had also received several tempting job offers, but my heart was hesitant.

So I sat to pray in earnest; I remember telling God, “I can’t do any of this without You. If I stay in academia or take these other jobs, but You’re not with me, everyone will know I’m a hoax.”

“What do You desire for my life?”

He replied by telling me to serve my parents for a year, after which He would tell me then what He wanted me to do.

My parents run a restaurant called “Penang Place”, and I worked there for two years as a server, helping to manage the operations and communications of our little family business.

It was a humbling place where God was sifting my affections – whether it lay in the things of this world, the honour and prestige, or whether I was loyal to the things on His heart. At the end of one year, God spoke so clearly to me about becoming a missionary.

He spoke about giving off my first fruits to Him, not just my money, but my strength and youth –things that could not be bought or regained.

During this season when God was speaking, several visiting speakers actually approached me and told me that God had marked me “for the nations”. These people didn’t even know me! The confirmations just kept coming and I knew that it was time to leave.

From there, I signed up to train with an international missions organisation, Youth With A Mission (YWAM), gave up my right to material security as the world would understand it, said goodbye to my family … And followed the call of God on my life.

Of course, going full-time wasn’t without its intense challenges. The biggest was this: I had to give up all self-sufficiency and control.

I joke that my initial fail-safe plan was to work hard, put aside savings, find a husband with a similar call, and one day move our whole family to the mission field. It was an absurd plan, but it felt so logical in my mind.

Over the years I’ve learnt that I have to surrender full control to God, from trusting Him to provide for me and my heart, to protecting me in dangerous war zones. I also have to depend on God to send others to support God’s work through me. I am completely dependent.

Sometimes to live in His peace, one has to sacrifice understanding.

There were many sacrifices in the initial years, chief of all being “understanding”. I didn’t understand where provision would come from, what my three to five year plan was … When I first started out, I had many well-meaning people concerned that I was “throwing away my future”, others thought I was being too lofty and idealistic, impractical.

I had no answers for them; I really had nothing to show for myself – I didn’t even know where I was going for a while! All I had was the firm belief that God had placed a dream in my heart for the poor and broken, and I had to follow Him.

Washing the feet of villagers

In the Bible it talks about there being a “peace that surpasses understanding” (Philippians 4:7): Sometimes to live in His peace, one has to sacrifice understanding.

The peace I’ve found is that God is most acquainted with the future, that when He calls, He provides. He always has an employment plan for those who work for Him. My dad used to tell me, “God gives His best to those who leave the choice to Him.” I’ve found this to be true – my life is so fulfilling and genuinely happy.

It seems paradoxical for someone living in a war zone to feel this way, but there really is nothing else I want to do. Living by faith with no steady stream of income is baffling even to me, yet God has provided for my every need. What a wonderful thought, that God has made it His responsibility to watch over us!

Today, I work for a missionary organisation called Justice Rising. I work alongside a team of missionaries who are sold-out lovers of God. They leave everything behind to risk their lives in a war zone – and most don’t even get paid for it!

One of the key ways we help to benefit these poor and broken communities is through education. We build all kind of schools – preschools, primary and secondary schools, carpentry and sewing schools. We also run discipleship training schools where locals from 16 to 60 years of age and every livelihood – farmers, mamas, pastors – come to be trained up as missionaries for their country.

With one of the mamas at church

There are many benefits to having a school. As the community learns good hygiene practices, plagues decrease and sanitation improves. Children are able to get help for the trauma issues they face.

Most importantly, we are able to disciple future generations in the things of God. Our students leave school not just knowing about God, but with a deep and personal walk with Him. They are the Daniels-in-training that will bring the wisdom of God before kings and leaders to shape their nation in the years to come.


Besides her primary work in the Congo with Justice Rising, Jemima currently oversees two slum schools in India, is helping to develop a large refugee settlement in the central Kenyan desert while working with survivors from the genocide in Rwanda, and is supporting a Burundian refugee community. If you’d like to support the work, please visit Justice Rising’s donation page to make a contribution.

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I lost my virginity but not my faith

by Grace Lim | 30 May 2018, 8:09 PM

I was an early bloomer in terms of romantic relationships, and started having serious relationships since the age of 15.

