Sexuality and Spirituality
Boswell, John. Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe.
New York: Villard Books, 1994.
This Yale historian reveals the results of 12 years of meticulous research into Catholic and Orthodox liturgies for same-sex unions. These ceremonies, which were conducted throughout Christendom into modern times, bear striking resemblance to heterosexual marriage services.Donnelly, Dody H. Radical Love: An Approach to Sexual Spirituality.
Boswell traces same-sex unions from Platonic Greece, where the bonding of brotherly equals was considered the noblest form of human contact; to Rome, with its elaborate systems of legal adoption; to Christianized Europe, in which moral ambivalence toward human sexuality of any kind gradually gave way in the 14th Century to intolerance, but not before the church created liturgies to bless loving unions both straight and gay. This virtual history of the roots of all modern marriages irrefutably demonstrates that same-sex relationships have been sanctioned and even idealized in Western society for over two thousand years.
Donnelly, Professor of Theology, San Francisco Theological Seminary, presents an enjoyable and exciting exploration of how sexuality and spirituality interrelate. The book examines how we got into our current divided sexual-spiritual view; how philosophy and theology have culturally conditioned male and female self-image; what biology, psychology, and philosophy say about sexuality; how prayer helps us to learn how to accept God's love; how radical love can fuse sex and spirit; how our warped ideas of God make it difficult for us to relate intimately with God; how a low opinion of your body relates to poor self-image; how the image of God as Lover can heal the images of both self and God that shape our actions; how we can live our sexual spirituality; how homosexuality, marriage, and celibacy enter this picture; and much more as the table of contents indicates.Downing, Christine. Myths and Mysteries of Same-Sex Love.
This professor of religious studies at San Diego State University bonds intellectual rigor and deep feeling in examining the theories of homosexuality of Freud and Jung as well as clarifying the divine miracle of men loving men and women loving women in Greek literature.Hefling, Charles C., Jr. editor, Our Selves, Our Souls and Bodies
This Episcopal priest and associate professor of theology at Boston College argues that to say that homosexual conduct is wrong because the Bible says it is "is not to answer but to dismiss the question." He recommends asking: "Are there sound reasons for revising the traditional account of what the wrongness of homosexuality consists in? Is the idea that physical intimacy between men or between women can only be unnatural an idea that the best available understanding of the relevant facts will no longer support?" He neatly summarizes his thesis by stating that "Sex can be productive without being reproductive."Nelson, James B. Embodiment: An Approach to Sexuality and Christian Theology.
He suggests that the churches address the relevant question of What are the appropriate Christian expectations placed upon those permanent, monogamous, faithful, intimate relaionships within which the sexual acts take place, whether the relationship be heterosexual or homosexual. "Have same-sex relationships the same potential for sacramental meaning and power" as heterosexual relationships? He believes they have because "they can, and do, signify a natural good". Sex thus understood is not only redeemed, it is also redemptive.
Nelson, Professor of Christian Ethics, United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, addresses theological ethics applied to human sexuality in a readable and beautiful way that sets a standard for Christian discussion of the issues. The book shows that sexuality is as central to our humanity as it is to our love of God. It presents both traditional and unconventional sexuality issues within the context of God's grace. It presents empirical data, ethical method, and theological perspective to help all Christians think constructively about human sexuality. Chapters include: 2. Embodiment in sexual theology; 5. Love and sexual ethics; 7. Morality of sexual variations; 8. Gayness and Homosexuality: Issues for the church; 9. The sexually disenfranchised; 10. The church as sexual community.Nelson, James B. Between Two Gardens: Reflections on Sexuality and Religious Experience.
This book moves on from sexual theology's question of 'what does our faith (Bible, tradition) say about human sexuality' to explore 'what our experience as human beings created in God's image informs us about the way we do theology, read Scripture, interpret tradition, etc.'Scanzoni, Letha and Mollenkott, Virginia. Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?
