Malaysian, Christian…and Gay

I visited three churches here in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday, and I shared a message at each. The first, Tabernacle of Shalom, is a Tamil-speaking emergent church. The second, Eternal Harvest Center, is a Tamil- and English-speaking Pentecostal church, and the third, Good Samaritan, is a church for GLBT persons.

The wonderful people of Good Samaritan Kuala Lumpur

In fact, it’s the only GLBT-friendly church in this entire country.

Malaysia is a parliamentary democracy, but it is both religiously and politically dominated by Malays, who are Muslim. (In fact, Malays are required by law to be Muslim.) While homosexuality, per se, is not illegal, homosexual sex acts are, and those laws are enforced.

Homosexuality was unheard of in the minority Christian church here for many years (Christians are 5-10% of the population). But in 2006, prominent pastor Ouyang Wen Feng came out with his book, Is Now the Future? An Asian Gay Man’s Coming Out Journey. That book, and Ouyang’s outspokenness, caused a huge stir in the Christian church here, but Ouyang moved to New York City, where he  got married and still lives.

Meanwhile, Joe Pang was a seminary graduate and a youth pastor at a Baptist church. When his senior pastor asked if he was gay, he said yes. He was fired on the spot.

Joe had already started a support group for gay Christians that met at KFC. Having been fired and excommunicated from the Baptist church, Joe and the support group transitioned into a church. They’ve moved a few times, including meeting in cafes, before landing in the spot they are now: in a hard-to-find space in the third floor of a back building of a furniture mall. There’s no way I would have found it without bumping into a church member (Felix) in the mall who recognized me.

They worship at 2pm on Sunday, Joe told me, because “all the gays go clubbing on Saturday night.” As you can see in the photo, about a dozen were in attendance when I went on Sunday, although a few opted not to be in the photo because the stigma of being gay in this culture is enormous.

-continue reading at  Malaysian, Christian…and Gay.

The wonderful logo from the Good Samaritans website

The wonderful logo from the Good Samaritans website

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Ministry wants gay cure centre probe (South Africa)

The justice ministry has asked the Human Rights Commission to investigate claims of unfair discrimination at the Creare Training Centre in Bloemfontein.

 

Ministry wants gay cure centre probe - Politics | IOL News | IOL.co.za

“We trust the SA Human Rights Commission will be able to use its extensive powers to investigate this matter and to take the necessary and appropriate action,” the ministry said in a statement on Friday.

“The notion that a person’s sexual orientation can be changed at will, or by compulsion, feeds the very same homophobic attitudes that encourage the criminal and abhorrent practice of so-called corrective rape.”

The Sunday Times reported this week that the Christian arts academy had come under fire for advertising that it could “cure” homosexual students.

According to the centre’s prospectus they can “convert” gay students into heterosexuals through “rehabilitation”, it reported.

Creare founder Cornelius can Heyningen denied the institution was discriminatory.

“We are catering for those who say ‘I want to change as a homosexual’. That’s not saying no homosexuals are allowed,” he was quoted as saying.

He compared the academy’s stance on homosexuality to a drug rehabilitation programme. – Sapa

via  IOL News 

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Evangelical Leader: “Church Teaching on Homosexuality Like Justifying Slavery”

One of Britain’s most prominent evangelical Christian leaders has broken ranks on the issue of homosexuality describing the traditional Church teaching on he issue as dangerous and unchristian.

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Rev Chalke argued that the church’s traditional teaching on homosexuality as ‘a sin or less than God’s best’ had been deeply harmful Photo: GETTY

By John Bingham, Religious Affairs Editor7:30AM GMT 15 Jan 2013

The Rev Steve Chalke, a broadcaster and charity founder, likened the “dominant view” of homosexuality among evangelicals to that of those who once used the Bible to justify slavery or thought it was heretical to believe the Earth orbited the sun.

He accused Christians of treating gay people as “pariahs”, expecting them to live “lives of loneliness, secrecy and fear” and even driving some to suicide.

His comments come in an article in the magazine Christianity under the headline “The Last Taboo” which he said he felt “both compelled and afraid” to write.

Long dominant in US life, evangelicals – who place a strong emphasis on the “authority” of the Bible and believe in being “born again” – have become increasingly influential in Britain in recent years, with fast growing congregations at a time when church attendance has seen steep decline.

But although evangelicalism is often viewed as a bastion of conservative values, it also has a long-stranding association with “radical” causes dating back to the 19th Century

more at  – Telegraph.

