It would be good take note of the background of the ETHOS Forum on Human Sexuality, Marriage & the Church. The Church in Singapore and homosexual activists are locked in a contestation to determine whether homosexuality should be normalized in society. At the centre of this dispute is whether section 377A of the Singapore Penal Code, which criminalizes male homosexual sex should be repealed.*
Dr. Roland Chia writes in his latest article published in ETHOS, “Normalizing Homosexuality: How Should Christians Respond?”
The main strategy of these advocates is to convince the world that homosexuality is normal, that people who are same-sex attracted are born that way. Many have appealed to the modern concept of sexual orientation and insist that the genetic and neurological basis for homosexuality is well supported by science.
If homosexual orientation has a biological basis, then discrimination against people with same-sex attraction amounts to bigotry and the infringement of their fundamental rights and liberties – so goes the argument.
How should Christians respond to the obvious agenda of LGBT activists to normalize homosexuality in society? Because of the multi-faceted nature of the LGBT strategy, the Christian response must take different forms and be made at various levels of society.
The publications by ETHOS is one of the many responses initiated by the Singapore Church. The Conference talks together seek to provide a scripture-principled and pastoral-sensitive response:
(1) It affirms that the foundation of human sexuality and morality be set in the context of heterosexual marriage as defined by God.
(2) It provides an exegetical reading of Scripture that is consistent with the consensus held by the Church for the last 2000 years.
(3) It provides a critical assessment of the claims of social scientific studies on homosexuality. It is a good reminder that all ‘ social-scientific studies’ are objective. We are mindful that some of the studies carried out by academics are not objective research, but are intended to legitimize homosexual activists as they promote their ideology to normalize homosexuality for society.
(4) It is important that the Church differentiates between the homosexual activist and ordinary church member/neighbor. The former organizes social action to change the law to normalize homosexuality while the latter is often caught in lonely struggles with issues of same sex attraction and sexual identity. These differentiated groups call for a two-tiered response by the Church:
First, a scripture-principled response: it is the responsibility of the ecclesiastical office and its theological institutions to provide scriptural principles and priorities for Christian engagement in the public arena. In response to the ideological challenge of homosexual activism, the Church organizes forums to educate the public and promote moral values that are consistent with the biblical teaching that heterosexual marriage is God’s intention in the creation order.
Second, a pastoral-sensitive response: the Church is mindful that it must never lose sight of the personal dimensions of sexual morality and sexual identity even as it engages with homosexual activists in the public arena. A good beginning is seen in Bishop Solomon’s helpful counseling guidelines to pastors who are ministering to church members/neighbors in their personal struggles. These guidelines are effective only if they are implemented by pastors with love, integrity and discernment.
*Footnote: While the Penal Code of Malaysia and Singapore both criminalize homosexual acts, it is necessary to take into account the different social dynamics at work in these countries. While I am sympathetic/supportive with the concerns by the Singapore Church, I would like to put on record that I have been advocating that the provisions of the Malaysia Penal Code that criminalize homosexual acts be repealed ever since I spoke at the Advocates International Lawyers Conference in Kuala Lumpur sometime around 2002. Different contexts call for dynamic and nuanced responses by the church.
Related Post: ETHOS Conference: Human Sexuality, Marriage & the Church
2 thoughts on “A Scripture-Principled and Pastoral-Sensitive Church Response to Homosexual Activism”
What do you think of the position of the American Psychological Association (APA) which states : “Homosexuality is not a mental disorder” and that “therapies that seek to reduce or eliminate same-gender sexual orientation are under extensive debate in the professional literature and the popular media (Davison, 1991; Haldeman, 1994; Wall Street Journal, 1997)”
Source: https://www.apa.org/about/policy/appropriate.aspx (retrieved 17-Nov-2018)
Hi Fractalist – Son of Mandelbrot?
Thanks for raising a more interesting and crucial question. Actually, the APA has gone further in affirming that same-sex attraction (homosexuality) is normal. What is normal should not require “reparative therapy”. Any such attempt at “sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE)” would be ineffective and possibly harmful.
I. The “Resolution on Appropriate Affirmative Responses to Sexual Orientation Distress and Change Efforts (2009)” published in APA website [https://www.apa.org/about/policy/sexual-orientation.aspx] contains the following affirmations:
*Therefore be it resolved* that the American Psychological Association affirms that same-sex sexual and romantic attractions, feelings, and behaviors are normal and positive variations of human sexuality regardless of sexual orientation identity;
*Be it further resolved* that the American Psychological Association reaffirms its position that homosexuality per se is not a mental disorder and opposes portrayals of sexual minority youths and adults as mentally ill due to their sexual orientation;
*Be it further resolved* that the American Psychological Association concludes that there is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation;
*Be it further resolved* that the American Psychological Association encourages mental health professionals to avoid misrepresenting the efficacy of sexual orientation change efforts by promoting or promising change in sexual orientation when providing assistance to individuals distressed by their own or others’ sexual orientation.
II. The APA in 2015 published a letter supporting President Obama’s “Call to End Use of Therapies Intended to Change Sexual Orientation.” The letter declares: “So-called reparative therapies are aimed at ‘fixing’ something that is not a mental illness and therefore does not require therapy. There is insufficient scientific evidence that they work, and they have the potential to harm the client,” [https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2015/04/therapies-sexual-orientation.aspx]
Obviously, I disagree with APA’s position as it is based more on ideology than on robust social-scientific findings [The sample sizes are small, self-selecting, & not sufficiently representative]
Given the weighty & intimidating authority of the APA, and the significance of the issue, perhaps I should give a more extended response. Would be good to look out for my next post sometime next week in http://www.krisispraxis.com
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