Test 2

Please select your preferred language.





Remember Me

New to Fridae?

Fridae Mobile


More About Us

11 May 2007

rev dr yap kim hao: christian perspectives on homosexuality

Transcript of Rev Dr Yap Kim Hao's address at the Public Dialogue on Christian Perspectives on Homosexuality and Pastoral Care organised by Safehaven on May 10.

Known to be the most outspoken gay-affirming pastor in Singapore, Rev Dr Yap Kim Hao curently serves in a voluntary capacity in the Free Community Church (www.freecomchurch.org) which counts many gays and lesbians as members. He has been a pastor of the Methodist churches in Malaysia and Singapore and served as its first Asian Bishop in 1968-73. He resigned from that position to become the General Secretary of the Christian Conference of Asia in 1973-85. It was there that he was directly involved in social justice issues and ministry to the oppressed and marginalised in the Asian region. He holds Master of Divinity and Doctor of Theology degrees from Boston University and was honoured by them with a Distinguished Alumni Award in 1988. In addition to his ministry with FCC, Rev Dr Yap continues to serve on the Council of the Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO) in Singapore and is committed to the promotion of inter-faith dialogue and understanding.

10 May 2007
Public Dialogue on
Christian Perspectives on Homosexuality and Pastoral Care
organised by Safehaven, a ministry of the Free Community Church

Let me at the outset indicate the rationale for my perspective on homosexuality.

I can do no better than to quote from an official statement of The United Methodist Church in the United States that considers homosexuality as incompatible with Christian teachings and I am a Methodist. Yet it is this same Church that recognizes its "limited understanding of this complex gift and encourages the medical, theological, and social science disciplines to combine in a determined effort to understand human sexuality more completely. We call the Church to take the leadership role in bringing together these disciplines to address this most complex issue."

My approach is therefore a multi-disciplinary one.

Firstly, I will raise some general observations about the teaching of the Bible itself.

I quote a former colleague of mine when I was teaching at the Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Victor Paul Furnish, a distinguished Professor of New Testament who wrote: "Homosexuality is not a prominent Biblical concern. The earliest ethical codes of the Hebrews makes no mention of homosexual behavior. There is nothing about it in the Ten Commandments. The four Gospels record no saying of Jesus on the subject. The texts that are discussed are few and far between and not even all of these are pertinent."

But what do we see in many Churches in different parts of the world today? Homosexuality has become a major issue, much more serious than doctrine or church order. It is projected to split the Episcopal Church in the United States as well as the world-wide Anglican Communion. The Archbishop of Canterbury who is personally gay-affirming, has to recognize the current teaching of the Anglican Communion which is against homosexuality.

As Christians refer to this common source of the Bible, those who are anti-gay are quick to say that the Bible says so and then close the Book. And the controversial issue of homosexuality is no longer discussed. The teaching of the Bible leads to the teaching of the Church which then becomes official, and obedience is demanded. The different perspectives arise from the differing interpretation of the words of the Bible and the teachings of the Church and its pronouncements change as we gain more knowledge and insights.

My view is that the different books of the Bible are time bound, historically related, culturally conditioned and contextually based. They are related to the time and place of the recorded events. They reflect the society and the culture at the time the books of the Bible were written. The revelation of God is mediated and translated by inspired human beings who are not infallible. We have to account for the relevancy of the teaching to our contemporary context.

The various books of the Bible are the products of writers who claim to have received the revelation from God, and under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, put it in writing. Their different interpretations resulted in the changing official teaching of the Church and the varying perspectives of Biblical scholars and theologians. This process continues and we have today come together to share our different perspectives and though we differ, we are expected to respect our differences.

The teaching of the Church must necessarily be continuously changing. Take for instance human relationships, we have moved from the predominantly patriarchal to more equality between men and women. In reference to health we are attributing disease not to spirit possession but to bacteria and viruses. In terms of geography even the flat earth has been rounded into a spherical one. Our world-view is ever changing.

