Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Another interesting blog post

Somehow I chanced upon this blog post one day and I'm pretty amazed at how this guy, Josh, is gay and yet married to a woman. Now, before you dismiss him as an ex-gay advocate for the now defunct Exodus, I must request that you read his entire blog post, which is nothing short of a miracle. It generated 4,248 comments so it probably must have gone viral. Even though it's almost 3 years old, the content is still as fresh as ever.

Now if you've not got the time to read it, a highlight was him answering the question that many have posed before, and I'll quote directly:

The truth is, what people are really asking with the above question is “how can you be gay if your primary sex partner is a girl?” I knew that I was gay, and I also knew that sex with my wife was enjoyable. But I didn’t understand how that was happening. Here is the basic reality that I actually think many people could use a lesson in: sex is about more than just visual attraction and lust and it is about more than just passion and infatuation. I won’t get into the boring details of the research here, but basically when sex is done right, at its deepest level it is about intimacy. It is about one human being connecting with another human being they love. It is a beautiful physical manifestation of two people being connected in a truly vulnerable, intimate manner because they love each other profoundly. It is bodies connecting and souls connecting. It is beautiful and rich and fulfilling and spiritual and amazing. Many people never get to this point in their sex lives because it requires incredible communication, trust, vulnerability, and connection. And Lolly and I have had that from day one, mostly because we weren’t distracted by the powerful chemicals of infatuation and obsession that usually bring a couple together (which dwindle dramatically after the first few years of marriage anyway). So, in a weird way, the circumstances of our marriage allowed us to build a sexual relationship that is based on everything partners should want in their sex-life: intimacy, communication, genuine love and affection. This has resulted in us having a better sex life than most people I personally know. Most of whom are straight. Go fig.

Very interesting.

Now, I must say that I'm not trying to say that this is for everyone. But after the incessant drumming of the progressives who advocate same-sex marriage these days, it is quite a relief to hear what Josh has to say.

Well, I'm not ruling anything out for me. All I can say is, with all the powerful attractions to girls I have experienced in the last 4 years, with as many major crushes, it would be a complete miracle for me to get married to a man.

Then again, God specializes in miracles.

Haha, it may seem like I have great faith, but I'm really just taking it one step at a time, one day at a time. We'll see how this goes.

Coming Out - a poem



"I love you."

"I love you."

These were words spoken to me not by my lover (I have none currently), but by two close friends, at two separate places and times sometime last year.

As I recalled them last night on my bed, I started to weep.

"What love is this?" sings Kari Jobe.

What love is this really? The fact that someone outside my family would love me, could love me, was so healing. It took away the dull ache from my heart that was left there by trying to let go of my one-time crush.

It was unconditional, pure, sweet love that these friends offered.

And for their love, I am grateful.

It's difficult to explain why I felt so much. Perhaps it's because "Words of Affirmation" is my topmost love language.

I then pondered on the love of God, but was unable to. But something struck me as I lay there on my bed. It was the Bible verse - "I love because you first loved me."

It was the same with these friends. My love for them multiplied last night as I recalled how they quietly declared their love for me.

Healing prayers

Last week in cell group, A. prayed a prayer that was tremendously healing. It was incredible and I was not only very touched, but tremendously encouraged.

You see, the cell group message was on the 7 exchanges that took place on the cross when Jesus died for us.

As I listened, I pondered silently on 2 out of the 7 points as my cell leader preached and could not help but wonder about my gayness. She declared, "Jesus took our sicknesses to give us healing," and also that "Jesus took our curse to give us blessing."

Now if I were like Vicky Beeching, I would confidently declare that my being gay is a gift from God. But I cannot say that with 100% conviction. I still struggle with being gay. "But if this is not a disease, and it is not a curse, then it has to be a gift, shouldn't it?" I think immediately. And so, I confuse myself.

Well, near the end of cell group, we were told to pair up to pray for one another. We had 3 in our group and we were encouraged to tell each other which one we struggled with and for the other to pray for us. A. asked if I'd like to start first and I shook my head, reluctant to begin. So she shared, and then the other person in our group, M., had no issue, and then it was me.

And so I decided to be vulnerable. Now I was out to both of them although I never talked about it in great length to M. However, I had previously gone into lengthy conversations about my orientation with A. So it was kinda awkward to just tell them that, mainly because of M. But I am so glad I did. Because A. prayed over me such a wonderful and healing prayer. I should have recorded it, but I never knew what comforting words she would speak over my life and over me.

