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The attempt of gay men to merge their Catholicism
with homosexuality has always seemed to me touching but doomed. I used to walk past the church on Sixteenth
Street in New York where I knew Dignity – an organization for gay Catholics –
was meeting, but I never went in. I
felt sorry for the men inside, sympathetic to their attempt, and superior to
what seemed to me their naiveté. Don’t
even try, I thought, as I walked past, on the way from the gym to the bath (my
new church), you’re just kidding yourselves.
There can be no commerce between, no conflation of, these two
things. Fellatio has nothing to do with
Holy Communion. Better to frankly admit
that you have changed gods, and are now worshipping Priapus, not Christ.[i]
Naturally the gay Christian movement looks so appealing
to the woman or man struggling with homosexuality. It offers them acceptance and understanding that they may never
have found in congregations adhering to orthodox Christian truths. In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, the Scripture states:
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching,
rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may
be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
in the same letter to Timothy, Paul exhorts us:
…I give you this
charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct,
rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put
up with sound doctrine. Instead, to
suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers
to say what their itching ears want to hear.
They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
(2 Timothy 4:1-4)
term “cult” really came to many people’s attention for the first time with the
Jonestown Mass Suicide (913 people), in November 1978. Time
magazine told the story of the “cult of death,” about a man named Jim Jones,
who had begun as a proclaimed Christian minister in Indiana. He came to San Francisco and like the
Gnostics Marcion and Simon Magus, set himself up as the voice of God on
earth. Then he started what he called
“The People’s Temple” and eventually led his followers to Guyana in South
America. One wonders how this could
happen. Dr. Ron Carlson and Ed Decker
offer this warning:
The commander of the
U.S. forces who was responsible for going to Jonestown, cleaning the camp out,
and bringing the bodies back for burial was a Christian. When he returned with the bodies to Dover
Air Force Base he held a press conference.
We’ll never forget one of the things he said: ‘The thing that interested
me most about Jonestown is that when we cleaned the camp out, we did not find a
single Bible in all of Jonestown. Jim
Jones had so effectively replaced the Bible with his own man-made teaching and
theology, he had so convinced those people that he was God’s voice on earth,
that when he told them to drink poison, they did it.’[ii]
Rhodes, author of The Culting of America
makes a good observation on the draw of cults:
A person does not
usually join a cult because he has done an exhaustive analysis of world
religions and has decided that a particular cult presents the best theology
available. Instead, a person generally
joins a cult because he has problems that he is having trouble solving, and the
cult promises to solve these problems.[iii]
cults are religious organizations or movements that claim to be Christian and
claim to believe in the Bible, but instead of building their theology and
teaching on God’s Word - the Bible, they claim some “new revelation” or
man-made teaching as superior to the Bible.
By interpreting the Bible through the grid of their particular
revelation or teaching, these movements and churches end up denying central
doctrines of historic, orthodox, biblical Christianity. The key perversions of the cults always
relate to the central issues of theology, specifically the doctrines of God,
Jesus Christ, and salvation. For
example, the “non-divinity” of Jesus Christ is often an open or hidden tenet in
Psuedo-Christian organizations. These
groups are considered cults because they seek to counterfeit biblical
Christianity. Counterfeits deceive by
their outward appearance. Like counterfeit
money, the cults want to look and sound like the genuine thing without having
their bogus nature detected. Such
cults use Christian terminology to sound Christian, but then redefine the terms
to fit their own man-made theology. The
pseudo-Christian cults have essentially emptied biblical Christianity of all of
its content theologically. They have
replaced the content with a perverted theology of their own making, and then
sprayed it over with Christian words and terminology to make it look and sound
and religious scholar, Reverend Dr. William Johnson, explains some of his
reasons for believing in queer Christian theology:
…we need to
acknowledge that the Gospel writers and the missionary Paul did not possess the
psychological, sociological, and sexological knowledge which now inform our
theological reflections about human sexuality….We know that homosexuality is
part of the created order, same-gender sex acts having been observed in a
multitude of species from sea gulls to porcupines.[v]
One of the legacies of
the Protestant tradition is the conviction that each of us has the freedom to
evolve spiritually and to nurture our own biblical understanding and
theology….Jesus proclaimed the imperative of fundamental equality of women and
men and illuminated the primacy of love and forgiveness in sexual and all other
matters. He was clearly not an ascetic,
being known for his drinking and acquaintance with persons from every strata of
In our visibility, we
are also personifying the viability of our Christian faith. Our lives give evidence that the ‘argument
from scripture’ historically used to condemn homosexuality is a smokescreen for
prejudice. It is, in fact, an ‘argument
from homophobia’ that justifies itself through an intellectually dishonest
abuse of scripture.
to Joe Dallas, author of A Strong
Delusion: Confronting the “Gay Christian” Movement, the body of Christ will
suffer immeasurably because sound doctrine – and even the Bible itself – will
have to be taken less seriously if pro-gay theology is widely accepted. He writes:
You cannot tamper with
one part of Scripture (in this case, a very significant part) without
dismantling its authority in general.
