Various churches under the LoveSingapore movement, most notably FCBC, have been making a clear stand against the repealing of Section 377A, on the grounds that the family as a ‘basic building block’ is threatened by ‘homosexual activists’.
Let’s take a look at what Section 377A says:
“Any male person who, in public or private, commits, or abets the commission of, or procures or attempts to procure the commission by any male person of, any act of gross indecency with another male person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 2 years.”
Here, the law clearly criminalizes male homosexual sex, even in the bedroom.
The line of argument that the churches are currently using against the repealing of Section 377A is that it would be damaging to the family, something I find hard to agree with. In another post on Facebook, Ps. Lawrence Khong details – with a slippery slope fallacy – how the repealing would lead to the damaging of the family. I will not pick apart that argument today. Instead, I want to show how the anti-family argument doesn’t even make sense from a Christian perspective – not when there are other sins that are clearly more ‘anti-family’ that Christians tolerate despite the lack of national laws against them – and also how homosexuality as a Christian sin is not even as clearly condemned as anti-family sins such as divorce.
What makes Christians consider homosexuality abhorrent?
Like most Christians, many of our beliefs about right and wrong (should) come from verses in the Bible. Some are clear commands (the Ten Commandments), other laws have been superseded (the law of Moses), and others are based on statements Jesus made. Other instructions also come from Paul’s epistles in the New Testament.
I was once involved in a debate organised by a Methodist equipping programme where I was on the ‘for’ side of a homosexuality debate (we were supposed to be the devil’s advocates, I suppose). To my surprise, my biblical research turned up very few references to homosexuality as a sin. I could count them on one hand. Wikipedia helpfully lists all of them here. And for many of them, gay Christian apologetics have written counter-arguments to mainstream analyses of these ostensibly anti-homosexual passages.
Leviticus may clearly state that homosexual acts are prohibited. But Christians have abandoned most Levitical laws, such as the restriction against pork, so it’s questionable as to whether this actually stands, or Christians cite this as a still-standing law because it fits with a comfortable worldview of the sinfulness of homosexuality.
Sodom and Gomorrah, another oft-cited example, curiously never actually states clearly that homosexuality was the sin for which the cities were condemned. The more obvious sins are sexual promiscuity and rape.
Another commonly cited verse, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, where Paul seems to clearly condemn homosexuality, might not actually be so. ‘Homosexual’ is a fairly recent translation of the original Greek word in the text, arsenokoitai. Arsenokoitai is not an easily translated Greek word. In older versions such as the KJV, it was translated as ‘abusers of themselves with mankind’. ‘Homosexual’ as a translation for arsenokoitai only started appearing in Bible versions in the 20th century. It is not inconceivable that these US-based translators for the modern versions such as the NIV may have chosen ‘homosexual’ because of prevailing social Christian norms that had to be codified in the face of homosexuality becoming an issue in the West.
In short, homosexuality is not the clearest of sins. Jesus, who made many statements of what was sin and what was not, curiously never mentioned homosexuality. But he was very clear on many other things that some Christians today take lightly – and the church doesn’t always make a strong stand about – such as lust and divorce.
Some church leaders who have divorced and remarried are still allowed to lead churches. Despite that, these churches are not usually condemned because of a leader who has committed this sin (for which repentance entails separation from their new wife, which they usually do not do). Yet many churches tend to take an unusually strong stance against homosexuality, despite a debatable basis for its sinfulness.
But let’s say we jettison all that commentary about the Bible, and focus on the current primary argument put forward by these churches that imply homosexuality is anti-family. Isn’t divorce – allowing a couple to break up, and in some cases because a third party was involved – even more anti-family? Jesus condemned divorce and remarrying after divorce, and for good reason. Divorce leaves families broken; children with only one parent. Yet, the churches aren’t making a big furore over the fact that remarrying after divorce isn’t prohibited.
But they shouldn’t, and neither should they fuss over Section 377A. If we were a theocracy, we would be justified with enacting religious laws as laws of the land as well. But as a secular state, we have to respect that some of the government’s laws may be more liberal than our own religious rules, but we live with them, and simply lay down these religious rules for our own Christian brothers, sisters, and children. The church should look after its own; anyone who feels like coming under Christian restrictions will walk into our churches.
Render that which is Caesar’s to Caesar, and that which is God’s to God.
Repealing Section 377A will not break up a Christian family, nor cause less families to be formed. The heterosexual family unit will be fine; repealing this section will not suddenly turn a God-abiding heterosexual Christian spouse into a homosexual who will abandon his family. A homosexual, whether the law prohibits his orientation or not, will never want to become part of the conventional heterosexual family unit. Even if they did marry someone of the opposite sex, they wouldn’t be happy, and that wouldn’t make for a very happy family.
That’s why I find the anti-family argument rather preposterous. It covers up the true reason why many Christians don’t want Section 377A repealed: Christians believe it is a sin (something that century-long debates over the pertinent passages show is not so clear-cut). But because the sinfulness of homosexuality is not a universal belief shared by everyone in Singapore, we can’t justify keeping this section in our national law.
LGBTs reading this, I hope this helps you understand why Christians think homosexuality is wrong.
Christians reading this, I hope this will make you reconsider the biblical basis for considering homosexuality a sin, and whether our beliefs should be imposed in the secular public space.