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Catholic ‘Dignity’

According to “Vatican digs in after gay marriage advances” (Tribune, Nov. 11), the Catholic Church opposes same-sex marriages because “Catholic teaching holds that homosexuals should be respected and treated with dignity but that homosexual acts are ‘intrinsically disordered.’” If you truly believe the former, how can you believe the latter?

If you believe in treating blacks with dignity, but that they should also be slaves, what kind of dignity is that?

Being polite and kind is not treating someone with dignity, which means “the quality of being worthy or esteemed.” How is denying a life of committed love to someone wired to be attracted to the same sex treating them with esteem?

Of what worth do you esteem them to be worthy of? Of being an emotional eunuch? It’s that self-fulfilling approach that makes them “disordered.”

Catholics aren’t treating gay men with dignity; they aren’t treating them as worthy men created with liberty and the freedom to pursue happiness in their own way. No, with marriage, it’s the pursuit of happiness the Catholic way — even if you’re not Catholic — or not at all.

That how it was in the Middle Ages, not in 21st century America.

Dean Spencer

Salt Lake City

-letter to The Salt Lake Tribune.

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Lesbian couple to take vows in nation’s first public Buddhist same-sex union

Two devout Buddhist women are to hold the nation’s first gay Buddhist wedding next month as part of an effort to push for the legalization of same-sex marriages in Taiwan.

“We are not only doing it for ourselves, but also for other gays and lesbians,” Fish Huang said in a telephone interview.

The 30-year-old social worker at a non-governmental organization said that marriage never crossed her mind until she saw a movie last year.

The film portrayed two lesbians whose ill-fated relationship concluded after one died and the other was left heartbroken over the denial of spousal benefits.

“It’s so sad,” Huang said, who plans to wed her partner of seven years on Aug. 11 at a Buddhist altar in Taoyuan County.

Both brides are planning to wear white wedding gowns and listen to lectures given by Buddhist masters about marriage, accompanied by a series of chantings and blessings from monks and nuns.

Although homosexual marriages are not legally recognized in Taiwan, Huang insisted on tying the knot because she wants to make her relationship complete and raise awareness about the difficulties faced by sexual minorities.

Alternative sexual orientation and marriage have yet to be widely accepted by the general public, despite years of effort by activists to secure equality in Taiwan.

The first public gay marriage in Taiwan took place in 1996 between a local writer and his foreign partner. The event drew widespread media attention and inspired many gays to follow their footsteps.

Huang’s wedding, however, will be the first with a Buddhist theme.

 – more at  Taipei Times.

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(Australian) Gay Christians hope for church acceptance

LIKE four in ten same-sex couples, James Nevein, 49, and David Witte, 50, identify themselves as Christians.

They are part of a statistic that strikes at the heart of the debate around same-sex marriage, and one that many hope will validate them in the eyes of the church.

At the 2011 census, Christianity was the number one religion among gay and lesbian couples – with 40 per cent of couples practising the faith compared to 60 per cent of opposite-sex couples.

 Forty-eight per cent declared no religion, compared to 20 per cent of opposite-sex couples. Buddhism was the second most common among same-sex couples, at 4 per cent compared to 2.6 per cent of opposite-sex couples.

The census data was released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics yesterday as part of a report into the lives of people living in gay and lesbian relationships.

Mr Nevein, who is on the board of Freedom2b, a support group for gay people from Christian backgrounds, said it was evidence that he and members of the same-sex Christian community were not in a minority. ”In every church, from the Pentecostal to the Quakers, there are gay and lesbian people there,” he said. ”Churches are going to have to consider this issue.”

He said churches needed to acknowledge their existence in order to prevent same-sex couples from feeling alienated.

”Why would you identify with an organisation that, for most of the last 2000 years has hated you, either openly or silently, unless you had a very deep sense of belonging?

”The church has a lot to answer for, but there is also a lot of hope.”

Read more at The Age

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Christians must confront their own ‘disgust’ over homosexuality, says Archbishop

Dr Rowan Williams acknowledged that the Church was still “scratching its head” about where it stands on issues like same-sex marriage despite its vocal public opposition to the Government’s plan to legalise it.

In his most frank public comments to date on the subject, the Archbishop accepted that the Church was in a “tangle” over homosexuality.

On one hand many Christians may themselves be “wrestling” with their own sexuality while others appeared to display only strong feelings of revulsion, he said.

The issue of women bishops – due to come to a head at the Church of England’s General Synod in York next week – was another matter which helped give the impression that sex was “the only thing the Church is interested in”, he remarked.

His comments came during a discussion day for a group of Christian teenagers at Lambeth Palace.

 – full report at Daily Telegraph.

