The centrality of sexuality

Why is this such a big deal? Why does it matter? It should be a non issue! This is what both right wing and left wing, conservatives and liberals are saying all over the place. In churches people are taught that their sexuality, while important, is not essential. Sexuality does not define you, or who you are.

This reasoning is the basis for the “Love the sinner, hate the sin” theology that is so prevalent, it is also the basis for all pushes for chastity and purity vows etc. Your sexuality whatever it is is a non-issue, seek first the kingdom.

Even in non church environments where liberalism reigns the sigh of ‘I have had enough’ together with the statement “why are we even talking about this” in regards to LGBTQ issues (all well meaning of course, taking for granted the equal rights for all people). I agree, equal rights for all people should be a non-issue, it should be something we could take for granted but it is not. As long as LGBTQ people are discriminated against in subtle and not so subtle ways it is an issue of importance. I also disagree, because our sexuality is an issue of centrality it is so entwined with whom we are and whom we are created to be, it is a central part of our creaturliness and therefore can never be a disregarded or relegated to a peripheral discourse.

We are so saturated in hetero-normative, sterelised thinking that we cannot see how a heteronorm reading of the bible narrative marginalises not only LGBTQ persons but also our sexuality.

It all starts in genesis where we have cleaned up the grand creation narrative with a clinical zen like ex-nihilo, purgating all messy chaotic double entendre within the narrative. In true platonistic fashion we pretend that the fall has negated gods declaration of ‘very good’ and fall into a gnostic reading where the spiritual still is good but matter is less than or even downright evil.

We continue our discourse by spiritualising our OT readings so as to forget about sexuality or at least put all the evil sex in the hands of the others (the others often being the LGBTQ community) scapegoating the dirty and disturbing onto those perverted others, safely ignoring the beams lodged in our own orifices.

The Song of Songs is read as a safe poetic allegory but we do not delve to deep lest we disturb the unsettling notion of gods passionate eros for us as gods beloved.

We continue sterilising the gospels by making sure Mary is a virgin and stays a virgin (making her a mythical creature and not a flesh and blood human). We keep our blinkers on so we can ignore the disturbing images of the god-spirit sexually (forcefully?) impregnating a teenage peasant girl.

Jesus is in our reading portrayed male but chaste to keep this serene gnosticism intact to the end. The passion of the resurrection is left unspoken as Jesus rises as an eternal resurrection body (without sex) and ascending to the sexless marriage-less heaven where we deftly ignore all sexual marriage symbolism used to describe the coming kingdom.

So here’s the problem, we have neutered the biblical narrative making it a-sexual, like a eunuch (which ironically is also sexually deviant). Since this is how we read scripture this is how we see god an a-sexual deity and therefore it must be how we treat our sexuality. Either as something embarrassing that should not be or something that will at least perish when we are made holy.

We need to recover a queer god. A gay god is not good enough, as a gay god simply reaffirms the false homo-hetero dichotomy. A Jesus who marries Mary Magdalene reinforces the heteronormative narrative while a gay Jesus reinforces it by reinforcing the “negative” pole. A queer god is a god who is neither male nor female but trans-gendered (not as in transitioning from one to another but as one who transcends both without ever becoming less of either or fully other). We need to recover a queer god that creates with erotic pleasure and then sets us free to do the same. We need to recover a queer Christ, who is not secretly longing to tap Mary Magdalene or Lazarus but passionately, erotically loves them both (that is, he is sexually attracted to them). Whatever Jesus does with his sexuality (as in: does he act it out?) is here irrelevant, the fact that it is there and central to his actions, fuelling his passionate love for all humanity, omni-amourous.

We are sexual beings, our eros is part of whom we are, not all that we are, but a significant part. When we ignore it or sterilise it, or try to tame it, make it clean acceptable we suppress who we are and therefore who god created us to be. It is time as Marcella Althaus-reid writes in her ‘Indecent theology’:

“Isn’t it time the Christian heterosexuals came out of their closets too?”

Let’s stop pretending that we are all the same, that our sexuality can be summarised with missionary vanilla sex. If we can allow the interpretative gap that Jesus leaves on these issues, the invitation to midrash, be a starting point for our continued discourse. Let’s stop pretending that this is not an important issue. Lets stop pretending that we can stop talking, wondering, experimenting, longing, masturbating, copulating and loving it!

 

  • Graeme Randall

    Patrik – good to hear from you again. It's been too long. BRILLIANT article!!!!!!! I can relate sooooo much with it. You have really got a good grip on 'Queer Theology'. When I was in College (Messengers of the Truth – 1995-96) we had a number of liberal theologians. One of them came to my dorm room (I was single) on a pastoral visit, and said 'let me encourage you to continue to be a heretic – I was also a heretic in college' (I had a reputation of questioning everything – and even being slightly heretical). I was eventually forced to leave Officership, but like you, the journey into Queer theology is one I can never back-tread. I do hope you do not suffer to many 'consequences' for this post. TSA NEEDS theologians like you. And if you are allowed to stay after a post like this – then there is indeed hope for TSA and people like me to return eventually. God bless you. Graeme Randall – Former Officer – Australian Eastern Territory – living in London. P.S. – would love to correspond with you. If you want my email – ask me and be great to chat.

  • Patrik

    Thank you for your comment Graeme! I get so saddened when I hear about people forced to leave officership over theology and doctrine. One of the things I love about TSA is the breadth of belief and the room for different opinions.

    So far I have been given nothing but support (if not agreement) in my theological meanderings by the national leadership and we have an open and ongoing dialogue. I also pray that this openness will continue. We need the conversation and deep and transformative conversation will not happen without a few \’heretics\’ rocking the boat.

    I have a small Facebook community called \’Pirate Church\’ an open page for advertising and public debate and a closed group for more sensitive conversation, feel free to find me there.

  • Mackan

    Since you invited me (or challenged me? ;) ) to respond, through twitter, here I am…

    I have, indeed, said "Why are we even debating this – this is such a small and non-central question". But it was while discussing the very few and – i stick to this – non-central bible texts that maybe talks about homosexuality specifically.

    I do agree that sexuality is a larger issue and that one of the things we have done that hurt people is that we first fragmented it into several smaller issues or, rather, diminished it to different "acts" that we later deemed more or less sinful.

    OTOH I have not yet come as far as you exploring sexuality theologically. I applaud your effort and read what you write with interest, even though I might be silent at times.

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