The words ‘Queer’ and ‘Theology’ might seem to some people to not exactly fit together. Some would argue that the very concept is an oxymoron. However, there are many Christian traditions that are now embracing the LGBTQ+ movement to varying degrees and are developing a theology that embraces this diversity.
There are currently two books in our physical library collection that reflect on this topic (Queer Theology: Rethinking the Western Body and Shameless: A sexual reformation) and more in our digital collection (while you are here why not check out our digital LGBTQ+ History Month Collection here: bit.ly/3JMx1dc). In this blog post we will give a short introduction to the two books in our physical collection.
Queer Theology: Rethinking the Western Body (233.5 LOU)
In the introduction to this book Gerard Loughlin states that ‘theology is a queer thing, it has always been a queer thing’ (2007, p7). The book gives a thorough and academic look at the nature of the human person and questions that emerge in the Church with regards to LGBTQ+ issues and LGBTQ+ individuals. The writers challenge traditional understandings of sex, sexuality, and marriage, and seek to develop a tradition of queer theology that is defended using scripture and tradition. The book includes a good amount of testimony and the stories of individual Christians but also has some articles of deep theological argument.
The book covers the Roman Catholic dimension very thoroughly, but would have benefitted from references to important developments in the area of Queer theology from other denominations. For example, theological developments in the area of Queer theology in Lutheran Churches (A Social Statement on Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust (elca.org) and Resources for the LGBTQIA+ Community – Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (elca.org)), The Methodist Church (Guidance and Resources for Same-Sex Marriage (methodist.org.uk)), or from the Quakers (Quakers and same-sex marriage | Quakers in Britain), to name only a few examples.
This book is well worth a read. No matter what your position it will challenge you. However, given its age (being from 2007), it might be worth exploring some more recent material too.
Shameless: A sexual reformation (241.66 BOL)
Shameless: A sexual reformation is a book by Lutheran Pastor and Theologian Nadia Bolz-Weber. Drawing on the Lutheran principles of the need for constant reform in the Church, and the pastoral nature of theology Nadia discusses Christian understandings of sex and sexuality from a unique angle. She discusses how at times it can be taught that to be a Christian is to be a ‘heterosexual, cis gender Christian who never has sex with anyone until they marry their one true love and make babies’ (Bolz-Weber, 2019, p3) and how such an understanding would mean that ‘if that’s ‘God’s plan’, then God planned poorly’ (Bolz Weber, 2019, p3).
Nadia and her congregation produced the Denver Statement (The Denver Statement | Nadia Bolz Weber (patheos.com)) which proclaimed a theology of love and acceptance, and a God who accepts people where they are. Her book defends a theology that embraces all people on the LGBTQ+ spectrum.
Shameless is a deeply moving account of life in a Church (Home – House for All Sinners & Saints) that deals with questions of sexuality and identity in a humane and loving way and accepts everyone as they are. However, it could be argued that this text lacks some theological substance. The book is focused on the stories of individuals and arguably gives a vision of the future of Christianity but the inclusion of more scriptural analysis would have strengthened her position from a theological perspective.
We hope that you have enjoyed our musings on these two books. If it has piqued your interest, why not head to the library and borrow one or both? Or look online for the many books on similar topics that you will be able to access.
Bolz-Weber, N. (2019). Shameless: A sexual Reformation. Canterbury Press, London, UK.
Loughlin, G. (2007). Queer Theology: Rethinking the Western Body. Ed. Loughlin, G.Blackwell Publishing. Oxford, UK.