Wednesday, July 02, 2014

An apology to homosexuals

An apology to all homosexuals

There's been a lot going around the Internet in the past few months on the issue of homosexuality and the family. A lot of things have been said by people from all walks of life, some of it helpful, some of it not, some of it hurtful, some of it reasoned. I've refrained from saying too much for some time, reading instead and trying to understand the concerns and perspectives of the different camps. But in recent days the intensity on all sides has been ratcheted up considerably, and I felt the need to weigh in on something that I haven't quite seen spoken, even if it is in the hearts of many people.

And so, to all my homosexual friends out there, people I've met over the years, gone to school with or worked with at various times, I would like to extend a sincere apology. An apology firstly on behalf of myself for things I have done, knowingly or otherwise, that have hurt you in the past, and secondly on behalf of people in your life who have done the same.

I apologize on behalf of parents, who tried to abort you or harboured extremely negative thoughts about your future birth while you were still in the womb. On behalf of parents who wanted a girl even though you were born a boy, or a boy when you were born a girl, and made you feel like you were the wrong gender. You may not have realized it, but such actions hurt you and caused you to grow up feeling unwanted and unloved.

I apologize on behalf of your siblings and relatives, who bullied you while you were young and called you names. On behalf of your older brothers who rejected you because of how different your interests and passions were, and who made you conscious about the fact that you were weaker physically than us. Though we were also children and did not know better, our actions still hurt and you have carried this pain inside you for years.

I apologize on behalf of that stranger or even relative who molested you and sexually abused you when you were a child. This was one of the most abominable acts ever and scarred you for life. You did no wrong in this and you should never feel dirty because of what someone else subjected you to.

I apologize on behalf of classmates and fellow students who teased you and humiliated you in school. Those of us who called you "akua" or "bapok" or "kuniang", or one of many other hurtful names. I apologize on behalf of the friends who felt pressured to join in your ostracism and who eventually distanced ourselves from you because we were afraid of ourselves being rejected and ostracised.

I apologize on behalf of the older boys or girls who subjected you to sexual experimentation, touching you in ways that were inappropriate, such that you grew up disgusted with yourself and struggling with inner conflicts.

I apologize on behalf of fathers who beat your mothers while we were drunk, or even while we were sober. For the times we whipped you with our belts and scolded you harshly for every mistake you made. For the brutal way we treated people when we were angry, and for the way we betrayed and hurt your mothers with our sexual encounters with other women. All these are unacceptable acts and as a man, as a husband, as a father, I take responsibility that we have failed you in all these roles.

I apologize on behalf of your fathers for not being around when you needed a caring male figure in your formative years. We were too concerned with our careers, our commitments, our passions. We were preoccupied with earning money to support the family, but not occupied enough with giving our time and love to all of you. We did not see how, inside, you were crying out for the love of the most important man in your life, and got irritated instead with your "childish" requests and demands on our time. We did not realize that you even began to resent the church and the ministry because we were spending more time with strangers with problems than with our own families, who had problems of their own.

I apologize on behalf of religious people, from all manner of faiths, who have condemned you and told you that you are an evil person who deserves to burn in hell or suffer divine punishment. Many hurtful and hateful things have been said and done throughout history in the name of religion and even in the name of God, and you have been one of the victims. Regardless of religious convictions or beliefs, nobody has the right to treat anybody else in such a harsh and destructive way. We were wrong and we were uncaring.

I apologize on behalf of people who have tried to force you to change, by violent methods or by other forms of coercion. This can only do harm because we did not realize that you are not experiencing same-sex attractions by choice and cannot also turn them off by choice.

I apologize on behalf of your family that reacted in shock and horror when you came out, some of you then being subject to violence and emotional blackmail, others being chased out of the home and cut off from your loved ones and your community. None of this is excusable and we were wrong for treating you that way.

I apologize on behalf of the people who harassed you on the streets and humiliated you in public. The wolf-whistles, the nasty murmurings and the rude comments were all uncalled for.

