Jessie Chung and Joshua Beh look like any happy couple - except that Jessie was born Jeffrey 30 years ago and underwent sex-change operations to become a woman three years earlier. The million-ringgit wedding in Kuching, Sarawak, was attended by some 800 relatives and friends, and presided by 3 pastors from Bountiful Harvest, Shepherd’s Centre and Assembly of Love. According to the Star, the unusual high-profile wedding is the first of its kind in the country.
The event has turned the spotlight on churches as they scramble to give an answer to contentious gender and same-sex relationship issues more commonly reported in the western world. It's a difficult issue and we'll have to tread carefully while the debate rages, made more sticky in the court of public opinion. NECF's Rev Wong Kim Kong has been reported in today's papers as saying that same sex marriages even where one party has had a sex-change operation, cannot be condoned: “It’s clearly stated in the Bible. There is no such thing as creation of half-half. Therefore, biologically and genetically, there is only male and female.”
It's not been said but I suspect in the back of everyone's minds is the tussle between acceptance of a supposedly aberrant but all too human condition, and an individual's right to happiness - a legitimacy untrammeled by cost or convention. There are implications either way which may not necessarily fit into neat or politically-correct boxes.
I think C.S Lewis got it right when he wrote that, "A right to happiness doesn't, for me, make much more sense than a right to be six feet tall, or to have a millionaire for your father, or to get good weather whenever you want a picnic." I happen to hold to the same view as Rev Wong's - and I do agree with Lewis - but one who handles the Word and deals with human lives, must do so with tears as much as with firmness of conviction. As the story unfolds in the weeks ahead such grace is going to be needed.
Meanwhile, Chung's brother, who coordinated the wedding, said the couple was prepared to live abroad if they are not allowed to remain husband and wife.