With this as background, the Biblical view of sexual relationships is that heterosexuals who engage in same-sex acts are sinful. The Biblical writers regard all men as heterosexual and in condemning same-sex acts, they see it as men exchanging their male role to that of an inferior role of women. At that time, they were not able to distinguish between those whom we now identify as homosexual, from the heterosexual. Their view was that of heterosexuals engaging in same-sex sexual acts.

The Biblical texts that explicitly talk about same-sex acts are few in number. The brief references are related to laws of purity, holiness, temple rituals and to the Greco-Roman culture and pagan worship. There were temple prostitutes, male prostitution and pederasty (mentoring and sex with young call-boys). Jesus did not deal with same-sex relations in His teaching although he had much to say about sex, love, marriage and divorce. Homosexuality in terms of sexual orientation and long-term committed relationships as we understand them today was not discussed and not even a term used at that time.

It was much later that the term "homosexual" was used. Homosexuality as a term was introduced in 1869. It first appeared in newer translations of the Bible - Revised Standard Version in 1946 and in New International Version in 1978. Homosexuality is not originally a Biblical word.

Other terms like 'heterosexual,' 'bisexual,' and 'transgendered' presuppose an understanding of human sexuality that was possible only with modern psychology and sociological analysis. The ancient writers were operating without the faintest idea of what we have learned to call 'sexual orientation'.

Let us look more closely at some of the Biblical records related to sexuality and how they show varying perspectives.

The law of Moses allowed for man to divorce his wife on account of some "indecency" in her. (Deuteronomy 24:1); Jesus categorically forbids it and will not man "put asunder" those united in marriage. (Mark 10:1-12); Jesus was also said to have sanctioned divorce on the condition of "unchastity." (Matthew 9:9). Yet many Christians, in clear violation of a command of Jesus are divorced and for other reasons.

Divorced people are allowed baptism, church membership, communion, ordination and re-marriage but this has not always been the case for homosexuals. What makes the one so much greater a sin than the other, especially considering the fact that Jesus never even mentioned homosexuality but explicitly condemned divorce? Yet we ordain divorcees. Why not homosexuals?

Take the issue of sex itself. It began with sex only for procreation which the early Christian theologians agree. When it serves to satisfy lust it is regarded as venial sin. Augustine in the fifth century said that we should mature as early as possible to the point when we can dispense with sexual intercourse.

However, the Old Testament regarded celibacy as abnormal and we are to be fruitful and multiply. And 1 Timothy 4:1-3 calls compulsory celibacy a heresy. Yet the Catholic Church has made celibacy mandatory for priests and nuns. Some Christian anti-gay demand celibacy of homosexuals, whether they have a vocation for celibacy or not. Some anti-gay people condone sexual orientation but condemn homosexual acts. Some gay and lesbians like heterosexuals have chosen to live a life of single blessedness.

Leviticus 21 discussed how priests need to be morally, and even physically unblemished and must meet the requirements of the purity laws at that time. Today most of these purity laws are being ignored.

Far from being a Book full of bad news for gays and lesbians, I believe the Bible is indeed full of good news of God's love for all of creation - gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and straight alike. The Bible has no clear and consistent sex ethic and only knows a love ethic, which is constantly being brought to bear on whatever sexual mores, moral codes or church teachings are dominant in any given country, culture, or period. There is also the emphasis on grace rather than on law.

The medical sciences today acknowledge homosexuality as a sexual orientation, not a medical, psychological or psychiatric condition that can be changed therapeutically.

It is on record that the American Psychological Association removed homosexuality from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychological Disorders in 1973. In 1975 it then released a public statement that homosexuality is not a mental disorder. In 1994, two decades later, the APA categorically said, "... homosexuality is neither a mental illness nor a moral depravity. It is the way a portion of the population expresses human love and sexuality".

