If the Church was faithful to its mission towards gay people, the idea of Christianity as homophobic would not just seem wrong, it would be a punchline. It would be like saying the Red Cross secretly infects people with polio, or something. People wouldn’t even debate it, they would scoff. And a strongly-worded blog post isn’t going to make that happen.
Yes, we need to improve our language, but that’s not the challenge, or it’s only one peripheral consequence of the challenge. The challenge is to make it dead-obvious to the entire world that any gay person will be embraced and affirmed in any church, in any family, in any community. And yes, in this day and age, that includes “Side A” gay Christians, which doesn’t mean jettisoning orthodox Christian teaching, because hey, we’re all sinners, and we’re all wrong about something. (I uncomfortably straddle “Side A” and “Side B” tea chings, since I am bound to affirm the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching on the morality of gay sex, yet support legal civil same-sex marriage.)
That’s the challenge, that’s the real challenge, and if it’s not obvious, it’s a tremendous challenge. Let’s get started."
"During his lifetime and after, Hammarskjold was widely assumed to be homosexual and these rumours were eagerly encouraged by those who wished � in an unquestioningly homophobic era � to undermine his moral credibility. Roger Lipsey devotes one chapter to this, which is a model of sobriety: no speculation, no claims to sensational new information, simply a careful setting out of what little evidence there is one way or another. His conclusion is that Hammarskjold might have been homosexual; but on the facts presented here, the only real supporting evidence would be that he never married, which doesn�t get us very far. There is no trace of either heterosexual or homosexual affairs. Lipsey notes briefly the surprising closeness that developed between Hammarskjold and the sculptor Barbara Hepworth (whose wonderful and iconic monument to him, Single Form, now stands outside the UN headquarters in New York), and comments perceptively, �It was probably better than a romance: it was sincere love and care, seeing with the same eyes�. We have to face the possibility that Hammarskjold was that most alarming of sexual deviants in twenty-first century eyes, a willing and self-aware celibate."
Rowan Williams, “A Review of Hammarskjold: A Life by Roger Lipsay (University of Michigan Press, 2013)” The Cambridge Humanities Review (Lent Term, 2013).
"I don’t expect straight men to walk around holding hands with each other today; but maybe as they hold hands with their girlfriends, they’ll think about all those times when I’ve felt too uncomfortable to walk hand-in-hand with my boyfriend. Maybe straight women, as they buckle their children into their car seats, will think about all of those gay women who long to be mothers, but can’t seem to break through the red tape that often stands between these would-be parents and the children they wish to adopt."
I’ve decided to create a bibliography of things that I think people interested in the intersection of faith and sexuality should know about. [Disclaimer: the list includes works I fully endorse, some that I only partially agree with, and others that I vehemently oppose. I have also included both Christian and secular, liberal and conservative, academic and popular. Those items with a (*) next to them indicate that I have read them, or at least a major part of them, all others are on my “to-do-list”. This list will, most likely, be modified over time].
Phyllis A. Bird, “The Bible in Christian Ethical Deliberation Concerning Homosexuality: Old Testament Contributions” in D. L. Balch (ed.), Homosexuality, Science, and the “Plain Sense” of Scripture (2000) 142-76.*< /p>
John Boswell, Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality (1980).*
John Boswell, Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe (1994).
Daniel Boyarin, “Are There Any Jews in “The History of Sexuality”?” Journal of the History of Sexuality 5 (1995) 333-55.*
Alan Bray, The Friend (2006).
Bernadette J. Brooten, Love Between Women: Early Christian Responses to Female Homoeroticism (1996).
Peter Brown, The Body and Society: Men, Women, and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity (1988).
James V. Brownson, Bible, Gender, Sexuality: Reframing the Church’s Debate on Same-Sex Relationships (2013).
Eva Cantarella, Bisexuality in the Ancient World (1992).*
Jeff Chu, Does Jesus Really Love Me?: A Gay Christian’s Pilgrimage in Search of God in America (2013).