I apologize on behalf of the people who reacted with disgust at your presence and acted like we may catch a terminal disease by merely breathing in the same air as you. For the boss who terminated your employment just because you were discovered to be homosexual, or the recruitment officer who ended the job interview quickly without giving you a chance to speak. We were fools for thinking that you were contaminated and contagious, and we were wrong for instigating people to keep away from you, when what you needed most was a hug, a word of encouragement, a source of income.

I apologize on behalf of the people who look at violence done to you, whether within same-sex relationships or by outsiders, and scoff in glee, saying that you “deserve it”. We demonstrated the worst things of our humanity when we treated you that way.

Please accept my humblest apologies as a member of the community that you have grown up in and that has done so many things to hurt you in the past.

Dulling the pain
I know that while you say you want the freedom to love, for many of you it is not so much about finding love as it is about dulling the pain that you carry in your heart. Too many have decided that the only way to end the pain is to end the life which is bringing the pain. Too many have made the final, fateful decision, thinking there is no other solution to their daily struggles, believing that nobody would care if they lived or died.

Dear friends, although I cannot say I have experienced the depths of pain you have felt, I do nonetheless understand that it is a difficult road you have to walk. You must believe that I do not hate you. Christians in general do not hate you. No matter what people have said, or what individual experiences you may have had, it is not true that we hate homosexuals. Just because some misguided Christians have attacked homosexuals with harsh words and hateful terms, does not make all of us like that. In the same way that not every Muslim is a violent, psychopathic murderer even though there are some like that out there. In much the same way that not every homosexual is a violent, hate-filled attacker of religious freedoms, even though there are some people out there like that. Please do not fall into the trap of tarring us all with the same broad brush.

Homosexuals are to be honored and treasured
You may not believe it, but we see you as beautiful and to be treasured, “fearfully and wonderfully made” by God. My friends, you are worthy of love, people to be honored, and whose dignity is to be protected and built up. You are no more or less a sinner than us, for in God’s sight, we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. You have struggles, as do we. For you, one of these struggles is in the form of same-sex attraction. For us, they take other forms but are no less to be taken lightly, be it lustful tendencies, greed, unforgiveness, hatred and violence, cruelty and indifference, and so on. In God we are all fallen creations, victims of the corrupted world we live in. However, God also promises that we can return to the beauty that He intended for us when He first conceived us, and no one should feel that they are not worthy of love or acceptance.

The difference, if there is one, between ourselves and yourselves, is that we are conscious that these are struggles that we must seek to overcome, sin that we must repent from, choices and actions that we must learn to stop. Many of you, however, have been sold a lie that your struggles are normal and to be celebrated, and that your internal conflicts and self-doubt are result of societal pressure and discrimination, rather than your inner being crying out that it is being torn away from God’s plan for your life. We want for you to realize that your true happiness and freedom can only come from walking away from this lifestyle, not going deeper into it. We want you to understand that the homosexual lifestyle does not lead you out of your pain, but into more of it.

You are more than what your desires compel you to do
However trite it may sound, no matter how you have come to think of it as a cliché, it remains true that we love you as people but oppose the homosexual lifestyle. I would add that it is more accurate to say that we oppose the homosexual lifestyle precisely because we love you. If we did not, we would not care that you are leading a self-destructive life. If you truly cared for someone, you would not want that person to “go and die”. I say again, we care for you and are concerned about what a homosexual lifestyle will lead you to.

Some would say that we cannot oppose the homosexual lifestyle without opposing the individual because the lifestyle is an intrinsic part of the person’s being. That is a lie, because we are never defined by what we feel like doing. If so, then we can never say anything about people who feel like hurting others or being cruel to animals, if indeed what they feel like doing is an intrinsic part of their being. Of course, those are extreme examples and I am not saying that homosexuals are like murderers or animal abusers. I am saying that who we are is not defined just by what we feel like doing.

“If you love me, you will accept my lifestyle”
It is in fact far easier for us to adopt a “live and let live” attitude, rather than to stir up a hornet’s nest in standing up for our beliefs in this area. But we cannot do so in good conscience – it is akin to knowing that our friend is in a dangerous spiral of drug consumption and alcohol abuse but we decide to keep silent in order not to offend anybody. That is the worst kind of friend – one who is more concerned about what people think of him than of the well-being of others. I would rather my friend hate me for saving his life, than love me for not trying to turn him from his self-destructive ways.

