Saturday 29 May 2021

"She Would Never Know" (aka "Sunbae, Don't Put On That Lipstick") - some thoughts [SPOILER ALERT]

I have to confess that I only started watching She Would Never Know because of Rowoon. His character in Extraordinary You (which I have an overdue post about, will try to get it done soon!) offered very little scope for him to show his acting skills. So I was curious to know how well (or badly) he would do in the leading role of Chae Hyun-Seung in his latest drama. But as I got into the plot, I became drawn in by the side story of his older sister Chae Yeon-Seung (Ha Yoon-Kyung) and her husband Kang Woo-Hyun (Lee Dong-Ha). 

Some of you may already have read the countless reviews and comments that celebrate the victory of how a same-sex attracted Woo-Hyun found his true identity and was liberated to pursue his deepest desires (for a same-sex relationship). And many of these writers even commend Yeon-Seung for being so supportive and understanding.

Honestly, I find such a narrative extremely disturbing as it is perpetuating the lies that have permeated popular media and culture, and are gradually seeping into mainstream society here in Asia.

Lie #1: Sex is everything!

That's what popular media tells us - if the sex is great, then the relationship must be good. And conversely, if there's no sex (or very little of it) in the relationship, then there's nothing worth saving.

Well, after being married for almost 25 years, I can tell you that sex is NOT everything in a marriage relationship! There are so many times and seasons in a marriage where sex hardly features at all, like when you're having a baby, or feeling sick, or drained after a day of work and running after the kids, and of course there's always that one week or so each month where sex is off-limits.

If sex were everything, then no marriage would be able to survive all these sexless times and periods (pun intended). But the fact that marriages have lasted and even become stronger only goes to show that the husband and wife relationship is based on so much more than just sex.

Trust, open communications, love and care for each other, supporting each other through tough times, partnership in building the family, and more. These are the qualities that help to strengthen a marriage and they are also the indicators of whether the relationship will survive and we can grow old (when sex drive is almost zilch) together till death do us part.

In fact, Yeon-Seung and Woo-Hyun had all these in their relationship even though Woo-Hyun wasn't physically attracted to her. After all, she was the one who helped him to come to terms with and accept his own sexual orientation. Contrastingly, Woo-Hyun's relationship with the man who had awakened his same-sex attraction, Chef Ryu Han-Seo (Choi Jung-Won), had none of these factors. So his relationship with his wife was much healthier than the one he had with his former lover.

Lie #2: Same-sex attraction trumps everything else!

Nowadays, if we do not allow someone with same-sex attraction to fulfil their sexual desires, we are labelled as bigots. And it has reached the extent where the same-sex attracted person should be allowed to ignore all other responsibilities and commitments, otherwise we would be seen as bullies trying to repress their sexuality and identity.

Again, we need to understand that we are not defined solely by our sexual identity. There's so much more to a person than their sexuality! And that includes the roles and responsibilities we each bear in our families, workplaces and society at large. So for instance if you're married, it would be adulterous to have a sexual relationship with someone other than your spouse.

In Woo-Hyun's case, he decided to divorce Yeon-Seung in order to pursue his same-sex desires. If he were not same-sex attracted and had left his wife to pursue another woman because he is no longer attracted to his wife, he would be condemned as being unfaithful. So it doesn't make sense that just because he's same-sex attracted, then his infidelity is justified. He had married Yeon-Seung willingly and without coercion, so he should be expected to fulfil the lifetime commitment that he had made, regardless of whether his sexual desires are for another man or woman.

Lie #3: The kids will get over the divorce.

Moreover as a father to a young child, Woo-Hyun also has to bear the responsibility for his daughter’s welfare. And divorce is never good for the kids! They won't ever get over it either. The destructive ramifications of divorce are life-long. 

The saddest part about all this is that the kids are often too young to be able to express the hurt and pain that they experience. I just read a well-written sharing by an adult of her difficult journey through her parents' divorce and the growing up years, and even through to adulthood.