And when the authority of the Bible is denigrated, the church of Jesus
Christ, the light of the world, will be without clear guidance of its own. When I belonged to Metropolitan Community
Church (MCC) I saw this dilemma firsthand…One minister wrote in the MCC’s official
publication that it was idolatry to worship Jesus as God. Another stated in print her discomfort with
the cross, implying a link between references to the blood of Christ and
sadomasochism. And on at least one
occasion I spoke with a pastor who said he wasn’t sure what being born again meant,
so he had no intention of encouraging people to do it.
When conservatives in
the MCC argued for a return to biblical authority, their liberal opponents
reminded them that the position they all shared on homosexuality was at odds
with Christian tradition and conservatism, so how could they (conservatives)
now push for biblical literalism? That
was an argument I never heard a convincing rebuttal to.[vii]
lesbian minister asserts, “It is inconceivable to me that God would create
someone like me who is unable to change and then condemn that person to hell.”[viii] A familiar theme – God’s
standards seem unfair; therefore, they must not really be God’s standards. In studying Queer Christianity, we might
consider the diminished respect for biblical authority and the lowering of
standards in the actions of its founders.
Gay author and minister Mel White (formerly of Fuller Theological
Seminary), for example, described his first homosexual encounter (which he had
while he was still married) as “inevitable.”
He described his partner in adultery/homosexuality as “one of God’s
gifts.”[ix] Troy Perry, the founder of MCC,
takes a similar view of adultery.
Recounting a tryst he had with another man (while his own wife was in
the next room), he recalls: “Eventually, I came to realize that what we were
doing seemed right for me. It stopped
short of being love, but it was a marvelous education.”[x] The first openly gay Episcopal priest to be ordained,
Robert Williams, goes further than Perry and White by declaring in Newsweek magazine, on the subject of
If people want to try, OK. But the fact is, people are not
monogamous. It is crazy to hold up this
ideal and pretend it’s what we’re doing, and we’re not.[xi]
ends his remarks with an unusually tasteless flourish when he suggests, in the
most vulgar terms, that Mother Theresa ought to have a sexual experience.[xii]
Dallas asks: “Can such low moral standards among people naming the name of
Christ reflect anything but a diminished view of Scripture?” A look at some statements from the Queer
Christian movement betrays the truth:
What influences lead
us to new ways of understanding Scripture? New scientific information, social
change, and personal experience are perhaps the greatest forces for change in the
way we interpret the Bible and develop our beliefs. – Troy Perry[xiii]
[In reference to the
apostle Paul’s views on homosexuality.] So what? Paul was wrong about any
number of other things, too. Why should
you take him any more seriously than you take Jerry Falwell, Anita Bryant, or
Cardinal O’Connor? – Robert Williams[xiv]
I can no longer
worship in a theological context that depicts God as an abusive parent and
Jesus as the obedient, trusting child.
This violent theology encourages the violence in our streets and
nations. – Lesbian author Virgina Mollenkoot[xv]
Jane Spahr, cofounder
of CLOUT (Christian Lesbians Out Together) and lesbian evangelist for the
Downtown Presbyterian Church of Rochester, claimed her theology was first of
all informed by ‘making love with Coni,’ her lesbian partner.’[xvi]
I know in my heart
that the canon is not closed – I know this because the Bible does not reconcile
me with earth and the Bible does not reconcile me with my sexual self. –
Melanie Morrison, cofounder of CLOUT[xvii]
founder of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, Troy
Perry, recounts in his books The Lord Is
My Shepherd and Don’t Be Afraid
Anymore, his life experiences and how they led to starting UFMCC. The oldest of five boys, he was raised by a doting
mother Edith in a religious environment.
After his father’s death in a car accident, he survived abuse from a
violent stepfather who battered Edith and evidently arranged for one of his
friends to rape 13-year-old Troy as punishment for coming to his mother’s
defense.[xviii] He found refuge in church and
was especially attracted to Pentecostalism.
His ministerial gifts showed up early.