It’s not about religious beliefs. If so, we could never find common ground on this matter with Muslims or anyone else of other faiths. No, it is because we know you are in pain, and want it to stop. We know that you need love, affirmation and dignity, and are searching for it. We want to help you, and to do this we want you to come to the realization that living a homosexual lifestyle will not set you free and will not end the pain. If my sister came to me and told me how she was madly in love with a man who treated her harshly, even violently, and used emotional blackmail to keep her with him, would I be loving her by affirming her desires and telling her to go for “whatever your heart desires”? Or would I instead be loving her if I were to try to help her see that she was in a bad relationship and she needed to walk away from it, as hard as it may be? But that is what we have been accused of – that by speaking out against this lifestyle instead of agreeing with it, we are “not loving” and are “hateful”. It is ironic then that as some of the worst violence takes place within same-sex relationships, and there are countless resources available to counsel homosexuals about how to deal with this, but in none of these has anyone given the advice that the victim should just put up with the violence and accept the pain on the basis that “if you love him, who am I to tell you that this is wrong?”

This is the most important point, that a homosexual lifestyle will lead to pain and harm. You must discern for yourself whether we are telling you the truth or whether what you have been told all along is, in fact, the truth. Examine the overwhelming evidence:

Drug and substance abuse
Drug use is highly prevalent in homosexual circles and the pressure to take them is intense. This is also true of alcohol and substance abuse, with serious health consequences.

“Freedom to love” does not bring freedom at all
Suicides remain high in the homosexual community despite them being given “the freedom to love”. Denmark was the first country to allow homosexuals to join up in civil partnerships, way back in 1989. After more than twenty years, the evidence is clear that this has not helped homosexuals find happiness. The suicide rate for homosexuals in Denmark who are in civil partnerships was more than eight times as high as the suicide rate for heterosexuals in similar circumstances. In Norway, another country which has been liberal in its homosexuality laws much earlier than most other countries, it was found that suicide rates were closely related to the homosexual lifestyle, but not necessarily homosexual orientation or attraction. It is clear that the lifestyle is what brings the risk.

Violence in homosexual relationships
Homosexual relationships see as much domestic violence as heterosexual relationships, and increasingly there is evidence that they in fact experience much more violence. You can find more stories here and here.

Dangerous sexual practices
There is a mountain of evidence that homosexual lifestyle practices have dire health consequences. The STI infection rates among homosexual population in the UK is hitting crisis levels. Statistics from the United States are shocking – male homosexuals comprise 4% of the population but are responsible for 80% of new HIV infection cases! Singapore statistics tell an equally gloomy picture, where the HIV infection rates among the homosexual population in Singapore are more than ten times as high (by proportion of the community) as that among those who practice heterosexual sex. In the United States, it has even been found that meningitis can be spread through homosexual activities.

I recently read a heartbreaking quote from Larry Kramer, an HIV-positive homosexual who wrote the play The Normal Heart. He said of his own homosexual lifestyle:

“I have recently gone through my diaries of the worst of the AIDS plague years. I saw day after day a notation of another friend's death. I listed all the ones I'd slept with. There were a couple hundred. Was it my sperm that killed them, that did the trick? It is no longer possible for me to avoid this question of myself. Have you ever wondered how many men you killed? I know I murdered some of them. I just know. You know how you sometimes know things? I know. Several hundred over a bunch of years, I have to have murdered some of them, planting in them the original seed. I have put this to several doctors. Mostly they refused to discuss it, even if they are gay. Most doctors do not like to discuss sex or what we do or did. ... They play blind. God knows what they must be thinking when they examine us. Particularly if they aren't gay. One doctor answered me, it takes two to tango so you cannot take the responsibility alone. But in some cases it isn't so easy to answer so flippantly. The sweet young boy who didn't know anything and was in awe of me. I was the first man who [expletive] him. I think I murdered him. The old boyfriend who did not want to go to bed with me and I made him. The man I let [expletive] me because I was trying to make my then boyfriend, now lover, jealous. I know, by the way, that that other one is the one who infected me. You know how you sometime know things? I know he infected me. I tried to murder myself on that one."  