She prayed, if I remember rightly, that I would discover and be secure in my identity and know that God loves me regardless. That God has prepared a special calling for me to walk into. And so, so, so much more. I just sat there and listened and absorbed all she had to say and pray over me.

And that day, I was glad I decided to be vulnerable.

Monday, 30 March 2015

An Instagram handle

Since I like reading books so much, I thought I'd create an Instagram account chronicling the various books I'd read on LGBTQ issues. I'd do short reviews on them as well and you can add me on Instagram at @lgbtq.books if you're interested. 


I did this so as not overwhelm the readers of this blog with books reviews cos not everyone likes reading books. I'll still be posting my thoughts or excerpts on books that have made a deep impact on me though - like I've done with Andrew Marin's Love is an Orientation and Matthew Vines' God and the Gay Christian here on this blog. 

I'll endeavor to post on Instagram once a week, just like I do on this blog, and will alternate between books that give a Christian perspective on LGBTQ issues and secular titles. There will hopefully be a good mix of fiction and non-fiction titles. 

Ideally, this Instagram account would eventually catch the attention of writers and publishers and they'd send me free copies of books to review. That will save me that hassle or buying or borrowing them. Meanwhile, I'll still do that. And even if that doesn't happen, the posts will still continue cos I just enjoy reading so much. :)

Till next time!

Sunday, 29 March 2015

A nation mourns


So the funeral and 10 eulogies for Mr Lee Kuan Yew that was broadcasted on national television just ended.

Even as I type this, there are people chanting his name along the road just outside my apartment. (The entourage just drove past our house en route to Mandai Crematorium where he'll be cremated.)

I was a little emotional once or twice in the week as I read the newspaper reports and articles chronicling his contribution to this country. He had done so much for us. It is incredible.

Without him and his team, I might not have the affordable, first class education that I've enjoyed these many years.

Without him and his team, I might be living in a slum, instead of this lovely apartment that I share with my family.

Without him and his team, I might not be able to type in fluent English on a laptop with a secure Internet connection right now.

Without him and his team, I might be starving instead of being able to have 3 square meals a day and more.

But more than just listing down his accolades, what I learnt most this past week was the fact that one should tell them you love them when they are alive.

As I queued up to pay my respects to him at Parliament House, there was a section where people could take small cards to write a little something to him. I didn't because I didn't see the point in that. He is already dead and gone, what good could writing a card do? Although I do understand that it is human nature to do so.

So I've resolved to try to tell the people around me how much I appreciate them today, as they are alive. I recently told two close friends of mine how much I appreciate their company and the deep conversations we have. Because I really do. They engage me, as a fellow Christian sister, in my journey as a gay Christian who's still exploring, still searching, still wondering about many issues - and that's a blog post for another day. For these friendships, I'm extremely grateful.

But even as I write this, a bigger paradox presents itself. I cannot bring myself to tell my fondest friend how much I truly like her. I don't know if it's a crush, it probably is, and perhaps that's why I'm not gonna do it.

It was strange today in service. The guest speaker was using an anecdote to encourage us to pursue our dreams. There was a young man who was hesitant to ask a girl out because he was afraid he'd be rejected. But the pastor said that he'd nothing to lose, because he didn't have the girl now, so even if she said no to him, it was no loss. But if she said, "Yes!"...

I immediately thought about her. But I do realise it is kind of different in my case. In my case I would risk losing a dear and carefully cultivated friendship. And I'd rather not lose that. So I suppose I'll be living in this tension for a little while more.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Another except from Love is an Orientation


This book is so good, I had to post another excerpt (which is kinda rare when I read):

"From a straight Christian perspective, the ideal life is to get married and have a family. From a gay perspective the ideal is to come out and live a happy, sexually reconciled faith as an active gay man or lesbian woman. And for those believers with a same-sex attraction who don't fit into the other two ideals, the third ideal is to be celibate. What each ideal has in common is that they all focus on sex - or lack thereof - as the standard by which to judge a life.

...

There's a fourth ideal that gets overlooked, an ideal that is not based on sex: It's OK to be yourself before God and not conform to any of the other three ways that seem ideal to the outside world.

The fourth ideal communicates God's acceptance, validation, affirmation and unconditional love in meeting people as they are, where they are. Some critics might think this fourth ideal is the same as a blanket acceptance of the gay identity. Others might think this fourth ideal is the same as celibacy, just renamed to try to make it more accessible. But the fourth ideal is rooted in neither. It's an ideal focused on an identity in Christ rather than behavior - straight, gay or celibate - as the judge of one's acceptability.

