TheSugarBook: It’s Time To Say “NO” Again!

In October 2013, Ashley Madison tried to enter the Singapore market. Even when Mr Chan Chun Sing, then Minister for Social and Family Development, spoke against it, the openly adulterous website pressed on with its intended launch. Finally, thankfully, Ashley Madison was blocked. But was that the end of it?

Back then, I wrote in “Ashley Madison in Singapore: When Even Negative Publicity Is Great Publicity“:

I believe we will see more of Ashley Madison, or the likes of it.

Four years later, the likes of Ashley Madison has surfaced … in TheSugarbook.

Screen Shot of TheSugarBook website

Unlike Ashley Madison, TheSugarBook does not openly promote extra-marital affairs, but “a safe and discreet networking environment online”* for rich men seeking young girls, and vice versa. But, like Ashley Madison, it encourages hooking up for all the wrong reasons with absolutely no regard for its consequences.

*Wong Pei Ting: Dodgy messages and brazen requests: My 72 hours on TheSugarBook

One would have expected the government to act as it did in the case of Ashley Madison. However, whilst Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee says that the government “collectively objects” to such sites that “commoditise and devalue” relationships, they are not moving to block it at all. Instead, he says that “[t]he police will ‘keep a close eye’ on money-for-love dating platform The SugarBook as well as the individuals using its services, and will take enforcement action should there be any procurement of sexual services for payment”. Police will keep ‘close eye’ on dating platforms like TheSugarBook: Desmond Lee

It seems that the concern is more about illegal prostitution than it is about fornication, adultery, the demeaning of women, the hurting of young women’s lives, and the destruction of marriages, families and relationships.

My position remains the same as when I commented about the threat of Ashley Madison four years ago:

As Christians, we cannot and must not stay silent for we have been appointed to preserve society as salt and to shine the way of righteousness as light. We must take a stand, and at times, this calls for us to speak up and speak out against such decadent practices. This is not the time for apathy or nonchalance.

At the same time, we must protect our own marriages and families for these are under tremendous attack like never before. We must not presume that things are ok between husband and wife but instead work at strengthening and building the marital relationship. And lest you think children in Christian households are exempted from such negative influences, think again! By the time you realise that theirs is a totally different environment from what we grew up in, it might just be too late. The discipling of our children has taken on a new level of urgency. And as parents, that responsibility is squarely ours (and not the children or youth ministry’s)!

I am thankful and encouraged by those like Darius Lee who engage the public space, speaking up for what is right: Concept of ‘sugar baby’ misogynistic, demeaning towards women

Whilst I understand the reason for not blocking TheSugarDaddy, I cannot say that I agree with it entirely. As far as I am concerned, Ashley Madison and TheSugarDaddy both fall into the same category. Presently, there are more than 20,000 Singapore users (out of 75,000 so far – the target is 200,000 by June 2018). In my opinion, there should not even have been a question at all whether to block it or not.

That said, it is far too easy to expect the government to think and act on our behalf. And should anything go wrong, we just point a finger to blame. To this end, let us must not miss Mr Desmond Lee’s extremely clear signal: “At the end of the day, while we recognise that these websites undermine families and society, our best defence is for society, communities and our families to reinforce values that anchor us so that we do not succumb to such influences.”

In other words, the responsibility is squarely ours. Don’t pass the buck. When all is said and done, we make our own decisions and choices. And we must be prepared to live with the consequences of how and what we have chosen.

Sugar daddies have been around for the longest time. This is not a new thing at all. With or without TheSugarBook, these transactional relationships will continue to exist. Yet, however sweet the deal may appear to be, we must be reminded that, more and more, sugar has been identified as a major cause of ill-health, cancers and death. Yes, sugar kills.

And so …

To the young women of Singapore: You are wonderfully made, precious and loved by God the Father. You never ever need to trade your dignity and bodies for romance, attention, fame or money.

To the rich and wealthy men with lots to spare: If you really want to help younger women with financial needs, there are many other ways to do this without making use of their situation to fulfil your fantasies.

To marriages and families: Remain strong and resilient against the threats of the pressures and challenges of today’s world.

And especially to all hubbies and daddies (and that includes me too): Love your wives and daughters.

Say “NO” to TheSugarBook.

