May 1, 2009
If you live in Singapore, you can’t help but read about the ruckus going on in AWARE over a leadership “takeover” by members who just recently joined the organisation, voted in by other members who also just joined the organisation within the last few months. Following on from that, we had accusations, counter-accusations, resignations, termination of staff, etc. In short, the kind of drama we don’t often see in Singapore, spiced up by the addition of elements like religion and gay issues.
My main thought is for AWARE. How will it affect the organisation to have leaders who were motivated to contest not because they were passionate about women’s issues, rights for the downtrodden, justice for the abused, but because they were against what they saw as the promotion of homosexuality in certain AWARE activities and programmes? Given their driving motivation, can they summon up the commitment and doggedness to stand up for more day-to-day issues, for standing up for women who are in need of people to speak up for them?
My other thought is that this is not reflecting well on Christians. What happened to loving your neighbour, to humility, to having an attitude of serving from the heart – key elements of Jesus’ teaching? The way that the leadership change was effected and the subsequent actions smack instead of arrogance, and something approaching contempt, perhaps even hatred, for homosexuality and homosexuals. That’s sad, because the Jesus I know from the bible stood with the outcasts in Jewish society – the tax collectors, the prostitutes, the lepers. He showed love, and drew these people closer to God, and farther from sin, by doing so.
This move on the part of these church members may represent something I’ve been noticing — an increasing discomfort with liberalism within the Christian church itself. Seems to me that this kind of reaction is at least driven in part by fear. But why the need for such fear? Why feel threatened that children will be influenced or contaminated by homosexuality being labelled a neutral word? Why fear that the gay lifestyle will be increasingly regarded as normal, that gays will have recognised rights? Surely, the only fear Christians should have is fear of God?
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Sometimes it’s easier to believe in God, and to love God, than to be a member of a church. The drawing of lines in the sand, with “us” on one side and “them” on the other, simply does not feel right to me. I don’t hear Jesus calling us to be God’s police force. In fact, he cautioned against judging others before looking at the faults in ourselves. And he showed it in his actions — when he was asked whether a prostitute should be punished, he challenged those without sin to cast the first stone.
March 2, 2008
A few days ago, something unusual greeted us at the Singapore Immigration checkpoint (the one at the causeway going into Malaysia). There seemed to be lots of uniformed officers just standing around observing the crowd, or walking around. There were also long queues at the counters.
On the way back, we saw something else extraordinary. Sitting in our bus, we passed a long, long, long line of lorries — must be a few miles long — on the roads leading up to the Singapore Immigration checkpoint. An incredible sight in efficient Singapore. The drivers had been waiting so long that some had climbed out of their lorries to chat with each other.
Then yesterday, there was a public service message from the Singapore police on my mobile phone, the first time this has happened. It was so surprising that I thought at first it was a hoax. But, no, it was a real message advising the public to inform police if they spot the terrorist who escaped from a Singapore detention centre recently.
All this got me to thinking, my father lived through the Japanese occupation of Malaya during World War Two, and the turbulent post-war years. But, my generation, we’ve not had to face the reality of a police or military presence in our daily lives.
This little brush with terror woke me up to how people around the world who do have to do so must feel. My heart and prayers go out to them.
It also got me to thinking: Why do we human beings create situations where we destroy each other?
It’s a pattern that keeps recurring, even when it doesn’t make sense.
This quote, one of my favourites, seems appropriate somehow:
“Prime numbers are what is left when you have taken all the patterns away. I think prime numbers are like life. They are very logical, but you could never work out the rules, even if you spent all your time thinking about them.” (Christopher Boone in “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” by Mark Haddon).