Queer Theology 101 and Synchroblog

My friend Shay Kearns, aka the Anarchist Reverend, has put out a call for a queer theology synchroblog (i.e., blogging on the same day about the same topic). This is a great opportunity to get a discussion going about faith and understandings of God from a different perspective than usual, so it’s worth checking out.

This is really about highlighting the gift of queer theology to the church and the world. This is not about apologetics, not about convincing other people that we are worthy, or that we should be given rights. All of those things have their place, but this is about something different. This is a time to focus on the positive contributions. The synchroblog is open to people of all faith traditions.

The theme for the synchroblog is “The Queer God”:

What does that phrase mean to you? How is your God queer? How does the queerness of God inspire, impact, etc.? If you want to you could also write about the queer Christ.

This synchroblog is open to anyone who wants to write on the topic! Offer a personal reflection, a poem, or a video. Write about this from a Jewish perspective, from a Muslim perspective, from a Pagan perspective.

To participate, write a post on the topic by Wednesday, October 10, and post a link in the comments at Shay’s blog.

Shay has also compiled a useful intro to three broad categories of Christian queer theology, along with some book/blog recommendations:

  • Apologetics:

    In Queer Theology this is the art of taking apart the ‘clobber passages.’ It looks at the Greek and Hebrew, tries to uncover the historical context, and attempts to make a Biblical case for (usually) Gay and Lesbian people.

    [Justin Tanis in Trans-Gendered: Theology, Ministry, and Communities of Faith, Virginia Ramey Mollenkott in Is the Homosexual My Neighbor? Revised and Updated: Positive Christian Response, A]

  • Exegesis and Hermeneutics:

    “[H]ermeneutics includes the entire framework of the interpretive process, encompassing all forms of communication: written, verbal and nonverbal, while exegesis focuses primarily on the written text.” [Wikipedia]
    This is the art of reading Queer stories underneath the text. This works sees trans* experience in the story of the Ethiopian Eunuch in the book of Acts, queer love between David and Jonathan in the Hebrew Scriptures, the gender nonconformity of Jacob and his son Joseph, etc.
    [ Peterson Toscano – who also does some great work on trans theology; Patrick Cheng in From Sin to Amazing Grace: Discovering the Queer Christ]

  • Embodiment:

    It’s the act of making queer experience central to the text. Reading the text through a queer lens. It moves into a living relationship with the text putting it in conversation with the lived lives of queer people.

    It’s what I’ve done in my Trans* Passion Narrative. It’s also been done by Marcella Althaus Reid in The Queer God.

I love Shay’s conclusion about the need for theology that focuses less on making a case to straight and cisgender people for why being queer or trans isn’t a sin, and more on queer and trans people and identities as full and equal parts of the church with their own unique and valuable contributions:

When we get into exegesis and embodiment we bring our whole selves to the text. We make the text live and sing and dance. We breathe into the breathe of queerness and in so doing it gives us back our spiritual strength.

As Marcella Althaus Reid says in “The Queer God” “There are those who go to gay bars and salsa clubs with rosaries in their pockets, and who make camp chapels of their living rooms. Others enter churches with love letters hidden in their bags, because their need for God and their need for love refuse to fit into different compartments.”

Exegesis and Embodiment bring together the chapel and the salsa club, they allow our love letters to be read and answered, they allow us to enter into the Word of God with our flesh and in so doing we make the Word flesh again.

I love this because it shifts the focus from queer people having to justify their place in their church – being on the defensive against assumptions that they cannot be part of the church – to taking ownership and articulating the contributions that queer people and identities bring to the church. Check out Shay’s post for more thoughts on this and more queer theology recommendations.