David Cohen, Law, Sexuality, and Society: The Enforcement of Morals in Classical Athens (Cambridge, 1991).
James Davidson, The Greeks and Greek Love: A Radical Reappraisal of Homosexuality in Ancient Greece (2007).*
Kenneth J. Dover, Greek Homosexuality (1978).*
Benjamin H. Dunning, Specters of Paul: Sexual Difference in Early Christian Thought (2011).
Catharine Edwards, The Politics of Immorality in Ancient Rome (1993).*
Havelock Ellis, “Sexual Inversion” in Studies in the Psychology of Sex 2 vols. (1905) 1-64.
Michel Foucault, History of Sexuality, Vol I-III (1976-).*
David E. Fredrickson, “Natural and Unnatural Use in Romans 1:24-27: Paul and the Philosophic Critique of Eros” in D. L. Balch (ed.), Homosexuality, Science, and the “Plain Sense” of Scripture (2000) 197-241.
Robert Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics (2001).*
David F. Greenberg, The Construction of Homosexuality (1988).
Kathryn Greene-McCreight, “The Logic of the Interpretation of Scripture and the Church’s Debate over Sexual Ethics” in D. L. Balch (ed.), Homosexuality, Science, and the “Plain Sense” of Scripture (2000) 242-60.*
Judith P. Hallett and Marilyn B. Skinne r (eds.), Roman Sexualities (1997).*
David M. Halperin, One Hundred Years of Homosexuality: And Other Essays on Greek Love (1989).*
Kyle Harper, From Shame to Sin: The Christian Transformation of Sexual Morality in Late Antiquity (2013).
Richard B. Hays, The Moral Vision of the New Testament: Community, Cross, New Creation: A Contemporary Introduction to New Testament Ethics (1996) [esp. the chapter on homosexuality].*
Wesley Hill, Washed and Waiting: Reflections of Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality (2010).*
Stanton L. Jones and Mark A. Yarhouse, “The Use, Misuse, and Abuse of Science in the Ecclesiastical Homosexuality Debates” in D. L. Balch (ed.), Homosexuality, Science, and the “Plain Sense” of Scripture em>(2000) 73-120.*
Mark D. Jordan, The Invention of Sodomy in Christian Thought (1997).
M. Lambert and H. Szesnat, “Greek Homosexuality: Whither the Debate?” Akroterion 39 (1994) 46-63. *
Justin Lee, Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christian Debate (2012).
Simon LeVay, Gay, Straight, and the Reason Why: The Science of Sexual Orientation (2011).
Andrew Marin, Love is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community (2009).
Dale B. Martin, “Arsenokoitês and Malakos: Meanings and Consequences” in R. L. Brawley (ed.), Biblical Ethics and Homosexuality: Listening to Scripture (1996) 117-36.*
Dale B. Martin, “Heterosexi sm and the Interpretation of Romans 1:18-32” Biblical Interpretation 3 (1995) 332-55.*
Wayne A. Meeks, “The Image of the Androgyne: Some Uses of a Symbol in Earliest Christianity” History of Religions 13 (1974) 165 -208.*
Martti Nissinen, Homoeroticism in the Biblical World: A Historical Perspective (1998).*
Martha Nussbaum, From Disgust to Humanity: Sexual Orientation and Constitutional Law (2010).
Saul M. Olyan, “’And with a Male You Shall Not Lie the Lying Down of a Woman’: On the Meaning and Significance of Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13” Journal of the History of Sexuality 5 (1994) 179-206.*
Daniel Orrells, Classical Culture and Modern Masculinity (2011).*
Holt N. Par ker, “The Teratogenic Grid” in Judith P. Hallett and Marilyn B. Skinner (eds.), Roman Sexualities (1997) 47-65.*
Amy Richlin, “Not Before Homosexuality: The Materiality of the Cinaedus and the Roman Law against Love Between Men” Journal of History of Sexuality 3 (1993) 523-573.*
Michael Rocke, Forbidden Friendships: Homosexuality and Male Culture in Renaissance Florence (1996).