The fourth ideal says that an ideal existence is one that does not have to accept or conform to any sexual personification that mainstream society (secular or religious) deems as the only means to a normal existence. The totality of an individual's worth, instead of the significance of a behavior, gives straight Christians, GLBT people and those in between room to elevate the conversation by deconstructing the overhyped value of sexual behavior. We must allow people to consider God unencumbered by the blinders of a forced sexual identity - in either direction. Without that room many people like Jeff will continue to get lost in this world's Christian and secular ideological expectations of spiritualized sexuality as the standard of what is desired."

Love is an Orientation - An excerpt


So I went to Pelangi Pride Centre yesterday and borrowed Andrew Marin's Love is an Orientation. I've heard so many good things about it and was not disappointed.

Here is a short excerpt from Chapter 1:

"Through all these outward Christian successes John's soul was scarred because he thought he had to keep his attractions a secret. Daily he wondered why God would let him have these problems. He had decided at age fifteen, when the attractions first began, that he would earnestly pray one prayer every night: "Lord, when I wake up in the morning please just let me be straight like everyone else."

John prayed that prayer every night until he was thirty years old. And every morning for fifteen years he woke up dejected and broken because he still had the same attractions he never wanted in the first place. By the time I met him he was thirty-four years old, and like many others in his situation had determined that one of the two conclusions must be true.

The first possibility is that there is no God because he had not answered the one prayer they ever prayed. A number of people I have known over the years were initially terrified by the realization of a same-sex attraction that they gave up all other desires. They wanted nothing for their birthdays, Christmas or any holiday other than for God to take these feelings away. I have also known others who have substituted superficial desires - material goods, popularity, etc. - in place of their intimate desires so as to try to cover up all of the pain and shame they felt for being attracted to the same sex.

Too often the intense pressure of getting rid of these gay erotic thoughts from either extreme overtakes people's lives and dominates their existence for so long that it's all they can think about. This perseveration consumes their entire being and, with so much persisting hurt and pain, they wonder why, if there is a God, he would let them suffer so much. There must not be a God after all.

The second possibility people come to is that if there is a God, perhaps he is not answering their one prayer because they are already condemned to hell for their same-sex feelings. If that is true, people such as John believe that they might as well fully immerse themselves in the gay life because it doesn't matter one way or the other.

And what struck me as so significant about these two thoughts was the fact that the man sitting in front of me pouring his tortured heart out was the former student body president of the most well-known evangelical university in the country! At that moment I realized this topic was no longer the "battle of all eternal sanctity" as I had always been told it was. This topic, just like John, is about building bridges to those among us whom we let go without a second thought."



Friday, 20 March 2015

On Wesley Hill's Travelogue to Oz

If you know me well (most people don't), they'll probably know that I'm a Wesley Hill fan. I can't quite remember when I first came across his work, probably twitter or something, but once I read Washed and Waiting, I was hooked.

So it was no surprise to find myself agreeing wholeheartedly to a short post he wrote on his trip to Australia. He spoke on matters gay and Christian, which is probably no surprise if you are familiar with him. However, unlike most out there, he is an advocate for deep spiritual friendship for gay Christians who are wanting to stay celibate. This is quite different from those who push for same-sex marriage or relationships.

In any case, after reading the post, I immediately forwarded it to two close friends I have who are in a Whatsapp chat group we share. The gay Christian friend reflected that it was beautiful to have that kind of commitment from a friend.

The commitment, namely, is one of a friend, or a couple, who walks alongside the gay Christian in his or her journey in life, and makes him or her a part of their family. That's how Wesley Hill envisions how loneliness could be overcome by the gay Christian. It a very insightful article and you should go read it too. 

Because of all these, I can't wait for his new book to come out where he expounds more on the topic!

Here's a video of his talk:

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Books I'd recommend (Part 1)

Last night a friend dropped by to borrow some of my books for an assignment. So I thought I'd blog about some of the books written by gay Christians, and those by straight ones, on the topic of homosexuality.

The list below is in reverse chronological order, starting from the book I read most recently. The corresponding reviews are based on my (sometimes faulty) memory and I'd advise you to read up more about them on their corresponding Amazon pages I've linked to just to be doubly sure you know what you're getting yourself into.

So here goes!

