I spend a decent amount of time engaging with young people over life’s issues.
And one of the big ones in Singapore nowadays revolves around LGBT, Section 377A, and what the Church is doing or saying.
These young adults raised a couple of discussion points that were close to their hearts, so I’ve chosen three of them to unpack especially in view of 377A’s repeal.
Now, I don’t claim to have the full and right answers regarding how best to approach conversations concerning LGBT or 377A, but what I do have is a willingness to engage, learn from such discussions and share my understanding peaceably.
I hope you’ll see my sincerity in this article, from one Christian figuring these things out to another.
1. Why are we so zeroed in on this whole LGBT thing? What about…?
I’ve heard about the perception that some churches are “zeroed in” on contending against LGBT activists, perhaps to the detriment of other focuses like charity and serving the community’s needs.
The desire that Christians should represent and serve God consistently in all areas of society is one that is correct. We are called to do good to all.
For the first statement to stand, however, one would have to prove that churches are neglecting other communities at the expense of arguing over 377A.
I don’t know if such a position would be tenable, but from what I’m seeing, the Church is big-hearted and capable enough to serve and speak towards the land it lives in and loves.
As such, the Church’s deep and longstanding investment in the nation warrants well her word and stake in how our country will continue to grow.
Sexuality is an important issue for Singapore, and one that is currently being discussed by Parliament and the public, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that believers here are having their say.
Every Singaporean should have the freedom to share what they believe in respectfully.
That said, if “fighting the LGBT agenda” is all a church stands for and all it exists to do, then that certainly raises questions.
Further, if such a church does so through hateful and hurtful means then yes, they should be rightly criticised for the purposes of correction and the safety of communities it targets.
Ultimately, I don’t think believers should be apologetic about engaging in meaningful dialogue for the future of Singapore.
I also don’t think it’s productive or fair to play the what-about game when doing so, e.g. “If you’re so concerned about LGBT, then what about adultery/divorce/gambling…?”
Yes, of course we’re concerned about these things too. But we voice our concerns about this now because it’s the topic of conversation today.
When these areas are in question, I hope we all are just as passionate about what is right before God.
Just be consistent in your positions, continue to serve and lovingly contend for goodness in the land.
2. I’m not sure if voicing out like this is the right way to be loving.
Sometimes it helps to break down some of the words that we use.
For instance, what does “like this” mean?
If you’re going to be making homophobic remarks or picketing LGBT events, then sure, something “like this” would obviously be unloving and unacceptable.
But if you weigh your thoughts, values and beliefs, and reflect on the different sides and issues, before sharing an informed opinion for the good of the nation — there’s no reason why speaking up like this cannot be loving.
It all depends on the spirit in which you carry yourself and engage with fellow Singaporeans, especially those who hold different views from you.
As I listened to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s words on the repeal and the steps ahead, the spirit of his message that I received was one of unity and accommodation. Here’s an excerpt from his full speech that stood out to me:
“… In a society where diverse groups have strongly held opposing views, everyone has to accept that no group can have things all their way. If one side pushes too hard, the other side will push back even harder.
“In some Western societies, not few, this has resulted in culture wars, contempt for opposing views – not just for their views but for the opposing people, cancel culture to brow beat and shut up opponents, and bitter feuds splitting society into warring tribes. There are some signs of similar things starting to happen here too.”
I thought the Prime Minister raised a really salient point about culture wars and cancel culture elsewhere in the world.
There is so much to love about Singapore, and I don’t want to see her fall prey to ills like these.
Polarising one another only serves to inflame tensions and deepen divides.
That is why I believe we need to re-think our approach and perspective, shifting away from tribalistic us-versus-them mentalities and back to seeing how we handle differences as a matter of conversation.
Many modern approaches and ideologies would have you believe you only win when you shut others up or have the last word.
The result of following such paths? We forget how to talk with one another, and we forget we are brothers and sisters.
The result is hatred.
So don’t get caught in the lie that you shouldn’t share what you believe would be good for the country. Don’t let anyone prevent you from speaking truth in love.
Our society breathes and grows upon conversations. They can be heard in homes, in marketplaces and forums, and they eventually echo out on stages that decide which way the nation should go.
We must seek the welfare of our nation. To that end, it’s our duty to voice out since conversations are important.
3. Why should we care what others are doing?
And that brings me to my last point: We care about what others are doing because apathy is not love.
We care about others because God has told us to love one another. We care about the laws, values and practices in this land because that is seeking the good of our country.
Here, I should address this: Is it my business what two consenting adults do in private? Not necessarily on a personal level.
But it would be unrealistic to think that the ideology in discussion can simply be reduced to the confines of a bedroom without it having no ramifications on Singapore’s society or future.
One cannot ignore “what others are doing”, when it runs contrary to God’s design for human flourishing and when one considers the downstream effects that would ensue.
In the wake of the repeal, over 20 LGBT groups have said that the repeal is the “first step on a long road towards full equality” for LGBT Singaporeans.
While I want LGBT Singaporeans to be comfortable and at home in our nation, that proposed “long road” holds profound implications for the realms of education, media, family, business — virtually everything in Singapore.
So we need to talk things out and point to a better way. I trust that our brothers and sisters who hold the opposite viewpoint will be waiting to meet us in conversation with that same goal in mind.
To not be a part of such a journey, and to refrain from upholding and appealing to God’s truth to all people in our land concerning every facet of life — that is to shirk our duty as believers.
And secularly speaking, when different viewpoints, dreams and aspirations rise up to challenge and seek to shape Singapore and her future, it’s unwise and even unpatriotic to be lukewarm and indifferent to such issues that concern the very fabric of our nation.
Finally, as part of a hyper-connected generation, I can attest to the fact that the bombardment of news updates 110% of the time has the tendency to make me apathetic to many of the things around me.
That is the danger we must avoid. Let us be sure it’s not this fatigue of constant connection that ironically keeps us from being a loving neighbour.
And let us also be honest with ourselves, whether it’s, in fact, simple cowardice that keeps us muted and uninvested.
I have been re-learning two lessons recently.
- It’s okay for views to differ.
- We must not stop talking with one another because of it.
Moving forward as one united people, with compassionate action and charitable conversation — that is the path I want to see Singapore take.
May it be that when others look into the Church, they see one united people seeking the good of the nation.
And may it be that when the world looks at Singapore, they see a beacon of hope and unity blessed by God.
- What are your thoughts on the repeal?
- Did any of the concerns in the article stand out to you?
- What is one practical thing you can do to better represent Christ in tricky conversations like these?
- Take a moment to pray for Singapore and bless her.