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1. Pastor Fung Chi Wood - Is homosexuality sinful?- A brief narrative
2. Magnanimity
3. Flavours In My Heart

1. Is homosexuality sinful?- A brief narrative

In a religious sense, an act of sin refers to the thought, word or deed of damaging oneself or others physically or spiritually. It is childish, therefore, to simplify sin as an act of disobedience to some teachings (even teachings from the Bible), as moral standards change from time to time and vary among cultures and geographical locations. Two thousand years ago, the Church did not allow women to preach, but today some churches are beginning to ordain female ministers. Homosexuality is an issue that has only been discussed, researched and understood publicly for the past five decades. As new findings of homosexuality are being revealed, people in the modern age should have a new understanding of this issue. People in the past were anti-gay, but we in the modern age are not obliged to be anti-gay merely because our ancestors were.

When considering the topic, it is appropriate to reflect if homosexuality fits the definition of sin. In order to answer this, yet another question should be asked. Can homosexuality in itself be damaging to oneself or others? Medical science and psychology have evidently proved that homosexuality is not harmful in terms of physiology, psychology, or mental health. Therefore, engaging in homosexual relationships or behaviors is absolutely not sinful for a person born with a natural homosexual orientation. Were a person not born homosexual to behave in such a fashion, however, this behavior would be questionable as it is against the individual's natural orientation. Likewise, engaging in a heterosexual relationship or being forced not to have a homosexual relationship is damaging to a homosexual, as this course of action would also run counter to his or her natural sexual orientation. Therefore, allowing people to be in a relationship and to enjoy sex according to their own sexual orientations is most appropriate and beautiful. This is also the will of God.

Since homosexuality is not sinful, gays and lesbians are absolutely eligible to be baptized and can accept Jesus Christ as their Savior. In fact, we are all sinners and we all sin; the difference among us is just a matter of forms and degree. Since we are sinners, inevitably we need to experience God's grace through baptism. One is making a judgment of others to think someone is not eligible to be baptized. Similarly, a candidate for baptism can decide if he or she should come out to the minister before baptism. A minister cannot and is unable to know everything about the baptized, as baptism is purely a business between God and the baptized. A minister's job is simply to facilitate this matter by performing baptism for those who have decided to be baptized.

Several Old Testament verses mention homosexual behavior between men but fail to mention a loving homosexual relationship; meanwhile, no verses related to homosexual relationships or behavior between women can be found in the Old Testament. Apostle Paul in the New Testament was against male and female homosexuality which he described as being against one's nature. It is therefore evident to see that the Bible only discusses the issue of homosexuality from a negative, sidelined and local perspective; subsequently, there is little support for saying that the Bible is totally against homosexuality. People in both the Old Testament and New Testament times only knew of homosexual behavior, and had no knowledge of homosexual relationships. Christians should uphold Jesus' teaching as their moral standard, and verses that are not directly related to Jesus' teaching, especially those in the Old Testament, should be interpreted in the light of Jesus' teaching. Jesus never mentioned homosexuality, and yet He accepts and is sympathetic to those who are oppressed. Jesus is surely standing on the side of homosexuals, because they are being judged and oppressed constantly. Anyone using the bible as a rationale to support anti-gay theories is standing on shaky ground.

The important question to ask is if people are born homosexual or instead have they chosen this lifestyle, but the phrasing of this question is not precise enough. Instead, the issue is if homosexuality is natural or unnatural. According to my personal observation of gays and lesbians and reading of related literature, most of them are naturally homosexual. Similar to heterosexual experience, homosexuals find themselves, without realizing it, emotionally and romantically attached to people of the same sex. Those that are natural are of God and created by God: God created all things bright and beautiful. Asking someone gay to become straight is as much against God's will and nature as asking someone straight to become gay. It is not a coincidence that the proportion of homosexuals in society always accounts for 10% of the total population at different times of human history, for different races, cultures, and nations.