Please do not be deceived – you will not find happiness down that path.

“Gay agenda”
I believe you when you say you have no “gay agenda” or that your gay agenda is to get a cup of coffee and read a good book or so on. The truth is that most homosexuals just want to live their lives in peace and find happiness like the rest of us. You do not seek to topple any regimes and certainly have no plans for world domination. Unfortunately, there are people out there who do. Just like with religious fanatics and fundamentalists, radical nationalists and unscrupulous business tycoons, there are people out there who will make use of others to further their own agendas and ambitions. The German people were largely unwitting pawns in Hitler’s megalomaniacal plans; the Palestinians in the Middle East are exploited by many countries as a political tool to attack Israel; and many mobs and crowds today are manipulated by a few shady characters behind the scenes, agitating for an outcome they don’t even fully understand or necessarily want.

In the same way, many of you are being exploited in furtherance of political goals which you haven’t signed up for and may not even support. But this agenda exists and rolls on inexorably. This agenda is the destruction of marriage as an institution to allow people to indulge in any kind of sexual relations they desire. And they will use any means necessary to silence anyone who opposes them.

Even in Singapore, the organizers of PinkDot have been accused by some in the LGBTQI community of driving a political agenda to the detriment of the actual people they purport to be standing up for. Do they really want to help those in this community? Or are they using people for personal gains? Misrepresenting crowd numbers to pressure the Government, to attract media publicity and to gain corporate sponsors?

“Standing for Family”
We have been misunderstood when we say that we “Stand for Family”. We know that you, too, love your family. We know that your family members are precious to you. When we say we are pro-family, we are not attacking your family or your love for them. What we mean is that every child has a right to grow up with a mother and a father. Same-sex marriage, however, the end-point of the global LGBT movement, denies children this right. A child without a mother or father has a more difficult journey in life because something will be missing from the family environment. You recognize that too – many of you grew up in a family where you did not know your father or your mother, and you feel the loss. There are even homosexuals who oppose same-sex marriage because they see how their own childhoods were compromised. Stories like this are not uncommon.

A homosexual couple cannot biologically produce children together. To have children they have to adopt one. This means that we will be institutionally and systematically separating children from their biological parents, and depriving them of at least one of their parents, either the father or the mother. Is this what we really want for children? At the core, family and marriage exist to protect the children – by going down this road we are destroying the protection that they need and deserve. Yes, marriages and homes today are not perfect – many of you can testify to this with your own homes – but future generations should be given a chance to try to make it as best as they can, without being torn apart before they even start. It is akin to people saying that the roof leaks and therefore we should not have a roof at all to stop the rain, rather than to deal with the leaks as best as possible. We have not yet seen the full impact of an entire generation that grows up in such a family environment, but signs are already emerging.

People who claim that there is no harm in allowing same-sex parents to raise children cannot possibly be telling the truth, simply because they have no way of knowing the impact this will have on the children. Same-sex parenting has not become widespread enough, or has gone on long enough, for the harm to be assessed methodically. All we have are individual experiences to guide us, and those do not make for good reading. However, this is one gamble we cannot take lightly. By the time we realize the truth of the matter, the harm has been done. Unlike the use of radium or asbestos, the decisions we make regarding marriage, family and children will have harmful repercussions for generations that cannot be reversed.

