Pastoral Perspectives

The Mirage of the Freedom to Love

On the surface, a slogan like “Freedom to love” would be rather innocuous and should be readily supported by anyone. If you were to enquire of any individual, it is most likely that this person would cherish and desire more freedom and love in his life, regardless of their religious conviction or morality. Furthermore, the opposite would usually be defined as slavery, oppression, hate and phobias of all sorts. A scenario that no one or for that matter any society would welcome and work towards. Indeed, even in a reclusive dictatorship like North Korea, their propaganda machinery would employ similar language, compelling citizens to demonstrate visible affections for the Supreme Leader and to zealously defend the freedom of Motherland.    

Closer to home, it is not surprising why LGBTQ lobby groups would choose a tagline like “Supporting the Freedom to Love” as their rallying cause. Judging from the increased number of attendees over the past Pink Dot events, we see that they have been successful in pulling the heartstrings of many. Regardless of their sexuality or religion, the worldview of many is increasingly one that regards what is commonly referred to as traditional family values as something that has been used to deny others of their freedom and sexual identity. As a result, many today are advocating for change, convinced that LGBTQ issues should not remain within the private sphere and be a matter of personal preference. For them, their goal would be for all to embrace similar values and to see to it that there are changes in civic society whether it is in terms of legislation, marriage and education.  

Thus, it is understandable why it would draw the ire of sympathizers when the Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (ASAS) instructed Cathay Cineleisure to remove the phrase “Supporting the Freedom to Love” from a Pink Dot ad. Although the reason given by the authorities is that this slogan may “affect public sensitivities”, some have criticised ASAS for their lack of transparency in this decision. They raised questions about vested interests and expressed doubt over whether ASAS is necessarily representing the best interests of Singaporeans.

Suffice to say from that this episode, it reminds us that moral evaluation is always made with reference to something. Interestingly enough, both sides were appealing to the same basis. In this case, it seems to be all about numbers and pragmatism, in that depending on how the majority of a population thinks whether something is acceptable or unacceptable, a decision should be made in favour of the majority.

However, if we give a little more thought to this, I am quite certain that we would recall our parents teaching us differently. Their rule of thumb would be just because others are doing it does not mean it is right and we should follow them. Another would be that just because it feels good and right does not necessarily mean it is ultimately good and right and that we should pursue it at all cost. One would hasten to say that these principles are hardly religious in nature. Neither should it be considered as discriminatory should one seek to live out such principles. Indeed, I doubt anyone, regardless of how open-minded or irreligious they are, would agree that those resorting to violence due of their convictions should be encouraged to do so and unreservedly hailed as heroes.     

As God’s people, we need to help others to understand that all judgments about whether something or someone is good or bad is done on the basis of an awareness of purpose. For example, we can conclude that a watch is good if it tells the time correctly because we know what its purpose is. If somehow we had no idea of what the watch is for, then we would have no way to determine if it is good or bad. As one Christian author puts it, if we know what that purpose is, then our moral evaluation of something can be a factual statement, a truth that exists apart from our personal preferences or feelings. Unfortunately, many today appears to be confused and mistaken about what freedom and love is and what it is for. For that matter, when people take God out of the picture, it is actually futile to even talk about whether freedom and love are good things since they are but subjective opinions and no one should be obligated to honor another’s ideals.

The Bible shows us that God created us to belong. We were meant for relationship with God and to be relating rightly with others. This would explain why there is always this hunger and thirst for love when we are here on earth. The challenge is when we seek to satisfy this longing apart from a holy and loving God who has given us boundaries. People need to understand that God is not just against same-sex relationships. He is against every kind of sexual immorality that goes against his good and beautiful design for relationships. If we value the freedom to love, let us trust and point others to this Saviour who loved us freely. Only Christ alone can set us free from our other “loves” that will only lead us to slavery.