Some may argue that what is natural is not necessarily without sin; for instance, greediness is the nature of man and yet it is sinful to be greedy. Therefore, they claim, even though one may be a born homosexual, their behavior can still be sinful. This argument contradicts itself, however. Arguing along this line, one can also make such ludicrous claim as that since heterosexuality is natural, therefore heterosexuality can also be sinful. Or, it is natural for man to have compassion; therefore having compassion can also be sinful! Such an illogical stance should therefore be totally discarded.

When considering man's nature, it is important first to establish that man's nature can be both good and evil; therefore, different methodologies should be employed to distinguish good from evil. For those who are born straight, to enter a heterosexual relationship is widely accepted as good. Such a principle should also apply to homosexuality, and thus it is also good for those who are born homosexual to be in homosexual relationships. All men are equal, and we should all be in a romantic relationship according to our own sexual orientation.

I would give you another example. A good number of Christians believe that masturbation is harmful, but an equally good number of medical doctors do not agree with such a claim. The Hong Kong Family Planning Council also believes masturbation is a natural behavior. Even though obviously no damage whatsoever has been documented after one has finished masturbation and experts from different disciplines all point to the fact that masturbation is not a problem, some Christians are still strongly against masturbation nowadays. My position is very simple. We should allow those who like to live a rigid life to continue denying themselves the pleasure of masturbation. There is no point in changing them. But those people who have chosen not to masturbate should not demand that everyone be like them, as others have the right to choose whether and how to enjoy sex.

Those people who are outspoken and making a big fuss to promote their anti-masturbation stance may subsequently inflict an unnecessary sense of guilt on youngsters, who lack the experience to make their own judgments when they enjoy the joy of masturbation. Masturbation in itself is harmless, but a self-inflicted sense of guilt is even more harmful. Masturbation is an act of nature, yet a self-inflicted sense of guilt is always implanted by others. The issue of homosexuality is similar to this example. Homosexuality is natural, so there should be no problem. But because of other people's objection, gay people experience unnecessary self-inflicted guilt. I am extremely sympathetic to gays and lesbians! When are people of the world going to wake up from their own stupidity? Gay and lesbian friends, fight on and boldly make your sexual orientation known to those who are ignorant. Educate those who are arrogant! More and more people are supporting you. The world is progressing, and the first light of dawn will soon break! I would estimate that the global homosexual movement will experience a significant development and breakthrough within the next twenty years. May God show His mercy to all!

By Rev. Fung Chi-wood in Chinese on 29th Dec. 2000, edited on 11th July 2001 and 4th August 2001.

2. Magnanimity

'Lego' is an outgoing young woman with a passion for life. She treasures what she learns from her mistakes, rediscovers values in life through failures and re-establishes her faith. The process was paved with tears and sorrows, and was never easy. These are her own words, straight from her heart.

Lego realized her sexual preference from a very young age. However, fear and social pressure did not permit her to accept the way she was and she chose to hide her true feelings in the abyss of her heart. Studying aboard, Lego was nurtured in a traditional church. Growing up in a protected environment, she always followed the conventional way of living as decreed by the church, and never seriously gave thought or considered the kind of life that would really suit her, let alone her true needs. Of course the 'true myself' never dared to be revealed, just a tip of the iceberg. But the frozen iceberg would melt one day, and hardships would follow.

What does a girl want? What does a girl need? Love. Lego met a boy in the church and without thinking too much, she started to date him. Friends around her were all approving of their relationship. As graduation neared and thoughts of immigration entered their minds, she made the impetuous and immature decision: marriage. Having gotten married and living in a new and remote land, both parties had to get used to each other's way of living. Without the support and help of friends, and with the boredom of work, their relationship was challenged from many sides. It did not help that both of them tended to be introverted. They seldom shared their unhappiness and difficulties, and they were not skilled in being considerate towards each other. Consequently, the quality of the relationship deteriorated. In the meantime, Lego met a girl from the church, and they became close friends, and eventually became lovers. With the relationship, Lego would eventually be able to discern her feelings towards both of them.