Nelson sees us as living between the Erotic Garden, where there is no bodily shame, where people delight in the embodiedness and sensuality of all of nature (as seen in the Song of Songs), where male and female are partners with no hint of hierarchy and no guilt of exploitation, and the Garden of Eden, where the Fall shows up in sexist dualism and shame in nakedness. The emphasis on sin-redemption centered spirituality has given rise to the separation of the body and spirit. Existence in the Garden of Eden has been the predominant expression of Christianity, but Nelson sees us returning to the Erotic Garden. On the cutting edge of this movement are lesbian women and gay men, Third World persons, racial and ethnic minorities, and other attempting to break the stranglehold of sexism and body/spirit dualism.
It stresses that our embodiment as sexual beings (and all the variety that encompasses) is a reflection of God's continuing Incarnation.
These two Christian women examine the gospel and discover their Christian responsible way of dealing with people who have a sexual orientation that is not heterosexual.United Church of Canada. In God's Image ... Male and Female.
This excellent study program on human sexuality is intentionally incomplete and engages readers in explorations, reflections and affirmations. Chapters deal with: 'Sexuality - What is and what might be', 'Sexuality and the Bible', 'On being sexual persons', 'Expressing our sexuality', 'Sexism', 'Sexuality and persons in particular circumstances', 'Theological assumptions, issues, and recommendations'. Guidelines for making decisions/choices in sexual relationships and behaviour are presented in the chapter dealing with expressing our sexuality.United Church of Canada. Gift, Dilemma and Promise: report & affirmations on human sexuality.
This study resource addresses four areas: 1. the meaning of sexuality (Chapter 2: Sexuality and Selfhood), 2. morality and meaning in sexual relationships (Chapter 3: Marriage; Chapter 4: Intimacy), 3. a chapter on Sexism, Society, Self; and 4. a chapter on Sexual Orientation. Each chapter presents a description of the present situation (issues and various attitudes people have expressed), stories from life illustrating these attitudes and dilemmas in personal accounts, questions for study and discussion, insights from the scriptures as related biblical passages are explored, and finally, acknowledgments of the social and personal realities in which we Christians live, and 'affirmations' which are guidelines which the 30th General Council approved. Appendix 2 gives 'The Bible and Homosexuality' by Dr. Vern Fawcett, Professor of Old Testament, Emmanuel College, Toronto.
Homosexuality and Christianity
Almost all of the problems homosexually-oriented persons face are caused by social stigma and oppression (heterosexism and homophobia) which has often come from the belief that God forbids such an orientation and that these feelings of revulsion are justified by Christian teachings. These texts clarify the issue and give personal and historical as well as social perspectives to it.
Boswell, John. Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay people in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980.
This ten-year study of the history of attitudes toward homosexuality in the Christian West challenges received opinion and our preconceptions about the Church's past relationship to its gay members, among whom were priests, and even bishops and canonized saints. Intolerance of homosexuality was not an essential feature of Christianity for the first twelve hundred years.Comstock, Gary David. Gay Theology Without Apology.
In his bold essays, Comstock (an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and chaplain at Wesleyan University) finds God's liberating connection in body experience. He shows that only in taking our lives seriously can we be lovers of the world. These essays are both a judgment on church oppression and a charter of hope for gay/lesbian/bisexual and transgendered Christians on the edges of the church. His critique of heterosexism in the Bible leads to a creative search for meaning in the lives of those struggling for wholeness and new life in community. He makes a persuasive case for the richer, more erotic, more just and loving humanness of every one of us.Fortunato, John. Embracing the Exile: Healing Journeys of Gay Christians.
This Christian psychotherapist observes that "For gay Christians to be able to love, give, and find meaning in a world that rejects and isolates them, the cruel gash separating their sexuality from their spirituality must be healed. Their freedom to love and give in a hostile world hinges upon their coming to believe in their wholeness and in their having a rightful place in God's universe.Goss, Robert. Jesus Acted Up: A Gay and Lesbian Manifesto
But there is a more primitive brokenness to be healed first, a brokenness of which the gay Christian's spirituality-sexuality dilemma is only a subtheme. A brokenness that also explains much of the current craziness that permeates Western society and that helped create the gay Christian's dilemma. It has to do with the contemporary view that people are split into two parts - ... into psychological and spiritual dimensions" (p.18) rather than a single soul.
