Christians in support of marriage equality, LGBTIQ anti-discrimination and creating a truly inclusive Church.
Amplify 2018 Taipei Statement:
We, the participants of Amplify 2018, gather here today in Taipei to attest to God’s love for all. We are Christians from diverse backgrounds, nationalities, sexual orientations, gender identities, gender expressions and sex characteristics. We believe at the heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ is radical love, justice and inclusion.
We believe that each person is created in the image of God, and each person is precious to God. We recognize that there are people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, gender expressions and sex characteristics. We affirm that being LGBTIQ is not a psychological disorder, a mental illness, immoral, evil, sinful, or depraved – it is simply a reflection of the amazing diversity that God has created.
We gather today to declare that the entire human race – everyone – is created in the image of God. Everyone means irrespective of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristic. This makes it imperative for us to reject systemic and personal attitudes of homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and any kind of discrimination.
We affirm that sexuality is a divine gift. God intends us to celebrate this divine gift in life-giving, consensual, and loving relationships. The desire and need to love and be loved is universal, and everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics, should be free to love and be with the person they love, and be treated equally and with dignity.
Over the recent few years, we continue to build on the progress made by several Christian churches, denominations and seminaries. In 2014, a number of us participated in the International Consultation on Church and Homophobia held at Jakarta Theological Seminary. The statement from consultation declared that:
“We believe that the Church as ‘Just and Inclusive Community’ is called to become a community without walls to reach out to people who are stigmatised and demonised, and be a listening community to understand their pains, desires and hopes.
We envision Church as a sanctuary to the ostracised who thirst for understanding, friendship, love, compassion and solidarity, and as the Body of Christ that joins in their struggles to live out their God-given lives. We appeal to the Christian communities to sojourn with people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, gender expressions and sex characteristics and their families without prejudice and discrimination, to provide them with ministries of love, compassionate care and justice.
We implore Christian communities to start engaging in dialogue – not debate – with persons with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, gender expressions and sex characteristics to listen to their stories and struggles as acts of love.”
In recent years, an increasing number of Christians and Christian organisations have stepped forward to create safe spaces and stand in solidarity with people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, gender expressions and sex characteristics.
In 2014, the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), a mainline Protestant church of around 1.5 million members, unanimously approved “Let Grace Be Total” policy statement on lesbians, gays, bisexual, and transgender people in its 10 th Quadrennial General Assembly and 66 th Founding Anniversary. UCCP stated, “This affirms that all of us regardless of any category are under the grace of God.
The statement means that LGBTs should not be discriminated but should be unconditionally accepted in the fellowship and membership of the Church.”
The statement added, “The LGBTs, as a group has long been an object of ostracism and judgment, ridicule and condemnation by so many in our society. This is largely due to cultural ethos and values that are so patriarchal in nature, legalistic in perspective, pharisaic in world view and self-righteous in outlook. From such a perspective, world view and outlook, the LGBTs have no place, since this is a world only for either male or female. There can be no in between. There can be no grey areas. It is either black or white.
Jesus has long denounced and rejected such a narrow, legalistic, patriarchal, pharisaic, self-righteous outlook and even hypocritical perspective (Matt. 23:1-28). Within this purview of the teachings and work of Jesus, the LGBTs can be considered as well embraced, affirmed and upheld by the gracious and loving presence of God in Jesus Christ.”
In 2016, the Executive Committee of the Communion of Churches in Indonesia also issued a pastoral letter to its member churches. In it, the committee states, “Many LGBT people have suffered physically, psychologically, socially, and spiritually because of religious stigmatizations and violent behaviours committed by some people. They have become humiliated, ostracized, and discriminated even by the State. Churches must take a different stance. Churches must not only accept them, but instead they have to fight so that LGBT people can be accepted and their rights recognized by both the society and the State, especially the right to not be discriminated against or be excluded, the right to protection against violence, the right to obtain a job, and so on. The stakeholders of this country must ensure that the rights and dignity of LGBT people are respected! LGBT people should be given the opportunity to live in justice and peace.
CCI is calling its member churches, communities and the nation to accept and even fight for the rights and dignity of LGBT people. Our greatness as a civilized nation can be seen from our ability to accept and help those who are experiencing discrimination and injustice.