The American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, and other major groups of medical, educational, and counseling professionals have concluded that there exists, as yet, no scientific basis for the contention that so-called reparative, reorientation, or conversion therapies can successfully change a person's orientation from homosexual to heterosexual. The prevailing view among therapists is that gay and lesbian patients should be helped to improve their self-esteem and to overcome the continuing stigmatization of homosexuality in many societies. However reparative therapies are being endorsed by the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, which represents a minority of psychoanalysts, psychiatrists, psychologists, and other practitioners, and by some religions.

Recently MM Lee Kuan Yew was widely quoted on this issue: "If in fact it is true, and I have asked doctors this, that you are genetically born a homosexual -- because that's the nature of the genetic random transmission of genes -- you can't help it," he said in remarks published by The Straits Times.

"So why should we criminalize it?" Lee asked.

"But there is such a strong inhibition, in all societies -- Christianity, Islam, even the Hindu (and) Chinese societies. And we are now confronted with a persisting aberration. But is it an aberration? It's a genetic variation."

Homosexuality is not an aberration, tendency, or inclination. It is a genetic or biological variation. It is an orientation.

We must admit that we do not know for certain the causes of homosexuality. This concluding statement in an article of causes best summarizes the situation:

"Perhaps there is no one answer, that sexual orientation, whether homosexual or heterosexual; gay, straight, lesbian, or bisexual, all are a cause of a complex interaction between environmental, cognitive, and anatomical factors, shaping the individual at an early age."

Given this medical perspective on homosexuality how do I minister to GLBT people? Within the larger framework of my understanding of the love of God for all of God's people and my reading of Christian ethics relating to justice and concern for the marginalized and minorities, I can only affirm and accept the GLBT community and render my service to them in whatever way that is helpful.

From my perspective, homosexuality is within the purpose of God in creation. There is a continuum of sexual relationships from heterosexualilty to homosexuality. God has made it possible for each individual to be unique and different and I affirm the diversity in God's creation. Homosexuality is a given and not a choice.

In my experience of pastoral care to the gay community, I feel their pain and agony when they first became aware of their attraction to people of the same sex. Their experience is that it is not a phase that will go away. In the solitariness of their closets they struggle and pray. Most gay people know from painful personal experience that their homosexual inclination is definitely not a deliberate choice. Who would in their right mind choose to be gay when they know they will be relegated to a despised minority. On the contrary, they choose to wear masks and pretend to be straight. Yet opponents of gay rights choose to disregard these personal experiences and continue to portray homosexuality as a sinful choice that should be criminalised.

We are aware that the gay community has the responsibility to change the perception that the gay lifestyle is hedonistic and promiscuous. The straights have the problem of pursuing a hedonistic and promiscuous lifestyle as well. The distinctive difference rests on having sexual intercourse with the same or opposite sex.

As I come alongside them, I sense their silent pain, I see their falling tears, I hear their aching hearts. Today I feel their rising hope for they are receiving affirmation, recovering dignity and restoring pride to be gay.

They are hearing and believing what Victor Paul Furnish said: "It accords with the most fundamental witness of Scripture that one's sexuality is to be received as a good gift of God. Moreover, this gift is to be expressed in ways that manifest the grace of God - for there is not variance in the reality of God's love, which graces and claims us, whatever the particularities of our own time and place. As for sexual relationships, God's love can find clear expression only where the partners are fully committed and faithful to one another."

Homosexuality is therefore a gift from God to be accepted. It is not a result of human sin or the fallen nature because of Adam. We all have, by the grace of God, to live out the purposes of God, straight or gay, for we are all created by God.

Reader's Comments

1. 2007-05-11 19:02  
I tend to agree with Rev Dr Yap for his balanced and in-depth view from a Christian perspective. It shows he has done enough research on the Bible and approaches the issue from different angles.

If only other Christians are able to embrace the meaning of love for mankind and stop discriminating harmless homosexuals who are struggling to have some breathing spaces on this earth.
2. 2007-05-11 19:05  
This man is wise and I love his statement:

Homosexuality is a given and not a choice.