 

 

 

 

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22 Years of Music & Dance

Each time an anniversary is celebrated (or Mothers’ Day), this passage would readily come to mind:

“Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her:
‘Many daughters have done well,
But you excel them all.'” Proverbs 31:28-29

Of course, in the earlier years, this passage did not apply as fully as it does now. Our eldest will turn 19 in a month, and our youngest will be 8 tomorrow. As a wife and mother, Serene has given so much of herself to the marriage and the family.

This year, these verses came through a little differently.

Just a few days ago, we received news that a fellow homeschool mother had passed away. It was very sudden. One day Jenny was unwell, and the next day, she suffered a heart attack. She was only 62.

Last night, on the eve of our own wedding anniversary, Serene and I attended the wake service. The passage the family had picked was Proverbs 31:28-29. Jenny was a mother to eight children, all grown up now in their 20s and 30s. Jenny and her husband, Guo Nang, were homeschool pioneers.

At the wake service, they screened a video which the children had produced for their parents’ 38th Wedding Anniversary. It showed how they met and how their family grew, one child at a time. I can’t begin to imagine how her husband was feeling as he watched the video. The eldest son broke down as his wife put her arm around him to console him.

I fought to hold back tears. Yes, I felt much for Guo Nang and the children. But more than that, I couldn’t bear the thought of having the same predicament happen to me and our children. Yes, I know all the promises we have as Christians. But I would still be devastated if Serene were taken from me.

I don’t mean for this to be a morbid post as we celebrate our 22nd Wedding Anniversary today. Instead, it is a poignant reminder for us to never take each other for granted. And more specifically, for me to never take Serene for granted.

However and wherever the Lord has led me, Serene has fully supported me every step of the way. When I first received the call (2000) to go into full-time ministry, Serene was ready. When I finally stepped out (2004) to be a bible school student, Serene was with me. When I took on the challenge to lead a school of ministry (2007), Serene bore the load of looking after the little ones. When I accepted the role of being a pastor (2008), Serene accepted that there would be nights and weekends she had to soldier on without me. When I left everything to start Archippus Awakening (2014), Serene stood squarely behind me, recognising that pioneering work would be tough and demanding. Through it all, Serene continues to watch over the needs of the children and the task of homeschooling.

Thank you, Serene. I am sorry for the times I have neglected you and taken you for granted. I appreciate you and everything you have done and are doing for me and the children. I love you and I thank God for you. I declare Proverbs 31:28-29 over you. At the same time, I have also experienced the truth of Proverbs 19:14 in you:

“Houses and riches are an inheritance from fathers,
But a prudent wife is from the Lord.” Proverbs 19:14

Thank you for 22 wonderful years! God willing, we will get to celebrate many, many, many more years of Music & Dance together as the Lord allows us, by His grace. Blessed 22nd Anniversary!

Marking 20 Years of Being Together

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I would like to write something as we celebrate our 20th Wedding Anniversary today. But really, I am at quite a loss for words. I can’t really describe what’s going on in my heart. I just feel a great sense of appreciation and gratitude towards Serene.

20 years is indeed a milestone in our relationship as man and wife. For sure, nothing is to be taken for granted and each moment we spend together is truly a gift from God, our Heavenly Father.

As I look back, I marvel at how the Lord brought us together … two people from very different backgrounds with very different interests. And yet, by His grace, our journey with one another has been one of new discoveries every step of the way. Who would have thought that we would one day be a couple in ministry? Who would have guessed that we would become a homeschooling family? Who would have imagined us having seven children?! Truly, with man, it is impossible; but with God, all things are possible 🙂 [Read “18th Wedding Anniversary: Music & Dance Wedding Video”]

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On this day, I give thanks and praise to God for Serene, for 20 years of His faithfulness in our marriage. I know that Jesus is to be my everything and my sufficiency (and He is), but I will be very honest to say that I cannot imagine life without Serene. She has been such a pillar of strength for me amidst the many things she has to look out for as a homeschool stay-at-home mother of seven children. Although the work of the ministry requires me to spend hours away from her and the family, since the Lord issued this full-time call to me way back in 2000, she has been 100% supportive. Serene may not be able to be with me physically all the time but there is never any doubt that she is with me, praying for me and fully behind me in whatever the Lord calls us to.

