Lawrence Khong is senior pastor at the Faith Community Baptist Church in Singapore. Khong, an anti-LGBTQ voice who disapproved of efforts to repeal Singapore's anti-LGBTQ legislation, has preached alongside American Religious Right preachers such as Cindy Jacobs and Jim Garlow. In May, Khong and Garlow spoke at the Momentum 2013 conference at Faith Community Baptist Church, where Khong's homophobic rhetoric echoed that of his American counterparts. Gay Star News and Bikya News reported on Khong's sermon at the gathering, "God's Pattern for Marriage", which demonized the LGBTQ community and blasted LGBTQ advocacy as unchristian.
At the 2:49 mark, Khong depicted homosexuality as a "diabolical plot" by the devil to undermine the family and civilization. He listed the LGBTQ movement, Islam, and Christianity as the three chief global movements that seek to change the world.
"I believe that God has awakened the church to face one of the greatest attacks on the family by the evil one, an attempt to tear down the basic building blocks of civilization, a diabolical plot to bring in a new level of lawlessness in human history. You see, there are basically three global movements around the world that seek to impact and influence the world. The first is Christianity, the Christian faith ... The second global movement to impact the world and wants world influence is Islam. The Muslim faith desires to Islamitize every country and every nation of the world. But the third movement is the homosexual agenda. It is a political movement that seeks to normalize homosexuality and the homosexual lifestyle around the world."Khong stressed that he is not ignoring other sins in favor of condemning homosexuality. However, because the LGBTQ community has a global movement behind it, it deserves special attention, he explained. At the 5:46 mark, he elaborated on this point.
"What we are talking about is a movement to normalize a sinful lifestyle and say, 'this is the norm for society'. We're talking about what is mentioned in Isaiah 5:20. "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil" ... There are many global issues in the world. For example, prostitution is one of the global issues in the world, but there is not a movement around the world that legalize[s] and normalize[s] prostitution. Human trafficking, very much related to prostitution, is a major global issue around the world, but there is no movement around the world to say, 'it is okay, let's legalize it'. Drug addiction is a growing problem around the world, even in Singapore, around the world, but there is not a political movement to seek to establish that it is okay, let's all do it, or let's accept it as something that is okay. But there is a movement around the world that seeks to promote the LGBT agenda and make it a norm for society to the extent that we must redefine what marriage is about."Khong complained that the LGBTQ community supposedly has disproportionate power in many branches of society, such as media, government, and business, despite comprising only a small percentage of the global population. He lamented that the LGBTQ rights movement allegedly has more power than churches across the world.
Branding the LGBTQ rights movement as "diabolical", Khong warned that the movement starts by asking for tolerance. "They play the victim card. This is true in every country in the world," he said. Once "sodomy" is legal (i.e., if Singapore's 377A law is repealed), the LGBTQ community asks for "acceptance", he claimed. Anti-discriminatory laws emerge, so if someone says homosexuality is wrong, gays can sue them in civil court, or state will punish them. In making this claim, Khong caricatures anti-discrimination legislation, ignoring what such legislation actually says. Then comes celebration of gays as "preferred lifestyle", just as in ancient Greece, Khong claimed. In such a situation, women are reduced to breeders, and sex between two men is glorified as the highest expression of sexuality. The fact that lesbian women, bisexuals, and straight allies are part of the LGBTQ movement seems to have escaped Khong, who can only imagine the LGBTQ "agenda" as an oppressive male one.
Then, he claimed, homosexuality is promoted as a social good, and society is subjected to "forced participation" in the gay "program". As examples of this alleged forced participation, Khong cited businesses that have been boycotted for refusing to collude with same-sex marriages, as well as Christian welfare organizations that have lost tax-exempt status for refusing to let same-sex couples adopt children. The fact that discriminating against same-sex couples is unethical seems to have escaped Khong, who can only see resistance to discrimination as "forced participation" in some diabolical gay agenda. Finally, Khong claimed that the LGBTQ seeks to punish its oppressor and enshrine sexual orientation as a human right.
At the 17:25 mark, he urged believers to see homosexuality as an "abomination" that God hates, lest they fail in their mission to be salt and light for the earth.
