Saturday, 31 January 2015

Compassion

If you are familiar with the Gay Christian Network (GCN) lingo, you would have heard of Side A and Side B. If you've not, those on Side A believe that God blesses same-sex marriages, and those on Side B believes that God calls gay Christians to lifelong celibacy. You can click on the links to read the very long arguments Justin and Ron have made respectively for Sides A and B. They have done an excellent job and both essays are well worth a read.

If you'd like to know, I personally am on neither side. That is a whole other story fit for a post on its own.

In any case, I'd just like to talk about love and unity in the body of Christ. As Jeff Chu put it so well in the opening keynote GCN Conference earlier this month at Portland,

"If you are Side A, can you regard Side B without pity? If you are Side B, can you look at Side A without judgment? If I told you that I’m Side C or Side M or Side Z—or if I were to refuse to opt for sides or labels, because they vex me—could you meet me there too?"

We can't do it perfectly it all the time, but can we at least try?

I have not been in a Side A/Side B debate (since I'm on neither side), but I've been at the receiving end of Christians giving me advice after I came out to them.

It hurt.

Their words stung.

I suppose admonition is supposed to. But what about being obedient to Scripture, albeit in a slightly different way? What about living as a celibate LGBT couple? It seems like that's impossible too.

Now I must admit, I have had leaders being very careful and gracious with their words when I came out to them, and I truly appreciated that. But why is it that it must always be about change?

"Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you" was a verse that a pastor told me to meditate on. Which I did.

Yet my orientation remains. Not for a lack of effort.

At the very last Exodus Conference I attended a year and a half ago, the then president Alan Chambers declared that 99.9% of the clients they worked with didn't experience orientation change. Now this is the largest organization working with people who are seeking change. And they didn't.

Now I do believe that God is all powerful and that He can surely do all things.

But perhaps it's time for a paradigm shift.

What if I accepted that I were fearfully and wonderfully made and that this orientation of mine is a gift from God?

What if this was the way God wired me?

What if there is a greater purpose behind this?

Leaders, Christians, fellow brothers and sisters, when someone comes out to you, please accept them on their terms. It took a great deal of courage to be vulnerable with you, so do speak with love and care. Don't jump straight to conclusions (that they are necessarily supportive of gay marriage and so on) but ask questions in an effort to understand. They are essentially the same person even after coming out to you. Seek to understand them. Refrain from giving advice until after much prayer and research. I would highly recommend that. But most of all, speak with love.

Yes, the truth hurts. Of course. No one likes hearing that God condemns gay sex even if it were true. But if that's the first thing that pops out, to the gay Christian, it will definitely seem like a total negation of himself/herself as a person. Where is the compassion in that?

This brings to mind a story in the Bible. When a woman was caught in the act of adultery and brought before Jesus, the religious wanted him to stone her, just like the law in the Old Testament commanded. Instead, as you know, he told them that the sinless can cast the first stone. And when they all left, he told her to "go and sin no more". Wow.

Can we be like Jesus?

Can we practice a bit of compassion?

Can we love our gay neighbour as ourselves?

Can we?

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Anguish

I've been crying a lot these past two days. It began just after I finished watching the replay of Jeff Chu's opening speech at the GCN conference that took place two weeks ago in Portland.

He called for a church to be more inclusive. To love without judging. And that everyone has a story to bring to the table. Everyone mattered. 

I didn't know why I cried that night but I sobbed so hard. 

Then at church today, I inexplicably started weeping during worship. I teared up at different points throughout the sermon as well. Subsequently, as I was walking back home, I had to keep myself in check to prevent a floodgate of tears from escaping and scaring the passerbys around me. 

I suppose what I felt was anguish. How every gay Christian might feel at one point in their lives. 

Now I've not experience homophobia in church. That's not the reason for the tears. It's something more basic. 

I wish I were straight. 

How many times have I, like the countless others before me, come to God in earnest and anguished prayer, asking for the same-sex attractions to be taken away? How many times have I heard the well-meaning advice dished out to me by the many pastors I've come out to, to have a vision for the future, for marriage, for a life without this? How many times have I felt so different in church, in cell group, unable to articulate my feelings, my thoughts, my secrets I keep hidden in my closet?

I cry because of the anguish within. 

And yet God provides a way out. 

He tells me that He loves me just as I am. 

"Just as you are."

Just as I am.

And I calm down. The tears stop flowing. I take a deep breath and meditate on that. And I thank God I am His. 



All whom My Father gives (entrusts) to Me will come to Me; and the one who comes to Me I will most certainly not cast out [I will never, no never, reject one of them who comes to Me]. (John 6:37 AMP)

Saturday, 24 January 2015

The Imitation Game

I watched "The Imitation Game" last night after being influenced by The Straits Times to do so, what with them doing a 2 page special on it and with Benedict Cumberbatch covering the front page of Life!

It was a BRILLIANT show. 

Everyone should go watch that movie. Unless you are under 16 in Singapore. They rated it NC-16, and I was initially slightly wary (too much sex and gore just scares me), but I realised it was because it dealt extensively on the topic of homosexuality.

I was rather surprised how much the movie focused on him being gay. After commenting to a friend, she pointed out that it was quite crucial because of how the film ended. I shall not post spoilers here.

After watching the movie, I realise how tremendously blessed we are to be living in this country in this day and age. Even though 377A has not yet been repealed, people are not thrown into jail for being a homosexual. Or killed even. I feel so grateful really.