However, CCI is aware that member churches and the people of Indonesia are not ready to accept same-sex marriage. CCI along with its member churches and all members of the society still requires dialogue and in-depth theological conversation regarding this matter.”
The National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) has been actively involved in standing in solidarity with LGBTQ people. In July 2009, the NCCI had organised a study “Indian Church and Repealing of the Section 377 of Indian Penal Code”, which gathered over a hundred participants from major Protestant churches and fifty from the LGBT community. The NCCI welcomed the decriminalising of homosexuality by the Delhi High Court then and said that homosexuals must not be branded as criminals but “nurtured and helped out” by churches as part of creation. Early this year, the NCCI issued a statement in support of the repeal of section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalises homosexuality. The statement added, “as followers of the non-conformist Christ, the one who consistently questioned unjust and non-compassionate traditions of public morality, our call is to reject all laws that demonize, criminalize, and exclude human beings, and work to facilitate just inclusive and loving communities.”
In a recent pastoral letter from the Council for World Mission (CWM) to its member churches, of which the Geraja Presbyterian Malaysia, Presbyterian Church of Korea, Presbyterian Church in Taiwan and the Presbyterian Church in Singapore are members, It stated: “LGBTQ people face significant reproach in societies, and religious groups add shame on top of this. By regarding LGBTQ people, people God has made, as sinful in our preaching, the Church has done great harm. The Church has inadvertently fostered hostility and rejection in the way the Bible is used to make LGBTQ people feel less than God’s people. The ‘Othering’ and scapegoating of men and women, young and old, is not the central message of Christianity, nor is it the proclamation of the Gospel; yet for many outside the church this is all we seem to stand for. In some contexts, such religiously sanctioned views have led to violence against LGBTQ people. That is sin. Churches, followers of Jesus, are called to be communities of hospitality and healing, not communities of hostility and harm, to God’s people. Christian communities speak of loving all of God’s creation, which includes LGBTQ people ‘despite’ their sexual orientation. However, unfortunately, LGBTQ people are excluded from this love and left feeling stigmatised and judged. Rather than confronting the sinful violence of homophobia, the Church has used the Bible as a weapon to strip people of their God-given dignity and worth because of their sexual identity.”
We urge all Christians to reflect on the harm caused by the Church, and how the Church has often fallen short of its calling to be a community of love and hospitality. This year, the theme of Amplify 2018 is “Rainbow Bridges” – and our hope is about building bridges between the LGBTIQ community and the Christian Church and be witnesses to the radical and inclusive love of God as revealed in Jesus, and to “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God.” (Micah 6:8) Therefore, it is imperative that we align ourselves with love, justice and against all forms of discrimination and marginalisation.
Everyone is equal. This is the foundation of our shared values today. We cannot pay lip service to equality, but we need to integrate it into every aspect of our lives and society. Eliminating sexual inequality and defending human dignity through sexual equality education is an urgent task of utmost importance, without which, ignorance and discrimination will continue to do harm to many lives. As Christians we must respect all lives. We must use reason to learn what science and psychology is revealing about the world we live in and the biases against LGBTIQ people. We need to learn to live lovingly with others. We should not live only for the protection of ourselves. We cannot believe that our interpretation of scripture is the always correct. We must not use God’s name to uphold and protect religious dogma and tradition. We need to realize that some of our religious beliefs are disguised as reverence and piety, but they instead harm lives, in opposition to the good news of the gospel and against the radical love which Jesus demonstrated, advocated and gave his life for.
For love and justice, we, the Christians from various countries across Asia, come together to stand in solidarity against all forms of discrimination and implore all churches to create safe spaces for people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, gender expressions and sex characteristics through love, acceptance and affirmation.
We pray that marriage equality will be realised in Taiwan soon, and every country in Asia will follow as well; following India, Singapore, Malaysia and other countries will decriminalise same-sex behaviours and repeal obsolete colonial laws.
In the love of Christ, we pledge to stand with those who are oppressed and marginalised, to walk with those who seek to realise a fair, inclusive and just society, supporting equality. We will work together to end discrimination against sexual orientations, gender identities, gender expressions and sex characteristics until every person is free to love and be with the person they love, receiving the blessings from the church and society.
Because of principles of love and justice, because of the calling of the spirit of Christ, here we stand together, and we can do no other.