100% agreed!
3. 2007-05-11 19:08  
well said. touched.
4. 2007-05-11 19:31  
Rev now make your words count.

Best of luck.
Comment #5 was deleted by its author
6. 2007-05-12 02:12  
He's right on the topic.
7. 2007-05-12 11:16  
Does that mean that the only ones with a choice are the bisexuals?
8. 2007-05-12 13:18  
it touched my heart.
9. 2007-05-12 17:09  
The Reverend makes a good point, somehow, we as a community have let the image of gay and lesbians slide to the point of our choice being portrayed a s a "lifestyle" and that "gay lifestyle is hedonistic and promiscuous" ; it is this misconception that has coloured the views of the people around us and that ALL gay and lesbian peoples are "hedonistic and promiscuous", that's why they are afraid of us and stigmatise us. Their afaird that we will just look at their husbands, wives or children and we will fall all over them and gobble them up and spit them out gay.
We must change the people's perception of us, or we will forever be treated as we are just that, all genitals and hormones and nothing else.
10. 2007-05-13 00:48  
Bonjour Rev....

Thanks for de BRAVO Transcript! U'd lite up not just PLU's belief but every of de human creatures...Love is everywhere n tht's wat we believe while GOD owis did...
11. 2007-05-13 02:23  
homosexuality is totally natural thing, pls dont against it, there is no point to against something natural.
mother nature has her own reason why homosexuality exist in this world :)
12. 2007-05-14 09:18  
Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU Reverend Dr. Yap Kim Hao! Why can't the rest of the religious community come to terms with homosexuality in the manner you have. Why can't there be more like you out there? I would attend your church services faithfully as I feel you love God the way I love God. I never chose to be this way, I only know I have been gay since the age of 7. I have even atempted a straight marriage but that failed do to my inability to perform. I am happy to be who and what I am. I am very glad to have Rev. Dr. Hao on our side. May God richly bless you.
B.H. in U.S.A.
Comment #13 was deleted by its author
Comment #14 was deleted by its author
Comment #15 was deleted by its author
16. 2007-05-15 17:28  
This is where one truly can see the glory of God in Rev Dr Yap. This is one rare human who genuinely chooses to understand and support the fight against any form of injustice and oppression, let alone homosexuality.

Like in all my earlier postings on different topics, I have always mentioned that man is a biased creature and will not hesitate to put his/her own stamp of justice given half the chance, unless he/she has undergone the true struggles of being really alive and being a child of God.

Prejudices surround us daily at our work places, with friends and even within the family. Prejudices gives the purveyor a sense of fasle "power" to dictate. It arises from a sense of insecurity and an unwillingness to seek the truth, as most would rather enjoy the trappings of a juicy, even though false gossips over bland truths. It's alot easier.

So the real issue here is, having wisdom and the grace of God to see the truth and separate from the illusion. How many are blessed to have this gift? Not even many clergies from experience.
Many years ago, after many deliberations, I decided to trust the establishment and went for confession on my romp with another guy. The priest expressed indignation and refused to absolve me of my "sins" and instructed me to say, only God knows and recall, how many Hail Marys and Our Fathers. I left the confession room feeling really empty and trashed. I thought a priest was supposed to be understanding and forgiving. Well, needless to say I wised up. It took years but finally I accepted my gift to be who I am created to be and to try my best to live as best as I can without baggage. I still believe and love God but I no longer feel the need to join a bunch of inepts who delights in grabbing candles and shoving their religious insecurities in front of the altars constantly, spew holier than thou sermons, and still believe they are good christians. I have a direct link with God and I know I can tap into that anytime anywhere cos God NEVER abandons us no matter what. That is the true essence of God, the source of all love and creation. How can God be anything less? These days, I have enough true self worth and I take responsibilty for my own actions, good or bad consequences notwithstanding. I dun need to scream out I'm Out and Proud. I am still discreet where it's still necessary but I no longer tolerate judgements or basic harassment even from family or so called friends. Real friends dun choose to put you down.

