Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Response to an article by a professing Christian on S377A

[Note: S377A, or Section 377A of the Singapore Penal Code, criminalizes homosexual sex acts between men. The exact wording is as follows:

Any male person who, in public or private, commits, or abets the commission of, or procures or attempts to procure the commission by any male person of, any act of gross indecency with another male person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 2 years.

The law is a legacy of British Common Law, and passed to Singapore as Singapore was a former British colony.]

On the LGBT-friendly Rice media, a person called "Joshua Tan" claims to be a Christian yet argues for the repeal of S377A. We of course are not told which church he is a member of, and it is not uncommon for people to call themselves "Christians" only because their parents are Christians. Be that as it may, without pre-judging the man, I would like to respond to this article and show how it falls short of an actual biblical response to the issue of S377A.

The first thing to take note from the beginning is how Tan has imbibed into the liberal rhetoric and somehow has gained the ability to discern the inner hearts of other Christians. According to Tan, Christians who support S377A are doing it "out of fear," and are "reactionary, fearful" and use "militant language." That they might be some who support S377A out of fear is a possibility. Just as possible are some who support the repeal of S377A out of fear of being seen as "unloving" to LGBT people. So what does this supposed observation do besides poisoning the well? This kind of rhetoric is baseless and does not serve to advance any conversation. Its only goal is to paint one's ideological opponent as an irrational person, prior to any actual discussion, so that one's opponent is "guilty until proven innocent."

Tan's first error is in misinterpreting S377A as stating that "I would like my fellow Singapore citizens to be subject to caning and jail for engaging in private sexual acts." First of all, S377A even if enforced only imposes a jail term without caning. Second, would Tan agree that some measure of legal punishment should be meted out for the extremely private sexual acts of consensual incest or beastiality? If not, why not? According to his supposed principle that ANY consensual and private sexual act should not be criminalized, then one should get the State out of the business of punishing consensual incest, consensual pedophilia, and consensual beastiality! If Tan however disagrees with any of these, then he actually thinks the State should be involved in some kinds of "private sexual acts." Will the LGBTQ+ media and supporters make up their minds? Should the State be involved in private sexual acts at all? If not, then please state clearly that the State should have no business criminalizing any form of private sexual acts as long as it is "consensual," however one gets to define the term! Please state openly and clearly that you want incest, pedophilia and beastiality decriminalized as long as they are "consensual."

But back to Tan's points. Tan's first point is that pluralism in a modern society means that we must empathize with people different from us and be generous to those "whose practices are different from ours." We note here that Tan has confused practical pluralism with philosophical pluralism on the one hand, and confused empathy with affirmation. On the one hand, pluralism is a practical reality in many societies like Singapore. But just because there is pluralism does not imply that all values and all practices are equally valid and equally to be affirmed, in some version of philosophical multiculturalism. Philosophical multiculturalism here is basically relativism of cultures and relativism of ethics. Tan confuses the presence of differences with relativity of differences, as if a culture that harms women should be celebrated as much as a culture that protects women! Or a culture that practices female genital mutilation is to be treated as no worse than a culture that does not have that barbaric practice! Once one see what the issue is here, then one realizes that Tan is here not in line with Scripture, and even more he is not in line with basic common sense either. For if Tan were true to his relativism, then surely he should practice what he preaches and he should empathize with the Christians he is castigating, and celebrate the fact that we are standing in support of S377A despite him not agreeing with it!

Tan also confuses empathy with affirmation. One can empathize with another person without affirming that other person, and even more so when it comes to sins. If to empathize with LGBT is to affirm their lifestyles and support repeal of S377A, does this mean that in order to empathize with murderers one must affirm the rightness of murder and advocate for repealing laws against murder? Thus we see the utter confusion in Tan's mind as he imbibes the liberal propaganda that claims that true love and empathy must begin with affirmation, a practice that would make nonsense when applied to any other sin and/or crime other people commit.

Tan's second point is in confusion over the issue of the slippery slope. The issue is not whether Christians should suddenly think the sky is falling, but rather we know what is going to come next. It is not wrong in a democracy to advocate for positions that will not result in anti-Christian discrimination and Christians being jailed for not baking a pro-LGBT cake! Being a Christian does not mean that we roll over and play dead, even though we know that God remains on the throne regardless. The exhortation to look to the eternal and not the temporal is precisely what standing for S377A is. For it is very possible, due to the lies of the LGBTQ+ lobby, that S377A will eventually be taken down in my lifetime. But we stand not just for some idyllic moral utopia but rather we stand regardless of whether S377A is held or repealed, because we stand by God's moral law in his natural law. It does not ultimately matter whether S377A is repealed or not, but Christians ought to be a witness for natural law nonetheless. If countries like Singapore want to follow the West and commit civilizational suicide, by all means do so, but we will not be silent.

Tan's third point is at best a red herring. He basically claims that Singaporean Christians' focus on "family values" is too narrow and should focus on other (leftist) causes. While there might be something to add to social advocacy on these other causes, those causes are independent of the LGBT issue. It is theoretically possible for someone to advocate for these other social causes and also for keeping S377A. I find it ironic here that someone essentially decrying Christians for focusing on the temporal is now asking Christians to focus on the temporal. Which is it, actually? But this is a typical sleight-of-hand of the Left, whereby they claim that those advocating for family values are too worldly for focusing on the LGBT threat, yet not worldly enough as they do not embrace Leftist causes. What exactly is the charge then: too worldly, or not worldly enough?

Now, should Christians deal with those issues? I believe that Christians should think about them inasmuch as they have the time to do so. However, thinking about them from a biblical perspective might not provide the type of answer Tan is looking for. But more importantly, what has that to do with whether Christians should support S377A? Tan's third point essentially boils down to "Don't fight for this cause, fight for my cause," and it is just as specious and without any real argumentation as it sounds.

We note in conclusion that Tan has yet to provide any real interaction with the argument, either from health statistics, or from natural law, for the keeping of S377A. Tan did not even deal with the issue of what secularity means in the Singapore context, and assumes that means religious relativism. Since that is the case, it must be said that Tan's article in Rice Media contributes nothing to the discussion on S377A besides poisoning the well, and should be ignored by all believing Christians.

[See also: Miscellaneous Questions concerning S377A and Christian witness]

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