Eugene Rogers, Sexuality and the Christian Body: Their Way into the Triune God (1999).*
Robin Scroggs, The New Testament and Homosexuality: Contextual Background for Contemporary Debate (1983).*
Andrew Sullivan, Virtually Normal: An Argument About Homosexuality (1995).
Andrew Sullivan, Love Un detectable: Notes on Friendship, Sex and Survival (1998).*
John Addington Symonds, Studies in Sexual Inversion: “A Study of Greek Ethics” and “A Study of Modern Ethics” (1974) [originally published privately 1896 & 1901].*
Ryan van Meter, If You Knew Then What I Know Now (2011).*
William J. Webb, Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals: Exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis (2001).*
Craig Williams, Roman Homosexuality (2010) [2nd Edition].*
Rowan Williams, The Body’s Grace (1989).*
John J. Winkler, The Constraints of Desire: The Anthropology of Sex and Desire in Ancient Greece (1990).*
Froma I. Zeitlin, John J. Winkler, and David M. Halpe rin (eds.), Before Sexuality: The Construction of Erotic Experience in the Ancient Greek World (1989).*
Various online publications – in the form of essays, musings, reviews, blogposts etc. – by numerous people have also being hugely influential in my thinking on these topics. To list them here would be near impossible, but the following links to some websites might provide a start.
Brent Bailey | Odd Man Out
Richard Beck | Experimental Theology
Ron Belgau | City of God
Wesley Hill |
Steve Holmes | Shored Fragments
Misty Irons | Musings on Christianity, Homosexual ity and the Bible
David McFarlane | Anxious Gay Christian
Matt Jones | A Joyful Stammering
What’s missing from this list? Message me your suggestions.
It doesn’t hurt me.
Do you want to feel how it feels?
Do you want to know that it doesn’t hurt me?
Do you want to hear about the deal that I’m making?
You, it’s you and me.
And if I only could,
I’d make a deal with God,
And I’d get him to swap our places,
Be running up that road,
Be running up that hill,
Be running up that building.
- Kate Bush, “Running up that Hill” (also covered by Placebo - a version which I love). Bush said of the lyrics, “I was trying to say that, really, a man and a woman, can’t understand each other because we are a man and a woman. And if we could actually swap each other’s roles, if we could actually be in each other’s place for a while, I think we’d both be very surprised!"
I sometimes wish I could make a deal with God to swap my place with some of my straight friends, just for a day to experience what it is like for each other. I’m OK-ish with being gay, but I must admit, I’m very curious about what it must be like to be a straight person in this very much straight-person-orientated world. And I’m sure that they’d find it fascinating to be gay for a day, and realise just how much their "straight-privilege” buys them.
So, what would be required in order for every sexual minority to feel safe coming out today? We’d need some kind of solid support structure. There are still many states—like the one I call home—in which people can lose jobs and housing merely for coming out as gay, so people would need assurance others would be ready to cover their most basic needs as necessary. (This would be especially essential for LGBT youth, who suffer a disproportionately high rate of homelessness.) We’d also need to provide social and emotional support for those people whose relationships would suffer or disappear as a result of their coming out. And, of course, those in Christian circles would need to prepare themselves to walk with the sexual minorities in their midst as they journeyed through questions about identity and God’s calling on their lives. We’d need to be informed enough to extend fellowship in the most helpful and meaningful ways.
Brent Bailey, Safe Havens.
Burning of two “sodomites” at the stake outside Zurich, 1482, by Spiezer Schilling.
“…the rhetoric that would make the choice between same-sex romance and celibacy a matter of experiencing joy “now” versus “later” doesn’t do justice to the presently fulfilling good of celibacy or the faith of some who believe God sanctions same-sex unions.”
From the comments section of Wesley Hill’s post over at First Things.
(Source: , via thadian)