Daddy, I need you
You must recognize that a key factor in the emergence of same-sex struggles is the lack of one or both of the parents during a child’s development. Many homosexual males grew up in homes where they did not have a father to connect with emotionally. The father may not have been physically absent but was emotionally distant and may even have been abusive. This lack of male affirmation and love in the development years very much leads to a yearning in life for it, which manifests as homosexual feelings. Examples abound everywhere, and you will know from your own experience or a friend’s that this is true. I will just name a few:

Boy George, the famous pop star from the 80s, grew up in a home where his father was extremely violent and brutal towards his mother, and to him as well. He said: “When I was a teenager I did everything to be the opposite of my dad.” [edit: some friends have pointed out that I mentioned someone's family which should not have been brought into this discussion. I appreciate their feedback and apologise if I've offended him and his family. No offence was intended, and I wish him and his parents well in all that they do. I have deleted this portion accordingly.] Many other stories which you can read from various sources tell of this – a missing father figure in the home greatly contributes to future struggles in a child’s life. The female equivalent, a lesbian, most often has the corresponding source of her struggle – a missing or difficult relationship with her mother.

Alfian Sa’at, one of the most perceptive and intelligent writers of our generation, summarized it this way: “My dad is so aloof lah. I come from the stereotypical gay family background. Silent remote dad, overbearing mother.”

It is because of this that we oppose the global LGBT agenda, which we acknowledge most individual homosexuals in Singapore are not actively part of. Nonetheless, your names, stories, and even mere presence are being exploited by others in furtherance of this agenda, which if unchecked, will cause irreparable harm to future generations of children. The pain you feel, and have felt, in this journey of homosexual struggles, will be passed on systematically to other children if we do not do all that we can to strengthen homes, families, and marriages.

In conclusion
What then is left? After all is said and done, where do you go from here? If you agree with what I’ve shared, the first step is that you must choose not to let others manipulate you as part of their political agenda. What they want will not remove the hurt from your life or even from the lives of children in the future who may grow up in difficult environments. It will not stop bullying or name-calling, unless what you want to see is children thrown in prison for teasing their classmates. The journey towards love and understanding does not come from agitating for “equal rights” and fighting to punish those whose moral values and religious viewpoints differ. Do not allow yourself to be a pawn in this game.

The next step you can take is that you can choose not to indulge in a homosexual lifestyle. It is beyond any doubt that the homosexual lifestyle poses incredible risks and does not bring freedom or lasting happiness. You do not need to buy into the lie that you must have homo-sex in order to be happy. There are many people around the world who do not indulge in sex but still find fulfillment and joy in life. If that were not the case, every person people who is single or has lost a spouse would be miserable unless he is sleeping around wantonly. This is clearly not true. Others struggle with all sorts of sexual urges as well, whether they be for another person’s wife or for children or for animals, but nonetheless do the best they can to not live out the urges and desires. People who tell you that some animals have exhibited homosexual behavior are basically telling you that you are no better than an animal. By that token you should be defecating whenever and wherever you feel the urge. Not so! You are far, far better than that. What makes you and I human is the choice we have to resist our primal urges and to do what we know is the right thing. You can, and many people have.

I will not deny that this will be a difficult path to take if you daily struggle with same-sex attraction and thoughts of that nature. Clearly you would be far more able to not indulge in a homosexual lifestyle if these thoughts and feelings did not plague you all the time. But you have been told, and are resigned to the fact, that because you were “born this way”, this will be your lot in life, for the rest of your life.

My friends, that is not true. The answer is that God can, and does, heal people from the inside. He can do the same in your life. We have seen that God does not “cure” same-sex struggles, but rather heals people of the hurts and pains that caused these feelings to arise in the first place. The trauma of witnessing a death of a loved one. The sexual abuse suffered as a young child. The daily fear from living in a violent home. The shame and pain of being bullied and isolated. The rejection from feeling unable to ever live up to your father’s expectations. This is the root of the problem, it is from this brokenness that your struggles stem. When you experience healing there, you will find that you no longer struggle with same-sex tendencies. This has happened to many people around the world, and is still happening. Dealing with the same-sex attraction is only addressing the symptom, the surface issue. The deeper, underlying problems of hurt and rejection are where the real healing must take place.

I hope this post helps you understand better why we say what we say and do what we do regarding the homosexual lifestyle. Ultimately, whatever path you choose, I pray that you will experience freedom and joy, to be able to decide not to indulge in what will harm you, and be able to find the self-worth and human dignity that is yours by right. May God bless you and pour out His bountiful love into your life.