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Queer Christianity

By Carman Bradley

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]                                                                

Andrew Holleran

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.

And 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)

The 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]

Ron 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]

Psuedo-Christian 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 Christian.[iv]

Minister 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 society.[vi]

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.

According 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]

A 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 monogamy:

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]

Williams 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]

Joe 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]

The 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]

Said Troy:

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]

With 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]

Gay, 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]

Queer 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:

Transgender and 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 or whatever.[xxiv]

Although 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 single goal:

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]

Califia-Rice describes the practicalities of this notion of going backward or forward as a transgendered person:

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 bear bar.[xxx]

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 gender.’[xxxiv]

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]

From 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.

Transsexuals, 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 five sexes:

…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]

Here 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.

In 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.

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]

Even 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]

She 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]

Robert 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 infected.[xli]

However, 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 passage reads:

There 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:

…one 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.

Against 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 spouse.

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]

Biblical 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  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]

Under 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 Jesus.[xlviii]

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 this point:

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]

Bruce 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 self.[l]

According to Frank Browning:

In 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]

Browning 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]

The 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]

Here 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 Browning:

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.


Copyright © 2008 StandForGod.Org

[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.

[xi] Ibid.

[xii] Ibid., p.32.

[xiii] Ibid., p.33.

[xiv] Ibid.

[xv] Ibid., p.34.

[xvi] Ibid.

[xvii] Ibid.

[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.

[xxiv] Ibid.

[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.

[xxix] Ibid.

[xxx] Patrick Califia-Rice, “Family Values,” The Village Voice, New York, June 27, 2000.

[xxxi] Ibid.

[xxxii] Ibid.

[xxxiii] Ibid.

[xxxiv] Ibid.

[xxxv] Ibid.

[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).

[xxxix] Ibid.

[xl] Ibid.

[xli] Lovelace, p.45.

[xlii] Dallas, pp.99 and 100.

[xliii] Ibid.

[xliv] Donald L. Faris, The Homosexual Christian – a Christian Response to an Age of Sexual Politics (Markham Ontario: Faith Today Publications, 1993), p.93.

[xlv] Ibid.

[xlvi] Ibid., p.97.

[xlvii] Candace Chellew, “Inerrancy and Insolence,” Whosoever,, p.6, 7/26/01.

[xlviii] Candace Chellew, “Living The way of truth,” Whosoever,, pp.1 and 2, 7/26/01.

[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.

[liii] Ibid.,

[liv] Ibid., p.88 and 89.