Thoughts : Progressive Christianity (Homosexuality) : Settling into a New Church – Free Community Church

Since leaving the Presbyterian Church I attended for about 2.5 years in late 2001, I hadn’t attended found a Church I could call a home church. That is, a Church that I could more or less agree with the direction and teachings and one I could serve in and commit myself to. I was always on a lookout for a Church that I could commit myself to for long term or even for the rest of my life. Yet because of my Christian and theological journey and my current beliefs, I knew it was hard to – perhaps near impossible. What I wanted was a Church that was more progressive and liberal. One that was interested not only in evangelism but also in social action and concern. One that understood the positives of postmodern philosophy and was not “fundamentalist” in outlook or beliefs. I knew I would probably be able to find such a Church in places like the UK, the US and Australia. But Christianity in Singapore was a totally different story. We have our own history and I think because our government for many years (the People’s Action Party) has always been against more progressive social ideals, churches or Christians of such ideals never flourished in Singapore. Such was the case that I thought I would never really find a church I could really agree with.

Since early 2002 I have been away from Singapore for my studies anyway. I thus didn’t have much time to seriously think about settling in a new Church. Whenever I came back to Singapore, I usually attended one of two churches: Trinity Christian Centre and New Creation Church. The former Pentecostal church was about 15 minutes walking distance from home and thus convenient for me. The latter church was a Word-of-Faith church that I’ve written quite a bit about elsewhere. Both were wonderful churches in their own ways though they weren’t what I was looking for.

On the 25th of March, one of my friends (a pastor of a mainline Church now whom I got to know through the Net) brought me to a cell group of a new Church. I was pretty excited to attend it because of what I heard about the Church. The Church’s name is Free Community Church and it’s an inclusive – I’ll explain what I mean by this term later – Church. (Note: FREE means First Realize Everyone is Equal) Before it became inclusive, the Church was basically solely for members of a group called “Safehaven”. Safehaven was a group I had heard about for a few years. It was a gay-affirming Christian group. (By the way, when I use the term gays, I am referring to lesbians too!) Although I had never encountered any members from it, I did know about it from the Internet and also a Singapore gay email discussion group I was on. I was quite happy to know there was such a group in Singapore. I knew there was a Christian group called “Choices” whose goal was to turn gays into straight people and thought that a group like Safehaven was definitely needed to balance things off. The Church that met on Sunday for Safehaven members eventually became inclusive in the sense of including non-gays too. And the church became known as Free Community Church. When I visited the Church in April 2004, the Church still contained mainly gay Christians. There were a few straight Christians but one could guess that as a Church that contained mostly gays, it would take some time for straight people to be comfortable attending it. The cell group I attended was the first (and only at that time) mixed (gays and straights) cell group of Free Community Church. The rest were basically Safehaven cells – that is, cells of gay Christians only.

Since the 25th of March, I have been basically attending Free Community Church and my mixed cell group called “Ablaze”. I like this church a lot and I think it’s probably the first and only progressive and more liberal-minded Church in Singapore – at least, I know of no other like it. I didn’t attend the Church because I especially love being with gays or serving among gays. Rather, to me “gays” are part of the socially oppressed peoples like the poor, the politically oppressed, and the racially abused. My heart has always been with the socially oppressed and marginalized – in whatever form they take. That’s because I believe these are the ignored and hated of society and even the Church, sad to say. But God loves them and desires that Christians and the Church love them and reach out to them. I’m extremely proud to be part of Free Community Church – a Church where I’ve met not only gays but also transsexuals! While many more conservative Christians would think that such churches are an abomination to God, I couldn’t think more differently. I think the Church would be failing in its job without such a church because I would say that gays and lesbians and transsexuals would never be comfortable and fully themselves in a normal conservative Church. Such a church provides a place of refuge for them. And how God would be happy to see such people in a church like Free Community rather than them not attending any Church at all.

Of course there are theological issues about a church being gay-affirming that makes most Christians uncomfortable. I’m not one to shy away from theological disagreements and discussions and I’m definitely not one who thinks theology is a waste of time and shouldn’t be discussed. If anything, I would say my desire to know what God wants of Christians and my love for His Word and to do things I believe He wants Christians to do has led me to a Church like Free Community Church. I’ve mentioned a bit about homosexuality already. I will not say much more here except to repeat what I stated above. Basically I have not yet come to a position on homosexuality. I have thought about the issues a bit and hope to do more research and reading into it in future. I may come to a more traditional view which says that homosexual acts are wrong or I may come to see them as not sinful as long as one is monogamous. But even if I adopt – and I may not – the former position eventually, and view homosexual acts as sinful and thus the goal of Christian ministry as to convert homosexuals to straight people, I still think that there needs to be a more welcoming and loving place of refuge for gays. That is, I would still think there needs to be other ways to minister to gays. If I come to that conclusion, I will not agree with Free Community Church in their stance of gay-affirmation, but neither would I agree with the way “Choices” do their work or any other conservative Christian churches do their ministry to gays – erm, not that other conservative Christian churches do actually have a ministry or a way to minister to gays.

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