A Statement from “Covenant of the Rainbow: Towards a Truly Inclusive Church”
May 17, 2014
Celebrating International Family Day with Christ’s Inclusive Love
May 15 is the International Family Day and 2014 marks the twentieth anniversary of the International Year of the family. The role of families has been a significant concern for the United Nations since the eighties, and it has always served the society as a fundamental unit. As time changes, family composition undergoes diversification: family size is smaller, people get married at a later age, drastic decrease of heterosexual married couples wanting to have children, heterosexual couples living together, single parent family, divorcees, same sex couples family, and family with those who are not blood relations.
In Hong Kong, the recent Marriage Bill amendment on Transgender marriage provokes heated arguments, at the same time, certain churches condemn same-sex relationship by imposing their value of ” heterosexual relationship and monogamy” on all Christians. Their slogan, “one male one female, one husband one wife” emphasizes that this is the only family value that the Bible affirms. In contrast to the belief of these churches, we assert that the International Family Day celebrates the significant value of families of diversity, promotes respect and inclusivity towards the whole humankind.
Family compositions in the Bible are not all fairy tales of prince and princess, rather, they are quite diverse. We read about “a husband with many wives”, “sexual relationship between father and daughter”, “relationship between father-in-law and his daughter-in-law”, “brother-in-law and brother’s wife”, composing a diverse family system that reflects the socio-cultural situations in ancient Jewish society. The biblical text reveals diversity in family composition, and such revelation stresses that God affirms diversity. These families as manifested in the Bible shows us that God recognizes and blesses these diverse families.
Jesus’ views concerning family is not an exclusive view. Jesus asserts that whoever obeys God’s will belongs to the same family because God’s will for us is to love God and love others. Love is the essence of family relationships. Throughout his ministry, Jesus teaches us to love our neighbor as ourselves and preaches a liberating Gospel. Christ’s grace is for families of diversity. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:8-9, ” To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain unmarried as I am. But if they are not practicing self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion.” Marriage is one way for believers to deal with their earthly intimate relationship, absolutely not an unalterable system in the history of human development. Paul ‘s reason for recommending marriage to believers is a way to manage uncontrolled sexual desire.
The current “one-husband-one-wife” legal marriage system has been implemented in Hong Kong for only a few decades. It was the contribution from feminist organizations striving for gender equality under a heterosexual marriage system. The claim that “one-husband-one-wife” is a Chinese tradition has now been used, perhaps, as a excuse to oppress other family relationships, and as such, is a violation and distortion of its original intention. Look around the world, there are 15 countries which have already established same-sex marriage in their country-wide constitutional law, and in another 4 countries partially adopted in state or provincial laws. Moreover, same-sex civil union or partner systems has been recognized as legally equivalent to marriage in 15 countries, and certain states/provinces in another 5 countries. In the Christian church, many biblical scholars have refuted the interpretation that “homosexuality is sin”, to rectify biases against homosexual sisters and brothers, and some churches perform sacred blessings for these sisters and brothers, expressing the love and recognition of their human dignity.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights asserts that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” (Article 1) United Nations Treaties on Human Rights have confirmed that sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination is considered prohibited grounds of discrimination in International Human Rights Law. It means that it is illegal to impose distinction to others and restriction to their rights by reasons of being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered, as equivalent to any discrimination for reasons of color, race, gender, religion and other status. Any discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation or gender identity is forbidden, and laws should be enacted to forbid such discriminations.
On May 17 1990, World Health Organization of United Nations formally took ‘homosexuality’ away from the list of diseases. United Nations and World Health Organization no longer consider homosexuality as a disease or abnormal. This decision also denotes that WHO did not consider any treatment needed to heal homosexuality. Homosexuality is one of the normal human sex orientations. Therefore society does not need to force homosexuals to receive any treatment.
From the perspective of Christianity, creation of living God is endless. Those who have faith in God humbly admit that God’s will on human beings is ever changing. We may not fully understand the mystery. Therefore we learn to co-operate and unite others with love. Under the principles of the equality of dignity and rights, movement of ‘The Covenant of the Rainbow’ calls the brothers and sisters of churches to accept different forms of family combinations established with love in the society. We love, because God loves us; let us practice the spirit of Christ and guard our family with love.
“Covenant of the Rainbow: Towards a Truly Inclusive Church”
Kowloon Union Church
One Body in Christ
Blessed Minorities Christian Fellowship
Hong Kong Christian Council – Gender Justice Group
Hong Kong Christian Institute
Queer Theology Academy
Queer Affirming Fellowship
Pearl WONG (Executive Secretary, Queer Theology Academy)
Contact number: 9308 0808, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
 Please refer to Scripture in Mark 3:31-35.