I have to say my Church life has been pretty non-existent since 2002. I’ve written about my faith (2002 – 2003) in Australia here. I never really settled in any Church there and often my interactions with my evangelical (really closet fundamentalist) friends only made me more angry. In 2004, I attended the most liberal-leaning Christian Church in Singapore – my thoughts then can be found here and here (some other thoughts on homosexuality can be found here) I left that Church, or rather didn’t return to it when I returned from Canada in mid-2005.
A few reasons why I didn’t return to Free Community Church (FCC). Most importantly is perhaps the fact that I couldn’t agree with its theological stance. I’ve never been a theological liberal or relativistic in terms of theological belief. I’m against dogmatism in theology – except when it’s about essential beliefs. I think it’s important to hold firm to the essentials and traditional fundamentals of the Christian faith. Beyond that, there’s really no need to get so worked up and Christians being dogmatic about non-essentials make me sick. By all means, argue for what you believe in, but always be open to change your viewpoint. Or maybe I should say that one ought never to have any right to argue for any view without first getting to know the opposing view well. And it takes a long time to be well-versed with both sides of any issue. My problem with FCC is that the leadership was quite divided and most people didn’t know what FCC stood for. In fact, I’ve heard the certain essential doctrines being questioned there and I wasn’t about to attend a Church where the foundation of my faith is up for grabs. Don’t get me wrong. I love FCC and attended their Christmas 2005 service. I’ve made many good friends there. And I really wish them all the best and think what they are doing is wonderful – just not for me.
The second reason why I couldn’t attend FCC permanently is that it’s hard for a straight person like me to feel thoroughly comfortable there. An overwhelming majority of members there are gay or lesbians. While I enjoy interacting with them, I’ve never really felt part of them. I don’t blame the people there because there would always be that barrier as I’m not gay and can’t fully understand them, nor they me!
The third reason (though of much lesser consequence than the first two) is that I hold to a more moderate view of homosexuality while most in FCC would hold to a more progressive or liberal view. My view at the moment is very similar to the one found here. Most people in FCC would believe that homosexual acts are not sin. I do think they are sins and less than God’s ideal for us. However, I am not about to condemn such acts like conservative Christians do. I think homosexual relationships are not what God intended for us. But they exist because the world is fallen or “out of wack” as a result of sin entering the world. Because of this, I’m inclined to think that God is tolerant of such acts. The world is complex, the issue is complex and I’m not about to accept easy answers that both conservative and progressive Christians put forward. Most homosexuals are born with such inclinations and try as they may, they probably won’t change. God can change them, but God hasn’t changed many of them. So I will say homosexual acts are wrong but that because the situation is more complex, I think God loves homosexuals and accepts their relationships – if monogamous and faithful. I think it’s cruel and utterly uncompassionate to condemn all forms of homosexual acts the way conservative Christians do. God is a compassionate God and He knows the struggles of homosexuals. I’m sure He understands how difficult or impossible it is for homosexuals to either change their sexual orientation or be chaste their whole life! For every Christian who says that homosexuals ought to change or ought to be chaste – as if it’s so easy to change or remain sexually inactive one’s whole life – my wish for them is that they could spend some time being a homosexual and being on the receiving end of such cruel admonitions.
Overall I feel that while I am in solidarity with FCC against all oppression and marginalization of gay Christians by the Church, I can’t support the direction of the Church. I feel it’s going too liberal. I’m a firm believer in being united and uncompromising on the very essentials of the Christian faith, while allowing diversity in doctrines that are not fundamental and which are more complex than just coming to a simple conclusion and stand. Unfortunately, what I see in FCC is that some essentials are being questioned and enthroned instead as an essential belief seems to be the view that homosexuality is not a sin. Any differing view from their absolute stance that homosexuality is not a sin is thoroughly destroyed and the person accussed as being homophobic and not accepted in the family – at least this is the treatment given to anyone who dare differ from them by the most outspoken members (not all the members though because I’m on good terms with some of the leaders and I think they understand where I come from). I think the homosexual issue is more complex than either the conservatives or liberals make it out to be. I wish more people in FCC realized this, rather than reacting in an opposite manner to that of the conservatives.
Having said all this, FCC is a young church. A lot of their dogmatic and uncompromising stance may be due to the oppression they’ve felt as persecuted gays. In this area, I can’t pretend to understand the pain most of them feel inside. So I probably should be more accomodating and understanding towards most who feel that even I am their enemy because I don’t hold to their absolute belief that homosexuality is totally ok. However, I feel that if the church is going to continue to hold on to such absolute beliefs, it’s going to be hard to bridge the gap between them and the more mainstream churches. Maybe they have no desire to do so! But I hope to see more dialogue between FCC and the mainstream churches in Singapore in future. I hope FCC doesn’t just react against the mainstream and go to the liberal end. That would be sad indeed.