I was particularly struck by what she said here:

The parents are supposed to be the ones who sacrifice and accommodate in order to support their children, not the other way around! The world has pretty much turned upside-down. Such warped values which promote the selfish pursuit of one's own happiness above fulfilling parental responsibilities are resulting in an entire generation of damaged, orphaned souls. 

Anyway, this has turned out to be a much longer rant than I had imagined. So let's be aware of the lies that are being reinforced when we consume popular media so we don't get sucked in or worse, even start living them out in our own lives.

If you're interested, here's an earlier post on the Brangelina divorce.

Tuesday 25 May 2021

The Lord’s Prayer - "Your will be done" (23 May 2021)

We had viewed episode 2 of The Chosen Season 2 on Saturday night and while we were contemplating the meaning of "Your will be done" during our family time on Sunday, it suddenly struck me that allowing God's will to be done in our lives would mean giving up our own plans and following His plans. [spoiler alert] That was exactly what Nathaniel went through as he sat under the fig tree watching his architectural plans for the temple he had wanted to build go up in flames, literally! And how he sobbed, and rent his clothes, and sprinkled ashes on his head...[end of spoiler] the grief is real. 

But all that was nothing compared to what Jesus must have experienced in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was in such agony when He said, "Not my will but Yours be done," that his sweat was like blood (Luke 22:42, 44). [spoiler alert] That's why in episode 5 of The Chosen Season 2, while pondering the heaviness of what they are called to do, Jesus says to John the Baptiser, "I'm always ready to do my Father's will, but that doesn't make it easy." [end of spoiler] So He understands when we find it hard to surrender our own will and yield to His will... the struggle is real.

God doesn't force us to submit for He has given us free will to choose. But when we willingly choose to lay our own desires down to take up His desire for us out of a heart of worship and love for Him, that pleases Him tremendously. Yet, we often start to look at the world around us and wonder why we should abandon the achievements and successes that others enjoy. Surely God has promised us an abundant life (John 10:10), so how could He be asking us to give all that up? And so... the sacrifice is real.

So what can help us to be confident that we are making the right decision when we follow God's will rather than our own? God is not bound by time, instead He sees the beginning and the end (Isaiah 46:10). In fact, He is the beginning and the end (Revelation 22:13). Hence, when He reveals His will to us, that is Him letting us in on the good that is going to come out of it, for His plans are never to harm us but to prosper us (Jeremiah 29:11). Because He is a loving and faithful Father, we can trust Him to make all things work together for our good (Romans 8:28) when we do His will... the promise is real.

We also need to redefine what 'success' means according to how God sees it. He does not measure our achievements in the same way the world does. When He calls us to do His work, we can be assured that it would bring about something of eternal value, even if it can't be seen by our physical eyes. If we are willing to forsake the things of the world to build His Kingdom here on earth, we not only leave behind a spiritual legacy, our works would also survive the fire when we meet Him on that day (1 Corinthians 3:13-14)... the reward is real.

Finally and most importantly, God yearns for us to do His will because then we would be partnering with Him. That means, we would be working alongside Him and spending time with Him. That is God’s desire, to be with us.  [spoiler alert] Again, in episode 5 of The Chosen Season 2, when Simon the Zealot asked Jesus why He would want him to join His team when he had nothing to offer, Jesus replied, "I have everything I need. I wanted you." [end of spoiler] And of course, when we get to walk with our Father daily, listening to His voice, wrapped in His embrace, watched over by Him, in perfect communion with Him... the joy is real!


A broken bowl...

A broken world...

People are broken

Relationships are broken

But the Creator

     picks up the broken pieces

He puts them back

     together again

"Why is He taking so long?"

     we sometimes wonder

"Is He doing anything at all?"

     we may even ask

"Where is He when we need Him?"

     we hear many cry

But He has a plan

     to restore the world

     to repair each person

     to reconcile every relationship

His ways are mysterious

     His timing perfect

So we go to the Creator

     to be healed

     to be filled 

     to be used

As His holy vessels

     His glory revealed 

Tuesday 18 May 2021

The Lord’s Prayer - "Your Kingdom come" (16 May 2021)

Continuing with our family discussions of The Lord’s Prayer, we talked about what God's Kingdom is like and how we have experienced it in our own lives.