One can never reason with an idiot cos he will drag you down to his level and beat you through experience.

We have in our midst a truly wise and compassionate man in Rev Dr Yap and God bless and protect him. It is not difficult to imagine he will be thrown into difficult situations but with God's grace, his courage and wisdom and love for his fellow man, will triumph. God bless him.

His transcript should be made compulsory reading for all social workers, churches and layman who claim to be a just person. Make that transcript a permanent site for reference so no one has the excuse to behave like an ass, unless it's used creatively..:P

17. 2007-05-16 00:02  
I believe Rev Dr Yap's article has set many people, like me, free (gay or straight) with the truth and wisdom of his passages and rightful interpretation of the Holy Bible. This is what I have been waiting for - people like Rev Dr Yap who have the authority, wisdom, and integrety to talk about God and related issues, and not some self-serving, self-righteous entities interpreting God according to their own image and liking. Thank God for Dr. Yap and those who work like him.
18. 2007-05-16 13:57  
God!! I'm starting to wonder...

Is Fridae a gay site or a christian site??? Kekeke...
Comment #19 was deleted by its author
20. 2007-05-16 14:45  
After I read this report, I am able to say I am who I am. All my struggles of not accepting who I am has ended. I have to life my own life and pursuit my own happiness. I don't need to fear of other peoples' views and thoughts. now I am 25, and for another half way of my life, I will live my life with braver step and find my own path to happiness. I have to thank Fridae for this eye opening news especially for Asian GLBT whose till now hasn't accepted ourselves for who we are. Thanks !!!!
21. 2007-05-18 12:05  
Ah...it is 21st Century and I am still living in the Dark Ages.

And oh, yes, sinful...sinful...to have a place name 'Geylang' and beautiful women roaming the street selling fresh meats.

I see...only homosexuals sin and heterosexual are all saints...with mostly heterosexual rapists in Changi prison. We are so safe.

What a wonderful place Singapore is.

22. 2007-07-19 17:43  
I have to agree with some of the things Dr.Yap said and some that I disagree. I agree that Jesus loves the gays, the lesbians and the straight for God so loved the world that He gave us His only son. He died for all of mankind. He loves the sinner, not the sin. A common misperception is that Christians in general reject gays or are against them. But the truth is that they accept them and loves them, not all though. But the other part is also helping gays to change. Now, many gays have said they are born that way. I want to ask Dr.Yap since he said that few text in the bible talked about homosexuality.

How many text in the bible talked about homosexuality as being normal? Did God said anything about a male and a male relationship as being normal or accepted or ordained by Him? There is none. The text that mention it are pointing to it as a sin. I put the text below and it is just one of them. The story of Sodom and Gomorrah also showed us why it is a sin.

My fellow brothers and sisters. Jesus loves you. You can change because nothing is impossible with Him. there are countless stories of lives transformed from a gay to a non-gay. While you are the way you are, Jesus still loves you but He wants you to change, just like any sinner, including myself. He picked me up when I was a sinner, and He wants me to change. You can also do it.

Romans 1:18-27
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualitieshis eternal power and divine naturehave been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

24Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creatorwho is forever praised. Amen.

26Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion
23. 2011-06-20 13:54  
I'm totally in agreement with you. I love the way you express the eopic of homosexuality. It gives me hope to live the way that I'm bestowed by God. I really hope that your message will be conveyed to more people out there, especially to those anti-gay Christians. Now i know that God created me wonderfully but a little bit more unique from the others. How I wish I could join your church and its services one day. Thanks Rev Yap ! God Bless !

Please log in to use this feature.


This article was recently read by

Select News Edition

Featured Profiles

Now ALL members can view unlimited profiles!


View this page in a different language:

Like Us on Facebook


 ILGA Asia - Fridae partner for LGBT rights in Asia IGLHRC - Fridae Partner for LGBT rights in Asia