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My prayer is that our marriage will continue to grow, blossom and mature. We want our relationship to be an encouragement and a blessing to others. Above all, it is our desire that ultimately, our marriage and family life will always point to Jesus, to bring Him glory and to direct many others to Him and His kingdom.

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Blessed 20th Anniversary, Serene! Thank you for your love and support. I love you so very much! Without doubt, he who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favour from the Lord (Proverbs 18:22). Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all (Proverbs 31:29).

Read Serene’s blogpost on Building Up Moms: 20th Anniversary

A Marriage Seminar on Valentine’s Day

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It was meaningful that a marriage seminar should be held on Valentine’s Day. As such, I was so encouraged by the 66 who chose to spend that special day with us. “Building Marriages on the Rock” started at 9am and promptly ended by 3pm – leaving the couples time to rest and go for their romantic dinners 🙂

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As always, after the teaching sessions, I would lead couples in a time of forgiving one another. Thereafter, they would pray together, seeking the Lord’s enablement to build their marriages on the Rock of Jesus Christ that each would bring Him glory and honour. This, really, is my favourite part. For most of us, we don’t take time to acknowledge our faults and to seek our spouse’s forgiveness. It was such a tender moment, but so beautiful. You can sense the slight discomfort but at the end, tears flow as words are exchanged, followed by hugs.

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Significantly, this year, Serene and I would celebrate our 20th Wedding Anniversary on 11 March. About two years ago, I had written in my journal my intention to offer “Building Marriages on the Rock” as part of our anniversary celebrations. Although I had forgotten that little journal entry, God didn’t. It was only when Roslyn of TPMC invited me to conduct this at her church that I remembered. This is not to say that Serene and I have a perfect marriage. We are just so thankful for the opportunity to share our lives with others that they may be encouraged and to know that we all serve a good and faithful God!

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With Roslyn & Jerome of Toa Payoh Methodist Church

 

Here are some comments from the participants:

“The session was very insightful for us as newly engaged couple. As Christians, we definitely benefited from a Christian authority figure, Henson has both reinforced our Christian beliefs as well as clarified our roles as husband and wife in future. One such example is the role of a wife to be submissive, we always thought it was granted that a wife should be submissive but we learnt that submissive-ness is an attitude, not a role. And we can only achieve this by allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us. We’ve also been further strengthened in our conviction by Henson’s passion for Christ. We cannot be worldly and Christ-like at the same time. Christ must be the only one we looked to in our marriage and our lives!” Nick & Michelle

“Thank you for the wonderful seminar! Indeed there are several things I am reminded of and several I have neglected. Yet there are several which I have deliberately ignored :/ I especially like the way you talk about God’s purpose in marriage. The marriage is not just between my husband and I but it is with God! And to glorify Him in our union!” Jaime Hang

“Desmond and I have been married for 10 years. Sometimes, when we attend such courses, people think we are facing problems that’s why we are going for courses to get help. :-I I think this workshop is for all married couples, especially those who are having it good and want to make it better. Many times, I realise those really having problems will not want to get help, and those who have been married for a number of years think they know it all, know what makes things tick and there is nothing with their marriage they need to fix. But more often than not, their relationship have stagnated and become functional and they are actually too shy to attend workshop on marriage with their spouse. They are ok with parenting workshops though 🙂 One important takeaway is that the husband is the leader and the wife is the helper. Actually, we know that already. Its the putting it to practice! I think most chinese couples have the tiger mum and the tiger wife syndrome, (I am not so bad really 🙂 🙂 ) so the wife ends up leading and the husband just lets the wife be, to avoid a bigger mess. We promise to remember and apply this and also to walk together in our christian walk, and also lead our children. What we have been doing is that I have my own relationship with God and Desmond has his own relationship with God. I am so glad that this workshop has helped us realise that we, as a couple, must have a relationship together with God too.” Desmond & Teresa