In Uganda and Russia, the situation is quite different. We need to count our blessings as they come and pray for those persecuted in those countries. Violence is never the solution.

I guess I have to end on this rather sombre note. Till next time.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Vicky Beeching at the GCN Conference 2015

I recently wondered if I should blog about my experience at my first (and last) Exodus International conference that took place around a year and a half ago in 2013. Then as I was checking my twitter feed 3 days ago, I chanced on the recommendation of a friend (one that I made in the Exodus conference) to watch a keynote address at the GCN Conference that took place around a week ago.

Intrigued, I did. That's when I discovered Vicky Beeching. Her story is incredible and you can catch it here or in the embedded video at the end of this blog post.

She began with a quote by Katherine Center, "We need to be brave with our stories so that others can be brave with theirs." I was hooked. I spent the next hour listening to her speak on her life followed by her sharing a bit on theology and I was transfixed throughout.

As much as she was hilarious and very articulate, she told a most heartbreaking story. I'll not spoil it for you, go watch the video yourself. But in short, it was a testimony of how she grew up as a Christian, and subsequently embarking on a successful CCM career, and because of that, hid her sexuality and suffered. The story has a happy ending though.

Now why was I so fascinated by her testimony? Perhaps it's because it's so relatable. Even though I'm out to most of my cell group and closer friends, sometimes I feel like I'm hiding a part of me from my family and others.

I cannot begin to imagine her life as a public figure, coming out to the entire world. Whoa. That must be overwhelming. Yet, I realise the importance of doing so. As she shared her story in Portland last week, there have been more than 15,000 views in 8 days and I'm sure many, like myself, have been encouraged. And as I share my story here on this little blog, I hope I am making a difference in some reader's life out there.

Last night, as I was reading the Bible, I had a revelation. The passage I read was in Matthew 8:1-17. It was where Jesus healed the sick and delivered the demon possessed. God told me that I had been fearfully and wonderfully made, just like Vicky. We are not sick, we are not demon possessed. We are however, fearfully and wonderfully made.

Wow.

I had to just meditate on that a bit to let that sink in.

So there, that's all I have to say today. This blog post does not even begin to do justice to the brilliant address that Vicky made at the GCN conference. When you have an hour to spare, do watch the video.

Thank you for sharing your story Vicky, you've inspired me to continue sharing mine. :)

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Cornerstone

Came away very inspired after service with Pastor Tan today. The title of his message was "The Chief Cornerstone". 

An interesting point to note was how people (including myself) often mistake cornerstone to mean "a stone at the corner of a building" which is a forgivable mistake. The Hebrew word for cornerstone is actually "pinnah" from which we get the word "pinnacle". And that stone was the stone right at the centre of an arch of a building. It holds the entire structure together, without it, everything falls apart. With it, it can sustain the weight of a bridge and more. 

Similarly, Jesus holds our entire life together. Without Him at the centre of our lives, everything would fall apart. With Him, we can withstand the pressures of the world and still hold it together. 

As such, Pastor Tan exhorted us to make Jesus the front and centre of our lives. 

A fitting start to the new year. I'm blessed. :)

Monday, 5 January 2015

Sometimes I regret coming out

Not all the time. Just sometimes. Especially to my sister. Because every time I try to bring up the topic, she brushes it aside. And I end up not being able to tell her a lot of things that I wish I could share openly and honestly with her.

All these thoughts stirred within me as I read how about a transgender guy regretted coming out to his parents. It's a good read and shares with one all the reasons you might want to be careful who you come out to.

Don't get me wrong. I think that in specific situations, coming out is great, but choosing the right person is vital too. Some people just can't handle too much information, and life would be saner for you, and for him/her if they didn't know.

It's a long but very good read. 

Friday, 2 January 2015

The importance of a group

I came back from cell group a couple of hours ago and felt like going for it was the best decision I've made all week. Hearing testimonies of how God worked in my friends' lives, having other people pray earnestly for you, and just hanging out, chatting with people just does wonders to the soul.

And it brought me back to how grateful I am for having found a different sort of group roughly around 3 years ago. 

I got to know about Church of our Saviour's support group for those dealing with LGBT issues through trusty Google. Also, at that time I'd just gone through a Sy Rogers DVD where he encourages anyone in need to find a counsellor or a support group. So that's how I found Choices. 

Some folks I met at FCC thought it's a place where they try to make you straight. I clarified that that's not its aim. In fact, my participation with Choices has been a great help to me, especially in the chaotic time I was in back then. 

It's a place where you can have an honest, heart to heart sharing about the deepest issues that you might not otherwise share with your cell group members or even your closest friend or your dearest siblings. It's a place where, week after week, you get to thrash out the same issues, talk about your crushes, laugh about the misunderstandings, cry about the hurt inflicted by others and so much more. 

It was a place of refuge. My place of refuge. 

And this year, I'd like to provide a similar platform here on this blog. I hope that through my sharing, others might find the courage to share their stories as well. Or if you'd rather your comment not be seen by the entire world, feel free to drop me an email at agaysingaporeanchristian@gmail.com and we can chat there. Or I could just listen. 

What's most comforting when I read Matthew 1 last night was this: God is Immanuel, He is with us. And then there are people whom God created, "God with skin on" as someone once said, that can be with you today. So here is me reaching out to you today: You're not alone. 

Reflections on my friend's suicide (8 months on)

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