Be AWARE: Where is the Church?

The recent Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) debacle had created quite a furore on a national level.

In the end, the now defunct new guard led by then newly elected President, Ms Josie Lau was overthrown by the old guard with a resounding no vote of confidence against them by AWARE members.

Even as the dust has settled after that extraordinary general meeting (EGM), there are still plenty of opinions and views of this AWARE saga being debated in cyberspace.

However, it is not my provocative to take sides.

Out-of-touch of issues

In my personal opinion, this AWARE debacle offers many takeaways and one that has largely exposed the gap between the Church and the world.

From my observation of the new guard’s actions, the reports from the media and the general reaction of Christians, it clearly revealed how out-of-touch and out-of-depth we are with our world.

Firstly, the new guard had cited that the reason for their sudden takeover of AWARE’s leadership was due to the old guard’s agenda in promoting lesbianism and homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle through sex education in certain schools.

Apparently, that discovery caused a knee-jerk reaction to their dubious takeover with the new guard seizing nine of the 12 positions on AWARE’s executive committee. It was subsequently revealed that 80 of the 102 the election attendees turned out to be newbies who had joined AWARE in recent months.

More unhappiness and tension escalated when Dr Thio Su Mien, the self-styled “Feminist Mentor” revealed that she was the person responsible for the takeover. Later, it was also found that she and several of the new elected leaders were members of a same church.

Out-of-depth in relating

Secondly, many members were left disappointed in how Ms Lau and her team was not able to answer many of the questions asked at the EGM.

It was reported that even though members kept asking to “please give me the right of reply”, the new guard stuck mainly to statements that had been already released to the media.

For instance, when queried on their stand on homosexuality, Ms Lau sidestepped the issue and maintained that AWARE would remain a secular society that would provide support to homosexual women.

One well-known blogger, Yawning Bread who was observing at the EGM made an interesting comment describing like-minded Christians supporters of Ms Lau at the EGM displaying “an over-earnest politeness in speech and demeanour, punctuated by frequent invocations of blessings and goodwill”.

He further commented that this behavioural pattern was the result of ‘brain-washing’. He wrote that “they were likely people who were uncomfortable with conflict and ambiguity, whose personality is such that they prefer order and hierarchy”.

I think with such encounters with Christians, it is not surprising that the world perceives us as being sheltered, anti-homosexual or judgemental.

Reasons for the gap

I believe that this gap between the Church and the world is caused because for too long we as Christians have loved people with a conditional love.

It is sad that we, Christians are known more for whom we hate rather than whom we love.

Too often, we have been too quick to judge and only choose to love readily those that are similar to us or who share closely to our beliefs and lifestyle.

Another reason might be us being too pre-occupied with church-related activities or ministries that have unknowingly drawn us away from the lost or unchurch.

Ironically, these activities or ministries have lost their original intent but have become self-serving and losing its relevance and effectiveness in reaching out to the lost and unchurch.

Whether intentionally or not, this has caused the Church to be out of touch with the world; losing our ability to identify and relate  compassionately towards the lost and unchurch.

Time to love radically and be the Church

We should not merely confine our love within the Christian community. Like Jesus, we must engage the culture we live in and start radically loving and serving people beyond the “four walls of the church”.

When we are IN the world serving others and not in isolation away from others, we’ll be in a better position to respond and address any moral or social issue in their early stage. This avoids any unnecessary knee-jerk reaction from us.

More importantly, we will be able to earn the credibility to lead in addressing such issues and avoid the same awkward situation that the new guard found themselves in when questioned during the EGM.

“Where were you when women were abused and battered in the home, and the girls raped?

“Where were you when children and husbands of Singapore women were denied citizenship?”

“Where were you? You were not there.”


8 thoughts on “Be AWARE: Where is the Church?

  1. Moving entry. I was waiting for you to write about this though, what took you so long? lol.

    Yes the new guard gave the impression that they have been in a well for so long and finally decided to step out of it when news of Aware echoed into the well.

  2. I thought the New Guard did something courageous in wanting to step up to make a difference.

    Not many people having comfortable lifestyles and comfortable jobs like them will want to rock the boat.