By age 15 he was a licensed Baptist preacher; by his late teens he was a
paid evangelist with the Charismatic Church of God. Shortly thereafter he married and took a pastorate in the latter
denomination. Having been aware of
homosexual attractions the better part of his life, Perry involved himself with
other young men, both before and after his marriage, and was eventually
excommunicated from the Church of God and divorced from his wife. Years later, after joining the gay
subculture, he was moved by the distress of one of his friends who had been
jailed for simply being in a gay bar (a common occurrence at the time). His friend was convinced God had abandoned
him. That night he conceived of a
church for gay people to show them that God did indeed care. Along with the scattered support of a
handful of liberal churches, gay Christianity grew under the addendum:
God loves and accepts us just as
we are; and homosexuality is ok with him.[xix]
I knew I would have few if any
problems with the so-called liberal churches.
Liberal churches do not usually deeply involve themselves with Scripture.[xx]
its wobbly scriptural base, the Queer Christian movement created its own creed,
which could be paraphrased as follows:
Whereas we have been
mistreated and misunderstood, and whereas much of our mistreatment has come
from the Christian people, and whereas we tried to resist our homosexual
desires but were unable to, and whereas psychologists recognize us as normal,
and whereas we know God loves us and we want to continue in fellowship with
Him, therefore, be it resolved that God does not condemn homosexuality.[xxi]
lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Christians see their very lives as
presenting a theological challenge to the traditional Christian Church:
It is a challenge to honor our
rights as baptized Christians: the right to equality within the household of
faith; the right to all of the sacraments and rites (including marriage) of the
church; the right to equity at the table that Christ sets before us at which we
experience and affirm God’s love and grace for all people.[xxii]
Christianity, knowingly or not, attempts to erase a very intricate, but clear
set of boundaries for sexual behavior and replace it with the same freedoms
expounded in libertine Gnosticism. The
boundary-free theology trumpets tenets of “inclusiveness” and “flexibility,”
whatever is needed to suit a particular community. Feminists, for example, speak of constructionist theories on the
“evolution” of gender. In queer
ideology, some theorists speak of transsexuality from a poststructuralist
feminist model. Transsexual Susan
Stryker contends there is no essential reality to either the body or gender:
both sex and gender are constructed by discourse. Viewed from this angle,
“trans” identity can be seen as socially constructed in the same way that male
and female identities are. The
provision of surgery and hormonal treatment is simply an extension of the
social construction of gender. Thus,
transsexual practices are seen as the instrumentation by which the body is
discursively produced. Transsexual
Sandy Stone described transsexuality as a genre and suggests that bodies act as
“screens on which academic and medical struggles are projected.”[xxiii]
The challenges and complications of queer Christianity
have expanded well beyond any simplistic notions of an Invert-Pervert that
Derrick Bailey foresaw. GBLTQ politics
now eclipse the importance of scripture in queer Christian theological
development. The strength and impact of
queer politics and community in development of church doctrine, rests in the
value of the social space. Queer
Christianity provides for people with non-conventional gender or sexual
orientations, a source of pride in being different and a means of social change
based on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual alliances. The term “Queer” is flexible, in the sense
that people can be fluid with their sexualities and their gender. Surya Monro explains:
transsexual people who envisage going beyond the gender binary system to allow
for longer-term fluidity, third-sex or androgynous identities form a
significant minority of the wider trans communities…I think it could easily be
and will be gotten rid of (male-female).
I think like in the past or maybe even the present it’s more like a set
menu ‘A’ or a set menu ‘B’ and I see the future more like an Ala Carte menu and
you can make your own choice about what you have for starters, for the main
course or dessert or whatever, or if you’re going to have a dessert you can
have your dessert for a starter or starter as a dessert or just three desserts
transsexualism is a rare condition, estimated to occur in 1 in 30,000
biological males and 1 in 100,000 biological females,[xxv] its impact on the shape of queer theology is huge. Sexual preference and gender are no longer
seen as God-given gifts but rather as self-centered choices to be taken,
reversed and revised as needed. With
the growing awareness of AIDS, for example, more transsexuals see male sex
partners of whatever sexual preference as being a higher risk. This factor, directing many of them away
from a “heterosexual performance” (having men as partners) and toward becoming
“lesbians” (having only women as partners), has appeared in recent years.[xxvi] Many transsexuals also felt that
a person of one’s own sex was more knowledgeable about their sexual
responsiveness than a person of the opposite sex:
It is like making love to
yourself. All those things you know you
want to have done yourself sexually - you do that for the other.[xxvii]
Where in scripture is there provision for self-centered
(as opposed to Christ-centered) determinism?