My first relationship was with a Christian. Both of us believed in God, but that didn’t automatically mean that our relationship was a healthy one. We pushed the boundaries in intimacy, and did everything short of the technical definition of sex.

The whole time, I consoled myself that this was okay because “we were in love,” and “we’re both Christians”. After daily disagreements and fights for two years, our relationship ended.

Wanting to escape the problems of that relationship, I jumped into a new one right away, without much thought or repentance. This round, it was with a non-Christian.

Again, we pushed boundaries. But this time, we took things further than I had ever expected or planned to – in the heat of the moment, I lost my virginity to my second boyfriend. That night, I cried and cried, not being able to sleep a wink, as I learned the hard way that “lost innocence can never be retrieved”.

I felt obliged to hang on to this unhealthy and unequally yoked relationship, believing I couldn’t leave after I had given all of myself to him. For nearly three years, this relationship dragged on.

During those trying years, I faced an endless war within my soul. My ongoing secret sex life stood in stark contrast to my weekly church attendance. I felt disgusting, dirty, and guilty. I was full of self-hatred.

I knew that what I was doing was wrong, and yet I felt like I had neither capacity nor strength to escape it. It was like an addiction – just once more, and that’s it, I told myself.  But “it” was never the last.

I grew distant from God. I would be physically present in church but spiritually absent. I would teach about putting God first, when in reality I made my own fleshly desire ruler of my heart. I would go to prayer meetings, but my mind would be wandering. I was living a double life, and this had become my deepest, darkest secret.

Most of all, I was convinced that I was beyond God’s saving grace. I was absolutely certain that God hated me.

And yet, God never gave up on me; He kept pursuing me. People around me would reach out to me, asking me if I was okay or if I needed to talk; Bible verses would jump out at me; sermons lovingly delivered would knock on the door of my heart. But just like Pharaoh, my heart was hardened.

I was convinced that I was beyond God’s saving grace; I was absolutely certain that God hated me.

Years later, through God’s amazing grace, my eyes were opened at last. I decided to put an end to this toxic relationship, and despite how much it scared me, something prompted me to talk to a trusted friend.

So I did; I reached out to my mentor, a lady from church who had led me through my youth days. I vividly remember her asking whether I wanted her to call me, or if I was more comfortable communicating through text. I chose the latter because of the awkwardness and the judgement I feared.

I finally gathered up the courage to share with her my darkest secret: I am not a virgin. My heart was pounding. I expected her to condemn me or say I should leave church.

Instead, she told me that she had been paying attention to me, and that she noticed how I was drifting away – not paying attention, always distracted. She even thanked me for sharing something so difficult with her, and also reassured me that my life was not over, and that God did not hate me because of sin.

She reminded me that sin is in fact, pervasive in everyone’s lives. All mankind has fallen short of the glory and holiness of God (Romans 3:23). It didn’t mean that I was worse than others because of what I did. It just meant that I was a fallen human being.

Romans 5:8 came to my mind: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

For the first time, I grasped the reality that God can forgive me for a sin I felt had separated me from Him forever. No matter how much I had spiralled downwards, I was never too far for Jesus to save. In fact, Jesus had already delivered me from the moment I accepted Him into my heart.

I was overwhelmed by His surpassing grace, full of gratitude that God had heard my cry to “hide [His] face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity” (Psalm 51:9).

I realised that God had allowed my iniquities to break me, to the point where there was really nothing else I could do but look up to Him for deliverance. And it was during the darkest night of my soul that God filled me.

There is indeed no other name like Jesus; I would never have experienced or known this without having been broken, and then put back together by His faithful hands.

For anyone else who may be suffering in a pit of shame, I would like to encourage you with  these precious truths that spoke to me:

1. Do not underestimate the power of Jesus’ blood and redemption

God said to ancient Israel, who turned away from Him again and again, “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more” (Isaiah 43:25). Surely, God will remember us too. Because of Him, our past does not dictate our future.

2. Remember that we as sinful human beings are all broken, and that God does not despise even the lowliest, should we choose to turn to Him

“My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, you, God, will not despise” (Psalm 51:17).

People may look at the outward appearance, but God looks at the condition of our hearts (1 Samuel 16:7). He looks at inward purity and glorification of Christ, rather than simply outward virtue.