1. Gay and Catholic: Accepting my Sexuality, Finding Community, Living my Faith by Eve Tushnet

This is a brilliant book that I finished very quickly because of the conversational style of writing employed by the author. It is part memoir, part advice-giving and is generally great resource for gay Christians who might be grappling with their same-sex attractions for the first time.

Eve was a convert to the Catholic faith in her university days and had been out since the age of 13 to liberal, accepting parents. The book outlines her journey to faith and celibacy and also includes a substantial portion of her struggle with alcoholism. I liked this book because it presents a different viewpoint from the many gay Christian authors I've read previously and Tushnet is a really good writer to boot. Recommended for all.


2. Bible, Gender, Sexuality: Reframing the Church's Debate on Same-Sex Relationships by James Brownson

I bought this book because I'd heard so many people reference it when they talk about how the Bible states that same-sex relationship are okay. It may sound incredible to you, but these people really do believe so. And so I had to read it.

The author is a New Testament professor who decided to study the clobber passages (Biblical verses that deal with homosexuality) in greater depth after his son came out to him as gay. And so he does. Expect a blow by blow, verse by verse, word by word analysis and exegesis as you read this book. Not for the faint-hearted, he also goes into the Greek and Hebrew meanings and word definitions of the various verses involved.

I must say that even though I don't agree with the conclusions the author makes, he really has gone to great lengths to study and interpret Scripture, albeit with a most biased slant. So I'd recommend this to scholarly types who are interested in why some Christians are Side A (The side that is for same-sex marriage and relationships).

For an easier alternative...


3. God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships by Matthew Vines

I've previously done a very brief review of this book in one of my previous posts which didn't really do the book justice.

If I remember correctly, this book draws from James Brownson's Bible, Gender, Sexuality among other sources and breaks down the 6 clobber passages into simple terms for the layman. It is a fast and easy read but some have uncovered loopholes that the author overlooked. These loopholes sound fairly legit and I'd recommend you to read Matthew Vines' book before reading the criticism.

The book was caused quite an uproar in the State when it was launched and is hailed as a ground-breaking work. I'd recommend one to read this if you'd like to find out why some say the Bible is for same-sex relationship but is unable to find time to digest the very dense book by James Brownson. This is an easier to read alternative.


4. Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate by Justin Lee

This begins as a memoir of how a boy raised in a loving Christian home discovered himself to be gay. It touches briefly on his experiences in the ex-gay movement and how he found that their theories were incongruent with his life (one of the theories being that it generally takes an absent father and overprotective mother to create a gay person).

He then reveals how he founded the Gay Christian Network, popularly known as GCN, that is "a non-profit Christian ministry dedicated to building bridges and offering support for those caught in the crossfire of one of today's most divisive culture wars". Very interesting book, highly recommended to gay and straight Christians alike.


5. Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality by Wesley Hill

Isn't it interesting that all these 5 books I've listed all have a title within a title? Perhaps it's the latest trend in publishing. Well, this book is one of the BEST I've read on the topic so far. If you are going to get only one book, get this.

Wesley Hill is an assistant professor in New Testament and is a celibate gay Christian. He talks about the alienating experience growing up as a closeted gay boy and tells us about the gut-wrenching experience of coming out for the first time that every gay person can relate to. I just re-read a small section of it yesterday and remember it quite clearly.I have to finish re-reading the entire thing to be able to properly remember what the rest of the book is about, but all I remember was that it was very good. It was so good, in fact, that I bought a copy for my cell leader to read to help understand my struggle better.


Anyway, that's all for today. A very long post unlike the past couple of posts. I'd like to do individual reviews but am afraid I'll not have the time for it so I'll post a couple at a time. I think this makes more sense. In any case, these are probably the most popular books on the topic I can think of, so do check them out if you're able to. :)

In other news, I might be visiting the only LGBT library in Singapore this Saturday to just check it out, having never been there before. I wonder what I'll find there...

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Book review: God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines


I've been following a couple of blogs and following on twitter dealing with LGBT issues in America. Last year, the one of the more controversial focal points was on a newly published book - God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines.

This book leans towards the progressive stance, and argues for same-sex marriage equality. Matthew Vines took a year off school from Harvard and went to research in depth on the various "clobber verses" in the Bible against homosexuality. (They are often used to "clobber" people with you see.)

Well, someone sent me an ebook compiled by leading Christian authorities that was a series of counter arguments against the book. This I have not read. But this intrigued me to no end and I was determined to get the book to see what the fuss was all about. 