The body is a vessel for the Holy Spirit, not a “screen on which
academic (indeed, ideological) and medical struggles are projected.” What Godly counsel would a queer Christian
theologian offer to a transgendered person such as Patrick Califia-Rice? Patrick says:
I'm 46 years old and
have been uncomfortable with my body for as long as I can remember. For most of my life, the way I dealt with
that was to try to be a different kind of woman. I think I have succeeded in expanding those parameters quite a
bit. But when I became perimenopausal
and my doctor started talking about estrogen replacement therapy, I flipped. I
realized that I could not put this chemical in my body on purpose. I had dealt
with puberty well enough, but that was because I didn't feel I had any choice
about all the change that happened so rapidly to my body. [xxviii]
Yet Califia-Rice doesn't
see her alternative choice of testosterone therapy as a fixed track with a
I’m happy with the
physical, emotional, and spiritual changes that [testosterone] has helped me to
create….I currently think of myself as a transgendered person. And I am giving
myself the option to change that, to go back or go forward, depending on what I
need at the moment of each step in this process.[xxix]
describes the practicalities of this notion of going backward or forward as a
It happened like
this. I met Matt nearly 10 years ago,
as one of the ‘jack-booted dyke thugs of ACT-UP Chicago,' as Matt called
himself then. This was before he
transitioned. I was living in what was supposed to be an open
relationship. But my primary partner
couldn't tolerate the threat of my torrid affair, so I broke things off with
Matt. We connected again three years
ago, after Matt had been on testosterone for several years, had chest surgery
and a beard, and was a bartender at the Lone Star, San Francisco's notorious
Califia-Rice says of the
period after connecting with Matt:
At 45, I was terrified
of changing my gender, afraid it would mean that I'd no longer be able to make
a living, since my income was, based on being a lesbian therapist and
journalist. But I didn't know what else
to try, and the cognitive dissonance had worn me out. Matt started talking to me about wanting to raise a child. He had been unable to take testosterone for
a couple of years because of side effects like blinding migraines. He didn't
think he could adopt a child, so he wanted to have one of his own.[xxxi]
During this time
Califia-Rice’s mother, a staunch right-wing Mormon died. The impact of her death on Califia-Rice’s
interpretation of life choices was extraordinary:
I had always believed
there wasn't room for a child in my life.
But when my mother passed away I realized I had also been afraid of her
disapproval…she would have moved heaven and earth to prevent me from raising a
kid. It seemed to me that it was part
of Matt's spiritual path to be a parent.
Witnessing my mother's death had opened my heart. I needed to be part of
creating a new life.[xxxii]
Since both Matt and
Califia-Rice were biologically females, they needed a male sperm donor. Califia-Rice describes the search:
We didn't want to do
anything that might harm the baby, so we got the best medical advice we
could. We went to see a lot of doctors,
who all told us that what we wanted to do was unusual, but biologically
possible. So we started auditioning our
betesticled friends for the role of sperm donor. That turned out to be quite a soap opera. Guys who thought nothing about throwing away
their sperm daily in Kleenexes or on the floor of a sex club, got very precious
with us about their sacrosanct bodily fluids.[xxxiii]
A year and a half later
the couple became parents. Califia-Rice
describes how the saga ended:
The only people who've
gotten upset are a handful of straight-identified homophobic FTMs [females to
males] online, who started calling Matt by his girl name, because real men
don't get pregnant. One of these bigots even said it would be better for our
baby to be born dead than be raised by two people who are ‘confused about their
Our large and loving chosen family made up of gay men, lesbians,
bisexual people, transgendered people, and straight allies, buffers us from
this kind of hostility. We are also
hearing from more and more FTMs [females to males] who have had or want to have
children. As Blake's dads, we have
created a village to help us raise him.
I started taking testosterone a couple of months before Blake was
born. While he learns how to grab
things, click his tongue, hold his own bottle, and walk while somebody holds
his hands, I am going through my own metamorphosis. My hips are smaller, my muscle mass is growing, and every day it
seems like there's more hair on my face and body. My voice is deeper, and my sex drive has given me newfound
empathy with the guys who solicit hookers for blow jobs. When I think that I
can continue with this process - get chest surgery and pass as male - I feel
happier than at any other point in my life.
And when I think that something will stop me, I become very depressed. [xxxv]
this testimony, one sees that Califia-Rice chose to see identity as a
self-defined, pragmatic and an ultimately a mutable concept. The cliché, “What I want, when I want and
how I want,” comes to mind. In this
worldview, there are literally no boundaries – spiritual, physiological,
sexual, ethical, or moral, by which Queer Christianity might say stop. Rather the role of “queer” churches is to
reaffirm its membership in their life choices. That God made humankind male and female holds
no importance in pro-gay or gay theology.
people who have an emotional gender at odds with their physical sex, once
described themselves in terms of dimorphic absolutes-males trapped in female
bodies, or vice versa. As such, they
sought psychological relief through surgery.
