I’m pissed off! You know, in that turning-over-the-tables, brood of vipers, kind of Jesus way. I’m pissed that so-called Christians (in name only) whipped themselves up into a half religious, half nationalistic frenzy on Sunday afternoon in response to the Korean Queer Culture Festival Pride Parade. I’m pissed that those entrusted with spiritual care are murdering our precious young queer people. I’m pissed that far too many of these so-called Christians are willingly telling lies about my queer family. And, specifically, I’m pissed tonight at a deceiving, rabid Korean pastor named Rev. Kim Kyu-Ho, secretary general of the Counter-Measures Committee on Homosexual Issues.
Kim gave an interview recently with The Korea Observer, in which nearly every single sentence is a bald-faced lie. He spread false information about queer people, about various countries, and about the Bible. I will briefly expose his lies in reverse order.
First, the Bible. Rev. Kim states that the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuals and homosexuality. Since he mentions no specific Bible passages (you’d think as a Christian pastor, what the Bible says or doesn’t say would be the most important thing to him), I can only assume he has in mind the six so-called “clobber passages” (Genesis 19; Leviticus 18:22; Leviticus 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; I Corinthians 6:9; and I Timothy 1:10). So much good, quality biblical scholarship has been done on these passages in the last 30 years, I can dispense with the fundamentalist, anti-homosexual interpretation in a paragraph.
Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19) is not about homosexuality. It is clearly about rape for the purpose of intimidation. The word translated as “abomination” (to-evah in the Hebrew) in Leviticus is a word which connotes ritual impurity or something which is taboo. It is not an ethical or moral term, and there are over 100 things in scripture referred to as “abomination,” including Egyptians eating with Hebrews (Genesis 43:32). The entire context of Romans 1 is cultic prostitution and idolatry, not loving same-sex relationships. This is clear to an elementary reader of the text as it stands. The Apostle Paul uses the confusing Greek words malakoi and arsenokoitai in Corinthians and Timothy. Biblical scholars have reached no consensus on the meanings of these words, and one of them (arsenokoitai) was coined first by Paul in the Corinthians passage. Most scholars believe they refer to pederasty and/or abusive master/slave relationships. That’s all the Bible has to say about any kind of same-sex activity, and there’s not one single condemnation of homosexual relationships as we understand them today.
So why does Pastor Kim insist on lying about the scriptures? Simple: culture and fear. It is traditional, patriarchal culture that requires fundamentalist Christians, in this country and in others, to force scripture to fit their own preconceived notions of gender conformity. They claim to cherish and respect the Bible as God’s word. Nothing could be further from the truth! They make an idol of the Bible in their own image, with their own biases, and then use it to bash queer people. They do this because certainty is more comfortable than change, and they fear nothing more than change, even if that change is required by biblical and natural evidence.
To understand the Bible, one must read it as an ancient text – which it is. This includes having an understanding of the cultural, historical and linguistic contexts of the scriptures in question. The Bible was not written yesterday in English or Korean. It was written in the ancient Near East in Aramaic, Hebrew and Greek. Sorry, Pastor Kim. If you do not understand the contexts, you do not understand the scriptures.
Pastor Kim also lies about other countries in his interview. He states, “In the Netherlands, bestiality is now legal. There are places where you can pay to have sex with dogs.” In fact, it has never been explicitly legal in the Netherlands, and has been explicitly illegal in the Netherlands since 2010. He goes on to vaguely state that “people” in Europe support incest. I’m sure there are a few in every country who support a variety of sexual activities, but this does not represent the views of said countries. If Pastor Kim would like to start cracking down on sexual immorality, perhaps he’d like to start in his own love motel-filled backyard, beginning with adultery and domestic abuse.
Finally, this so-called man of God lies about my own queer family. His “evidence” is purely anecdotal, offering the “testimonies” of a few men who claim to have become ex-gay. I can think of a thousand and one reasons why a gay man growing up in Korea might want to become straight, not least being family, social and religious bigotry and spiritual violence. But – and this is crucial – a change in behavior does not equal a change in orientation. People can change their behaviors to avoid stigmatization. But this in no way proves a change in sexual orientation is possible, and every major national and international psychological and psychiatric organization agrees.
The good pastor also seems to have an obsession with the male ass, which makes me wonder if he’s not also drawn to it. His descriptions of anal sex are far more explicit than anything I heard at this year’s Pride festival. And – surprise! – the descriptions are mostly wrong (take it from one who actually has anal sex). He even writes, “…sneezing could cause them to lose control of their bowels.” I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Who knows? Perhaps he’s also into scat. For a man so full of shit, such a fetish would not be surprising.
He also states that, “whenever a gay person sees a butt, he must have sex with it.” Speaking as a gay person, I can say with no hesitation that I am very picky about the butts I have sex with, and they are always attached to a person. This objectification of the male ass, removed from the rest of the body, is a creation of the pastor’s own making. Delving into the obsessive fascination of fundamentalists with anal sex and excretions is beyond my imaginative ability.
Another obvious lie Pastor Kim hypocritically bellows is that 70% of homosexuals have AIDS. Did he not expect a fact check? The fact of the matter is, such a statistic would require access to statistics that do not even exist. But let’s assume he’s just referring to the U.S. population. Around 9 million Americans claim to be LGBT. There’s a total of nearly 1.2 million Americans who have so far been diagnosed with AIDS (CDC. HIV Surveillance Report,2013; vol. 25. Published February 2015.) Either the pastor’s math skills are lacking or he’s an outright liar.
So, yeah, I’m pissed. I do not hesitate for one moment to call out Pastor Kim and his ilk for having queer blood on their hands. Through their propaganda and rhetoric, they destroy precious lives. And the worst is that they know exactly what they’re doing. Their fatal preaching based on such obvious falsehoods leads to death: spiritual and too often, physical. It produces a righteous anger deep within my spirit which will not allow me to idly sit back and let it go.
No, tables are going to get turned, the radical kingdom of God is going to twist things upside down, and this country is going to see the light of a new social order that accepts all people as God created them to be. Thankfully, based on his tone and stridency, I sense more than a little acknowledgment that he’s on the losing side of the battle for equity and justice for Korea’s LGBTQIA community.
Stand strong, brothers and sisters. Pastor Kim and his like will soon be a distant memory of desperation and intolerance. A new day is dawning. A queer revolution has begun. Love wins!
Gagnon, Robert. The Bible and Homosexual Practice, pg. 71; Powell, Mark Allan, Faithful Conversation: Christian Perspectives on Homosexuality, pg. 23
MacArthur, John. The MacArthur Bible Commentary, pg. 1038; Unger’s Bible Dictionary, pg. 413
Morris, Leon. The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Epistle to the Romans, pg. 89; Hodge, Charles. A Geneva Series Commentary, A Commentary on Romans, (1983 reprint) pg. 41
Plato, The Republic, 360 BC, Book III; Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 7.4.4.; Dionysius, Roman Antiquities, Book VII.9.3, p. 172; Josephus, Wars of The Jews, 7.338; Antiquities of The Jews, 5.246; 10.194.
*The opinion expressed is the authors opinion and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Korea Observer.