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.