    I applaud these courageous ladies.

    Also, the fact that they were pro-family and against homosexuality does not mean they are anti-homosexuals.

    There is a difference between hating the sin and hating the sinner. God himself hates the sin but loves the sinner.

    It’s like, we can be against smoking but it doesn’t mean we condemn the smoker. We can be against social evils like prostitution but it doesn’t mean we want to kill prostitutes or those who frequent them.

    So I don’t think it’s fair of the media and even fellow Christians to say these New Guard ladies were condemning homosexuals.

    I don’t think they were condemning homosexuals.

    Also, if we read the facts , we will realise that AT NO TIME did the New Guard bring up homosexuality at all as their main message at first, nor did they want to advertise the fact that they are all Christians.

    THESE FACTS WERE SEIZED UPON AND PLAYED UP BY THE OLD GUARD. The Old Guard, when they realised the voting was not going the way they wanted, sneaked behind walls to do internet searches on the New Guard members one by one.. and discovered that some had written articles against homosexuality.. and that some were from the same church.

    So the OLD GUARD supporters seized upon these two facts to sow discord and interrogated the New Guard about them in front of the other Aware members present at the voting. It’s sad that even Christians bought into their plans to sow discord.

    The New Guard did NOT want to trumpet these issues and declined comment at first (as they were irrelevant to the voting on that day).

    However the Old Guard supporters kept persisting and insisting on a reply to their qn, “Do you support homosexuality?”

    Faced with persistent questioning, one of the New Guard members finally replied simply, “No.” (What’s wrong with this reply?)

    But this was seized upon by the Old Guard to make a big issue out of it.

    The Old Guard also made a big issue out of the fact that most of the New Guard are Christians.

    Come on, people…. If most of them are Buddhists or Atheists or Free-Thinkers, would the people have made so much noise??

    I personally think it’s a bit of persecution of Christians. And very sad that other Christians also condemn their fellow believers in Aware who are just trying to do the right thing (even though the New Guard could admittedly have done somethings in a wiser way, I don’t think their motives were wrong.)


  3. M:

    I’m just being objective and not taking any sides, but if my memory serves me right… the new guard did communicate their intention of fighting against homosexuality.

    For instance, they brought up about airing the lesbian movie as a fundraiser and etc… And some other incidents that though not blatantly but between the lines.

    Moreover, their actions of sacking the manager and having CCTV installed with locks changed did not help.

    Like you as a Christian, I do not think their intentions were wrong, just misfired in their execution.

    Well, this might be a classic example of being sincerely wrong in attempt to be right =)

  4. Btw, I also want to add what I had commented on my facebook on the same entry….

    Just as how the early Christians in ACTS spread and permeated even more rapidly when they were pushed to a corner by its persecutors. I think the same effect will take place when we keep making things difficult for LGBT.

    I believe God gives us as individuals a right to choose and be accountable for our life, so if people decides to pursue this lifestyle they will bear their consequences. … Read More

    What’s our main responsible is to LOVE. Love the sinner but hate the sin. The bible says LOVE covers a multitude of sins. And commands us to love our neighbour.

    Love and acceptance towards someone has a way of evoking God’s holiness within that recipient. Its a God-thing that works on ex-convicts, drug addicts, promiscuous living, on the prideful and liars etc….

    People dun care how much you know or what you say till they know how much you care.

  5. Haha, the approach the new guard used ma chaim the crusaders, using force to take over to rule and influence.

    Or rather no difference from the modern day terrorist but using a different form of “violence”.

    Yes, we condemn the sin but we must also not forget the fact that everyone of us (INCLUDING OURSELVES) are all sinners, no difference from homosexual.

    We should be more compassionate and influence them. Like jesus’ example, at the cross, He pray to God to forgive our sin for we do not know what we are doing

    Just ponder upon me what would Jesus do when we commit a sin. Will He sack us or put a cctv and get a lock to lock us out?

  6. Hey Andrew, thanks for sharing this article. I think it’s terribly thought-provoking, esp the part about Christians showing conditional love… which is no different from the non-Christians.

    And the serving part too.

    Thinking about it. Thank God for you bro! 🙂

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