We considered the concept of 'already but not yet' in that His Kingdom has already come but not yet in full until Jesus comes again to establish His complete reign over the "new heaven and new earth" (Rev 21). In the meantime, we are often torn between staying under His Kingship and authority while being tempted to go over to the other side and relinquish the authority He's given us to the enemy. 

This struggle could come in many different forms. For instance, we might not have a proper understanding of what it means to be princes and princesses of God. For some, we may not realise the authority and the riches that He has given us and continue to live with a poverty mindset. For others it could be the other extreme where we flaunt God's gifts and blessings or Lord it over others with a holier-than-thou attitude. 

There are also those who may appear to be doing God's Kingdom work actively but end up building their own kingdoms instead due to pride, relying on their strength, or following their own plans rather than God's plans.

In fact, from OT times God had been telling His people how to live in such a way that His Kingdom would be actualised through them. But they didn't quite get it so when Jesus came, He explained it to them again in a different way through His teachings such as in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7). Unfortunately, these lessons are so counter-intuitive that many of His children still don't really get it.

So although His Church is meant to display such Kingdom values and way of life, in reality we often find it lacking. Yet, all is not lost because we can still enact God's Kingdom in our own lives as well as through our families and communities. For through the work of the Holy Spirit in us, we build His Kingdom here when we display His fruit through our words and actions, love one another with His love, and submit wholly to His Lordship and authority in our lives.

Therefore, when we pray, "let Your Kingdom come," we are asking for His help to teach and mould us so we can be empowered to reveal His Kingdom to the world through us!

Sunday 9 May 2021

The Lord’s Prayer - "hallowed be Your Name" (9 May 2021)

We paused our discussions in this series for the last two weeks as there were other more pressing topics to cover. But today, we managed to get back on track during our family time with the next phrase in the Lord's prayer, "hallowed be Your Name."

The definition of the word 'hallowed' includes 'holy', 'revered', and 'honoured'. There are various versions of this phrase and one of them in particular is, "May your holy name be honoured" (Good News Translation). 

So when we pray for God's name to be honoured, it is not only a declaration of our reverence for His holy name, but also an expression of our hope that all peoples, tribes and tongues will one day know and honour Him as we do. This phrase thus encapsulates the two most important commandments (Mark 12:30-31) - to love God as well as to love our neighbours! 

The Jews believe that God's name is too holy to be spoken and thus replace it with the tetragram YHWH. Although it is true that God is our Friend (James 2:23) and Brother (Mark 3:34-35), we have to be careful that we do not take God's grace and love for granted and forget the fear of the Lord. 

In fact, all our actions should be governed by it. Joseph is a good example of how one can even set aside deep-seated emotions and desires like anger, bitterness, self-righteousness and revenge, in order to put God and His purposes first.

In addition to our physical well-being, our emotional and mental health are also tied to a proper awe and reverence of God.

Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. (Proverbs 3:7-8)

The fear of the Lord leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm. (Proverbs 19:23)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. (Proverbs 9:10)

However, it is not enough to merely fear God. We also need to know Him. And it is only through experiencing Him that we learn to know His voice (John 10:27). We shared with one another the ways we each experience God most intimately:

  • He speaks to us when we worship Him through music and the arts
  • He reveals Himself to us when we read His Word
  • He communes with us when we spend time chatting with Him
  • He shows us His ways through people and circumstances around us
  • He sends insights, revelations, ideas and solutions whenever we seek and ask 

Hallowed be Your Name, o Lord! And may our reverence for You lead others to also honour Your Name.

Check out other insights we received about The Lord's Prayer: