I’ve had a couple people comment on my recent Facebook post regarding my response to the hookup scene in Master of None. I’ve appreciated the thoughtful comments. I recognize that some of my peers hold different opinions regarding sexuality than I do, and look forward to learning more from others. Some of my response is based on a lack of familiarity with this topic, so I enjoy hearing from others.
I also recognize that my response is based on a specific theology regarding sexuality. At some point, I would like to share my perspective on this topic, as I hope that it would be helpful to understand the perspective of myself and others of my theological community.
However, I know that some individuals have been deeply hurt by Christians in this area of their lives. Individuals who have been excoriated, ridiculed, even threatened by people of faith. Individuals who see Christians not as people of mercy and love, but as people of judgment and hatred. Please note that I can only speak to the response of Christians; I cannot claim to speak about individuals’ experiences with people of other religions.
But I remember the stories of Jesus in the Gospels. I remember the story of him caring for a young woman who had had multiple husbands, and was living with a man who was not her husband. I remember the story of him receiving the adoration of a woman living in sin, as she washed his feet with her tears and anointed them with oil. I remember his mercy for a woman caught in adultery.
To be clear, Jesus did not compromise on his virtues. He told these women that what they were doing was wrong, that the paths they had chosen were paths of sin, not paths to life and fulfillment. But Jesus did not wield his virtues as a hammer to shape people to be worthy of his love. His love shaped transformation in their lives, so that they submitted to his virtues. His kindness led them to repentance. He called them to change, not so that they could earn his love, but through his love.
Now, I know some may say that a casual sexual hookup is not a sinful act. That is a theological point that merits serious discussion, and I may touch on that in another post. For now, I will simply say that Jesus referred to sin as sickness. He responded to sickness with compassion and care, not hatred and alienation. I pray that I become a person to whom broken people can turn for healing and restoration. I pray that I do not react to brokenness out of fear and ignorance, but with a desire for understanding and patience. I pray that I carry my beliefs not as a weapon, but as an invitation into something wonderful.
I remember a conversation I had with a friend about the internment camps for Japanese people during World War II. My friend is Japanese-American. Her family has lived in the US for generations. Her grandmother was living in California when the Japanese army bombed Pearl Harbor. Her grandmother’s family was taken to a camp somewhere in the desert. They left their house, which her great-grandfather had worked so hard to buy. They left their clothes, their possessions, their business. When the war ended and they returned home, everything was gone. Before the internment, her grandmother’s family had a decent living. Now everything was taken from them. Even now, decades later, her grandmother still harbors some bitterness toward the U.S. government for what it did.
Could something like this happen again? I hope not. But as a Korean American, I wonder. What if North Korea declares war on the U.S.? Would I and other Korean Americans face terrible consequences? Would my family be forced to give up our home, our possessions, our community?
Some would say that such a situation would never happen, since South Korea is such a strong ally of the U.S. I certainly hope that is true.
Speaking of allies, the U.S. has strong connections with countries in South and Southeast Asia, such as Indonesia, India, and Bangladesh. These countries are important economic and diplomatic partners with the U.S. They are also the countries with the largest Muslim populations in the world. I wonder what would happen if the U.S. were to block Muslims from coming here. I can’t imagine the Indonesian government would be happy that we banned 204 million of its citizens from visiting the U.S.
Last Friday, I met up with a law school friend for lunch. As we waited for another friend to join us, we chatted a bit about the weekend. Then he said “So how many finals do you have?”
I paused, then said “You know what? Let’s talk about something else. People ask that question all the time during finals. I know what they really mean is ‘How stressed out are you?’ The number of finals is meant as a measure for stress and work. But that’s not interesting to me. Let’s talk about something interesting. What are you looking forward to for winter break?”
We then had a lovely conversation about his plans to visit his brother-in-law in Texas.
It’s finals week right now, and people are working hard. Some are stressing out. Finals is on everyone’s minds. There’s no need to stress each other out more.
So if you ask me “How many finals do you have?” I will probably say “Let’s talk about something interesting. What’s one thing you learned from the class? What surprised you? What are you hoping for during winter break?”