Legal team of Mr Bryan Choong, including Mr Jodan Tan (first left) in the 377A constitutional challenge.

Christian lawyer in 377A constitutional challenge explains why his involvement is consistent with his faith

Jordan Tan is one of the lawyers bringing the constitutional challenge against Section 377A in the Singapore Court right now.

Mr Tan is also a Christian. This is noteworthy now because he mentioned that there have been queries as to why a Christian lawyer would be involved in such a case, given that he is advocating to repeal a law that criminalises consensual sexual acts between adult males which goes against the teachings of the church.

On 15 November, Mr Tan took to Facebook to answer this question. He said, “Although my relationship with God is a personal private matter, Christian accountability and the exhortation not to stumble others (Romans 14:12-13) calls for an open and honest response to such queries.”

He explains why he is acting as a counsel to advocate for the constitutional challenge against 377A and why he considers it consistent with and is an advancement of his Christian Faith. He said, “I am completely at peace with my role advocating the constitutional challenge against section 377A in the Singapore courts.”

In his post titled “A Christian Advocate’s Role in the Constitutional Challenge against Section 377A”, Mr Tan laid out five points to explain why he thinks that not only is it appropriate for him as a Christian advocate to be involved in this challenge but that it is “required” by his faith.

Quoting Romans 13:1 which says that Christians should submit to the government authorities for all authorities come from God, this means that the constitution is the highest authority in Singapore since that is where the power of all three branches of the government – executive, legislative, judicial – is derived.

Mr Tan explained, “Given that there are legally meritorious grounds to support the conclusion that section 377A is unconstitutional, it would be wholly inappropriate to shirk away from the responsibility of scrutinising that law against the Constitution and to have it construed or read-down in a manner so that it is consistent with the Constitution.”

He added, “Accordingly, advocating the constitutional challenge against section 377A advances, instead of detracts from, the highest authority of the land, namely, the Constitution. It is a submission to authority which is called for in the Word.”

Mr Tan’s second reason was that he is assisting the court by presenting rigorous arguments in an intellectually honest manner, which is in line with the value of justice. He said, “in our system of law, the adversarial system works best when both sides of an issue are presented rigorously and in an intellectually honest manner. The Court is more ably assisted and the crucible of the adversarial system produces more robust and better-reasoned judgments. “

Mr Tan quoted Psalm 37:28 which highlight’s God’s love for justice and said that “it is appropriate to participate in a process which serves the ends of justice and to do so in a manner that promotes, at the minimum, better-reasoned judgments.”

The third reason Mr Tan outlined was his view that God prefers obedience grounded in faith instead of fear. He said “my firm view that God does not delight in compliance with the law for fear by persons of criminal sanction; God delights in obedience which comes from believing in Him and having a personal relationship with Him, not fear of going to jail.”

Next, Mr Tan highlighted Jesus’ iconoclastic way of life as he spent time “in the company of the very religious and the powerful, pursued the marginalised, the weak, and the downtrodden”. Quoting Matthew 20:16 which says the last shall be the first and the first shall be the last, Mr Tan noted how Jesus “loved and cared for the last”.

Connecting that to Singapore, Mr Tan talked about how Section 377A alienates, discriminates, and marginalises an entire community. He said, “In the course of my work, I have found that it has had seriously damaging effects on the LGBTQ+ community and demeans them. In some extreme cases, it emboldens those who would actively discriminate against them.”

He says this is morally wrong.

Finally, Mr Tan pointed out that 377A forms a serious barrier in the communication and forming of relationships between the Christian community and the LGBTQ+ community, and presents a block for the latter community to form relationships with God.

He says, “It is self-evident which is more important: the roadblock or the potential of forming meaningful relationships with the entire LGBTQ+ community.”

He continued, “It also self-evident which will lead more people into a relationship with God.”

In concluding his post, Mr Tan said he wanted to title the post “A (struggling) Christian’s Role…” for fear that he might be holding himself out as a paragon of a Christian, which he admits he is not. But he decided against it because all Christians are struggling Christians, said Mr Tan.

He then recalled something his senior pastor once said, “The litmus test of whether one is a Christian is whether one struggles. The struggle reflects the continued desire to do God’s will and the human failings which call for the need to rely on God’s strength.”

Mr Tan continued, “In my years on this journey with God I have found that in addition to weighing decisions against the Word and prayer, it is peace which characterises making the correct decision which pleases God.”

In this case, Mr Tan says “I am completely at peace with my role advocating the constitutional challenge against section 377A in the Singapore courts.”

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