Although many still do, some transgendered people today are content to
inhabit a more ambiguous zone. A
male-to-female transsexual, for instance, may come out as a lesbian. Jane, born a physiological male, is now in
her late thirties and living with her wife, whom she married when her name was
still John. Jane takes hormones to
feminize herself, but they have not yet interfered with her ability to engage
in intercourse as a man. In her mind Jane has a lesbian relationship with her
wife, though she views their intimate moments as a cross between lesbian and
heterosexual sex. It might seem natural
to regard intersexuals and transgendered people as living midway between the
poles of male and female. To all of
this, Ann Fausto-Sterling says:
But male and female, masculine and
feminine, cannot be parsed as some kind of continuum.[xxxvi]
Thus many gay, bisexuals,
lesbians, transgendered and queers (GBLTQ) see sex and gender as best
conceptualized as points in a multidimensional space. Fausto-Sterling, argues that the two-sex system embedded in our
society is not adequate to encompass the full spectrum of human sexuality. In its place she advocates the acceptance of
…males; females; "herms"
(named after true hermaphrodites, people born with both a testis and an ovary);
"means" (male pseudohermaphrodites, who are born with testes and some
aspect of female genitalia); and "ferms" (female pseudohermaphrodites,
who have ovaries combined with some aspect of male genitalia).[xxxvii]
queer Christianity must revise the two sex Genesis account to affirm “herms,”
“means,” “ferms” and “transsexuals” as non-aberrant sexualities. The quandary is not in ministering to or
affirming an individual’s dignity. The
catch-22 comes from modifying and revising scripture to somehow deny, hide or
overcome the fact that these psychological or physiological conditions are
aberrant. It is true that people are
born with a wide array of abnormalities, deafness and blindness being two
examples. It is a fact that blind
people are no less equal beings in God’s creation. It is a fact that deaf people have an equivalent right to pursue
a Godly life. And it is a true that God
has a purpose for all and that He has used blind and deaf persons to achieve
great things. All this said, truthfully
affirming the blind or deaf person does not require denial of the fact that
blindness and deafness are aberrant physical states. All eyes were designed to see and all ears to hear. Non-Christians (Darwinists, for example)
should agree that any physical failure or under-development of mechanisms
designed over millions of years is anomalous. The history of Darwinism and eugenics tells us that
evolutionists, who recognize aberrant genes, must have a notion of what the
proper gene or nature’s design should be. To contend that a person with a male body and a female emotional
gender is not atypical is to rewrite God’s creation. To advocate that intersexuality is not an abnormal condition is
to change the Creator’s intent, and therefore to change the God of
scripture. It is one thing to protect
the blind, the deaf, or the disadvantaged from societal abuse, and care for
them through protective and supportive government legislation. It is entirely another issue to contend that
blindness is not a shortcoming with differentiating implications from those
with sight. We discriminate against
blind people by not giving them driver’s licenses. A common sense application of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms
would not obligate the National Hockey League to accept a blind goalie to
achieve a sense of samenessequality.
all societies it is a fact that a portion of the adult population is oriented to
have sex with children. This fact does
not imply that it is God’s intent that pedophiles exist or that their condition
be seen as anything other than aberrant.
Is there an orthodox, pro-gay or queer Christian, who is willing to
dispute the fact, that male and female sex organs were created for each
other? To contend that other
non-vaginal sexual applications of these organs are God-ordained, and not
anomalous sexual experimentation is to worship a different deity than the God
of scripture. And when God’s truth is
subverted, spiritual darkness sets in.
Sex and the Church: Gender,
Homosexuality, and the Transformation of Christian Ethics, Kathy Rudy
challenges the orthodox view of gender as the organizing principle of theology
and the traditional family. An advocate
of sex positive ideology, she argues “sex is ethical when it opens God’s
world to others.” Unlike most
Christian observers, including many queer and feminist theologians, she refuses
to interpret non-monogamous queer sex practices and activities as merely
desperate attempts at sexual gratification.