There is indeed "love" towards her husband, but Lego simply could not love him whole-heartedly. 30% could well describe the portion of her love that she reserved for him. By comparison, she loved her girlfriend with all her heart, and she strongly sensed the passion she felt for her. Guilt overwhelmed her came abound-the guilt of betraying her husband, as well as the invisible pressure from within her church, not to mention the culpability she felt that stemmed from her faith. Although her affair had not been discovered, a certain panic always resided in her.

Eventually, Lego revealed the truth to a pastor at church, and was forced to break off contact with her lover. Lego felt desperate and lonely after this. Eventually, she did not want to deceive both the 'real me' and the husband any more. Knowing that it is unfair for the husband to continue the relationship that was a sham, she decided to seek divorce. Later, Lego resumed her relationship with her girlfriend and this continued for over a year. Her partner declared that she was not genuinely homosexual. After having careful thoughts about the rocky paths in leading a homosexual lifestyle, she proposed breakup.

This was the biggest sorrow of Lego's life. She had not been faithful to her conscience, had not been willing to accept herself, and unwittingly got married as an escape, squandering the love from her ex-husband. Nevertheless, on a more positive note, Lego finally experienced what is called real love, and began to search for her own identity and a happy life.

Waking up from darkness and pain, Lego returned to Hong Kong alone and determined to seek herself as well as her faith. She finally admitted that she is a lesbian and has been joining activities hosted by the gay community. She learned more about herself and the world through trying to understand others. She believed that there are many people also facing the same difficulties as she faced. Since society does not accept homosexuals, many are forced to make unwilling choices, consequently causing more harms and social problems. Human beings are beings who cannot live alone: we are co-dependent and any individual action does not only affect the individual but also society in general. By suppressing, attacking and pillaging the minorities to the extent that they lost their breathing space, it is ultimatley the society at large rather than the minority that is being hurt.

We all have our pasts that we are not proud of; People must learn to forgive themselves, and must understand that they have to forgive others. After regretting, Lego believes that we are responsible ro our conscience, and we should try not to repeat our errors. We must be determined to accept ourselves, our successes and failures, our preferences and personalities, and our strengths and limitations.

As for her faith, Lego often ponders on what qualities constitute a good Christian--she does not know. However, she believes God's creation is to let human live truthfully. She will strive to love herself, others, and the world. This will make life abundant and meaningful.

For this reason she is quite willing to share her experiences with others. Moreover, she comes to understand herself (and human in general) more through the processes of sharing and communication.

Life as experienced by Lego is like 'Lego' blocks: there is a time to build and a time to demolish. With faith in God, and her life experiences, she is being rebuilt and demolished, too. It is hoped that after these processes, her life will be as colourful as the 'Lego' blocks.

Ordinary stories of ordinary lives. What makes the ordinary stories extraordinary often depends on a thought.

What touches our hearts is to be found all around us. In the gay community, many experiences are exceptional. Some may be doleful, some may be solacing, but all encompassing multitudes of emotions. With human living thousands of generations, our hearts weathering through ups and downs, and with other people' stories...just when will we truly understand the essence of "loving and helping each other in egalitarianism" is what enables the human race to carry on?

What Lego is longing for now is to do something meaningful, but what are meaningful things? To share with others, or to support them? What about you? What are meaningful things for you? Do you still cling to self-righteous, self-protective values of living for the sake of survivial? Or...

Magnanimity is the conclusion of this article.

3. Flavours In My Heart

"24 Flavours" is a welcomed figure in the gay community--being both optimistic and witty, he is always the one to liven up the atmosphere, the catalyst of merriment within a crowd. He has many good friends in the community. But, those close to him will get to know his serious side as well as his depth of emotions. Therefore, the topic "Flavours In My Heart" served as the prologue of the conversation between the writer and him.

