By Snr Ps Beh Soo Yeong
Over the past couple of weeks, we took a brief pause from our study of Luke to look at a topical series on Redeeming Sexuality. We talked about same-sex attraction, the repeal of S377a and also sought to understand the issues surrounding transgenderism. These are challenging and complex issues, if not controversial ones as well. I am sure we can do better, but I hope that through the series, we are more acquainted with the topics, especially when they are becoming increasingly prevalent in our society today. After all, in these topics, we need to be following Jesus too. As I learn to speak into these issues, and learn from other speakers as well, allow me to share some pastoral reflections:
1. We are a broken world with broken people, ourselves included.
Since the Fall, sin has crept into the world. We do not just have sin, we are sinful, even at birth. At the same time, we are a broken world, ourselves included. Dysfunctions and deviations are par for the course, whether they relate to sexuality or not. Rod Wilson, a former president of Regent College, defines brokenness as the absence of perfection and the presence of pain. We need to recognise our own brokenness and accept one another, albeit different from us.
2. We find our identity and hope in Christ.
While we engage in these issues, we need to be clear that we do not find our identity in our sexuality, intellectual ability or financial plenty, even though these are part of us. Instead, our identity is found in Christ. He alone defines who we are. We are humans created in the image of God (imago dei), and for us who are disciples of Christ, children of the living God. It is therefore in Christ that we find hope – hope for healing and restoration, if not in the here-and-now, then in the there-and-then of the kingdom of God. Even if the brokenness of our perishable body may not be healed here, we await the perfection that comes in the promised imperishable and glorified bodies when we see Christ face to face.
3. We need to follow God’s truth on all these issues.
In the midst of these complex and often controversial issues, we thank God that he has given us fundamental truths and principles to guide our thinking and response. We are reminded that we are created male and female, in the image of God. As a result of the Original Sin by Adam and Eve, all of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, that homosexual acts are sinful just as heterosexual acts outside marriage are sinful. Such truth is not relative or subjective, and we must continue to encourage obedience and teach them to ourselves, especially those younger in faith. Cultural relevance must be anchored first on our unchanging Rock.
4. We need to exercise humility in our engagement.
On the one hand, we represent Christ and his truth as his ambassadors. On the other hand, we do so purely by his grace, as broken and sinful people who find our forgiveness, identity and hope in Christ. While the truth of Scripture is clear, how it is applied and lived out in a broken world is not. There are no easy and perfect answers to many of life’s crippling questions. Hence, it behoves us to adopt a humble posture when interacting and journeying with others seeking to deal with these controversial matters. We need to recognise the complexities and the pain involved for many who are in such situations, whether directly or indirectly as friends and family. Whether it is a private conversation with someone who is struggling, or a public discourse in the public square, may we be life-giving influences with a winsome and humble posture.
5. We need to provide a safe space for real community to take place.
Last but not least, after the talking and learning, what do we do about it? I hope that as a faith community, we will grow as a safe place for such difficult conversations to take place. I hope more of us will listen and pay attention with empathy. I hope many can be open and to befriend and journey with those who face these struggles, especially that of loneliness, on a daily basis. Paraphrasing Mr Joseph John, “While we may not be healed or restored on this side of heaven, I hope that we will know that we are deeply loved by a community of brothers and sisters.” In this regard, if you have any struggles or questions regarding the area of sexuality, please come talk to any of the pastoral staff.
May we grow as a community of saints—redeemed sinners—who are committed to journey alongside one another, constantly speaking the truth in love, redeeming our sexuality.