She contends that these activities are often, although not always,
essential elements in community building and that at least some queer practices
of “communal sex” may be pleasing to God.[xxxviii]
more audacious, she makes an explicit connection between the free sex
activities in the GBLTQ community and the traditional Christian emphasis on
building up the body of Christ, contending that the church could learn much
from a group of people who, because they are so often without family support,
base their social and emotional existence on membership in a community. Despite her pro-sex attitudes, Rudy argues
that identities such as “gay” or “lesbian” or “queer” – even “male” or “female”
should be cast aside:
Our primary identification is and ought to be Christian;
any identification that takes precedence over our baptism is to be avoided.[xxxix]
bases this contention on an insight articulated by queer theorists, namely that
the categories “gay”, “straight,” and even “bisexual” are not natural and
fixed. By siding with queer theory in
this regard, she stakes out a position at odds with that argued by other gay
Christians and pro-gay friends – namely that these categories are unchangeable
and ordained by God. Accepting the
fluidity of sexual categories and identities advanced in queer theory, Rudy
argues that Christians are first and foremost called “to become new people,
with a new and radically different ontology.”[xl]
L. Treese follows in Rudy’s footsteps and acknowledges that the Pauline texts
on homosexual behavior:
…indicate with no possibility of qualification that
homosexual practices were considered by Paul…to be concrete sins on a par with
adultery and murder, and evidence of original sin with which the human race is
Treese goes on to interpret in Galatians 3:28, that sexual relationship between members of the same sex can be a valid
expression of Christian love. The
is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither
male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
He further suggests that:
can view both homosexuality and heterosexuality as perversions of the original
or intended order of nature, insofar as both are conditions caused by human
sin. The ideal state of humanity is
thus androgynous or bisexual.
this background, Joe Dallas reflected upon the sex positive queer
theology. Writing on his experiences
with gay Christian clergy and their departures from sound doctrine, he says:
During a radio debate
with a UFMCC minister, when asked how he discerned God’s truth, he said there
were three sources he relied on, each having equal authority: the Bible, the
witness of his own heart and the witness of his community. I responded that I had no such confidence in
either my heart or my community – the Bible was the ultimate authority in all
matters….The church has clear guidelines for sexual behavior: Intercourse
before marriage is forbidden, marriage must be monogamous, and divorce is
permissible only in the event of fornication or abandonment by an unbelieving
During my involvement with the gay
church, we made virtually no effort to abide by these standards. Among gay men (religious or not) it was
unheard of to wait until a marriage (or ‘union ceremony,’ as it was called
then) before engaging in sex. Indeed,
sexual relations within days or even hours of meeting were not uncommon, and
they were never, in my experience, criticized from the pulpit.[xlii]
The gospel of “acceptance”
and “inclusivity” has captured many minds in liberal theology, leading not only
to acceptance of homosexual practice but even to the acceptance of
self-proclaimed witches (“creation spirituality”). Says Donald Faris:
The thought seems
to be, no one is perfect. It is the
relationship that counts…The gospel according to this logic is not ‘repent,
believe, and obey,’ but, ‘accept yourself.’
A simple surrender to one’s own self-centeredness and immaturity is the
goal; the new obedient life in Jesus Christ is a detour to be avoided.[xliii]
Christian ethicist Philip
Turner, author of Sex, Money and Power is
correct in suggesting that these attempted revisions of Christian sexual ethics
come from denominations that do not ask much of their membership. They see themselves as “meeting needs”
rather than “making demands.” Such consumer-oriented pastoral care consists of
agreeing with, rather than challenging, the mind of the times.[xliv] Writing on “Homosexual Liberation Theologies,” Faris observed that some
“feminist” forms of theology reject Christian tradition in light of highly
selective Gnostic variations. Not
surprisingly, some followers of these variations include worshippers of the mother
goddess. He writes:
They welcome homosexuality as an
attack on what they see as the male dominated ‘family’…Having dethroned God and
rejected the Lordship of Christ, this type of feminist theologian believes
that, in sexual matters, all we need is ‘love.’[xlv]
scholar Elizabeth Achtemeier asks, “what does love mean to these people?” Her answer: “an unqualified acceptance of
any lifestyle.” Thus liturgies are
brimming over with acceptance of extra-marital sex, of lesbian “marriage”, of
any divorce or abortion. Anything is
acceptable if one has no standard of judgment.[xlvi]
Whosoever is an online magazine for gay, lesbian, bisexual and
transgendered Christians found at www.whosoever.org. The magazine title markets the text found in John 3:16, “whosoever
believes in him [Jesus] shall not perish but have eternal life.” The magazine proclaims to many gay
Christians the most beautiful word in the Gospel of Jesus Christ is “whosoever”
- all God’s promises are intended for every human being, and this includes gays
and lesbians. Orthodox Christians find
no issue with this claim in and of itself.