This gay activist and former Jesuit priest challenges the homophobia of the churches by asking "What does it mean to speak and practice Christianity from a gay/lesbian perspective?" Goss argues that it means embracing the radical activist Jesus of the gospels. Drawing on recent biblical and historical scholarship, he demonstrates that Jesus was a social revolutionary and religious innovator who championed outcasts, embraced the marginalized, cleansed the Temple of mercenary power brokers, and advocated social change and political action as radical as any ACT-UP activist in the 90's.McNeill, John J. The Church and the Homosexual
This Jesuit priest gives a profoundly Christian study of the scriptures, traditions and moral theology relative to homosexual orientation as well as the positive contributions of homosexual persons to the life of the church.Pennington, Sylvia. But Lord, They're Gay:A Christan Pilgrimage
This missionary sent to save the homosexuals in San Francisco discovered that they were only needing messages of hope in God's love and not conversion to heterosexuality.Pittenger, Norman W. Making Sexuality Human
This Cambridge scholar examines heterosexual and homosexual expressions of sexuality along with the frustrations, distortions and ethics of sexuality. The final chapter focusses on God as love.Pittenger, Norman W. Time For Consent: A Christian's Approach to Homosexuality
This senior member of King's College, Cambridge covers a wide range of topics from 'What is Man?' and 'The Meaning of Sin' to 'Homosexual Condition and Homosexual Acts', 'The Morality of Homosexual Acts', 'Fidelity and Permanence' to 'An Ethic for Homosexuals'.Smith, Leon. (Ed) Homosexuality: In Search of a Christian Understanding.
Five writers from the Presbyterian tradition offer a variety of views to stimulate further study by individuals and groups.Woods, Richard. Another Kind of Love: Homosexuality and Spirituality
Addressed to homosexual persons and all who care about them, this book by a Dominican priest is upbeat, well informed and full of honest confrontation with the positive and negative aspects of being both homosexual and Christian. Woods gives direct and helpful advice concerning celibacy, chastity, pornography, modesty of clothing, gay bars and baths, and the pressing lack of gay Christians to 'redeem the gay community".
The Bible and Homosexuality
Specific verses in various translations have been researched in recent decades by theological scholars and biblical researchers. The insights from the contemporary literature of the biblical times and other analytical approaches have given new understandings to all of these passages. Representative explorations of how these new understandings have been arrived at, and what they are, can be found in these references:
Babuscio, Jack. We Speak for Ourselves: Experiences in Homosexual Counselling
Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1976.
This text provides information and advice for heterosexuals, troubled homosexuals and their families and friends. It gives insights into the ways homosexuals view themselves and their status as members of a faith community designed to meet the needs of only heterosexual members. The Chapter on 'Gay Sex, Straight Religion' covers homosexuality and scripture (pages 83-86) and the gospel of love (pages 86-89). "Churches must begin with the premise that no sexual orientation is superior to any other. Such an assumption of equality should extend to the realm of moral responsibility, too - an acknowledgment of the fact that homosexuals are no less responsible for their sexual lives than are heterosexuals. After all, true religion recognizes that sexual maturity and self-realization are essential parts of the gospel of wholeness preached by Judaism and Christianity alike." (p. 90)Boswell, John. Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay people in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century.
This Yale historian has covered the sources of thinking and believing that homosexual orientation is not desirable. Chapter 4 on The Scriptures [Old Testament over pages 91 to 106 and the New Testament over pages 106 to 117] gives a thorough coverage of the results of Biblical scholarship in the 1970s that points to the fact that these passages are not directed at the 10% of our population that are created with a sexual orientation that is not heterosexual, but that these passages point to errors in relationships (sins) that all persons are capable of committing.Edwards, George R. Gay and Lesbian Liberation: A Biblical Perspective.
