Recently, there was much debate on the matter of repealing Section 377A in response to 1) the Indian Supreme Court repealing Section 377 of its Penal Code on Sept. 6, 2018 and 2) the closure of a comprehensive review of the Penal Code in Singapore that did not include Section 377A.
So, what is Section 377A?
Any male person who, in public or private, commits, or abets the commission of, or procures or attempts to procure the commission by any male person of, any act of gross indecency with another male person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 2 years.
This law was introduced by British colonial authorities as part of a broader legislation which also banned sexual acts such as anal and oral sex. While we do need to deal with the broader moral and societal implications of keeping or repealing Section 377A, perhaps we should start from the Bible and allow it to frame our response to the matter.
There are several references to this throughout the Bible. One example in the OT is found in the reason given for the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 19). Eze 16:50 states that they did something “detestable”, and this same word is used in Lev 18 and 20 to refer to homosexual relations. Similarly in Jude 7, we are told that they were destroyed because they indulged in sexual immorality and “pursued unnatural desire” (ESV).
In the NT, Paul in his epistle to the Romans condemned homosexual practices as “against nature” (Rom 1:26). The notion of “nature” in this passage refers to God’s intended design, just as “male and female” have been defined biologically since Gen 1, for the decree to “be fruitful and increase in number” is possible only between a biological male and female. “Nature” does not refer to one’s “natural desire” or “inclination”.
How then should we view the call to repeal Section 377A? Homosexuality is not the only sin that we should address - adultery, greed, anger, pride are also sins and issues we have to wrestle with. However, given the potential adverse effects the repeal of 377A could have in our daily lives and in that of our children and their children, it is prudent to give voice to the convictions that we hold. As we have learnt from our Sunday Bible Classes on the book of Daniel, we need to engage the society in ways that reveal the distinctive values of the Kingdom of God. We need to be compassionate toward those struggling with their sexual identity, but we can do so without silencing our biblical convictions.
Be gracious in a way that is full of truth.
Be truthful in a way that is full of grace.
Mr. Daniel Gan