image from sarahmelnychuk.blogspot.com (note: i do not believe in symbolism such as the lgbt rainbow flag. however in respect to this article, i am willing to make this one exception.)
Edmund Smith and Real Love Ministry are no strangers to those familiar with the ex-gay movement in the Far East. Like his counterparts, Edmund Smith ignores the validity of homosexuality by exploiting his heterosexual self, wife and children as proof of his ex-gay-ness, and along the way he also added the title “ex-transsexual”, parroting a gross revision of what is known as Gender identity Disorder by confusing it with his cross-dressing habit which ended after his boyfriend asked him to be a full man.
A peak into Christianity Malaysia shows he has been active again in the last few years, going to churches around Malaysia, preaching on the “sexual brokenness” of LGBTs, while continuing weird and at times comical attempts to rebrand his drag persona into a medical condition (transsexualism) then claims to be out of a “lifestyle” (for real?) and somehow relate it back to homosexuality (what?).
I will definitely be writing an open letter soon on his blatant misrepresentation of transsexuals, which is a concern because what he preaches is against all medical and health stances, as he took three distinct unrelated issues – homosexuality, gender identity, sexual identity – and mashes them up to whatever he wants to call them to fit his story, trivializing the sufferings of those born transsexuals, who have to endure physical stress of the brain sex being at odds with the birth sex, into a mere cross-dressing issue.
Till then, I shall swallow my justifiable anger for the time being *inhale*; it is my pleasure to present to you an authoritative theological perspective from a friend Pastor Joseph N. Goh, in response Edmund Smith, in the light of the latter’s latest sermon. Pastor Joseph shares his thoughts as “an accessible, and a theologically- and pastorally-meaningful response to Pastor Smith, with the hope that it will help both LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ Christians see that there are alternative ways of understanding LGBTQ persons in relation to the Christian faith, scriptures and theology.”
Well Pastor Joseph N. Goh, over to you:-
Pastor Edmund Smith and “A Homosexual Lifestyle”
My reflection is conceptualised as a response to a sharing by Pastor Edmund Smith on February 23, 2014 at the Community Baptist Church at Kota Damansara, Selangor, Malaysia, on “how God restored his identity as the son of the Living God from a homosexual lifestyle.” This sharing was subsequently published in the Malaysian Christian news website Christianity Malaysia on March 5, 2014. Smith and his wife, Amanda, are “the founders and directors of Real Love Ministry (RLM), an organisation that trains individuals into becoming Befrienders for the Marginalised Communities.”They lead a church called RLM Fellowship, “to cater mainly for [sic] the sexually broken and Befrienders to sexually broken.” Their project can be summed up in “Smith’s message to sexually broken people (SBP) … that ‘change is possible and he is a living example what the Creator God has done in his life.’”He advocates a ‘conversion’ for “lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transsexuals,” individuals whom the news report identifies as “the sexually broken,” and on par with “compulsive masturbators, prostitution involvement, porn addiction, and all the other sexuality issues.”
My reflection responds to the major points which were reported from Smith’s sharing, but also to numerous verbatim quotes from Smith himself within the news report. I feel for and respect Smith’s honesty, vulnerability and courage in sharing his life, particularly the sufferings and confusion he underwent as a child. Nevertheless, I feel that it is necessary for me to express my disagreement with some of his points. Throughout the news report, Smith refers to “a homosexual lifestyle” as sin, conspiracy with the devil, and against God’s plan. Moreover, he asserts that an abandonment of “a homosexual lifestyle” is possible due to the grace of God, and quotes from various scriptural passages to substantiate his points. In this reflection, I offer alternative insights and interpretations in response to Smith’s various ideas of “a homosexual lifestyle” in Christianity Malaysia. After a brief look at lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning (LGBTQ) persons and the Bible, I respond to Smith’s discourses in various sections of this reflection by discussing themes of God’s gift, God’s transformative love, and Churches and LGBTQ Christians. My reflection is not meant to be a highly academic project or a personal attack. Instead, as a queer-gay Christian man and ordained minister, I try to provide an accessible, and a theologically- and pastorally-meaningful response to Pastor Edmund Smith’s sharing. It is my earnest hope that this humble reflection will help both LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ Christians see that there are alternative ways of understanding LGBTQ persons in relation to the Christian faith, scriptures and theology.