Chapter 2 presents Sodom revisited and Chapter 4 discusses homosexuality in Paul's theology.England, M. E. The Bible and Homosexuality.
A small book that reviews inspiration and critical interpretation (textual, historical, source, and form criticisms) before exploring the eight verses in the Bible that have most commonly been cited as prooftexts of condemnation of homosexual activity. It reconsiders the creation accounts and how they relate to human sexuality and concludes with Christ's reinforcement of the great commandments to love God, to love others, and to love ourselves.Gomes, Peter J. The Good Book: Reading the Bible With Mind and Heart.
Within a section called The Use and Abuse of the Bible, this Baptist preacher to Harvard University calls homosexuality "The Last Prejudice". He shows how the Bible is undeniably inclusive and not exclusive. He quotes Edwin Markham's poemHelminiak, Daniel A., PhD. What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality."He drew a circle that shut me out - heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.Rev. Gomes is convinced that fear is at the heart of homophobia, as it is at the heart of racism, and religion is often the moral fig leaf that covers naked prejudice. (p.166) He illustrates how the prejudice toward homosexuals is loaded with the squeamishness of our churches to talk of sex. For Augustine, lust was the sinful desire that could only be mitigated by purposeful, procreative and unpleasurable sex. (Augustine called the genitals 'pudere' which is Latin for "to be ashamed".) Celibacy was the badge of moral authority; marriage was a concession to human weakness and the need for companionship, children, and sex. And sex within marriage was tolerated not for pleasure but for the morally worthy purpose of producing more Christians. "What the homosexual did was different, and hence the homosexual was different, and in a religious world that increasingly prized conformity in all things, but particularly in sexual matters, the difference branded the homosexual a threat to the moral order, the equivalent of a heretic in the church or a traitor to the state." (p.169) Homosexuals in medieval and early modern Europe , like witches, were burned as heretics on bundles of sticks called faggots. "These cultural identities all stem from what homosexuals do or cannot do sexually, and the source again is not the Bible but the moral assumptions of the Church Fathers with which they then read the Bible and interpreted it as part of the teaching tradition of the church." (p.169-170)
But Love and I had the wit to win; we drew a circle that took him in."
This Roman Catholic priest and pastoral counselor explains recent findings by top biblical scholars which indicate that those who perceive the Bible passages as condemning homosexuality are being misled by faulty translation and poor interpretation. His book will help to make us aware that we cannot claim to be the body of Christ if we fail to welcome all whom Christ would welcome. "If people would still seek to know outright if gay or lesbian sex in itself is good or evil, if homogenital acts per se are right or wrong, they will have to look somewhere else. For the fact of the matter is simple enough. The Bible never addresses that question. More than that, the Bible seems deliberately unconcerned about it." (p.109)Horner, Thomas M., PhD. Jonathan Loved David: Homosexuality in Biblical Times.
Dr. Horner, an Episcopal priest, gives a truly critical but respectful approach to the Bible texts dealing with homosexual practces by examining them in their original context to determine their intent. He focuses on subtle and numerous allusions throughout the Bible that suggest the pervasiveness of homosexual practices in ancient mid-Eastern, including Israelite, societies. He suggests a highly probable homosexual relationship between Jonathan and David and a possible one between Ruth and Naomi, and also cautiously alludes to homosexual characteristics in Paul and sensitivities in Jesus ("Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved" John 13:23, etc.; see p.120ff).Macourt, Malcolm. (Editor) Towards a Theology of Gay Liberation.
In the section on The Biblical Material, Rictor Norton claims that 'The Biblical Roots of Homophobia' can be traced directly from the Judaeo-Christian tradition and traditional interpretations of Bible verses (pages 39-46). Then James Martin 'An Old Testament Scholar Replies' that in only two passages does the Old Testament condemn homosexual acts and that the matter of sexual expression is extremely peripheral to the Old Testament (pages 47-56). In 'A Rejoinder', Norton raises the heterosexual bias and the need to assess the cultural context in any study of biblical material (pages 57-60). "Particularly, we must remember that in the past few other statements in the Bible have been treated as literally as those that touch on homosexuality by people who have found more flexible or non-literal interpretations for every other topic" (page 37).McNeill, John J. The Church and the Homosexual
This Jesuit priest gives a profoundly Christian study of the scriptures in Chapter 2 covering the use of scripture, the need for a definition of homosexuality, the Sodom and Gomorrah story, the problems of translation, the interpretation of Romans 1:26, the Old Testament context and the creation account in Genesis.Nelson, James B. Embodiment: An Approach to Sexuality and Christian Theology.
