Monday, September 26, 2011

Who is Intolerant Now?

Last weekend, the largest Anglican Church in Canada moved from their decade old location at Nanton Avenue in Vancouver, BC. After taking care of a beautiful cathedral, investing hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours to maintain the place, and polishing the furniture prior to the handover, on Sunday September 25th, they left nearly everything behind. From a place they used to own, they rented another church for Sunday use. From an office within the Church, they rented an office that is off-site from the rented property. From having a permanent location, they now have to worship in a temporary place, completely under the gracious hospitality of their hosts.  This is St John's Vancouver Anglican Church @Oakridge, formerly known as St John's Shaughnessy Anglican Church @Nanton.

It is sad to see this believed Church of God having to move its massive numbers to another location. It is impossible for me to even imagine that any new congregation that gathers in their old place will be filled like before. More likely, the new Church occupying the old Shaughnessy premises will resemble a nice Church shell on the outside, but few people on the inside. Honestly, I do feel upset over the turn of events where majority does not rule. Even though SJV is a larger Church, the law has to stand. This is especially when the laws in Canada are increasingly more supportive homosexuality rights, in an environment that sees a rise in aggressiveness from the gay proponents. There is no level playing field. Regardless of what the law says, in practice, there is shifting playing field that favours the homosexual rights.

Straight vs Gay: Uneven Playing Field

Just think about it. Let me use 'straight' vs 'gay' terminology as an example. A 'straight' is someone who generally supports traditional marriage of one-man-one-woman, and does not support homosexuality teachings. A 'gay' is someone who supports same sex marriages and same sex rights as any marital couple. Suppose a 'gay' is to openly disagree with a 'straight,' the argument will be deemed an exercise of 'freedom of speech.' Suppose a 'straight' is to disagree openly with a 'gay,' the argument will be deemed 'homophobic.'

Why is it 'freedom of speech' when gays disagree, and 'homophobic' when straights disagree? Is that then a level playing field?  I am beginning to wonder who is more intolerant? I am also beginning to see that there are more similarities than differences in terms of human nature. Different in expressions. Similar in human nature. Different in arguments. Similar in sinfulness.

Just take one example. Recently, it was reported that one Cisco employee was fired from his job because of his personal beliefs that run counter to homosexual beliefs. According to the article, Frank Turek was fired when a gay manager did research about Turek online, and upon seeing that Turek is a passionate believer of traditional marriage and family values, complained to Human Resources. In

I was fired as a vendor by Cisco for my conservative beliefs about sex and marriage even though my beliefs were never expressed on the job,” said Turek, a periodic columnist for the conservative paper Townhall. (quoted from article here)
Heterophobia on the Rise?

If that is true, I think we have seen a change of tide. Homophobic behaviour is no longer the issue. Hetero-phobic is rearing its ugly head. Any demonstration for traditional values will be met by a DOUBLY more aggressive opposite force. Any disagreement by straights will likely be countered by a trigger happy press. It is no longer a level playing field. Activists for homosexual rights are up in arms to bring homosexual laws to include other cities. Take the Burnaby School Board for example. They have recently approved an anti-homophobia law in schools. While it tries to prevent a recurrence of a sad case when a gay boy was killed by some gay-haters back in 2001, it is opening a can of worms for the future.

What if such a law fuels a hate for people who disagree with homosexual laws? What if it suppresses free speech by straights? How do the authorities distinguish between free speech expression and hate? The policy only muddles it even more. Those who cry 'intolerant' are themselves practitioners of the very intolerance they are seeking to prevent. Another scenario is this. What about a straight person being killed by a group of gay men? Will the same Burnaby School Board approve an "anti-anti-homophobia" law? Using the same argument from BSB about preventing the next person from being killed or bullied, may I remind them that they are to stand up for ALL persons, not just highlighting the rights of one group, namely the homosexuals. They represent ALL parties. Unfortunately, their behaviour makes me suspect they are not.

Tolerance Must Operate Both Ways

Through the years, the conservative camp has stood up actively against homosexuality, arguing for a return to traditional values. Along the way, mistakes have been committed. Hurtful words have been used. Misunderstandings arise when some passionate individuals make statements that are misguided. For that, I believe such people owe the homosexual community an apology. James Emery White in his very thoughtful 6-part series on homosexuality begins with exactly this stance. He admits there is 'irrational fear.' He affirms all people regardless of sexual orientation, that God loves them. He speaks to the homosexual public that because they matter to God, they also matter to the Church. In other words, there is more love that needs to be communicated by all parties rather than hateful speeches. It begins with God. It continues with acknowledging one another. It proceeds with listening well.

Whenever there is a fight, involved parties get hurt. Certain kinds of fights tend to inflict deeper wounds. The proverbs teach us:
"The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit." (Proverbs 15:4)
I think the homosexual camp are dangerously on the borderline of practicing 'deceitful tongue' when they parade their rights over everybody's equal rights. Some has already spilled over, like the Cisco example.

May there be more conversation and understanding among all parties. This requires tolerance from all. It will be tragic if people focus more on asserting their rights, rather than living out responsibly in their respective communities. Those who believe that homosexuals have rights, ought to equally believe that those who disagree also have their rights. Any progress in any community building will come only when people starts to work on their responsibilities instead of picketing for rights and more rights.


1 comment:

Sze Zeng said...

Good write-up Kian-Seng.

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