The problem arises in how many professed gay Christians and specifically
Whosoever magazine interpret who
Christ is and what is meant by taking up the Cross of Jesus. Magazine editor Candace Chellew writes under
“Errancy and Insolence”:
Indeed, we are assured
in Romans: Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor things to come, nor powers,
nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to
separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Nothing. Not homosexuality, not disbelief in certain
creeds, Bible passages, litanies or opinions of other believers. Not sin, not death, not anything, not even
being wrong. I suspect that’s good news for all of us! My fundamentalist friends, do you realize
the freeing beauty of these words??? Nothing!!
NOTHING! Will you take those words at heart? Will you believe the Holy Word of God when it says NOTHING
separates you from God??? Or will you continue to thump your Bible and point out
all those who ‘you’ believe have been separated from God?[xlvii]
the title “Living the Way of Truth,” Chellew reveals the counterfeit nature of
her Christianity when she refers to approved authors. She writes:
My basic philosophy is
that none of us sees the whole truth, and no one, not a religion, not a person,
not a philosophy, embodies the entire truth.
In discussion, my friend made it clear that we must proclaim Jesus as
Christ, if we are to claim to be Christians.
That is fine. I proclaim Jesus
as Christ. I truly believe he is the
Son of God. Not because he says he is,
however. I believe he is the son of God
because he fully embodied God on earth.
I believe we are all sons and daughters of God. As such, we too can become a living embodiment
of God by living Christ’s example. We
do not embody God by only calling Jesus’ name.
I can praise Jesus’ name all day long and it will get me nothing. Only when I take the next step, and learn to
live like Jesus will my worship mean anything…By living the example of Christ,
we touch the Christ within us, and we truly become sons and daughters of God.
Thich Nthat Hahn writes in “Living Buddha, Living Christ:’ When Jesus said, ‘I am the way,’ He meant
that to have a true relationship with God, you must practice his way….To me, ‘I
am the way,’ is a better statement than ‘I know the way.’…The ‘I’ in His
statement is life itself, His life, which is the way.
R. Kirby Godsey in his book When We Talk About God, writes:
…Jesus should be no more equated with
certain of his words or with certain episodes in his life than should you or
I….The person of Jesus is the event in history where, for those of us who call
ourselves Christian, God comes to us.
It is the event where God’s unconditional acceptance and embrace of us
is lived out in history.
Getting stuck worshipping Jesus as a name, as a person, or even as a
Messiah, distracts us from the real goal.
Getting to God, becoming the living embodiment of God here on earth
should be our ultimate aim. Jesus points
us in the right direction. Through
Jesus we shall find the truth, and it shall set us free, but we must live to
see it. Worrying about getting our
dogmas right about Jesus and who he is only leads us to an idolization of
By now one can recognize the Gnostic underpinnings of
Chellew’s interpretation. Christ is
neither divine nor resurrected in this theology. We are to model the historic being, like some important
sage. Perhaps there is no heaven also. “We must live it to see it,” makes me
think of the crucified criminal, who said, “Jesus, remember me when you come
into your kingdom.” Not much time
left to “live it!” According to Whosoever, we should doubt what Jesus
said or meant by “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” The absence of the terminology like “grace”
in gay theology is critical. You don’t
practice grace. It’s not historically
frozen in the past, but is present. In
one respect it is not free - it requires a repentant heart and a commitment to
receive it. Grace abounds when sin is
contritely confessed. The absence of
grace in gay-theology results from the removal of sin from Church lexicon.
Actually, idolization of Jesus is OK! On the other hand, to not follow scripture
is to declare allegiance to another God – self, which is true idolatry. Nothing and no one may have the worship,
love, and service that belong to God alone.
And here sex can so easily become an idol. The following record of Armistead Maupin’s testimony illustrates
In the baths, he found
remarkable qualities of communication with men whose names he never knew, men
with whom he did not even have sex, with whom he embraced and then moved on,
all of which left him with a nearly religious feeling. ‘I felt very close to God,’ he says. Then, perhaps mindful that our conversation
is being recorded for radio broadcast, he breaks the mood and adds, ‘My friends
say that’s because I was always on my knees.’[xlix]
Boone, a once devout Catholic who had entered adulthood as a Christian Brothers
novice, has a Ph.D. from Berkley. He
said of gay sex:
The first time you
suck dick, it really is like Holy Communion.