Nelson, Professor of Christian Ethics, United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, addresses the Biblical passages that have been understood to condemn love between two people of the same gender/sex. See especially Chapter 8 on 'Gayness and Homosexuality: Issues for the Church' over pages 181 to 188.Pennington, Sylvia. Good News for Modern Gays; A Pro-Gay Biblical Approach
Reverend Pennington's purpose for this book is 'to glorify God by expounding on truth with the hope of clarifying God's Nature, Love, and Grace; to help all gay people know that God's Word does not condemn them; to enable heterosexual Christians to see more clearly what God has to say to the Church about homosexuality today; to rectify the error and consequent injustice with which well-meaning Christians are inadvertently persecuting innocent people.'Pittenger, Norman. Time For Consent: A Christian's Approach to Homosexuality
This senior member of King's College, Cambridge briefly addresses 'The Biblical Material and Changing Religious Attitudes' in Chapter 9 over pages 81 to 87.Scroggs, Robin. Homosexuality in the New Testament: Contextual Background for Contemporary Debate.
This is a thorough, careful study of the Bible and summary of the classical mindset on homosexuality. He concludes that the standard model of homosexuality in antiquity was pederastic, involving a relationship between an older man and a younger boy, and that this is what the New Testament condemned in Romans, 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy, Accordingly, those condemnations do not refer to a mutual love between peers.Spong, John Shelby. Living in Sin?: A Bishop Rethinks Human Sexuality.
This Episcopal bishop has reviewed the biblical material and placed it in our 20th Century context to reveal many challenging insights. Chapter 2 is a biblical call to inclusiveness; chapter 5 describes homosexuality as a natural part of life and not a curse in and of itself; chapter 9 deals with the Bible and homosexuality; and chapter 14 recommends blessing same sex couples in life-long committed relationships.Wilson, Nancy. Our Tribe: Queer Folks, God, Jesus, and the Bible.
The Reverend Wilson explores the premise that the Bible is more than a document brimming with 'texts of terror' but a document with traces of queer tribal history and a message of all-redeeming love. Her passionate proclaiming of a 'queer theology' can lead all Christians - gay, lesbian, bisexual and straight - into the next millennium. Chapter 4 is Outing the Bible: Our Gay and Lesbian Tribal Texts and postulates that gay and lesbian people are the eunuchs of the Bible. Chapter 7 is A Queer Theology of Sexuality.Wink, Walter. Biblical Perspectives on Homosexuality in The Christian Century, Nov 7, 1979.
Bouldrey, Brian (Ed). Wrestling With the Angel: Faith and Religion in the Lives of Gay Men.
New York: Riverhead Books, 1995.
21 personal accounts of men who are of many faiths and denominations portray moving and powerfully the paradox at the core of their faiths: If God created each of us in God's image, then how can that image be "wrong"? In vivid descriptions of their paths toward spiritual and sexual identity, these men reveal the joys and frustrations of communicating with one's excommunicator or in some cases, of constructing a faith of one's own.Boyd, Malcolm. Gay Priest: An Inner Journey.
