Regular readers will know that my wife, Jacqui, is from Singapore.
Why do I mention this? Well because today, August 9th, is Singapore’s National Day. On this day every year Singapore remembers their second Declaration of Independence on 9 August 1965, primarily with the National Day Parade.
Singapore had, in a sense, already been independent. On 16 September 1963 they joined the Federation of Malaysia, a partnership that they were keen to make work. Sadly, it proved impossible. The Federation fell apart 2 years later as a result of a deep difference of principles between the People’s Action Party (the majority party in Singapore at that time and to this day) and the ruling UMNO of Malaysia.
A key figure in the initial move to independence, the merger with Malaysia, and then the subsequent choice to go it alone was Lee Kuan Yew. Lee had fought for union with Malaysia, believing it to be in the best interests of the tiny island city. However, 2 years later he was forced to concede that the partnership could not work.
A famous interview of the time is recorded for us…
No-one could accuse Lee of wanting a breach with Malaysia, the video is clear. But he was also a man who knew when to call it a day. When to realise that one’s partners were never going to really want to play fair. He had a love of unity, but also the wisdom to know when to reluctantly call it quits.
43 years of prosperity for Singapore is more than enough of a testimony to the rightness of his actions. Sometimes, for the sake of the people you are committed to leading, you learn when to reluctantly call it a day.
I’m of the opinion, on Singapore’s National Day, that Lee’s actions are an important encouragement for the orthodox in the Anglican Communion. There comes a day when you say “enough is enough” and, however reluctantly, you call a day to a partnership with another party who, if you’re honest, just don’t want to play fair. That, it seems to me, is the wisdom of GAFCON and, I would hope, the wisdom of those conservatives who have left the Lambeth Conference realising that TEC, the Canadian Church and other liberals will never be properly committed to the true principles of our partnership.
These are people who want to be called Anglicans but reject the doctrine of the Prayer Book and the Articles. These are people who want to be called Christians but reject orthodoxy and the authority of Scripture. We are better off without them.
The difference with Singapore, of course, is that the small island state has territorial integrity, They have boundaries that should remain untouched. The Kingdom which is not of this world, however, has no such boundaries. A reluctant declaration of independence for loyal Anglicans is not bound by such restrictions, rather any defence of the Gospel requires that we sweep such restrictions aside. They are, after all, not Biblical. We work side by side with like-minded Gospel partners, seeking to encourage them and assist them.
In this I think that the Clone is wrong. Peter, for the sake of charity and the moral high-ground, wants to call us to a moratorium on border-crossing. The problem is we’re not in the situation of Singapore in the opening of 1965. We’re beyond struggling to make this work. We’re at the point of July 1965 when it’s clear that nothing is going to work. The other party have no intention of playing ball. Taking a break will not persuade them, nor is there a moral high-ground that still needs winning.
No, on 9 August orthodox Anglicans should look to Singapore and Lee Kuan Yew and recognise when to reluctantly but sensibly call it a day. That doesn’t mean you have to sign up to GAFCON (although I’d be encouraging it). It just means that the most sensible thing is to move on.