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Queer theology is a theological methodology that can be defined in a three-fold manner: 1) as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex people"talking about God;" 2) talking about God in purposefully transgressive manners, especially in terms of social and cultural norms regarding gender and sexuality; and 3) talking about God in a way that "challenges and deconstructs the natural binary categories of sexual and gender identity." The three parts of this definition are not mutually exclusive.
 Queer theology is brought by the philosophical perspective of Queer Theory. Queer theology provides the reexamination of biblical text by providing a queer perspective to talk about God. It uses a queer approach to interpret Christian Theology and provides a space for individuals who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Intersex and Queer to talk about god.It is a transgressive approach to talk about God by challenging societal norms about sexuality and gender by arguing that sex categories, gender identity, and sexuality are not natural but are socially constructed.Queer theology is brought by the work of queer philosophers and sociologists such as Michel Foucault, Gayle Rubin, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, and Judith Butler. According to “Queer Theology: Reclaiming Christianity for the LGBT Community Kelly Kraus” defines queer as an umbrella term for anyone with a marginalized sexual orientation or gender identity. Queer theology is inclusive to individuals sexual and gender identity and allows the LGBT community to reclaim their space in Christianity.
Social theorist Judith Butler notes the pejorative origins of the word "queer" when she writes, "[queer] derives its force precisely through the repeated invocation by which it has become linked to accusation, pathologization, insult." Whatever negatives denotations "queer" has, it has been reclaimed by queer people to refute the intrinsic hostility of the term.
Queer theology begins with an assumption that gender non-conformity and gay and lesbian desire have always been present in human history, and were present in the Bible. It is also a way of understanding the Bible as a source of stories about radical love.
Hugh William Montefiore’s views on Jesus’ early life
In a paper read at the Conference of Modern Churchmen in 1967 titled “Jesus, the Revelation of God,” the Reverend Hugh William Montefiore offers a controversial interpretation of the early life of Jesus. Jesus was not aware of his vocation as Messiah until approximately age thirty, Montefiore argues, and this vocation can therefore not explain the celibacy of Jesus. Apart from the Essenes, celibacy was not a common practice in Jewish life. Montefiore suggest we might need to look for a non-religious reason to explain the celibacy of Jesus:
Men usually remain unmarried for three reasons: either because they cannot afford to marry or there are no girls to marry (neither of these factors need have deterred Jesus); or because it is inexpedient for them to marry in the light of their vocation (we have already ruled this out during the ‘hidden years’ of Jesus’ life); or because they are homosexual in nature, in as much as women hold no special attraction for them. The homosexual explanation is one which me must not ignore.
Montefiore finds the explanation that Jesus was homosexual consistent with his identification with the poor and oppressed:
All the synoptic gospels show Jesus in close relationship with the ‘outsiders’ and the unloved. Publicans and sinners, prostitutes and criminals are among his acquaintances and companions. If Jesus were homosexual in nature (and this is the true explanation of his celibate state) then this would be further evidence of God’s self-identification with those who are unacceptable to the upholders of ‘The Establishment’ and social conventions.
One proponent of queer theology is Marcella Althaus-Reid, who draws on Latin American liberation theology and interprets the Bible in a way that she sees as positive towards women, queer people, and sex. She proposed a theology that centered marginalized people, including people in poverty and queer people. For Althaus-Reid, theology ought to be connected to the body and lived experience.
She put it this way:
- ″Indecent Sexual Theologies…may be effective as long as they represent the resurrection of the excessive in our contexts, and a passion for organizing the lusty transgressions of theological and political thought. The excessiveness of our hungry lives: our hunger for food, hunger for the touch of other bodies, for love and for God… [O]nly in the longing for a world of economic and sexual justice together, and not subordinated to one another, can the encounter with the divine take place. But this is an encounter to be found at the crossroads of desire, when one dares to leave the ideological order of the heterosexual pervasive normative. This is an encounter with indecency, and with the indecency of God and Christianity.″
One theme in the theology of her "The Queer God" (Routledge, 2003) is the holiness of the gay club, as she explores the intersection and essential non-contradiction of a strong, vibrant faith life and sexual desire. An example of finding otherness and desire in Biblical texts is her reading of Jeremiah 2:23-25 from the Hebrew:
- "...a young camel deviating from her path: a wild she-ass accustomed to the wilderness, sniffing the wind in her lust. Who can repel her desire? And you said, No! I love strangers, the different, the unknown, the Other, and will follow them."
Queer theology in the academic community
Several theology schools offer courses in "Queer Theology" including Boston University School of Theology, Yale Divinity School, Vanderbilt Divinity School, Vancouver School of Theology, Pacific School of Religion, Chicago Theological Seminary and Harvard Divinity School.
- Cheng, Patrick (2013). Rainbow Theology: Bridging Race, Sexuality, and Spirit. New York: Seabury Books. p. 4. ISBN 9781596272415.
- Cheng, Patrick (2011). An Introduction to Queer Theology: Radical Love. Church Publishing. ISBN 9781596271364.
- Queer Theology: Reclaiming Christianity for the LGBT Community by Kelly Kraus
- Butler, Judith (1993). "Critical Queer" (PDF). GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies. doi:10.1215/10642684-1-1-17.
- cited after Gary D. Comstock and Susan E. Henking, eds. Que(e)Rying Religion: A Critical Anthology (Continuum International Publishing Group: 1997). ISBN 9780826409249
- Patrick S. Cheng, Radical Love: An Introduction to Queer Theology (Church Publishing: 2011). ISBN 978-1-59627-136-4.
- H. W. Montefiore, “Jesus, the Revelation of God,” in Christ for Us Today: Papers read at the Conference of Modern Churchmen, Somerville College, Oxford, July 1967, edited by Norman Pittenger (SCM Press, London: 1968), p. 109.
- ibid, p. 110.
- "Dr. Marcella Althaus-Reid", Religious Archives Network (on line).
- Marcella Althaus-Reid, Indecent Theology, (Routledge, 2002) p. 200. ISBN 0203468953.
- Marcella Althaus-Reid, The Queer God (Routledge: 2003). ISBN 041532324X.
- Jay Emerson Johnson. A "Queer God"? Really? Remembering Marcella Althaus-Reid". Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies, Pacific School of Religion (March 5, 2009) -- on line.
- Marcella Althaus-Reid. Indecent Theology: Theological Perversions in Sex, Gender and Politics (Routledge Chapman & Hall: 2000). ISBN 0415236045.
- Althaus-Reid, Marcella (2000). Indecent Theology: Theological perversions in sex, gender and politics. ISBN 0415236045.
- Althaus-Reid, Marcella (2003). The Queer God. ISBN 041532324X.
- Clark, John Michael (1997). Defying the Darkness: Gay Theology in the Shadows. Pilgrim Press. ISBN 9780829811636.
- Cornwall, Susannah (2011). Controversies in Queer Theology. Controversies in contextual theology series. Hymns Ancient and Modern Ltd. ISBN 9780334043553.
- Hedges, Paul (2011). "Guanyin, Queer Theology, and Subversive Religiosity: an experiment in interreligious theology". In David Cheetham. Interreligious Hermeneutics in Pluralistic Europe: Between Texts and People. Rodopi. pp. 203–230.
- Loughlin, Gerard, ed. (2009). Queer Theology: Rethinking the Western Body. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 9780470766262.
- Johnson, Jay Emerson (2014). Peculiar Faith: Queer Theology for Christian Witness. Church Publishing, Inc. ISBN 9781596272514.