This book recounts the painful spiritual journey forced on any gay man who would be a priest, the confusion of soul that comes from the Church's unspoken directive to her gay sons: "Tell a Lie for Christ". Aware that at least thirty percent of the Catholic and Episcopal clergy are gay, Father Boyd issues a challenge to the Christian churches, proclaiming the absolute demands of spiritual honesty and compassion, and revealing the rich insights the gay experience teaches about the God of love.Boyd, Malcolm and Wilson, Nancy. Amazing Grace: Stories of Lesbian and Gay Faith
Ten Christians tell their faith journeys and so reveal their first-hand experiences of "the church's beauty and cruelty, its sacramental grace and its homophobic sins, its healing and its dis-ease, its discipleship of Christ and its betrayal of Christ, its warm expression of God's love and its cold repudiation of God's love."Glaser, Chris. Uncommon Calling: A Gay Man's Struggle to Serve the Church
This Presbyterian chronicles his life-long effort to become a minister in his denomination. Chris like many saints in history finds himself in conflict with the church. He persists in bringing not only his sexuality but also his spirituality and his call to ministry out of the closet and into the light of God's unconditional love.O'Neill, Craig and Ritter, Kathleen. Coming Out Within: Stages of Spiritual Awakening for Lesbians and Gay Men.
These chapters document the stories of many people who moved from loss of family and church community to transformation after shattering their outworn life images. The authors (a Roman Catholic priest and a professor of counseling) guide readers to discover their inner and best sense of God.Perry, Troy D. (with Charles Lucas) The Lord is My Shepherd and He Knows I'm Gay
The Reverend Perry is the founder of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches (he held his first worship service for gays in his home in 1968) and this book recounts his journey from a boy preacher to a later life as an outcast and finally to ministering to those who, like himself, had been alienated by the church.Perry, Troy D. (with Thomas Swicegood) Don't Be Afraid Anymore: The Story of Reverend Troy Perry and the Metropolitan Community Churches
This blend of personal journey and church history depicts Troy's search for a calling and the 20 years MCCs have struggled with adversity and grown to over 200 congregations in nine countries - the largest organization in the world ministering to gay people.White, Mel. Stranger At the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America.
This moving story - part autobiography, part personal manifesto - depicts the battle gay people are engaged in for their rights against the Religious Right. He concludes with 18 ways to "Keep the Religious Right From Doing Wrong" (p.320-322)
Lutheran Church in America. A Study of Issues Concerning Homosexuality
New York: Division of Mission in North America, 1986
Considers both Hebrew and Christian scriptures and is a helpful study guide.Reed, James (editor). A Study Resource on Human Sexuality: Approaches to Sexuality and Christian Theology.
Collection of papers written for Committee on Human Sexuality of National Executive Council of the Anglican Church of Canada addresses ethics and issues of social justice.Riordon, Michael. The First Stone: Homosexuality and the United Church (of Canada)
In 1988 the General Council of the United Church of Canada shocked the nation with its decision not to bar homosexual men and women from becoming ordained ministers. Ever since, the church has been in turmoil. This book gives a compassionate and fair-minded account of the events and debates as reported by people who express their fears, concerns and beliefs surrounding this issue.
Glaser, Chris. Coming Out To God: Prayers, for Lesbians and Gay Men, their Families and Friends.
Louisville: John Knox Press, 1991.
Here are 60 daily prayers which open new vistas into prayer, discipleship and the relationship between spirituality and sexuality. These prayers which strengthen the intimacy between humans and God are grouped into three sections: Created in God's Image; Called as Community; and Citizens of a Commonwealth.
Stuart, Elizabeth. Daring to Speak Love's Name: A Gay Lesbian Prayer Book.
London: Hamish Hamilton, 1992.
A collection of liturgies for blessing relationships, housewarmings, coming out, partings, the ill, and memorial rituals. This book affirms that lesbian and gay Christians are declaring to the rest of the Church, 'We are here to stay. We have been given gifts. We are beginning to know how to celebrate those gifts. We intend to keep on doing so. We would like to share them with people who are not lesbian or gay and we grieve when they are refused.'
Loepold, Kathleen & Orians, Thomas. (Eds) Theological Pastoral Resources.
Washington: Dignity, Inc., 1981.
A collection of articles on homosexuality from a pastoral perspective by Roman Catholics. It includes From Abomination to Blessing: The Gift of Being Gay by a nun and The Sad Dilemma of the Gay Catholic by Brian McNaught.