Pastoral Perspectives

Repealing of s377A

The day has arrived – s377A will be repealed as revealed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during the National Day Rally 2022.

The LGBTQ community sees it as a positive step forward towards equality while religious bodies fear that if safeguards are not put in place, this watershed decision may signal the genesis of a process that will erode our social fabric should the understanding of marriage and family be redefined.

We must salute those who have tirelessly spoken out against the dangers of removing s377A. In a secular space filled by both religious and non-religious people, they see it as their responsibility to voice out what can potentially affect public morality rather than keep quiet and allow a very loud minority voice hijack the whole sexuality agenda.

As a result, our Government is well aware of our concerns. They held a number of closed door meetings with religious leaders running up to the National Day Rally. Very honest exchanges took place at those meetings. That’s why although s377A will be repealed, PM Lee assures the country that the Government will continue to uphold and safeguard the institution of marriage, protecting the definition of marriage as between male and female.

We thank God that we have a government who does not shy away from difficult moral issues that affect our society.

They don’t want to kick the can down the road for the next generation of leaders to grapple with the decision. They also don’t want to leave it to the Court to decide. As such, they initiated the repeal of s377A instead. They want to take the pro-active lead in setting the direction and shaping the outcome of this decision.

As a local church, where do we go from here?

We must watch and pray, just as what our EP Moderator, Rev Dr Christopher Chia, had exhorted us to do in this year’s Holy Week Convention.

Let’s keep abreast of the news and pay attention to the developments while we continue to pray for our Government that they will have the wisdom to put in place new constitutional protections and safeguards that are better, stronger, and collectively more strategic and more effective than s377A per se.

Let’s pray for the welfare and the unity of our nation that we will not let this issue divide us for we will definitely be stronger together.

Let’s pray for our marriages and families that they will remain healthy and strong. It will be hypocritical of us to trumpet the biblical portrait of marriage yet see divorce rates rise in our midst. We will be a laughing stock to the world.

Let’s pray for parents to have the wisdom and stamina to raise their children in the fear of the Lord. According to social studies, the best environment to raise and nurture children is in families that are constituted by heterosexual parents. How ironic if we constitute such a family yet our children are being neglected.

We must continue to strengthen our marriages and families and walk the talk. The state of our marriage and family can either bring glory or shame to our Lord.

Our church must also be a safe space for those who struggle with same-sex attraction to come out in the open and not be judged, shunned or ridiculed. May we be that place of refuge, journeying alongside those who experience same-sex attraction and who desire to live in obedience to God, which includes conforming themselves to what the Bible teaches about sexuality.

Just as we confess to each other our sins and ask for prayers to overcome temptations of all kinds, e.g. we may say, “Pray for me that I will be able to exercise greater self-control over my anger,” or “Pray for me that I will be able to stay away from pornography,” let us also be able to share with at least a small trusted group of friends in church, “I experience same-sex attraction. I need help to stay pure. Would you pray for me? Would you be my accountability partners?”

There must be confidentiality. We don’t need to announce it to the whole church just as we don’t announce our other sins to the whole church. The person who is struggling with same-sex attraction is no different from those who are struggling with other kinds of sins.

We are all made in the image of God; we are all sinners saved by grace. We have the Word of God to direct us, the Spirit of God to empower us and the people of God to encourage us so that we can keep each other on the straight and narrow path and spur each other to deny self, take up our cross and follow Jesus daily. This is part and parcel of what it means to bear each other’s burdens.

“What if?”

What if one day the safeguards are not good enough to protect the institution of marriage? What if we follow the path of the West where same-sex marriage becomes legalised? What if we as Christians are being persecuted for wanting to abide by our convictions that gay sex is wrong? What if we even lose our religious freedom to teach against such sexual acts?

We pray that that day will not come upon us. But should God allow it, how should we respond? Do we cry out to God in despair exclaiming “WHY?” We recall in the book of Ecclesiastes that there are things beyond our control and we sometimes do not fully understand the ways of God. The Preacher reminds us that we cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

I am sure there are faithful Christians in the West who pray earnestly against the tide of homosexuality but they are still inundated by it, just as there are Ukrainian Christians who pray for their country to be delivered but they are still in the thick of war, and Christians all over the world who pray for their governments to grant religious freedom only to face even greater persecutions.

What do we do when we find ourselves living in an ungodly environment which deviates further and further from the ways of God?

We must all the more introduce Christ to this lost world. Only he is able to save us! We must therefore continue to preach the Gospel and make disciples. We must continue to uphold the clear teachings of Scripture and to articulate and minister Biblical truths with love and compassion. Let our speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that we may know how we ought to answer each person.

The Church has always had to deal with issues, both internal and external, that may potentially destroy it. But take heart because didn’t Jesus tell the apostle Peter that the gates of hell shall not prevail against his Church?

The kingdom of God will continue to grow with or without s377A.

In the words of our EP Moderator, “In the final analysis, the Bible and church history shows us that we ultimately do not need to trust in any manmade law, party or personages for the perseverance of the saints. We start and end our journey by grace, assured that Jesus our Lord knows how to purify the Church through discipline. Jesus our Shepherd also knows how to protect his Church through persecution. God knows how to be God.”

 We must therefore learn to trust him with the questions even when we do not have all the answers. There is a time to retain s377A; there is a time to repeal s377A. We humbly submit to God and trust that he will make everything beautiful in its time.

Rev Lee Kien Seng

August 28, 2022