Pink Dot was started in 2009, and has been held yearly at Hong Lim Park since. In its first year, 2,500 people were reported to have attended and this number has increased over 6 years by more than 10 times, to 28,000 people.
Different churches are responding to the LGBT agenda in Singapore in varying ways, and pastors are sometimes faced with questions from their church members, particularly young people, about their church's approach.
We asked three Senior Pastors how they would address such questions about Pink Dot. We are very grateful to Rev George Butron (Community of Praise Baptist Church), Pastor Daniel Foo (Bethesda (Bedok-Tampines) Church), and Rev Tan Kay Kiong (Covenant Evangelical Free Church) for providing their thoughtful responses on a challenging family issue.
Before we begin, what Pastor George shared can be taken as a general principle of how Christians are to respond:
"I encourage Christians to operate with a spirit of respect and submission to their pastors, employers, government, etc. If there are questions or points of concern or disagreement with a particular policy or directive, I also encourage people to go to their leaders to seek clarification and resolve misunderstanding. Discussion is the best approach to finding a solution and it is possible to reach a place where we 'agree to disagree' on a particular issue. This would make it possible to respectfully decline from participating in an event or initiative. I believe the same approach could be used with a gay friend who is asking a Christian to participate in an event or activity that the Christian may not feel comfortable with."
Here are the Senior Pastors' responses to some common questions that young people have:
Why should I care about Pink Dot and have any response to it?
Pastor Daniel: Pink Dot challenges the institution of the family and marriage. While we must proactively rebuild the family wall, we also need to simultaneously defend it from ideologies that go against God's design.
Pastor Kay Kiong: You have to realise that there is a political agenda behind Pink Dot. It is not just a gathering to talk about the freedom to love.
Pastor George: This issue really belongs to your generation. You probably have friends and colleagues who lean towards or embrace Pink Dot's approach to sexual freedom. You have had people ask you what you think and you need to be able to articulate your own answer. This issue is not going away so I encourage you to engage and work through your own values and convictions on issues of sexuality. For Christians, this involves deciding how you are going to approach the Bible and its authority in our lives. Can we disagree without condemning others? Can we love without compromising our convictions? These are the challenges we face.
How should I respond to my gay friends who ask me to go to Pink Dot, even though they know I'm a Christian? How should I engage them in a way that does not make them feel rejected?
Pastor Kay Kiong: You could say something like, "I love you as my friend, but I can't attend this because it's against my religious convictions." It's like how I shouldn't tell my Muslim friend to eat pork by saying, "If you love me or accept me as a friend, please eat pork with me. Come and support me." It's not right. Friendship allows for freedom of choice and mutual respect.
Pastor Daniel: This is a good time for you to share your faith convictions. You can share with them that God designed marriage to be between a man and a woman, to be husband and wife for life, and for the family to be made up of a father and a mother, and their children. You can say, "Pink Dot does not promote the natural family, so I hope you understand my convictions, just as I would respect your decision to be there."
Pastor George: If your friendship has depth and substance, then they already know your convictions. If they don't, you could use this as an opportunity to say, "I value our friendship and hope we can agree to disagree on this subject and keep on being friends. I am willing to allow you to be who you are and I hope you will take the same approach with me."
Is it wrong for me to attend Pink Dot even if I don't wear pink?
Pastor Kay Kiong: I don't think it makes any sense to do that. What do you hope to achieve by doing so?
Pastor George: I encourage you to think this through and ask God for wisdom on how to approach this issue. If you are feeling pressure to do something in order to please someone, try getting advice from trusted people before reaching a decision. I'm sure there will be Christians at Pink Dot. If you decide to be one of them, make sure you can explain your reasons for going beyond simply wanting to support a friend. Do you have clear convictions about your own sexuality and about what the Bible says about sexual issues? Are you able to explain these convictions in a non-offensive way? If you love Jesus and identify as one of His followers, you are an ambassador for Christ everywhere you go. Make it your priority to represent Him well.
Pastor Daniel: If Pink Dot promotes the freedom to love, whether or not it's right or beneficial, you need to ask yourself what you represent by being there.
Is there a way to engage with my friends on social media without coming off as being offensive or preachy?
Pastor Daniel: Not everyone will agree with God's design for marriage and family, so expect disagreement on social media when you take a stand.
Pastor Kay Kiong: The way you engage should not be random or aggressive. However, it's hard to avoid an argument when you state your stand in social media. Soon, name-calling and other unhelpful reactions might follow.
Pastor George: Social media is easy to use for posting and communicating in a simple and friendly way. At the same time, digital media has a lot of limitations. On sensitive or complex issues, the possibility of being misunderstood or misrepresented is pretty high. You are not going to change people’s values and convictions with social media, so use it for its intended purpose and save the hard stuff for other types of interactions and exchanges of ideas.
As with our other piece, How Should My Church Respond to Pink Dot?, what was clear in all the Senior Pastors' responses was that truth and love can co-exist. While this issue is difficult and complex to deal with, Christians have to first work out their convictions so that they can engage with others in a biblically winsome way.
God has entrusted the institution of marriage and family to the Church. Let us faithfully steward this responsibility, encouraging our congregation to live it out well in their own lives and to speak appropriately into our culture to demonstrate His redemptive and life-giving way.
This is the second of a 2-part series in equipping the Church to respond to the homosexuality issue. Read Part 1: How Should My Church Respond to Pink Dot?
Download free resources to equip you and your congregation with practical suggestions and a biblical perspective about homosexuality here.
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