“I like the bible verses which support every point discussed. They are appropriate and have weightage. Afterall they are God’s word. It is not that we don’t know them. It is just that I didn’t measure up to it. I do see my ‘fault lines’ which were glaring to myself. So yes I see the plank in my own eyes. It is a timely reminder for me to learn to be submissive and to recognise my role as a wife. There are many times I fall short of the marriage covenant. Today’s session is very relevant in many aspect of my marriage journey. When Henson recited the marriage vows, it brought me back in time – 15 yrs ago. ‘Ya Hor’ I did say those words in my ‘glorious wedding’ in front of God, my family and friends. Then I realized that “hey, how come I didn’t ‘tahan’ when put to the test? The course set me thinking, align my thoughts back to God’s – lest I forget what I declared before … my solemn vows. The last part of the session touches my emotion and being. To hear my husband and myself seeking forgiveness for our shortcomings is good for our souls. Immediately we forgave one another on the spot.” Li Hwa

Club Med Bintan Hat Trick: 20th Anniversary Getaway 3-6 Mar 2015

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How do you have a 20th wedding anniversary getaway with seven children in tow?

I know many couples would readily leave their children at home or deposit them with parents or in-laws while they head off to some romantic escapade alone. Well, Serene and I don’t think we are ready to do just that so we had to take the entire tribe into consideration.

From past experience, Club Med seemed like a good plan – one price with everything (almost) thrown in. Having been to Club Med Bintan twice, we considered Club Med Cherating (Malaysia) and Phuket (Thailand). And since we didn’t want to spend too much time travelling, we finally opted for safe and familiar Club Med Bintan again (we are not very adventurous – haha!).

This time, we got up early to catch the 9:10am ferry from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal, reaching Bintan 55mins later, at 9:05am (local time). By 10am+, we were checked into our four rooms! How’s that for efficiency?

The next three days plus, we took our time and enjoyed the facilities. To our surprise, the club was fairly empty. There were no crowds to jostle with at all. That was a real bonus for us at the flying trapeze. We were the only ones there and that enabled us multiple practice swings. My personal achievement was doing the knee-hang catch!

Serene and I had our moments together, enjoying each other’s company amidst spending time with our children. Although it was to be a wedding anniversary getaway, there was no fanfare to mark it. All we had was a simple cake, compliments of Club Med, and some beautiful pictures to remember the occasion by.

It was a short vacation, quite unexpected, actually. But all in, everyone had a good time, great fun and lots of sun. After three visits to Club Med Bintan, the younger ones are still eager to go back again; not too sure about the older children though. Perhaps, if we have another opportunity in the future, we will be more adventurous and visit another Club Med village … Club Med Mauritius, perhaps?

Building Marriages on the Rock: Saturday 14 Feb at Toa Payoh Methodist Church

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At the invitation of Toa Payoh Methodist Church, I have another opportunity to share “Building Marriages on the Rock” again; on Valentine’s Day, how apt! Not only that, this year, Serene and I celebrate our 20th Wedding Anniversary 🙂

Here are some comments after I taught across three weekends at Full Gospel Assembly:

“”Building Marriages on the Rock” was very helpful for my husband and I, as newlyweds. It reminded us of the many things we learnt at our premarital course. Lesson points preached over the three weekends should be taught over and over again, even to couples who are married for decades, because these are things that people tend to lose sight of. We forget what God’s design and purpose for marriage is and become more concern about how or what I could gain from the marriage. I was especially encouraged to think about the specific purpose of my marriage and inspired to paint a bigger (and ever growing) picture to include the church family (and all that belongs to Him). Henson lives out what it means to be the head of the union and we were so blessed to have him come share with us how this beautiful blessing is for everyone!” Evie Tham

“The sermon series, “Building Marriages on the Rock” was one of the best series I’ve heard on the subject of marriage.  The messages were well put together and Rev Henson presented very clearly the biblical view of marriage, God’s design and purpose for marriage and the roles of husband and wife.  I was challenged when he shared about the wife’s role as a helper to her husband.  The most powerful part for me was when the altar call was made for husbands and wives to come forward to renew their vows and ask each other for forgiveness.  When the busyness of life takes over especially when kids are added to the family, it is so easy to slip into the task mode and lose the intimacy as husband and wife.  When we came forward and Rev Henson led us to renew our vows, we felt the Holy Spirit rekindle and strengthen our love once again. That was a God moment that I would never forget.” Angeline Lim-Sundram

