Saturday, August 23, 2008

Tan Kim Huat at Jesuit Centre on Homosexuality

(From left to right: The Roman Catholic lawyer, (the Jesuit) Paul Goh, the moderator, (the Protestant) Tan Kim Huat)

The Center for Ignatian Spirituality and Counseling in Singapore invited Tan Kim Huat, the dean of Trinity Theological College, to present on the topic 'The Bible and Homosexuality' last night. Together with him were two other Roman Catholic panelists: Paul Goh (a Jesuit) and a lawyer (forgot his name).

All 3 speakers present their studies from their own respective area. Kim Huat gave us the insights of the biblical authors towards homosexuality, the lawyer talked about Singapore's legal issue on Penal Code 377 and 377 (a), and Paul Goh illuminated us with the complexity surrounding sexual orientation. All their topics are interesting, yet nonetheless in term of presentation skills, Kim Huat stood out among them.

His presentation filled with rigor and straight to the point. He walked the audiences all the way from Genesis to 1 Corinthians, with an emphasis on Romans 1. At the end of it, he also gave us some pastoral insights towards the issue. And all these was done in about 30-40 minutes.

The whole session was great but I was disappointed with the Jesuit. Although his points are insightful (for eg. the many complex factors involved in individuals' sexual orientation), he talked very slowly, as if his session was a pastoral-counseling session. But it's not. Another reason the boredom was intensified partly due to Kim Huat's previous vigorous talk.

During the Q&A, YK didn't hesitate to raise the question on various approaches to homosexuality, for eg. gay-friendly churches. Kim Huat wisely said that he does not agree with the idea of setting up a homosexual church just as he does not agree with the setting up of a heterosexual church. Although churches should continue to have dialog on this issue, yet any Christian churches should go beyond this issue instead of getting stuck at sexuality. He even quoted Rowan Williams' "(Kim Huat's words) powerful statement", "Church must be a safe place for gay and lesbian people".

After the session, I told Kim Huat that Christian Post's editorial recently published a write-up that denigrates Rowan Williams:

He should not keep silent when the conservatives speak up against injustices done against the communion of saints; he should speak even more passionately than them... Otherwise it would not be befitting for him to be the Archbishop of Canterbury, who has the position of being the first among equals. More terrifying than the gross blasphemies that are being perpetrated in the North American continent are the gross blasphemies of the one who has the responsibility and authority to turn back the flock but who relinquishes it.

Kim Huat was surprised. When I saw the post, I was surprised too. Obviously Christian Post's editorial does not understand what is Rowan Williams' position and what is he going through and why is he going through what he is going through.


Kar Yong said...

Paul Goh in para 1 becomes Paul GOD in para 2? Hahaha....

Sze Zeng said...

Hi KY,

Thank you for the note! Rectified accordingly.

(I've blasphemed unintentionally!)

Ignatius said...

Though I disagree on these on ordaining homosexual ministers and giving blessing to same-sex marriages, but if the Church isn’t a safe place for gay and lesbian people, where can they find the safe place? I would rather gay people start showing up at church...sometimes in pairs... than they be somewhere else. However, the transforming power of God’s word might just change them! Like what you said, take Jesus' moral standard and St. Paul's criteria together, all of us will not inherit the Kingdom through one way or the other. Idolaters, gossipers, fornicators and whoremongers are not better than gays or lesbians. Rather than being a hypocrite (who views another person as being a worse sinner than them self), it would be good if the church would be more inviting. If they don’t feel welcomed, if we don’t make room for them in the church, they may find (a) room somewhere and do something else!!

Sze Zeng said...

A good point, you made there Ignatius! :)