More Than Serving Tea


To Be a Gracious But Angry Christian Asian American Woman

I’m trying not to let all of this Deadly Viper stuff emotionally hijack me. Writing helps. Talking with “Kathy Khang husband” helps (btw, that is exactly the search engine term someone used). Praying helps.

I’m trying to muster up the courage to say something else about a situation that is already heated and complex without blind-siding anyone else, without derailing what could be a conversation in the making about the racial, ethnic and faith issues at hand, without sounding too angry, bitter, or in need of inner healing.

But can someone please tell me why pink frosted cupcakes, salads, Richard Simmons and pink Smart cars are girly which is code for “not manly” or akin to being wimps and wussies, which clearly are not adjectives any real man would want used to describe men?

Deadly Viper is NOT the first, last or only leadership development that uses what some would call a hyper-masculinity to appeal to men and their leadership. There are several male pastors who are calling out for men to be warriors, man-up, go to battle, etc. There is a shift in some circles arguing that the feminization of the Church is why men are failing to lead. Jesus as manly man.

But I make the connection here in the middle of all of this talk about culture, race, ethnicity and pain because it is in these conversations I often feel like I’m choosing first to be Christian Asian American and put the “Woman” on hold. It feels too complicated to simultaneously engage people across the divide in a conversation about racial stereotypes AND gender stereotypes. I don’t want my Asian American experience to be defined by ninja warriors, but the message here is so much more nuanced because there are parts of my Christian and Asian and American culture that try to silence my leadership.

Women and men are different. Yes! How can we speak respectfully of those differences, learn from one another and affirm one another without resorting to one of the worst insults a boy can throw at another boy at the playground: “You throw/hit/punch/run/laugh/cry like a girl”?

Just last week I heard a few men at the bowling alley ask me if I had a french maid costume for Halloween. Was that a man being a man in his public man-cave? If those men were just being stupid, isn’t it possible that all of this talk and imagery about real men versus chickified church boys could add unnecessary fuel to the fire?

I’m struggling here.  I am the mother of an amazing daughter and two amazing sons. This isn’t me ranting. I am feeling deeply the brokenness of our world as my kids sleep soundly tonight. How will the church lead in teaching both my daughter and my sons to be strong, effective, compassionate, gracious, courageous leaders? Can we do it without making fun of one another, without Kung Fu warriors fighting off pink cupcakes or salads?

Is anyone else bothered by this hyper-masculinity? Am I being too sensitive?


“The Talk”

I’m not really sure how it happened, but over the past few years I have become the “sex talk” speaker. One month last year I was speaking to four different college groups – all four talks were on the subject of sexuality. By the third talk I was working completely without notes, and by the end of the fourth talk I was tired of talking about sex.

I’ve been asked all sorts of questions by college students who want honest answers about sex and sexuality. Yes, many of these students are Christians. No, not all college students are having sex. Yes, many are or at least towing a very fine line. Yes, some of “those” students are Christians. There is a hunger and need out there for biblical teaching that goes beyond “don’t have premarital sex” or “stay pure until marriage”. Scaring people into chastity doesn’t work because not everyone feels guilty enough to stop having premarital sex. Guilt shouldn’t be the basis for the Church teaching chastity. Truth, discipline and worship should be the basis.

So, I really don’t have a problem talking about sex, sexuality, dating, relationships, etc. The challenge is now it’s time to talk with my own daughter. She has become a young woman before my own eyes. She has long shed the cute little summer dresses I picked out for layered tank tops and shorts that are almost too short she has picked out and bought with her own money. And when I look at her walk off with her friends what I really want to say is, “Don’t have sex. Don’t date until you’re at least a junior in high school. Don’t waste your time pining over boys until they are closer to being men. And mommy and daddy really love you so that’s why we’re locking you up in this tower until you’re 21.”

My parents never had the sex talk with me…unless you count the brief conversation I had with my mother after I returned from my honeymoon. (I wrote about this in More Than Serving Tea.) My mother spoke to me in Korean, just in case Peter happened to wander by, and gave me one piece of advice for the boudoir: KyoungAh, men and women are different. Men need it more. 

Yup. That was it. 

My sister, my father and I were having lunch a few months ago, and my dad swore that he and my mom had given us a set of books to teach us about the birds and the bees. My sister and I couldn’t stop laughing. We knew about the books only because we had found them in a bookcase we weren’t supposed to be looking through.  We were never given the books but we did look through them. I can’t say the books cleared up any questions we may have had, but thanks to time in the junior high locker room I heard a lot more than I really wanted to.

So, I feel a bit like a family pioneer charting new territory. Anyone out there have any sage advice or book suggestions? I’m being very serious here. I do not want to abdicate responsibility for these conversations to the school health curriculum. I want my children will have a healthier, fuller understanding of God’s gift of sexuality and sex than I did. What do you wish you had heard from your parents or understood about sex and sexuality?