The book is well written but I don't agree with all the conclusions Vines makes. I actually have half a mind to blog about the clobber passages here on this blog. But we shall see how that pans out in the coming weeks.  

Meanwhile you can watch his 5 minute YouTube video here to have a glimpse on what the fuss is all about and form your own conclusions - http://youtu.be/gmp6lLct-fQ

Friday, 13 March 2015

Encouraged by cell group

I was on my way to cell group (okay this doesn't have anything to do with why I was encouraged so if you're interested in that bit, skip to the next paragraph) and so I boarded a double decker bus. When I got on to the second level, I sat down, and across the aisle was a stunning Caucasian woman I'd never seen before. She was like a mix of Lee-Ann Rimes and RenĂ©e Zellweger in their earlier days. I tried to ignore her but couldn't help but keep stealing glances at her. She was absolutely a delight to look at. Then I alighted. Kinda anticlimactic, I know. But such is life. 

In other news, cell group today was really encouraging. The bit that got me the most was the part where my cell leader preached on self-control. 

Here's the relevant verse: 

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. (I Corinthians 9:24-27 NKJV)

This is something that I need to work on in my life. In many different areas, one of which is - my eating habits. I often eat out of stress and this week was no different. I exceeded my calorie intake on myfitnesspal for at least 3 days. Gotta work on this.

One last thing. Christopher Yuan is coming to speak in Singapore next week and I'm frustrated that I'm unable to hear him speak. The talk I'm most interested to listen to is one titled "Homosexuality and Hermeneutics". He's a bible scholar teaching in a seminary and I'd wished to hear him talk about the clobber passages. Guess I'll have to settle for notes from my friend then. 

That's all for today folks. 

Monday, 9 March 2015

Disputed Mutability

So the large part of tonight has gone to reading posts on the Disputed Mutability blog. This is a blog devoted to ex-gay issues, thoughts, analysis and insights. I must say that the author has put a lot of thought into the posts and the fact that she even edits them before putting them up says a lot about her.

I love the posts because they articulate so much about what I feel about reparative therapy among other things. I also found the posts on "Why I Forsook my Gay Identity" particularly insightful.

What I loved most about the blog is that the author didn't seek to be straight. She simply realised that gay sex was not in line with what God wanted and backed away from it. Because Jesus was the better option.

Wow.

It is a pity that the author has stopped posting since 2010, probably due to a busy schedule (the last couple of posts were spaced out due to the author being pregnant and subsequently being mother to a newborn).

It's strange how into the blog I was, reading almost all the posts she had put up from 2010, slowly going backward chronologically until the first post in February 2006. But I suppose it's how I am wired, trying to integrate my faith and sexuality by the only means I know how - reading. It's kinda amazing and disturbing how many books I've read about the subject and how many blogs I've trawled. I suppose this won't stop anytime soon, and having a "community" of fellow sojourners makes this an easier journey.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Silence

Last night I had steamboat at my cell leader's place with a couple of cell members. It was a nice cozy little affair and I was surprised it was much more comfortable than I thought it would be. Except for one little bit. The food was good and as we tucked into the feast, the topic naturally turned to marriage and babies, housing and renovations as two of them were getting married and another about to give birth. I was strangely silent throughout as they yammered on. Well, what could I say when I wasn't even sure whether my next relationship would be with a guy or a girl? What could I say indeed? So I just kept quiet and listened to them; it was interesting fodder for conversation one must admit. Later on, the half-in, half-out of the closet me kept my mouth shut when someone said he didn't have a girlfriend for as long as he lived, when what I wanted to say was, "Hey, even I had one, and you haven't?" I suppose that would be rather rude and this wise crack is probably not so wise after all, so it was good that I kept quiet. Ah well. I've been recently challenged by my good friend if I'm actually bi. I have thought about it and identify as "gay with bisexual tendencies" if that makes sense. Well, it's probably bi to the layman to simplify things. In other news, I've recently tried out a dating app on my phone and it's pretty cool though I've not gone out with anyone yet. Well, more about it another day. Ciao.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Connor Franta's coming out video

For the uninitiated, Connor Franta is a YouTube personality who very recently came out as gay. I just saw his coming out video and thought I'd share it here because it's great. And his reasons for coming out are applicable to all. So enjoy!

Finding healing in unexpected places

I attended my first ever Queer Book Club meeting on Thursday and it was just lovely. It was a relaxed, very chill kinda discussion wit...