Mystical. Know what I
mean?”…”This isn’t shocking the way people think - it’s about dissolving the
to Frank Browning:
Boone’s quest, [oral sex] was in some profound measure to find the unity that
divided the dictates of his spirit from the drives of his flesh, and so …[oral
sex] became Holy Communion.[li]
explored the subject of spirituality and sex over two years with homosexual and
heterosexual men and women. He found
the association between sex and God came to be extraordinarily common. He describes the posits of the late French
writer George Bataille in explaining this phenomenon:
Most of the time we respect
established taboos, abiding by the routines of social contract that protects us
from chaos….Only in the transgressive moment do we solitary humans relinquish
the social identities that individuate us and distinguish us from the wild,
polymorphous animal force of Eros that unifies all being.[lii]
bohemian response to civic taboo is to deny the rules of convention (like the
Gnostics), to declare oneself free of taboo’s boundaries. But Bataille goes further, says Browning:
To deny taboo, he would say - to
claim to have erased it from how we build our lives, choose our mates, seek sex
- is simply to live within a different safety zone of complacency. Only by acknowledging and searching out that
framework of taboo, and then by entering into its violation, by feeling its
fire, is there the possibility of shattering the self and gaining rebirth - not
some distant rebirth into an eventual eternity, but a continuous rebirth that
comes of touching the eternal in the present.[liii]
lies one of the problems for those who see in gay liberation a movement of
liberal social progressivism, heralding a multisexual, multicultural,
multierotic system of desire, a “safe space” for the celebration of diversity. For Bataille, eroticism can only be “good”
insofar as it dares to penetrate and touch the “bad” that dwells within the
sacredness of the self. In the call for
an inclusive “safe space” wherein GBLTQ celebrate the charm of diversity, writes
We too easily blind ourselves to
our own elements of darkness.[liv]
Bataille would not be surprised to find sex between gay men and lesbian women coming out of the closet. The advent of “opposite-sex-same-sexuality” reveals the value of transgression in eros and the political-ideological nature of GBLTQ culture. These acts doubly defile a Holy God.
[i] Mark, Jordan, The silence of Sodom (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), p.248.
[ii] Ron Carlson and Ed Decker, Fast Facts on False Teachings, (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House, 1994), p.136.
[iii] Ron Rhodes, The Culting of America (Eugene: Harvest House, 1994), p.35.
[iv] Carlson, pp.137 and 138.
[v] Positively gay, ed. by Betty Berzon, Third Edition, (Berkley: Celestial Arts, 2001), p.23.
[vi] Ibid., p.213.
[vii] Dallas, p.30.
[viii] Dallas, p.31.
[ix] Mel White, Stranger at the Gate (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994), pp.132 and 133.
[x] Dallas, p.31.
[xii] Ibid., p.32.
[xiii] Ibid., p.33.
[xv] Ibid., p.34.
[xviii] Troy Perry, Don’t Be Afraid Anymore (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1990), p.7.
[xix] Dalls, pp.66 and 67.
[xx] Ibid., p.84.
[xxi] Ibid., p.85.
[xxii] Positively gay, p.222.
[xxiii] Surya Monro, “Theorizing transgender diversity: Towards a social model of health,” Sexual and Relationship Therapy, Basingstoke, February 2000.
[xxv] Francis Mark Mondimore, A Natural History of Homosexuality (Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), p.184.
[xxvi] Martin S. Weinberg, Colin J. Williams, Douglas W. Pryor, Dual Attraction: Understanding Bisexuality (New York: Oxford Press, 1994), p.63.
[xxvii] Ibid., p.51.
[xxviii] “The author formerly known as Pat: An interview with Patrick Califia-Rice,” Lambda Book Report, Washington, June 2000.
[xxx] Patrick Califia-Rice, “Family Values,” The Village Voice, New York, June 27, 2000.
[xxxvi] Ann Fausto-Sterling, “The five sexes, revisited,” Sciences, New York, July/August 2000.
[xxxvii] Ann Fausto-Sterling, “The Five Sexes,” Sciences, March/April 1993.
[xxxviii] Robin Hawley Gorsline, “Queering Chruch, Churching Queers,” Cross Currents, New Rochelle, Spring 1999. Gorsline reviews Kathy Rudy, Sex and the Church: Gender, Homosexuality, and the Transformation of Christian Ethics (Boston: Beacon Press, 1999).
[xli] Lovelace, p.45.
[xlii] Dallas, pp.99 and 100.
[xliv] Donald L. Faris, The Homosexual Christian – a Christian Response to an Age of Sexual Politics (Markham Ontario: Faith Today Publications, 1993), p.93.
[xlvi] Ibid., p.97.
[xlix] Frank Browning, The Culture of Desire (New York: Crown Publishers, 1993), pp.80 and 81.
[l] Ibid., p.81.
[li] Ibid., pp.81 and 82.
[lii] Ibid., p.88.
[liv] Ibid., p.88 and 89.