Christianity’s “fundasexuality”

Cathleen Falsani’s excellent piece for the Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/cathleen-falsani/the-great-gay-awakening_b_808235.html) draws some much needed attention to the existence of gay and gay-friendly Christians. Yes, that’s right. Gay people can be Christian too. Got it? Still with me? Good. Now let’s continue. The Bible is not actually anti-gay, despite what the James Dobsons of the world claim, and Falsani (much to her credit) addresses this in her piece. Fortunately, Christians like Falsani are growing in number.

In a media landscape dominated by the clownish antics of Westboro Baptist and other major figures in the religious right, the saner dictums of pastors and theologians like Jay Bakker and Brian McLaren are often ignored. Sanity doesn’t sell. Yet the insistent focus on hate is a disservice to GLBT Christians and their spiritual brothers and sisters. These individuals face a difficult battle within their faith as they struggle against centuries of church tradition and the American church’s recent preoccupation with political action in support of social conservatism. McLaren terms this preoccupation “fundasexuality,” and it’s a hypocrisy I felt strongly as I grew up in evangelical Christianity. Sex is verboten for the unlucky unmarried. In my experience, sex was only discussed within the context of abstinence. To sum it up: sex is for straight married people. Sexual content in books and movies is decried as filth, and yet there’s this strange voyeurism focused on the bedrooms of other people. Unhealthy is the mildest term applicable.

Gay Christians and their supporters are, if not thriving, finally growing in number, and provide perhaps the best counter to the religious right in America. The religious right pushes back, of course. The stories of young GLBT Christians can be heartbreaking. They are often rejected by their friends, their family, and their spiritual brothers and sisters. And they are changing Christianity from within. They challenge the traditions that seek to deny their very existence at churches and colleges across America, and their bravery should not be drowned out by the insane ramblings of hate. I believe that message cannot be emphasized more strongly due to America’s highly vitriolic religious and political landscape, especially since that vitriol has now been exported and feeds homophobic violence in nations like Uganda.

So kudos to Cathleen Falsani. Kudos to the Huffington Post for recognizing the importance of her message. And to my GLBT Christian friends: much, much love.

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3 thoughts on “Christianity’s “fundasexuality”

  1. This is one of the few posts I’ve read on this subject that doesn’t come across as being hateful towards social conservatives, and I thank you for that. However, even though it seems reasonable on the surface, I don’t think this post is going to be very convincing to anyone who doesn’t already agree with you.

    From a religious standpoint (ignoring civil marriage for the time being), the burden of explanation is on you and other liberal Christians to understand why, up until about the 1960’s or so, just about every Christian, including both laypeople and clergy, thought that homosexual actions or any sex outside of marriage was gravely immoral and the idea of same-sex marriage within the church was utterly absurd. Once you understand why just about everyone thought this way, you then have to explain one of two things. Why is it that either (1) Every Christian from 33 AD up until the 1960’s had a faulty understanding of sexuality and marriage, or (2) Limiting marriage to one man and one woman, and only allowing sex within marriage, was perfectly reasonable up until the 1960’s, but there was some fundamental change in human nature that rendered this moral belief to be obsolete.

    It is not sufficient to simply say that a growing number of people decided that the Christian ideal of marriage and sexuality was too hard, for, as G.K. Chesterton said, “The problem is not that the Christian ideal,” (for just about anything: sexuality, economics, war, etc.), “has been tried and found wanting, the problem is that it has been found difficult and left untried.”

    And I’ve seen very few people who have even tried to do this. Almost no one on the left even tries to understand where social conservatives are coming from; it is simply taken as an article of faith that they are wrong, outdated, and worthy of nothing but mockery and contempt. To be fair, many people in the religious right simply demonize feminists and liberals and make no attempt to understand the ideas behind their belief system either. I don’t think that’s right, which is why I do things like reading and commenting on blogs like yours, and getting involved with anti-sexual violence groups on my campus. But, to their credit, unlike liberals, most conservative Christians are at least honest about their closed-mindedness.

    At this point, I really don’t feel that strongly on this issue one way or the other. On one hand, I don’t have any strong objections to the traditional Christian position, and I believe it deserves the benefit of the doubt. On the other hand, I do have some empathy for those who feel marginalized by traditional Christian teachings on sexuality. My most passionate belief at this point is that everyone needs to stop demonizing and start listening. We need to stop the name-calling on both sides because it is only then that a real dialogue can take place.

    I haven’t even gotten to civil marriage yet, but this is about 3/4 of a page in Word, which is probably long enough already.

    • Your historical claims aren’t actually supported by the historical record. Christian perspectives on premarital sex have never been monolithic, even before 1960. _Sexual Revolution in Early America_ by Richard Godbeer is just one book that undermines that claim. Nor have Christian perspectives on same sex unions been monolithic. See _Christianity, Tolerance, and Homosexuality_ and _Same-sex Unions in Premodern Europe_, both by John Boswell, for a start.

      • No, actually, the burden is not on me to explain why I believe that same sex unions are acceptable. That burden lies with social conservatives who refuse to consider another point of view. It’s theological inertia and it’s intellectually vapid. Why should I respect the viewpoint of anyone who freely admits to being close-minded? Not only do social conservatives admit to it, they allow their intolerance to shape repeated attempts to manipulate state law to fit their religious preferences.

        There is always another view. And while I agree that vitriol is no substitute for dialogue, there cannot be compromise as long as social conservatives insist on advocating for policies that misinform American youth on subjects like abortion and abstinence and completely deprive thousands of other Americans of their basic civil rights.

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