Queering Jesus: At ‘Progressive’ Churches & Divinity Schools

John Murawski digs deep into the rapid institutional shift at mainline denominational churches and divinity schools. He has done his homework. It’s a long piece but well worth the effort if you want to know what happened and by whose hand.

This is a small portion….

Vignettes from progressive Christianity today:

  • A Presbyterian church goes viral online for marking the Transgender Day of  Visibility with a public prayer to the “God of Pronouns.” The congregants of the church, First Presbyterian of Iowa City, pay obeisance to “the God of Trans Being,” giving due glory to “the Great They/Them.”
  • The United Methodist Church boasts the first drag queen in the world to become a certified candidate for ordination. This traveling minister, who describes drag ministry as a “divine duty,” is lauded by a Florida pastor as “an angel in heels” after appearing in that church in a sequin dress to deliver a children’s sermon and denounce the privilege of Whiteness and cis-ness.  
  • At Duke University’s Methodist-affiliated divinity school, pastors-in-training and future religious leaders conduct a Pride worship service in which they glorify the Great Queer One, Fluid and Ever-Becoming One. The service leads off with a prayer honoring God as queerness incarnate: “You are drag queen and transman and genderfluid, incapable of limiting your vast expression of beauty.”  
  • And the Presbyterian News Service offers online educational series such as “Queering the Bible” (2022) and “Queering the Prophets” (2023) during Pride Month. A commentary in the former refers to Jesus as “this eccentric ass freak” who challenged first-century gender norms. 

These examples from this year and last are just a few illustrating how progressive churches are moving beyond gay rights, even beyond transgender acceptance, and venturing into the realm of “queer theology.” Rather than merely settling for the acceptance of gender-nonconforming people within existing marital norms and social expectations, queer theology questions heterosexual assumptions and binary gender norms as limiting, oppressive and anti-biblical, and centers queerness as the redemptive message of Christianity.  

In this form of worship, “queering” encourages the faithful to problematize, disrupt, and destabilize the assumptions behind heteronormativity and related social structures such as monogamy, marriage, and capitalism. These provocative theologians and ministers assert that queerness is not only natural and healthy but biblically celebrated. They assert that God is not the patron deity of the respectable, the privileged, and the comfortable, but rather God has a “preferential option” for the promiscuous, the outcast, the excluded and the impure.

Thus it is in the presence of the sexually marginalized – such as in a gay bathhouse or bondage dungeon – where we find the presence of Jesus. In the language of queer theology, queerness is a sign of God’s love because “queer flesh is sacramental flesh,” and authentic “Christian theology is a fundamentally queer enterprise,” whereas traditional Christianity has been corrupted into “a systematic calumny against hedonist love.” 

Such claims may seem outrageous and offensive to the uninitiated, as do the antics of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, the group of provocative drag queen nun impersonators scheduled to be honored at a Los Angeles Dodgers’ “Pride Night” on June 16 …. 

But queer theology is a mature, established theological subject of scholarship now in its third decade and armed with well-honed arguments that queerness is grounded in biblical texts and classic commentaries. Most newly minted ministers coming out of mainline divinity schools today have some exposure to queer theology, either through taking a queer course, reading queer authors in other courses, or through conversations with queer students and queer professors, said Ellen Armour, chair of feminist theology and director of the Carpenter Program in Religion, Gender, and Sexuality at the Vanderbilt Divinity School.  

Courses on queer theology are offered at the leading progressive divinity schools, such as Harvard Divinity School, whose spring 2023 catalog lists “Queering Congregations: Contextual Approaches for Dismantling Heteronormativity.” The class trains ministers and educators in “subverting the heterosexist paradigms and binary assumptions that perpetuate oppression in American ecclesial spaces.”   

Source: RealClear Investigations (read the whole thing)

* Make sure you visit the links above. Very revealing. Take the time.

As I said, Murawski has done his homework by diving into the relevant Queer Theology texts. If you are a member of one of the denominations mentioned, be forewarned. Without serious course-correction (another word for repentance) your churches will soon die out (click this link for evidence). Ironically your dwindling numbers reveal the foolishness of your brand of “inclusion.”

First Presbyterian Church – Iowa City

In the last two years over 6000 United Methodists Churches have left the UMC denomination because of “progressive” Christianity. Source: USA Today


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