LGBTQ Persons and the Bible
Christian scriptures have often been used against persons whose “sexual orientation or gender identity or gender expression”challenge and transgress heteronormative socio-cultural expectations,  namely LGBTQ persons. The use of Christian scriptures against LGBTQ persons is often referred to as “textual harassment” or “bible bashing,” and the scriptural references used are frequently cited as “clobber passages.” Yet, as LGBTQ Christians who cherish our faith, many of us have learned that those who use the Bible against us often overlook the socio-cultural contexts of the Bible, and understand the Bible only through singular, heteronormative ways. Scripture scholar Mary Anne Tolbert reminds us that Bible writers “participate[d] in cultures that were deeply patriarchal and nationalistic.” Due to the socio-cultural conditions at that time and as a matter of ‘survival,’ these writers rejected “the supposed sexual, religious, and social practices of outsiders or foreign colonizers was as much a political statement bolstering group survival as it was a religious belief.” Therefore, anything that was regarded as ‘not from the culture’ of the writers was rejected as sinful, and this greatly influenced the way they thought of their relationship with God and wrote the scriptures. These time-specific understandings became “‘naturalized’ or universalized in contemporary evangelical readings” among many Bible scholars and readers over the years, without critically examining the relationship between ancient texts and modern day lives.
As LGBTQ Christians, we are gradually realising that the Bible does not condemn us: heteronormative interpretations of the Bible do. This realisation has helped us to reclaim the Bible as our holy book and, as lesbian minister Nancy L. Wilson says, “to fearlessly read the Bible, to apply its healing and empowering message to [our] lives.” We realise that “there is not one way of reading the Bible.”Instead of absorbing hateful and destructive interpretations of the Bible, we are learning to ‘see’ ourselves in the Bible, and draw many constructive and life-giving meanings from it for our own lives. We understand that God has many messages for us as LGBTQ Christians through the Bible. We realise that, as theologian, scripture scholar and LGBTQ-ally Jeffrey Kuan says, “how we read and use the Bible depends on what it means in our particular life of faith and how we understand its authority.” As LGBTQ Christians, we reject the distortions and misinterpretations of scriptural passages that are used against us by individuals such as Edmund Smith, who insist that we must “change” and abandon our “homosexual lifestyle” in order to be acceptable or ‘whole’ in God’s eyes. Instead, when we read the Bible, we see in it the love of God who creates us as we are, and as we are becoming. This perspective helps us to understand our relationship with, and knowledge of God. This relationship with God, and the desire to know God, can be understood in a simple way as theology, or ‘God-talk.’ For LGBTQ people, this “talking about God” is also known as “queer theology,” or “‘talk about God by and for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, questioning people as well as … allies.’” My reflection travels along these perspectives.
Many mainstream Christian institutions seek to draw a line between knowing that one has same-sex attraction and acting on this attraction. The Roman Catholic Church, for instance, is against violence towards LGBTQ persons and teaches that LGBTQ persons “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.” In rejecting the idea “all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it,” the church sees same-sex attraction as abnormal, but not wrong or sinful in itself. At the same time, the church also says that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and can in no case be approved of.” In simple terms, the church sees same-sex attraction as sort of ‘neutral,’ but any same-sex activity as sinful.
Pastor Edmund Smith claims that “orientation is not a sin but lifestyle is.” Like the Roman Catholic Church, Smith believes that it is possible to separate “orientation” from “lifestyle.” What Smith really means by “lifestyle” is unclear. LGBTQ persons are as diverse as their non-LGBTQ counterparts. There is no such thing as “a homosexual lifestyle,” or that homosexuality is itself a lifestyle. Regardless of sexual attractions, gender identities and gender expressions, different people have different lifestyles. Moreover, the different ways in which people live are not necessarily and at all times dictated by their sexual attractions, gender identities and gender expressions. It seems very likely that in saying “lifestyle,” Smith is making a reference to the way he used to “practice [sic] a transgender lifestyle at a young age … wear dresses, grow long hair, and play with dolls,” and the instances in which he “dressed up as a woman on stage as a professional performer.” Or perhaps he is talking about genital activity. I find many problems with this understanding of “lifestyle.” First, Smith appears to be projecting his own sense of guilt and shame from his past into his sharing and understanding of “lifestyle.” Second, he seems confused about the differences between “homosexual,” “transgender,” cross-dressing and a sense of enjoyment in activities that are commonly associated with women. Thus, he lumps sexual attraction, sexual expressions, gender identity and gender expression – all different realities – into what he calls “a homosexual lifestyle.” Third, Smith’s idea of “lifestyle” fails to consider the endlessly diverse ways in which we form loving commitments, discover and celebrate the beauty of our genders and sexualities, and have intimate connections with God as LGBTQ Christians. He disregards the fact that many of us see our gender identities, gender expressions, sexual attractions and sexual expressions as gifts from God.
