AnonymousDeleted UserDecember 11, 2020 at 2:46 am
When reading Randy Woodley’s piece on mission and the cultural other, it brought to mind many memories or stories of my experiences of missionaries or Euro-American Christians that were reflective of issues or themes he presented. One that stuck in my mind was the pastor of my church in Taipei who lived and served here for almost ten years and never bothered to learn Chinese.
Between reading Mihee Kim-Kort’s work and then considering it’s connection to Woodley’s, I thought about how about six or eight years ago, as I began to talk about the issue of “homosexuality” or bridging conversations of faith and sexuality within the church, I was struck by how unwilling and obstinate many Christians were to even learn about the people, culture, and language of LGBTQ communities, yet had such a persistent expectation of submission. They would often use very offensive terms, and had never bothered to learn how, what, and why LGBTQ people use certain words to describe themselves or not. I think I knew at the time that for many straight heterosexual Christians that their interactions with members of the LGBTQ community were out of a desire to colonize, convert, and dominate them in terms of power rather than one of equality while some did come from a place of compassion and humanization. My experiences as both a person of color and a queer person in the church has faced so much of this dehumanization—my otherness, my difference was treated as an example of my barbarism or savagery and the work of Christianizing me or missions work was to “civilize” me into Euro-American culture as opposed to as an equal or sister in Christ (I would only become such an equal once I learned to assimilate and cast away my otherness). To this day I still meet many Christians who find my posture disgusting or an abomination, whether it is my belief that I am not inherently better, more powerful or entitled since I am a Christian than those they perceive as the other, and when I refuse to claim some sense of superiority, I become that other.
In regards to Kim-Kort’s reflections on promiscuity, I think that my willingness and proximity to those who many consider promiscuous is perceived as “rubbing off on me” or a reflection of my own personal promiscuity, a mark I wear proudly since I think it is reflective of the Jesus Christ that I serve and follow. My old college minister used to say that the early Christians were considered promiscuous with their love and grace and chaste with their sexual bodies. While I challenge the use of this binarism and the implications of chastity and promiscuity in this context, I do appreciate this illustration and image for its ability to challenge us in our current purity culture context.