A loved one sent me this message last night: "Is kissing between same sex in public/concert setting an offense and does it warrant a police reporting?"
Her religious sensitivity was obviously outraged when she heard that a popular Asian singer in a concert held over the weekend had invited the mostly teenage (and young adult) audience to kiss each other regardless of their sex.
Although my reply to her is not relevant here, her message to me kept me thinking about the recent Pink Dot ads carrying this caption:
"pinkdot2017 supporting the freedom to love".
Somehow, the Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (Asas) got wind of it and the Straits Times was told (on 10 June 2017) that "while the ad does not "technically" breach the general principle on family values in Singapore Code of Advertising Practice, the words "supporting the freedom to love" may affect public sensitivities.""
Unsurprisingly, a Facebook group, which is opposed to the Pink Dot rally, had lodged a complaint about the ad.
They saw it as an ad that threatens to "downplay the importance of the family as a unit and foundation of society."
As of this morning (11 June 2017), the decision to drop or not to drop that tagline has yet to be decided by the Pink Dot organizers.
They are of the view that the tagline has "never detracted from its message of inclusion and diversity, of embracing and welcoming everyone regardless of their race, language, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity."
To this end, Pink Dot said: "Our aim is to have conversations and dialogue to promote understanding. Through this, we hope to achieve consensus and not conflict. We are open to speaking to Asas and invite them to a frank discussion on this."
What's interesting to note is that that was the same tagline which Cathay Organization had sponsored in 2015 for the Pink Dot rally. Apparently, they were not asked to remove it then.
Have our religious and moral sensitivities then been sharpened over the last two years?
This is a tough call. As a Christian, whatever I say here risks being laced with prejudice, or at least perceived to be such.
Nevertheless, I shall speak my mind, and to do that, please allow me to set the record straight first.
Here is my reality. I am currently involved in a heterosexual relationship, which was publicly registered 17 years ago before a crowd of cheering witnesses.
It is my first covenantal relationship, and as it has been going on for the last 17 years, I trust it will also be my last.
Out of this marital union came three offspring reproduced exclusively by us in an intimate biological exchange of a lucky sperm and a fertile egg at various successful nocturnal intervals (and I shall not shy from saying that the spiritual intimacy that came with the reproductive act went beyond the physical pleasure that is derived from it).
My wife and I are thus distinctively yet synergistically mother and father to these three, and at times simian-like, bloodline of ours. As such, they can rest assured that they came from our collective loins literally, exclusively and comprehensively.
We are not just parents to our kids, but together, our kids have the full benefit of fatherhood and motherhood in the context of a publicly declared union, each playing complementary and differentiated roles.
In other words, while it is arguable whether "mommies can make good daddies" or "daddies can make good mommies", it has however been incontrovertible that categorically speaking, mommies are just not daddies and daddies are just not mommies, because as sociologist David Popenoe puts it, "the burden of social science evidence supports the idea that gender-differentiated parenting is important for human development and that the contribution of fathers (and mothers) to child rearing is unique and irreplaceable."
After the above preliminary facts, which some may either construe as a form of religious bias or accuse me of being entrapped by the myopia of the naturalistic fallacy (that is, what is "natural" ought also to be deemed as "good" or "right"), I will now address the tagline: "Supporting the freedom to love". (Mind you, it still remains a tough call).
My rejoinder here would be this: "To what end?" Surely, there is nothing negative about the words held and taken separately, that is, "supporting", "freedom" and "to love".
But there is something amiss when we end the statement at "supporting the freedom to love" without addressing the "pink elephant" in the room. That is, how much freedom of choice are we talking about? And what form of love are we as individuals pursuing?
Surely, we can't just congregate with swaying candle lights and soaked in heart-warming choruses just because it feels right, right?
Now, another record I wish to set here is, I have nothing against gays. My close friends are gay. And the last thing I want to do is to take the moral high horse on this issue, because god knows heterosexual marital partnerships are not exactly the role model here for society at large.
Neither do I want to be a head-in-the-sand observer because the reality of things is indeed changing. And our modern sensitivities are gradually blunting.
While the gay community has always co-existed, and even thrived, with the majority in society at large since Plato's time (and I believe way before then), they are now however demanding marital rights and recognition for, and acceptance of, their partnership in the same way that heterosexual couples have - since time can remember - been duly accorded for theirs.
Ultimately, it can't be denied that the Pinkdot's aim is to move in that direction that the case of Obergefell v. Hodges has taken the gay movement to, which culminated to the June 2015 Supreme Court's ground-breaking ruling in a split majority decision in favour of (and endorsing) same-sex marriage.
So, supporting the freedom to love as Pink Dot hails it is going to end up with supporting the freedom to get married, to conceive a child or two via adoption or other technologically advanced method of conception, to allow two fathers or two mothers to parent a child and start a family, and to accept the whole union as normal, and as standing on equal footing, as the union of a father and a mother in conceiving, nurturing and parenting their own child through a sexually complementary and spiritually intimate reproductive act.
As a Christian, and a traditionalist, that is honestly a lot to take in, whether it is done in support of "freedom" in general or "love" in particular.
But, as a father locked in a holy heterosexual matrimony with three growing kids, who also strives to keep an open mind of all things, I somehow resonate with the words of the Pinkdot organizer, when they say about "conversations" and "dialogue" to promote greater understanding so as to achieve a consensus (not conflict) whereby we may even have to agree to disagree on both sides.
And on that common ground, our common enemy here is not religion or tradition or church values or religious teachings to our kids.
Our common enemy is however self-righteousness. And this can happen on both sides of the debate.
We can both be blind to our own prejudices, and act as if we are the fount of authority when it comes to deciding on what is right and what is wrong, and on how the same ought to be expressed or delivered.
Alas, the vitriolic on both sides, that is, their angst and hatred against each other, can boil over into words and deeds that outrightly contradict what each side professes to safeguard in the first place, that is, the freedom to choose (as in the time-honoured free-will) and the act of love (as in love with understanding).
The reality is that some gays have been pursuing legal recourse to restrict and deny the rights of religious expression all over the world, and the religious amongst us have been calling for the persecution and ostracization of gays from society.
There is thus madness in the methods and methods of madness manifested on both sides.
In the end, when we focus neurotically on our differences, we will inevitably widen the divide. It may even become self-defeating, if not mutually destructive.
And on the gay issue, it is most unfortunate that our conservative society will always be divided. The majority of us will instinctively and understandably squirm when we see public kissing and hugging amongst same-sex couples, not to mention witnessing same-sex marriages.
If the recent preservation of section 377A is any indication, it shows how religiously, biologically, anthropologically, culturally and emotionally unprepared the majority here are to face the uncharted terrain ahead.
Yet, I will nevertheless support the freedom to love, but I am also mindful that the greatest enemy of such freedom is freedom itself, that is, the kind of freedom to act without reflection, consequences, boundaries and responsibility.
And I will leave both sides (of the debate) to consider/prescribe the acceptable ambit of such freedom, that is, on the one hand, the freedom to love the sinner and hate the sin without isolating the sinner, and on the other hand, the freedom to love to its logical matrimonial end without threatening the traditional definition of what a family means and the complementary and exclusive privileges arising from this time-honoured union a father and a mother collectively contribute in nurturing and parenting their child.
And that is why it has always been a tough call. Cheerz.