In advocating that “orientation is not a sin but lifestyle is,” Smith calls for a split between same-sex attraction and activity. I find problems with this separation, and I see it as completely artificial and “inhuman.” Becoming human means that one tries to be true to oneself at all times. To insist on a disconnection between same-sex attraction and activity is to promote schizophrenia in LGBTQ persons who are struggles to be honest with themselves. Moreover, becoming human means that the various aspects of human existence are always interconnected. The many parts that make up what it means to be human cannot be dissected into categories that are completely disconnected from each other. Furthermore, to separate “orientation” from “lifestyle” is to advocate the understanding of ‘love the sinner, hate the sin.’ This means that one can tolerate the person’s same-sex attraction, but any expression due to that attraction is not acceptable. Religious studies scholar Anne Pellegrini and gender scholar Janet Jakobsen observe that this sort of tolerance “maintains the very structures of hierarchy and discrimination on which hatred is based.” In other words, the call to separate “orientation” from “lifestyle” maintains the perception that as LGBTQ persons, we are somewhat “abnormal,” yet we should be tolerated as a matter of Christian charity, as long as we do not get involved in any same-sex activity.
I am grateful that Smith admits that “all people are sexual beings.” In the news report, Smith holds the opinion that “God gave us sex as an intimacy to be enjoyed within marriage but the devil perverted it.” This leads me to believe that he understands “sex” as genital activities which generate intimacy. I also understand his idea that “the devil perverted it” to mean that God’s gift of sexuality is heteronormative and meant only for heteronormative marriages. To put it differently, his idea is that sex is valid as long as it is between a man and a woman within a marital commitment. I believe that sex between men and women in loving commitment is God’s gift. Yet, I also believe that any just and egalitarian sexual relation between men and women as consenting adults is God’s gift. In fact, I believe thatall just, respectful and egalitarian sexual relations between human beings as consenting adults are gifts from God. Lesbian theologian Carter Heyward reminds us that “to speak of the erotic or of God is to speak of power in right relation.” Christian ethicist and LGBTQ-ally James B. Nelson says that human relationships show “God’s own passion for connection” with human beings. Simply said, this means that any form of intimacy in which human beings respect each other reflects God and God’s gift, as well as God’s desire to connect with human beings. To say that sex is valid only if it is “enjoyed within marriage” between a man and a woman is to say that God discriminates against those who do not feel called to be sexually attracted to people of the opposite sex, or who do not feel called to get married. It is to say that God is heteronormative, that God planned for all human beings to be exclusively heteronormative and married, and that LGBTQ persons are a gross perversion of God’s plan. I disagree, because my experiences have taught me that the world is made up of people with extremely diverse gender identities and sexual attractions. This helps me to understand that God creates diversely. I see sexual activity as God’s gifts for all persons, regardless of how they identify their gender or sexuality, and with whom they choose to engage in sexual relations. In all instances of sexual activity where intimacy, mutuality and respect are present, and where persons are treated as persons instead of sexual objects, God is present.
God’s Transformative Love
Complexity of Human Lives
I truly sympathise with Pastor Edmund Smith on the negative experiences of his childhood. I am genuinely pained by how Smith’s father was “devastated that Edmund was not the child he had been dreaming of” and that “he never looked at Edmund, said anything nice to him, or hugged him” as expressions of fatherly love. I feel sorry that Smith’s mother’s “[desire] to have a daughter” caused her to become “a depressed mother.” No child wants to feel unwanted and unloved, just as no LGBTQ person wishes to feel unwanted or unloved because of his/her sexual attraction, gender identity or gender expression. What Smith experienced in his life is regrettable, and it shows his yearning for love and acceptance, not unlike for many LGBTQ persons. Yet I am unsure of Smith’s claims that his mother’s condition caused her to “[give] birth to a very sad child,” and that “whatever that goes through in the emotion of a mother does affect the emotion of a child.” I do not disagree with Smith that “children can tell a lot of things … [and that] … there’s power in the tongue especially for certain kids with certain type of personality, just one sentence, it would affect them terribly.” Yet, even if Smith was a disappointment to his parents, subjected to verbal abuse and humiliation, and that “his mother would allow him to practice a transgender lifestyle [sic] at a young age … to wear dresses, grow long hair, and play with dolls,” one cannot presume these events as the causesofSmith’s sexual inclinations towards men and engagement in activities that are often linked to women. I agree with him that “it’s not God’s fault” and “God didn’t create [him] that way,” but to say that “something went wrong in the womb” is an overly simplistic way of explaining what happened to him.