3. While your virginity is a beautiful gift for your future spouse, the best thing you can possess is a steadfast love to God

A week into the relationship with my current partner, I was convicted to tell him about my past. I knew I was risking it all as I struggled to get the words out. When I finally finished, his reply encapsulated almost perfectly the love of God.

He said, “I’m not angry with you. We all have had our own past mistakes, but these past mistakes do not make you who you are. I mean, that’s why we need God, right? We make these mistakes, yes, but we ourselves are a separate entity from these sins because of God’s forgiveness. These sins are not a part of who we are. I still love you.”

With time, I’ve learned that the struggles I’ve had were never mine alone, and that God can use our vulnerability and brokenness for His glory. What was once a burden I could barely bear has now become a testimony I can use to reach out to and share with other struggling individuals, being a vessel of God’s love to them.

My prayer for anyone struggling is that God will transform your pain into your strength and testimony to minister to others, and to glorify Him. Commit yourself to continuous prayer for restoration and surrender your burdens to God each and every day.

Find a friend or a mentor you absolutely trust, and walk through the journey of healing together. God’s arms are always open to receive you, just like the father welcomed the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-31).


This article was first published on YMI.today, and is republished with permission.

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The correct way to grumble

by | 30 May 2018, 5:56 PM

We Singaporeans love to complain.

The weather, work, transportation … We complain about everything. And I’m no exception.

Recently, I’ve been weighed down by many issues in my life. I find myself grumbling about the mundanity of my job. I find myself groaning about the people in my life. And it doesn’t help when others complain to me too. The burdens pile up and become too heavy for my heart to bear.

But in this season Philippians 2 keeps popping up as a reminder for me. While I’ve written on humility from verses 3-8 previously, it seems there are still more lessons for me to learn from this chapter.

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.” (Philippians 2:14-16)

This was the first instruction from Paul right after he told the congregation to “work out their salvation with fear and trembling.” So not grumbling or being argumentative are hallmarks of a Christian who shines!

When I think of grumbling people, I think of the Israelites when they were rescued by God out of slavery from Egypt.

From the very start, the entire journey was filled with complaints and grumbling. First, the Israelites blamed God for making things even more difficult for them, having left Egypt. And this was barely after they had cried out to God to get them out of Egypt.

Then, encamped by the sea, they complained faithlessly about being taken out of Egypt when they saw the Egyptian army had come to recapture them (Exodus 14:10-12). And even after God provided a way out for the Israelites by parting the Red Sea, they continued grumbling about their dietary wants (Exodus 15:24; 16:1-3; 17:1-4).

God finally had enough at their fifth complaint and began punishing them for their behaviour. At the end of the day, grumbling stems from ungratefulness and faithlessness. When we complain, we slap away the hands that have provided for us. When we complain, we dismiss the goodness and sovereignty of God.

Complaining dishonours God.

There is something about corporate complaints that makes bitterness fester.

It’s easy to look at the Israelites and diss them.

But what about us? We complain a lot about life too, don’t we?

The truth is that life is hard. There are times when people frustrate us to no end. There are times we receive unreasonable treatment. But … so how? Just smile and pretend everything’s ok?

Thankfully, the Bible doesn’t dismiss our struggles. God didn’t shy away from Job’s suffering or Habbakuk’s outbursts. Instead He welcomes our difficult questions. I mean just look at Psalms – full of groans and complaints!

So I think there’s a proper way to air your grievances. Given that we are either like the Israelites or the Psalmist – we should learn how to grumble like the latter.

TWO STEPS FOR A GODLY GRUMBLE

1. Bring the issue to God

The first thing I noticed was who each party complained to. The Psalmist took his frustrations to God in a private session. The Israelites, however, were constantly grumbling amongst themselves (Numbers 11:10, 14:2).

There is something about corporate complaints that makes bitterness fester. When we vent our frustrations to another person poorly, chances are that little traces of that same hostility get transferred over as well.

Besides, complaining to each other also creates a fertile breeding ground for gossip and malicious talk. We’ve all been through it: We live vicariously through a person’s anger, and discontent starts to spread like wildfire.

It’s why the Bible instructs us to confront the party involved directly whenever there’s a conflict (Matthew 18:15-17).