"24 Flavours" is a self assured fellow who knew how to protect himself. Since childhoood, he never had the ordeal of outright discrimination-he was only ridiculed as "being sissy" by friends and classmates when he was small. The remarks were sometimes friendly, sometimess less so. He wouldl not dignify the remarks with much response, but kept on minding his own business. In the bottom of his heart, he was hurt by the vile behaviour of those looking down upon him. He used to care much about the criticisms regarding his appearance and manners. Now, he felt quite matter-of-fact about it: "So be it--this is I."

"24 Flavours" is an outspoken person. Towards friends, he will be candid: to deceive others is to deceive oneself. To live is to live merrily, and to respect one's conscience! Therefore, having contemplated for a while, he revealed his sexual orientation towards the pastoral staff in his church. The pastor and the preacher were very liberal about the issue--they did view homosexuality as one of the sins, likening it to greed, deceit, adultery, theft, etc. They did wish "24 Flavours" would "convert" as time went by; But, they kept it confidential and encouraged "24 Flavours" to attend church meetings as usual.

The breathing space alloted by the pastoral staff provided more confidence for "24 Flavours" to come out to other people. Later on, he chose to tell his kid sister. The delicate sister reacted with sorrow and rage. After a lot of arguments, they were in cold wars with each other. After things were sedated somewhat, "24 Flavours" introduced to her his gay friends and had her joined activities in the gay community. Two years later, his sister actually engaged in cultural performances with his group of friends, gay and straight, in a harmonious fashion.

This experience, in retrospect, consisted of a lot of scare, frustration, pain, hope, confrontation, explanation, revelation. All these were shown on "24 Flavours"'s weathered face. The outcome was the ever-closer intimacy between the siblings. To face your destiny with fortitude--and blessings will follow after hardships. There are always opportunities during crisis. It is wished that every homosexual can seek acknowledgement in his/her expereiences, and that one's true self can be discovered. Otherwise, life would be trifling and meaningless.

As for the affairs of the heart--perhaps due to his personality, "24 Flavours" often cast off the impression of willfulness. Perhaps the synonym of willfulness is insecurity, and the antithesis of willfulness is the inability to be in tandem with others. Therefore, his love life seems "so close but o so far away". There were relationships these years. Who does not crave having a loved one at your side all the time? But, being used to an untrammelled life, attachments are not as easy to bear.

"24 Flavours" will not hide his identity furtively--he sees his colleagues as friends and friends are not to be deceived. Surely, he is not naive enough to tell everyone, "hey, I am a gay". Only in suitable occasions, under mutual respect and frank sharing will he remarked on it offhand. "The identity is not unlike knowing how much there is in your wallet: Only you will keep on calculating; Others will not harp on the answer and there is no need for you to mention it constantly....after all, in interacting with others, what is important is to have others see your character, style and capability in thoughts and judgement."

"24 Flavours" does acknowledge that the gay community is a social minority. Discrimination within society is, more often than not, the majority discriminating against the minority, the rich discriminating against the poor, the outspoken discriminating against the reticent. Therefore, gays have to be strong. The first priority is to seek financial independence, planning for one's own life. Aside from work, "24 Flavours" often volunteered in various organizations: church, youth centers, organizations for the mentally handicapped, and BMCF. This had been his life long habit and his ideals as well. The main reason: "To be able to serve others is a pleasant experience...I was helpless when young; So, I do wish to help others now, and to share these expereiences with others. Moreover, I am liberated through helping others... We should treasure those around us who are special, like the physically or mentally handicapped. It is in their lives and interacting with them that we can see the blessings of God."

Life is full of sunshine. Having known "24 Flavours" for four years, we have served and participated in cultural events together. We bickered a lot and had our own stands, but we were always reconciled at the end. "24 Flavours" 's biggest wish is not having to work and have dear friends on his side. This is my wish as well. Chatting with "24 Flavours", anyone can feel his ambience of "pains and seperations. I shall fear not, as the whole world is full of compassion and love"

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