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“Persons With An Inclination To Abuse”

Bishop Cordileone is in that group of Bishops who can be defined as carrying the cross of  ‘persons with an inclination to abuse’.

Oakland California’s Bishop Salvatore Cordileone has upped the stakes in the Catholic identity movement.  He is demanding the Board of Directors of the gay and lesbian pastoral outreach group CALGM take an ‘oath of personal integrity’ to Catholic teaching–his version anyway.  This is hubris beyond belief given the USCCB has once again refused to have their own integrity to the Dallas Charter policed by anyone other than their own individual conscience. No ‘oath of personal integrity’ for them,  Cardinal Archbishops like Timmy Dolan can continue to bribe predator priests to leave the priesthood while simultaneously inventing any dubious strategy under the sun to avoid paying victims.  On the other hand CALGM has to start referring to their intended pastoral group as “persons with a homosexual inclination” rather than as gay and lesbian. Oh, and take a loyalty oath to their fuhrer with a crozier.  Does it get anymore insulting or absurd?
-full commentary at Enlightened Catholicism
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Gays & Lesbians in Luke

Introduction

Most people believe that Jesus never mentioned homosexuals. I have discovered that not only did Jesus mention gays and lesbians, he used two gay and lesbian couples to illustrate his teaching that celibacy for gay and lesbian believers was a non-issue.

The Evidence for the Same-Sex Theme

Luke 17:20-37 contains four pieces of same-sex thematic evidence.

  1. The story of the destruction of Sodom, a major element of which is man-on-man sex. (This is true, despite the core issue of hospitality.)
  2. The lightning and the eagles (verses 24 & 37), the primary logos of Zeus and his mortal companion Ganymede, who together were the ultimate cultural emblem of same-sex relationships in Roman culture.
  3. The “Two men in one bed” of verse 34, whose only O.T. antecedents were the Levitical prohibitions against a man laying with a man as with a woman.
  4. The “Two women grinding together in one place” of verse 35, whose double-entendre “grinding” is confirmed from both the O.T. and the Greek actually in use in the time of Christ and Luke. The word “mill,” which is present in Matthew, is absent from Luke, which absence leaves the ”grinding” ambiguous.

We need to recognize the striking same-sex element of each individual part before the meaning of the passage is clear.  The repeated phrase, “one shall be taken, and the other shall be left,” refers to the members of the gay and lesbian couples, who seem romantically involved ”in that night” (verse 34). Thus, according to Luke’s Gay Apocalypse, some non-celibate gays and lesbians are acceptable to God, and some are not.  Lesson: homosexuality is not among the criteria for non-acceptability to Christ or to God. (Note: this separation may or may not refer to what is known as the rapture. The nature of the separation is irrelevant to the argument.)

-full exposition at Bible Thumping Liberal

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Sexual Healing: Evangelicals Update Their Message to Gays

At the world’s largest ministry for homosexual Christians, there’s no more talk of “curing” same-sex attraction. 

Thirty years ago, Alan Chambers was a Christ-loving 10-year-old with a terrible secret. He knew he was attracted to other boys. He also knew that the Bible called homosexuality an “abomination.” After nearly a decade of hiding his feelings (and his love of shopping and decorating) from family and pastors, he discovered a ministry called Exodus International. Today, Chambers is the president of Exodus and the author of the book Leaving Homosexuality. He oversees more than 260 ministries, spearheads large annual conferences, and is married to a woman.

More recently, Chambers publicly rejected reparative therapy — a school of counseling that aims to make gay people straight. At the Gay Christian Network Conference in January of this year, Chambers told the audience that “99.9 percent of [Exodus participants] have not experienced a change in their orientation.” Around the same time, he pulled all reparative therapy books from the Exodus bookstore. His actions irked a number of therapists, including one marriage counselor, improbably named David Pickup, who argued that Exodus had “failed to understand and effectively deal with the actual root causes of homosexuality.”

The question is whether Chambers’s changes will filter down through the rest of his organization. One of Exodus’s policy statements promises that the group will “stand with the LGBT community both in spirit, and when necessary, legally and physically, when violence rears its head in Uganda, Jamaica, or anywhere else in the world.” It’s no coincidence that those particular countries are mentioned. Just last month, Exodus board member Dennis Jernigan traveled to Jamaica, where homosexuality is a crime, and urged the country not to change its laws. In 2009, another board member gave a speech in Uganda that inspired a Christian campaign to make homosexuality punishable by death.

” (On Friday, the day after we spoke, Exodus sent out a press release distancing itself from Jernigan’s statements and announcing his resignation from the board.)

-full report at Atlantic

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