Blaming The Devil?
Similarly, to blame the devil for the existence of LGBTQ identities, attractions and expressions is simplistic. It is almost like saying that life is only a “a cosmic struggle between God and the Devil,” and human beings are pawns in this battle. It reminds me of how those who avoid taking responsibility for their actions say “the devil made me do it!” More importantly, to say that “the devil perverted” what Smith understands as necessarily heteronormative sex and human beings is to dismiss the beautiful complexity of human existence, as well as to dismiss God, the Author of diverse human lives. According to God’s designs, human lives are not exclusively heteronormative. Neither can human life be easily thought of as either black or white, because human life is like untold variations of countless colours. Nevertheless, I believe that human beings struggle with discerning what is constructive in their lives, and often fall short by committing sin, or taking up what is destructive. God inspires and guides human beings to choose what is constructive, but they do not always make decisions in favour of what is constructive. To blame the devil for life’s tragedies is to gloss over the reality that life has many tragedies, and also that we are responsible for what we do as human beings.
Becoming the Best we can Become
Human beings are not helpless and passive victims of circumstances. Even if we make destructive decisions, we are able to turn around and make constructive decisions. In other words, we are able to transform ourselves, and when there is transformation for the better in human lives, God is present. Based on this perspective, I truly appreciate Smith’s insight that “God makes all things beautiful… the devil throws [a] lemon, [and] God turns [it] into lemonade.” God’s ability to make all things beautiful is God’s transformative love. I understand this to mean that human beings are able to overcome hardship and destruction with God’s assistance. Just as Smith states that “feeding on negative emotional garbage brings about a negative self-identity,” I believe that human beings are capable of bringing about positive self-identities by choosing to feed on positive emotional resources. As human beings who embrace God’s transformative love, we are able to see beyond the immediate, and ponder on the wonderful ways in which God is acting in our lives. Unlike Smith, however, I do not see the power of God in “[making] all things beautiful” in terms of abandoning “a homosexual lifestyle.” Rather, I see this transformative love of God as actively constructing the lives of LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ persons that have been affected by negative childhood experiences. I see this transformative love of God as a powerful force in helping LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ persons in facing the ongoing challenges of life. I do not see this transformative love of God as making LGBTQ persons ‘turn straight,’ or become ‘real men’ and ‘real women’ according to heteronormative expectations. God’s ability to turn lemons into lemonade is an invitation from God to allhuman beings—LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ—to become the best human beings that they can possibly become.
Relationships of Love
Smith says that “all … who are in Christ … must remember God is not merely … God but He’s … Father, He’s Father God, He’s Daddy … We are no longer orphans.” He emphasises this image of God by stating that “we have a perfect Father (in Heaven) today, through Christ.” I appreciate Smith’s image of God as paternal, especially because his previous negative experiences with his own father does not deter him from seeing God as father. I do, however, want to stress that God is also mother, brother, sister, friend and lover. These are all human imageries that help us to understand and form a loving relationship with God through an appreciation of the rich and various relationships that we form with fellow human beings. Using Smith’s words, these imageries help us to understand that “Jesus Christ didn’t give us a religion but a relationship with Him.” The relationships that human beings form with God in Christ is the model on which human beings form their relationships with each other. God’s relationship with all human beings is based on love, not on their gender identities or sexual attraction. If relationships between human beings reflect relationships between human beings and God, then these relationships are based on love, and not fixated on heteronormative demands of gender identities or sexual attractions. Love and relationships between human beings take many diverse forms, but if they are based on respect, egalitarianism, justice, mutuality and honesty, God is present. As queer theologian Lai-shan Yip says, “diverse sexual expression is affirmed as reflecting the Triune God.”