"Unless you understand that the Bible calls this [an] abomination, that God hates it with all his heart, we will not be able to rise up and take a proper position in which we become the light of the world and the salt of this earth."God's pattern for marriage is between a man and woman for life, Khong insisted. Any sexual activity outside heterosexual marriage is sin, he said, be it premarital sex, same-sex sexual activity, or any kind of "sexual perversion".
Khong recounted the Genesis creation story, telling listeners that God created the first human (adamah) in his image. God extracted the feminine aspect of adamah, creating Eve, thus establishing Adam and Eve as complimentary halves of a primordial whole. A man or woman alone cannot express the fullness of God's image, Khong insisted. Only together as husband and wife do the two halves of the original adamah reunite and reflect the image of the divine. Two men or two women cannot express the image of God as a heterosexual couple can, he claimed.
Marriage is for children, Khong argued, but two partners of the same sex cannot conceive offspring through sexual union. For this and other reasons, Khong dismissed the idea of same-sex marriage at the 28:15 mark, calling same-sex relationships "sacrilege" and "the vilest of blasphemy".
"There's no such thing as a gay marriage. Don't ever say that ever again from this church. There's no such thing. Gay marriage [is] an oxymoron. If someone says 'gay marriage', you say, 'you are redefining what marriage is' ... It's moving away from the natural and what is in line with the image of God. Gay marriage, bringing of two men together, two women together, is the greatest profanation of God, the worst kind of sacrilege, the vilest of blasphemy against God!"He called same-sex marriage a "diabolical" attempt by the Devil to "tear down" the image of God. He dismissed LGBTQ Christians and queer theologians who claim that the Bible does not forbid homosexuality, insisting that the story of Lot and the angels in Sodom was indeed condemnation of gay sex. Oddly, Khong didn't seem perturbed by Lot offering his virgin daughters to the Sodom mob in the story.
Khong favorably paraphrased Jim Garlow, a fellow New Apostolic Reformation preacher, at the 42:38 mark. His words suggested that demons might have a role in promoting same-sex marriage (!).
"What God has joined together, let no parliament, no court of law, no judges, no legislation, no community of men or demons redefine the marriage that God has set as a basic pattern of life."At the 43:57 mark, Khong dismissed liberal pastors and theologians who do not see scripture as inerrant, accusing them of sacrificing their salvation.
"You're going to go out, and you're going to hear pastors who are liberal. There's a whole apostate church in the church of Jesus Christ, and its' everywhere. People, seminary teachers [who say] that Bible is not the ultimate source of authority. In fact, they will teach [that] the Bible is just a good book, it's not even the word of God, so we don't take it seriously. Forget that! They are not even saved! I can tell you that. This is the apostate church. It is! And God will take care of it in the last days."
In short, "God's Pattern for Marriage" cast same-sex marriage and LGBTQ equality as diabolical, depraved, and corrosive to society. Instead of recognizing LGBTQ persons as human beings deserving of rights, Khong cast their love as an "abomination" and their partnerships as "blasphemy". Vicious homophobia, sadly, is not limited to the American Religious Right.
Khong's harsh rhetoric did not go unnoticed by Singapore's LGBTQ community. Leow Yangfa, editor of the LGBTQ anthology I Will Survive, was appalled by Khong's hateful words. In an interview with Gay Star News, Yangfa said that Khong's homophobia was "beyond disbelief", adding that Khong's Christian fundamentalist ilk wield disproportionate power in Singapore.
"How is it that someone like that can spout such hate? It's beyond disbelief. That's not the first video and that's not the first time he's opened his foul mouth to say such things.With luck, enlightened Singaporeans will recognize the harms of homophobia and the dangers of Religious Right rhetoric such as Khong's. Hostile rhetoric burdens LGBTQ people and their loved ones, dehumanizes real human beings, and poisons spirituality. Fundamentalism and bigotry are harmful, whether they fester in the East or the West.
It's not just homophobia but Islamaphobia as well. Although in Singapore we don't have legislation to protect people against homophobia, we do have laws that protect people against discrimination based on race and religion. So he should be caught out on that. He's making hateful comments not just about gay people but about non-Christians.
It's a known fact that the Christians are in a minority as a religion in Singapore, but it's quite clear they exert disproportionate power and influence in the country."
For more information about Lawrence Khong and Faith Community Baptist Church, visit their website.
(Hat tip to Bartholomew's Notes on Religion)