REPORT: Christianity and Sexual Minorities

CGS staff member

【The full text of this article has been deleted at the writer's request. The following is the same as the article that appears in the sixth issue of the CGS Newsletter.】

The CGS guest speaker in March, lesbian pastor Rev. Yuri Horie, has been engaged in issues of homosexuality, both within and outside the church. She warned that the church could indeed create hotbeds of homophobia. One factor that forms homophobia is the mind-set that reduces one’s coming-out, a manifestation of one’s identity, to merely ‘a confession of sexual conduct.’

Thus, sexual minorities are victimized, as they are perceived only from the viewpoint of sexuality, never as individuals who are as comprehensive and complicated as heterosexuals. What the church really needs is hands-on, on-the-spot theology which welcomes everyone regardless of their sexuality, not a series of heterosexual and male chauvinistic theological debates that ignore the cries of individuals. Consequently, Rev. Horie proposed that the church should shift its traditional paradigm from ‘how the church sees homosexuals’ to ‘how homosexuals see the church.’ In order for sexual minorities to ‘claim back their voices,’ she introduced the multiple interpretations advocated by queer biblical reading, to replace the so-called ‘verbal inspiration of the Bible,’ mainly adopted by Christian fundamentalists. Yet, biblical interpretations are always subject to time constraints, and are inevitably influenced by the viewpoint of an interpreter. Then, how do we come to terms with this ambiguity? How do we bring our deeds into line with our faith? Pondering on these questions that Rev. Horie provoked in me, I became keenly aware that the church is urgently pressed to deconstruct and reorganize itself. Rev. Horie, however, specifically avoided any comments that would represent the whole homosexual community. In terms of the deeply ingrained values of heterosexualism and male chauvinism in our society, Rev. Horie referred to the position of herself and other lesbians as ‘lesbian invisibility,’ doubly deprived of power not only because of their sexuality but also their gender. It is precisely because of this invisibility that lesbians in the church find themselves in even more desperate straits. In Japanese society, which implicitly expects its citizens to be ‘male' and ‘heterosexual,’ what Adrienne Rich calls the ‘lesbian existence’ is alienated from both of the categories, an identity torn between the axes of gender and sexuality. As Rev. Horie insisted in her lectures, the church, which blesses only heterosexual couples for the sake of lifelong monogamy and reproduction, is even more firmly closed to lesbians than our society is.