2. Don’t play the blame game

I saw how the Israelites’ grumbling always had an accusation in it. They would blame God for their troubles while conveniently forgetting all the incredible He had done for them (Numbers 14:2, 16:13, Exodus 16:3)

The Psalmist, on the other hand, cried out to God for help in the midst of difficulty (Psalm 22, Psalm 69, Psalm 142). He didn’t point fingers, he didn’t accuse – He simply asked God for help.

Both were in life-threatening situations, but their differing responses reveal that their attitudes towards God were worlds apart. While one continued to trust God for His goodness and providence, the other began to assassinate His character despite having being delivered time and time again.

What about us? When troubles come, do we point our fingers at God or do we point ourselves towards God?

Everyone can work, but not everyone can work without grumbling. But when we know we have a God who is sovereign and good to us every step of our way – we don’t have to be fazed by circumstances. Instead, we can bring our worries to Him and trust that He will bring us through.

Then we will shine like stars in the sky.

/ siqi@thir.st

Siqi loves to eat. Except for peas, egg yolk, cucumbers, livers, intestines. Among others. She also happens to be a writer.

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by Lemuel Teo | 30 May 2018, 4:24 PM

I first met Ben KC Lee at a conference where he was speaking as the head of Sexual Wholeness with Focus on the Family Singapore. Ben’s openness in sharing his struggles with sexuality was striking and a refreshing change from the muted euphemisms I often heard about sex and pornography. I could sense his desire to engage Church leaders and encourage them to teach about godly sexuality in a holistic way.

Ben’s new book, Unmasked: Being Authentic about Sexuality, rings loud in today’s hyper-sexualised culture, providing handles on how we can view and talk about sexuality in a right manner. In an interview with SELAH, he shares his thoughts on the power of being real about our sexual struggles in the Singapore Church.

What has been your greatest challenge in championing authentic sexuality among Singapore Churches?

It would be how Church leaders presume that sexual wholeness is about homosexuality. Then almost every believer whom I meet equates “sexuality” with “homosexuality.” This happens probably because no one talks about godly sexuality enough, combined with the fact that homosexuality is a current hot-button cultural issue.

How do you remain authentic with your audience even with a growing public ministry?

Whenever I speak, I make it a point to be open with the audience about a current struggle, such as a recent moment of attraction at the supermarket, rather than just speaking on a past struggle like masturbation.

I also journey with four other men. We commit ourselves to being authentic about sexuality and to walk together towards sexual wholeness. My wife who ministers with me and our young adult children who often accompany us at conferences ensure that I stay away from impression management.

What are some recent trends in the Singapore church that encourage or worry you? What do you think are the reasons behind these trends?

I am encouraged that more Churches are stepping up to take the Whole Life Inventory [an instrument designed for Churches to assess and understand the health of their congregation in the areas of faith, identity, relationships, sexuality and values].

The findings are causing these Churches to look at areas that they have never examined before. One such Church did so and then went on to have their first-ever message series on sexuality in their 60-year Church history.

How can we disciple our young in sexuality if we don’t even talk about it?

I am concerned with Churches that just focus on LGBT sexuality without addressing the wider context of holistic sexuality. It is fair to say that most Churches are neglecting discipleship in sexuality. We have got to obey our Lord to teach everything that He has commanded — this involves sexuality. In fact, I would argue for lifespan sexuality education rather than just the periodic sermon or seminar.

Why did you write Unmasked: Being Authentic about Sexuality?

Most people will not want to talk with another person about sexuality, but may be willing to read a book on it. Also, even though I speak regularly on sexuality, a book can be in many more places than I can — and be in all those places at once.

My hope is that is that after reading Unmasked, conversations will start in homes and in Churches. How can we disciple our young in sexuality if we don’t even talk about it?

In Unmasked, you quote Meteyard and Alexander: “Human brokenness is often most painfully experienced through our sexuality.” Why does sexual brokenness seem to be a universal human experience?

We are created relational beings. Intimacy is a universal human need. However, we try to meet this relational need with a sexual experience.

We also have sexual desires. Living in an increasingly sex-saturated culture means that we are almost constantly stimulated even when we don’t want to be.