“The “Building Marriages on the Rock” series is one of the most inspiring and anointed teaching on marriage we have ever heard. It was scripture-based, clear, applicable, anointed and deeply insightful. As a husband, I was particularly struck about the segment about the role of a husband – that he was to be joined to his wife. That the man should take the lead/ initiative in going towards his wife – be it in conflict resolution, making decisions etc. I was also deeply moved by the covenantal picture of marriage – that our marriage is a covenant not unlike the covenant that God keeps with his people. Huge implications indeed. It has spurred me to think of what lengths am I going to to keep this covenant relationship strong!!” Jay Tan

“Having both grown up in church, ideas around what biblical or godly marriage looks like was not foreign to my fiancee Rachel and I. But we’re also a couple that believes God is always doing a new work and bringing a new word, and He’s never done with us. Some thoughts that spoke to us during this season, especially while we were planning for our wedding and married life together, included: The idea of a three-fold cord not being easily broken. It was a powerful picture of the beautiful meshing of three (God-woman, God-man, man-woman) relationships as well as the visual analogy of three threads being plaid together, and a great reminder that it is paramount for a husband and wife to prioritize their individual love relationships with the Lord alongside their relationship with each other. One other thing that struck me was the idea of a man leaving his father and mother and transitioning into his own position as leader of a new family and responsibilities to his wife. I believe anyone in this transition will face similar challenges that require navigating, both with self and with his parents, as a man “breaks away” from the previous family and all that comes with it in this very necessary and God-ordained process. The sharing from Building Marriages on the Rock gave me hope and deposited a very freeing word in my heart, giving me comfort that though it was a tough thing to navigate around, that these were necessary processes of change and that there was a growth process God was taking myself and my parents through. We truly serve a God who promises in His word that all things work together for good!” Dalton & Rachel

TPMC Building Marriages on the Rock

If you’d like to attend this seminar on Saturday 14 February 9am – 3pm, please register directly with Roslyn Sim of TPMC (email: roslyn.sim@tpmc.org.sg). Feel free to share this with other couples too.

Thanks for praying for me as I prepare to share on this very critical issue. Today, more than ever, the institution of marriage is under tremendous attack. Sadly, Christian marriages are not exempt from the pressures of life and the many distractions that contribute to pull couples apart. For sure, it’s not just tips and tricks we need to get by. We need to return to God’s original design and purpose for marriage that we may fully understand our roles, firmly grounded on the Rock of Jesus Christ. Amen!

Half-Boiled Eggs and Coffee Served With Love

It was a simple gesture this morning but one that meant so much. Although my wife was preparing to leave for some errands, Serene made the extra effort to fix me breakfast. Nothing elaborate, just my usual request for half-boiled eggs and coffee. But it meant a lot.

Not everyone may understand the amount of work Serene has, but I do. Managing a household of our size is really not easy. It is no wonder many impose the title of “supermom” onto Serene, one which she absolutely detests. If anyone has her hands full, it is Serene. Eggs and coffee may not seem like much to some, but to me, it means the world when served with love and sacrifice by my wife.

Henson & Serene Club Med Bintan

Meals aside, I am so thankful for Serene’s support in the ministry. If anyone would appreciate her husband to be around more, I believe my wife would like that. But given the nature of ministry, where engagements are usually at night or over the weekends, this is not always possible. And so, Serene adjusts and makes do with whatever she has, knowing that her sacrifice is really for our Lord Jesus Christ and His Kingdom. Because of her absence from the ministry front lines, given our large family size and additional household demands, some have even remarked that my wife is not with me in ministry, That cannot be further from the truth! Serene is 100% with me, supporting and encouraging me in ways that many don’t see and few can understand.

What I am most thankful for is that Serene and I are able to come together to pray. I never take this for granted at all! Whenever I ask couples if they pray together, the answer is usually, “No.” Truly, it is wonderful that we can share our concerns and struggles with each other, and then proceed to pray with and for one another, as well as for our family and ministry. Through prayer, we openly acknowledge that Jesus is Lord of our lives, our family and our ministry. In that, we do not struggle alone regardless the challenges that come our way. The Lord is with us and will see us through. He has done that before and He will do it again!

Well, this simple post started with eggs and coffee. I didn’t intend to write so much but each time I think about how the Lord has blessed me with and through Serene, I am filled with joy and gratitude. What can I say? I love my wife! And I never cease to give thanks to the Lord for her!

Visit Serene’s weblog, Building Up Moms, for articles and posts to encourage moms and wives.

Related Post: Appreciating My Wife