When he says that “there’s something higher than you[r] emotions” and “you don’t live your life based on orientation and feelings,”Smith is saying that LGBTQ Christians should not give in to, but should ‘overcome’ their emotions, attractions and feelings as LGBTQ persons. I do not agree that just because someone is LGBTQ, he or she is automatically is living in sin. Nevertheless, I believe that these words can be interpreted in another way for LGBTQ Christians. I agree that there is something higher than our emotions, and that is God, as well as God’s command of love that is expressed in Christ. Regardless of whether we identify as LGBTQ or not, we do not need to be enslaved by destructive sexual urges that can hurt ourselves and others. Any person can be sexually broken. Yet, God invites us to deepen our emotions, orientation and feelings by showing love and respect to ourselves and to others.
Regardless of whether we are single, in loving commitment with our partners, in other creative forms of relationship or friendship with others, God calls us to show and live by respect, egalitarianism, mutuality and honesty to ourselves. Smith says that “because we are in Jesus Christ and in the Spirit, we are therefore victorious in every sin in our lives.” I would like to reinterpret his words by saying that we can be victorious not by giving up our supposed ‘sinfulness’ as LGBTQ Christians, but by overcoming temptation and sin in the way that every Christian is called to do. As LGBTQ Christians, we can allow ourselves to be transformed and empowered by God to show love in all circumstances of our lives.
Churches and LGBTQ Christians
God’s invitation for us to love is particularly relevant if we are Church leaders, workers, helpers or representatives. So many LGBTQ Christians have been wounded by the discrimination and rejection of their Churches. When Pastor Edmund Smith says that “the Church needs to be the source of truth, information, comfort, and acceptance for people who are struggling sexually,” he means that Churches need to be pastoral and kind to LGBTQ Christians in order to help them overcome their “homosexual lifestyle.” I believe that every human being has the right to be free and choose what is best for himself or herself. If an LGBTQ Christian believes that he or she ‘does not want to be’ LGBTQ anymore and seeks guidance and counselling from the Church, it is his or her right, even if I do not agree with him or her, or believe that it is possible. Nevertheless, what about LGBTQ Christians who love God, our Christian faith and our Churches, and who continue to have same-sex relationships? What about LGBTQ Christians who believe that we are gifted by God in our gender identities and sexual attractions, but are misunderstood and rejected by our societies, families, friends and Churches? Just as Pastor Edmund Smith states that he is living proof that it is possible to change with the help of God in order to be his true self, so too do we as LGBTQ Christians desire to be our truest selves and living signs that it is possible to live as LGBTQ persons and Christians before God.
Smith says that “the church should be the place to offer godly counselling.” What kind of godly counselling can Churches offer to LGBTQ Christians who celebrate their gender identities and sexual attractions? I believe that Churches bear a great responsibility to show kindness and acceptance to LGBTQ Christians, not out of pity or in a condescending way, but to welcome them as they are, and to help them discern how God is acting in their lives. Churches must not hold a hidden agenda to ‘convert’ LGBTQ Christians out of their “homosexual lifestyle,” but to ask them what they need. Churches must help LGBTQ Christians to understand that the Bible is a socio-cultural product, and in some cases cannot be taken literally and applied to modern day Christians. Churches need to journey with and empower LGBTQ Christians who have internalised homonegativity, self-hate and low self-esteem. Churches need to assist, support and defend LGBTQ Christians by helping them understand that society stigmatises and rejects them because of misconceptions and misunderstandings. Churches must also demonstrate humility in admitting that Churches themselves have played a major role in the ill-treatment of, and self-hate among LGBTQ Christians over the years because of narrow interpretations of scriptures and theology.
In his sharing, Pastor Edmund Smith says that we are “in Christ,” and that each of us is “the child of the most High God.” These words reflect the truth that each of us, LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ, is precious in the eyes of God. Those of us who identify both as LGBTQand Christian must learn to deepen the reality that God created us and loves us as we are. We need to remind ourselves that God invites us to express our gender identities, gender expressions, and sexual attractions in just and loving ways. Therefore, our identities and our expressions may be different from the norm, but they are not sinful because they are gifts from God. We need to learn that our gender identities and sexual attractions are very complex, and do not always fall neatly into the categories that our societies and Churches have simplistically constructed. We need to seek deep within our hearts in order to learn how we can be true to ourselves, and to connect the different parts of our lives in order to live honestly as sexual human beings. We must learn to reclaim the Bible as our holy book and its message as our way of life. We must understand how and why the Bible is often used against us, and we need to reject the interpretations that abuse us and try to break us. As LGBTQ Christians, we are invited by God to become the best human beings we can become by exercising respect, egalitarianism, justice, mutuality and honesty towards others. God’s transformative love dwells within us, and it is our responsibility to live it out as human beings and as Christians. Churches play a special role in helping LGBTQ Christians to understand themselves and to grow as human beings and followers of Christ.
