Developed By: iNFOTYKE
Church response myopic
An article which appeared in this daily like many before it, baffle me to a great extent. This one in particular on why the church does not accept the LGBTQIA+ movement by Rev Lyndan Syiem (ST Sep 11, 2018) really shook me. It really does show the regressive nature of our society in this small community. Of course, it is only natural to expound one’s position on an argument,I will agree to disagree at best with the said article. The article itself is of a very passive aggressive nature where it is clearly shown how the church and religion has bulldozed over individual differences that occur as a natural process in humans. The argument is suggestive of the fact that sexual orientation is a choice that one has to make. But unfortunately I did not wake up one morning and choose to like men over women as much as you did not choose to conform to hetero-normativity. I will not go into the causes of homosexuality, as I employ the author’s suggestion to ask Google baba for the answers.
The church is an institution. The point of any institution is to maintain the status quo. As the decriminalization of homosexuality is a threat to the status quo it is obvious that church and its leaders would react in this manner. In addition, it is also clear that the church and its leaders see themselves to be beyond the laws of the land and even the laws of Nature. To take one book as the be all and end all of the universe; to accept all notions without question, sounds to me as though religion is more a dictator of a banana republic. It is also very clear as to the church’s position on the personal identity of women as well, in the article since by way of suggestion it said that a woman’s body belongs to a man. Patriarchy in the church is rife. Patriarchy is in practice. If we look at the power dynamics in these religious institution, its is only MEN we see in very senior positions. Have you ever seen a female pastor? No. Because according to them whatever is not male; what does not conform to the rules of their brilliant, most revered minds, what does not allow for a departure from status quo. is dangerous.
In the light of the, “What would Jesus do argument,” as the article has mentioned I believe He would tell us so efficiently to love unconditionally. Homophobia is a sin, right Mr. Syiem, and by not accepting or loving your so called enemies (we wouldn’t have been if you weren’t so hateful towards us), you and your institution is engaging in so called sin. Love is too much and too great to be reserved for the ones who conform. You are contradicting your own arguments. Acceptance is still a far cry, I agree, but how hard is it to love? Lastly, we are not a movement, we are not an abnormality of nature; we can be your neighbour, we can be your children, we can be your nieces/nephews (truthfully speaking).
The LGBTQ dilemma
The article by Rev Lyndan Syiem was a frank and straightforward articulation of the Biblical position on the LGBTQ issue. Perhaps many Christians will concur with his views. While some will defend a literal reading of the Bible, a case can be made for adapting its teachings to developments in science and social evolution. For example, in the Bible there are several stories of persons evidently afflicted with epilepsy. They were regarded as being demon-possessed and sometimes stigmatised and ostracized. Cure was attempted by casting out the devil. These beliefs carried over into Church teachings. A prominent 13th century German preacher warned of the ‘evil breath’ of epileptics. Of course we now know that epilepsy is a medical condition which can be effectively treated and we accept them as normal human beings.
Interestingly the Bible delves into the issue of LGBTQ. In Matthew 19:10-12, Jesus tells his disciples, “For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.” This is an insightful statement, all the more remarkable because the science of sexual variations was not yet known to man. Three types of eunuchs are described. The first are those “who were born that way from their mother’s womb”. They have a congenital variation over which they have no control. Surely they cannot be described as sinful.
The second category are those who “were made eunuchs by men”. These were mostly captives or slaves who were forcibly and cruelly emasculated. They are deserving of pity rather than stigma. The third category are those “who made themselves as eunuchs”. Most interpretations consider these persons as those who chose to be celibate and become priests. Jesus appeals to his disciples to accept all of them.
Rev Lyndan makes some curious statements. He avers that Jesus upheld the Scriptures throughout his earthly life. However much of the Bible was written after his sojourn on earth ended. He also quotes the ‘biblical ideal’ of singleness. But this is only practiced in the Catholic Church and not among most Protestant churches. His opinion about the answer to the question, “What would Jesus do?” betrays a rigid and mindset that lacks in empathy. This narrow view belies the utmost compassion that Jesus showed to epileptics, lepers and others who were stigmatized by disease.
It is easy for Biblical scholars to expound on Bible passages. Many of them are not open to interpretations other than their own. We often hear platitudes like ‘hate the sin but love the sinner’. But such conflations do little to reduce the humiliation, cruelty and discrimination experienced by the LGBTQ community. Unfortunately, too few of us follow Christ’s example of inclusion and compassion. By this attitude the Church loses an opportunity to differentiate itself from the extreme positions of other religions and to show magnanimity to the marginalized and outcast. The Biblical passage I have quoted is prefaced by Jesus saying, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given.” That’s a sentence that scholars should contemplate over.
Glenn C Kharkongor,
Clarity on Church’s position
Rev. Lyndan Syiem, in his article, “Why the church does not accept the LGBTQIA+” (ST Sep 11, 2018) has gracefully explained the reason why the Church does not accept the LGBT movement, shedding light for those on both sides of the debate. Love and compassion are two of the major hallmarks of the character of Jesus Christ balanced by an unflinching commitment to the truth. While Christians are exhorted to love their neighbour, which undoubtedly includes those who practise the LGBT lifestyle, they also have a clear duty to firmly reject such a lifestyle. It is a tightrope walk! Jesus took a much stricter stand than the then prevailing prohibitions on adultery. Yet when a woman who was caught in the act was brought to him by accusers who were ready to execute her, he surprised them with a searching question and when they had melted away, he addressed the woman with compassion, “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.”