It All Stems From Religion

I think it is interesting to examine the issue of sexuality during the 1800s, when religion was such an integral part of the majority of people’s lives. Throughout history, what have been central to many people’s arguments involving sexuality are the moral issues that arise when one chooses and alternative lifestyle.  Most of the world’s major religions regard the traditional model of sexuality to be the “correct” model.  This is where a man and a woman are attracted to each other, wed, and procreate.  To my knowledge, there is little to no mentioning in the Torah, Bible, or the Koran of homosexuality, males choosing to lead lives as females, and vice versa.

We are able to see in the article about Yun Ch’i-ho, one of Warren Candler’s confidants and the leader of the Methodist Episcopal Church’s missionary work in Korea, how prejudices, often fueled by religion, made such a respected man feel insecure and self-concisous in his position at the University.  As we all know from our country’s long history, race has been key to the majority of hate that is demonstrated.  Often times, many people felt that their hate toward minorities was justified because they were preached these types of ideals in a religious setting.  Yun expressed in his diary how he had to “sit in Church and hear a missionary lecture about the barbaric habits of Asians, lamenting that the white women he met in Oxford would never have him as a husband, or pondering if the Korean people might perish in a racial “survival of the fittest,” race.”  As mentioned in a previous post and in line with the racial prejudices of the time, Yun tells the story of M.T. Cleckley, who was dismissed from Emory because he was found in bed with a negro woman.

Yun’s diaries reveal how his insecurity about his race plagued his thoughts at all times.  Yun felt that he would never deserve to be at the side of a white woman, even though he comments on end about how beautiful and dazzled he is by their appearance.  One of the most painful stings came from his best friend Warren’s wife, Nettie Candler, who condemned him for thinking about having relations with white females because he was Korean.  Yun seems shocked by her words, as he felt that she would treat him as a Christian equal.

The fact that Yun was such a prominent figure in the missionary movement in the late 1800s yet was still discriminated against because of his ethnicity shows how powerful the ideals of religion can be.  We see in today’s society that the majority of hot topic debates all stem from some sort of religious concern.  Therefore, although society is definitely more open now to the idea of non-traditional forms of sexuality, I think it will take a substantial amount of time for the stigma that religion has attached to these issues to be completely eliminated.  Religion is the most powerful thing in many people’s lives, and it is controversial, but safe to say, that is has hindered a lot of progressive movements in the world.

 

5 thoughts on “It All Stems From Religion

  1. Where I agree that religion does have a lot to do with what society believes is “correct” way of experiencing sexuality, I disagree that religion was the reason that Yun Ch’i-Ho was discriminated against. Being such a prominent figure of the missionary movement entitled him to the same religious freedoms as others who practiced Christianity. I think the fact that the late nineteenth century still held on to a fierce sense of racism towards African Americans enforced the traditional roles of whites being the highest class in Amercian society. Nevertheless, religion does inhibit different types of sexuality.

    Leviticus 18:22 “You shall not lie with a man as a woman. It is an abomination.”

  2. I quickly got 2 quotes from the Torah and Bible about homosexuality. The Baha’i faith also, from what I remember as a youngster, has mention on homosexuality.

    Torah: [A man] shall not lie with another man as [he would] with a woman, it is a to’eva” (Leviticus 18:22).

    Bible: “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground. (Genesis 1:28)

    • I should have clarified, I meant that biblical texts have quotes condoning homosexuality, only passages that prohibit it. Not too sure what the second one means….

  3. I agree, religion plays a big role. But in the south I still feel like anything that makes you too different is bad. Obviously Georgia is the buckle of the bible belt but, a black Christian will get just as bad a treatment as a black Muslim. I do think his actual affection with white women was all subconscious. He wanted to be just like the white people that were not being persecuted. Eventually I think as he got older he grew to appreciate beauty outside of race. But yes religion plays an IMMENSE role.

  4. theblock: Early in your post you say, “Throughout history, what have been central to many people’s arguments involving sexuality are the moral issues that arise when one chooses and alternative lifestyle.” What lifestyles are you speaking of specifically, and what are they alternative to? Also at the end of your post you say “Religion is the most powerful thing in many people’s lives, and it is controversial, but safe to say, that is has hindered a lot of progressive movements in the world.” While I think religion can be used for evil ( as it was to maintain the institution of slavery and keep Blacks subservient to their white masters), I also think religion can provide support, faith, community and love for a lot of people. And there are many progressive churches, temples, mosques. Here is a link to the local UU church: http://www.uuca.org/newcomers/what-is-unitarian-universalism/our-purposes-principles

    And just for fun, here is a link to a slide show about other things to be avoided if you are following the word of the Bible:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/07/13-things-the-bible-forbids_n_1327701.html#slide=656363

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