I would like to conclude my reflection by quoting from Pastor Edmund Smith. Although he uses these words in a different context, I find them very uplifting and encouraging for LGBTQ Christians who celebrate their gender identities and sexual attractions as blessings from God. These words speak of faith, hope and love for LGBTQ Christians as they walk along the journey of life as children of the living God:
“Today as I looked back, God was in my life from the very beginning … God was doing great and mighty things, bringing me to where I am today. God is amazing. I tell you He is doing wonderful things behind your back that you don’t even know of. Right now in your life, wherever you are, God is doing something behind your backs. Whatever God is doing is always good! Hold on to His Promises! In due time, you will see the good things that God’s been doing.”
Note: I would like express my gratitude to Lai-shan Yip for her insights, comments and suggestions on an earlier draft of this reflection.
 For the full news report, see Adeline Lum, “Celebrating Manhood in Christ,” Christianity Malaysia, last modified March 5, 2014, accessed April 4, 2014, http://christianitymalaysia.com/wp/celebrating-manhood-christ/.
 Ezra Chim, “‘She’ Is My BROTHER – Pastor Edmund Smith of Real Love Ministry (RLM) in Malacca,” Christianity Malaysia, last modified October 16, 2012, accessed April 6, 2014, http://christianitymalaysia.com/wp/she-brother-pastor-edmund-smith-real-love-ministry-rlm-malacca/; for more information on Edmund Smith, see Ee Chien Chua, “Finding Real Love,” Asian Beacon, last modified July 28, 2013, accessed April 6, 2014, http://www.asianbeacon.org/finding-real-love/; Adeline Lum, “Freedom in Christ for Sexually Broken People,”Christianity Malaysia, last modified April 12, 2013, accessed April 6, 2014, http://christianitymalaysia.com/wp/freedom-christ-sexually-broken-people/; Adeline Lum, “Am I Adam or Eve?,” Christianity Malaysia, last modified April 15, 2013, accessed April 6, 2014,http://christianitymalaysia.com/wp/adam-eve/; Adeline Lum, “There Is Hope for the Sexually Different People,” Christianity Malaysia, last modified April 21, 2013, accessed April 6, 2014, http://christianitymalaysia.com/wp/hope-sexually-people/.
 Chim, “‘She’ Is My BROTHER”.”
Lum, “Celebrating Manhood in Christ.”
 Lived experiences reveal a massive and diverse range of gender and sexual identifyings beyond this simple acronym. “LGBTQ” is used in this reflection merely for ease of reference to those whose gender and sexual identifyings contradict heteronormative expectations. See note 14.
 For this section, I have chosen to focus on queer readings of scriptures, even though I acknowledge the important contributions of postmodern, feminist, liberationist and postcolonial interpretations.
 “The Yogyakarta Principles: Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in Relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity”, March 26, 2007, 11, accessed April 4, 2014, http://www.yogyakartaprinciples.org/principles_en.pdf.
 In this reflection, I use the word “heteronormative” to refer to the valorisation of heterosexuality, as well as the presumption of particular sexual outlooks and practices that are considered as socially-acceptable and ‘normal.’
 Mary Ann Tolbert, “What Word Shall We Take Back?,” in Take Back the Word: A Queer Reading of the Bible, ed. Robert Goss and Mona West (Cleveland, OH: Pilgrim Press, 2000), vii.
 See Mona West, “The Bible and Homosexuality,” http://mccchurch.org/download/theology/homosexuality/BibleandHomosexuality.pdf(accessed April 5, 2014)
 See Mona West, “The Power of the Bible,” http://mccchurch.org/download/theology/queertheology/PowerofBible.pdf (accessed April 5, 2014).
 Tolbert, “What Word Shall We Take Back?,” vii.
 Ibid., viii.
 Nancy L. Wilson, “Our Story Too … Reading the Bible with ‘New Eyes,’”http://mccchurch.org/download/theology/homosexuality/OurStoryToo.pdf (accessed April 5, 2014).
