Culture

Caught between 2 petitions, I could no longer choose indifference

Audrey Hau // September 14, 2018, 2:10 pm

Making a stand

36 new WhatsApp notifications.

Groggily, I opened my chats which all had the same message in them, “Can you help me out by signing this petition?” When I clicked on the link, the page I was redirected to read: “Please Keep Penal Code 377A in Singapore”.

This issue again. I searched for respite in my Instagram feed, but to no avail. I quickly discovered there was not just one petition, but 2 – the other, of course, for the repeal.

I instinctively reached for the power button. That wasn’t what I wanted out of my morning social media routine.

Discussing issues that pertain to the LGBT community has always been something I avoided.

Surrounded by liberal classmates in school, I knew that verbalising my conservative, Christian views would mostly be met with disapproval, thinly veiled as a “let’s agree to disagree”.

Having no opinion simply became more convenient than having to articulate what is said in the Bible. So gradually, I began to see the merit in their views. What’s so wrong with two people loving each other? Shouldn’t everyone have the freedom to love?

And if I was ever pressed, I would fall back on the familiar Christianese refrain, “Love the sinner, hate the sin”. Leviticus 20:13 continued to linger at the back of my head, but the dissonance within never subsided.

Having no opinion simply became more convenient than having to articulate what is said in the Bible.

I believe this is a conundrum many young Christians face – we find it easier to just not think about it and push it to the back of our minds.

But with the recent decision by India’s Supreme Court to decriminalise homosexual sex, Penal Code Section 377A has returned to the forefront of societal and individual consciousness.

Being caught in the middle is no longer as comfortable in a society increasingly polarised over this issue. How then should we as young Christians grapple with the seemingly dichotomous concepts of protecting the freedom to love and preserving the sanctity of love?

How should we view Section 377A?

Section 377A has always served more as a moral baseline than an enforceable law.

While I do not possess the requisite legal expertise to analyse what the potential implications of repealing Section 377A would be, it is something MP Christopher de Souza expounded on in 2007 when the issue was being discussed in Parliament. He raised the possibility of adoption laws, spousal rights, school curricula being modified once this moral baseline shifted.

Those campaigning for the repeal of 377A are unlikely to be satisfied with just decriminalising sexual acts between those of the same gender. The goalpost will continue to shift, and as many other societies that have legalised sex between those of the same gender have shown, the status quo will constantly be challenged.

  • In the United States, a baker and a shirt printer ran into legal troubles for refusing to serve a gay marriage and gay pride festival, respectively
  • Last month, a list of 10 declarations was circulated spelling out the changes the LGBT community wanted to see in Singapore, from mainstream media to sex education

The fact is that legalising same-sex marriage or homosexual relations could someday undermine the right to practise one’s religion.

I’ve heard some hard questions surfacing from the Christians around my age: Adultery, pre-marital sex and other “un-Christian” behaviour are not criminalised – so why should the LGBT lifestyle be singled out as illegal?

Others have also asked me, is the government justified in acting as moral arbiter in society? Is criminalising gay sex really the best way to show love?

Those campaigning for the repeal of 377A are unlikely to be satisfied with just decriminalising sexual acts between those of the same gender. The goalpost will continue to shift …

These are questions that I struggle with as well, and have not completely resolved. But what I do know is that repealing 377A runs the risk of opening the floodgates, with possibly regrettable and irreversible implications.

With this in mind, in spite of the harsh phrasing of Section 377A, I do not support its repeal because of what it stands for and what it protects. I cannot support its repeal; not when I’m still discovering what Scripture is pointing me to: 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, 1 Timothy 1:8-10, Romans 1:26-27 and the list goes on.

In the coming days, young Christians are likely to be asked difficult questions surrounding S377A and LGBT matters in general. It’s finally dawned on me that as a woke millennial, I have become frightened to voice my opinion for fear of offending others. Afraid to wear the badge of shame that is “conservative thought”.

But in not saying anything – I have not been honouring God. The middle ground of silence does not actually exist.

At this juncture, I believe it is imperative that we millennial Christians confidently speak our minds.

Yes, LGBT individuals have the right to act on their same-sex attraction and the right to express themselves, but in the same vein, how can it come at the expense of our religious freedoms? It cannot.

No, I do not think that those in the LGBT community are criminals, I just think the law should stay to act as a moral baseline. And if it comes down to two sides, as it really does in every other issue in life, I know where I’ll be standing. Do you?

Instead of sitting on the fence, we can search for ways to gradually dismantle these fences, while remaining rooted in biblical convictions.

This opinion is unlikely to go down well with many of my friends. It is difficult to strike a compromise when both sides seem so diametrically opposed. But instead of sitting on the fence, we can search for ways to gradually dismantle these fences, while remaining rooted in biblical convictions.

Just as Scripture tells us to first take the plank out of our own eye before looking at the speck of sawdust in another’s (Matthew 7:3-5), relating to LGBT persons genuinely and in humility, rather than from a position of moral superiority can hopefully help to build rather than burn bridges.