Culture has changed dramatically from when I was growing up. We have become much more fast-paced, more fragmented and more isolated as a society. At the same time, the dominant message about sex in the media is that sex is the quick fix that will always ease one’s pain and loneliness. When it comes to dating couples, most are sexually intimate as soon as they are emotionally intimate.

You already know that porn use, masturbation and sex outside marriage are incompatible with God’s Word. Guilt itself does not create change. I urge you to pursue healing.

On the other hand, the Church has mostly kept silent on sexuality. Believers are left to our own devices when it comes to sexuality. Most of us grow up learning about sex either from internet pornography or from our equally misinformed friends. It is then no surprise that many in the congregation are sexually broken.

There is the spiritual shame that we experience as a result of the Fall. The damage from this is immense and it has affected the sexuality of every man and woman. The root of sexual brokenness is a distorted view of God, self, and others.

What is God’s idea of holistic sexuality?

Holistic sexuality is an expression of the desire for connectedness that God has created in us. We have a longing for human connection that goes beyond the physical. Also, sexuality is embodied in our identities as male or female. God created male and female differences for oneness. The model is the Holy Trinity with the Father, Son, and Spirit being one.

This masculine or feminine nature is woven throughout every part of our lives.

  • Emotional (feelings in a relationship)
  • Physical (biological urges)
  • Social (friendships)
  • Intellectual (how we engage with our sexuality through the different stages of life)
  • Spiritual (how sex in a marriage brings husband and wife into complete union of two beings — body, soul, and spirit).

In Unmasked, I also discuss single sexuality and marital sexuality.

What would you say to millennial Christians who are struggling with sexual sin in their lives?

You already know that porn use, masturbation and sex outside marriage are incompatible with God’s Word. Guilt itself does not create change. I urge you to pursue healing. Speak with a mature believer from Church that you trust.

For guys, ask a godly man to journey with you. For girls, ask a godly woman. Realise that healing is not the absence of struggle but it is when temptations no longer have the innate craving that it used to. Healing is being set free from the roots that make the compulsive behaviour attractive or addictive. Ultimately, pursue holiness which comes from pursuing Christ.

You wrote in your book: “Vulnerability is admitting our needs and our struggles. In the absence of vulnerability, we create a culture of perfectionism.” How can Christian communities eradicate perfectionism and be vulnerable to one another?

This requires a culture change. Church leaders are environmental engineers. We get to model vulnerability by talking about sexuality to nurture this culture. This is not an external or programmatic change but a heart change. Pastors, parents, and mentors need to reject pseudo-authenticity and take the lead in embodying genuine authenticity when discussing sexuality. If you are not a leader, offer to share your testimony on sexuality in the cell group. You can also be part of an accountability group.

In your experience, have you seen a Christian community change as they opened more vulnerably and authentically about their struggles with sexuality in a safe environment? What happened?

I am fortunate to be acquainted with one such Church. The culture of this Church is now beginning to shift after three years of careful nurturing. Their Lead Pastor started the process with authentic conversations on sexuality. They have an annual message series on God’s design for sexuality. Their age-level ministries including men’s ministries and women’s ministries address sexuality including sexual brokenness.

What are some changes you hope to see in the Singapore Church in 5 years’ time?

There are three changes I hope to see. First, Churches discipling believers in the area of sexuality. Help mentors discuss sexuality with their mentees. Equip parents to disciple their own children in sexuality.

Second, Churches adopting a comprehensive lifespan sexuality education. Teach sexuality from cradle to grave in an age-appropriate manner.

Third, Churches becoming a safe place where we can bring our humanness. This is a community in which brokenness is accepted, where we feel safe to talk about our messy pasts and embrace the fragile identities of those who have been rescued by Christ.


Sexual brokenness is all around us. But when was the last time you had an honest conversation with a trusted friend, family member or your pastor about sexual brokenness? The truth is that we avoid talking about sexual brokenness because it brings us face to face with the parts of ourselves that we are most fearful of and shameful about. In this book, Ben KC Lee urges you to take off your mask and break the silence, so that you may experience healing and find freedom. Check out Unmasked: Being Authentic about Sexuality by Ben KC Lee.

This article was first published on Selah.sg, and is republished with permission.

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