 Johanna W. H. van Wijk-Bos, “How to Read What We Read,” in Body and Soul: Rethinking Sexuality as Justice-Love, ed. Marvin M. Ellison and Sylvia Thorson-Smith (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2008), 63.
 Kah-Jin Jeffrey Kuan, “Reading with New Eyes: Social Location and the Bible,” Pacific School of Religion Bulletin (Winter 2003):1,http://www.psr.edu/reading-new-eyes-social-location-and-bible (accessed April 5, 2014)
 Patrick S. Cheng, Radical Love: An Introduction to Queer Theology (New York, N.Y: Seabury Books, 2011), 9.
 Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Ed (E-Book). (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1997), no. 2358, accessed October 15, 2013,http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/catechism/catechism-of-the-catholic-church/epub/index.cfm.
 Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, “Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics”, para. 8, last modified December 29, 1975, accessed October 16, 2013,http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19751229_persona-humana_en.html.
 Lum, “Celebrating Manhood in Christ.”
 Janet R. Jakobsen and Ann Pellegrini, Love the Sin: Sexual Regulation and the Limits of Religious Tolerance, Sexual cultures (New York: New York University Press, 2003), 50.
 Lum, “Celebrating Manhood in Christ.”
 It is interesting to note sacramental theologian Kenan B. Osborne’s observation of the early life of the church that “the first indication of marriage is … around 400 and a clear sacramental acceptance only in the twelfth century.” Kenan B. Osborne, Sacramental Theology: A General Introduction, (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1994), 6. Hence, Smith’s claim that “God gave us sex as an intimacy to be enjoyed within marriage” must not be romantically spiritualised to the point of neglecting the rather late recognition and acceptance of marriage as a component of church life in history.
 Carter Heyward, Touching Our Strength: The Erotic as Power and the Love of God (San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row, 1989), 3.
 James B. Nelson, Body Theology (Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox, 1992), 23.
 Lum, “Celebrating Manhood in Christ.”
 Adriaan S. van Klinken, “Gay Rights, the Devil and the End Times: Public Religion and the Enchantment of the Homosexuality Debate in Zambia,” Religion 43, no. 4 (2013): 520.
 Lum, “Celebrating Manhood in Christ.”
 As an example, feminist theologian Maria Anicia B. Co says that “a father-God who is not experienced as a patriarch can equally be experienced as a mother-God.” See “Discerning the Voices from Women’s Experiences,” in Discipleship of Asian Women at the Service of Life, ed. Virginia Saldanha, vol. II (Bangalore, India: Claretian Publications, 2011), 80.
 Lai-shan Yip, “Listening to the Passion of Catholic nu-Tongzhi: Developing a Catholic Lesbian Feminist Theology in Hong Kong,” inQueer Religion, ed. Donald L. Boisvert and Jay Emerson Johnson, vol. 2 (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2012), 76.
 Lum, “Celebrating Manhood in Christ.”
 Here, I agree with queer theologian Mary Elise Lowe’s opinion that ‘sin’ is not simply “an autonomous subject with a stable sinful will.” See “Gay, Lesbian, and Queer Theologies: Origins, Contributions, and Challenges,” Dialog 48, no. 1 (2009): 55.
 John 13: 34-35.
 Lum, “Celebrating Manhood in Christ.”
 “Internalised homonegativity” is my preferred description for the common term “internalised homophobia.” In my opinion, many LGBTQ persons absorb and internalise many kinds of negativity, not just a fear of being different in gender identity or sexual attraction.
 Lum, “Celebrating Manhood in Christ.”
Joseph N. Goh is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Gender, Sexuality and Theology with the School of Arts and Social Sciences at Monash University, Malaysia. He holds a Licentiate in Sacred Theology (S.T.L.) from the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, CA. Identifying as a queer-gay ordained minister with the North American Catholic Ecumenical Church (NACEC), Goh is also a member of the Emerging Queer Asian Pacific Islander Religion Scholars (EQARS) and editor of the Queer Asian Spirit E-Magazine (QAS E-Zine). Goh holds and celebrates the belief that diverse gender orientations, gender expressions and sexual orientations are gifts from God.
For more on Goh, please visit the website, Joseph N. Goh.
© Joseph N. Goh
This re-post is requested and permitted by the author.