When I referred somewhat simplistically in an earlier post to LGBT “gloom” over the mid-term election results, Kittredge Cherry (of the excellent Jesus in Love blog) replied in a comment that this should be set against remarkable progress in LGBT theology – an opinion I wholeheartedly endorse. Progress really has been remarkable since the early pioneers began to write about “gay and lesbian theology” thirty five years ago.
Patrick Chen is one of a much younger generation of theologians, with an expanding body of important work. Jesus in Love blog has begun publishing (in instalments) an extended article by Cheng, “Rethinking Sin and Grace for LGBT People Today”. The first instalment is now available, under the provocative title, “The Erotic Christ“. Here is an extract:
The first christological model of sin and grace for LGBT people is the Erotic Christ. According to Audre Lorde, the Black feminist lesbian writer, the erotic is about relationality and desire for the other; it is the power that arises out of “sharing deeply” with another person. The erotic is to “share our joy in the satisfying” of the other, rather than simply using other people as “objects of satisfaction.”
The Erotic Christ arises out of the reality that Jesus Christ, as the Word made flesh, is the very embodiment of God’s deepest desires for us. Jesus Christ came down from heaven not for God’s own self-gratification, but rather for us and for our salvation. In the gospels, Jesus repeatedly shows his love and desire for all those who come into contact with him, including physical touch. He uses touch as a way to cure people of disease and disabilities, as well as to bring them back to life. He washes the feet of his disciples, and he even allows the Beloved Disciple to lie close to his breast at the last supper.
Conversely, Jesus is touched physically by many of the people who come into contact with him. He is touched by the bleeding woman who hoped that his powers could heal her. He is bathed in expensive ointment by the woman at Bethany. After his resurrection, Jesus allows Thomas to place his finger in the mark of the nails and also to place his hand in his side. All of these physical interactions are manifestations of God’s love for us – and our reciprocal love for God – through the Erotic Christ.
Carter Heyward, the lesbian theologian and Episcopal priest, has written about the Erotic Christ in the context of the “radically mutual character” of Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. For Heyward, the significance of Jesus Christ lies not only in the ways in which he touched others (both physically and otherwise), but also in the ways in which he was “healed, liberated, and transformed” by those who he encountered. This power in mutual relation is not something that exists solely within the trinitarian relationship between God, Jesus Christ, or the Holy Spirit. Rather, this power is present in all of us who have ever “loved, held, yearned, lost.”
Follow the link to read the full post at Kitt’s blog – and look out for the remaining instalments.
- Ellison, Marvin M. and Douglas, Kelly Brown Sexuality and the Sacred: Sources for Theological Reflection
- Heyward, Carter: Saving Jesus From Those Who Are Right
- Heyward, Carter: Touching Our Strength: The Erotic As Power and the Love of God
- Loughlin, Gerald: Queer Theology: Rethinking the Western Body (BBPG)
- Stuart, Elisabeth: Gay & Lesbian Theologies: Repetitions With Critical Difference
- Fr Owen O’Sullivan on Gay Inclusion: Is Homosexuality Unnatural? (queeringthechurch.wordpress.com)
- Rev. Patrick S. Cheng, Ph.D.: Faith, Hope and Love: Ending LGBT Teen Suicide (huffingtonpost.com)
- “Very Insightful Blogposts on LGBTQ Spirituality” – Theology Degrees On-Line. (queeringthechurch.wordpress.com)
- “Speaking the Truth” on Catholic LGBT Inclusion (queeringthechurch.wordpress.com)