Homosexuality and Christianity. Rather, given the current climate of society these days, perhaps it’s best to introduce them as homosexuality vs. Christianity. The magnitude to which this supposed battle has been elevated is too grotesque and well-known to bear repeating. The gamut is run between the mundane “love the sinner, hate the sin” to statements that gays and lesbians are inhuman demons with the sole aim of destroying everything good in the world.
I don’t want to say much about this strife. Obviously, it’s historically conditioned. Mainstream churches all but moved past the old crisis posed by Jews. You know, the Christ-killers who were murdering Christian children in cultish blood rituals? Jews are no longer enemy number one, and no one wants to speak of Christianity’s anti-Semitic history, but as history always shows in the present men always think their judgment is sane.
And obviously any resort to scripture is riddled with problems. Whether it’s mining the Old Testament for laws that no longer apply to Christians, misreading Sodom (the Bible itself provides exegis on the story), or reading Paul’s ambiguous language in the Epistles; fact is homosexuality is not a major Biblical issue. Especially if you lay it next to grave sins of anger, hatred, lacking charity and slander of which most virulent anti-homosexual lavishly indulge in.
Something else is at stake here and we cannot take the anti-homosexuals at their word. I propose the issue here is not sex-intercourse but sex-dichotomy, man and woman. Homosexuality at its vey nature is contrary to the man-woman split. Yet that in itself has a very Christian foundation.
God as a Trinity is wholly masculine, yet capable of creation (fairer to say it is sexless.) Christian tradition sharply maintains Mary’s virginity. Jesus explicitly asks Peter “do you love me?” Catholic priests are forbidden to have wives. Paul presents celibacy as a higher calling more than once. Religious orders are structured by same sex codes.
Now I don’t present any of these as proof of any “gayness” in Christianity. Yet it strikes me as odd that if Christianity is so massively heterosexual, why is the Judeo-Christian tradition rare within the world for not having a god-goddess creation? Why is celibacy celebrated by the RCC and St. Paul? Why honor Mary’s virginity? Galatians 3:28? What is behind Adam and Eve discovering their “nakedness?” Why, when all these aspects point to a religion that–unlike most pagan religions–pulls away from the male-female division?
Another point to ponder regards the issue of homosexuality in the time and place of the early Christians. Homosexuality was notorious in Greek and Roman culture. Albeit in the same sense that homosexuality is notorious in male prisons. It was not a matter of love and attraction, but one of power. Greek and Roman men were encouraged to fuck other guys, but under no circumstances to be fucked. Being penetrated made you a woman, and that was not a good thing to them. The permissible “bottoms” were either adolescent boys or social inferiors.
So when St. Paul writes of the “arsenokotai” (“man-beds”) it is imperative to know where he’s writing from. The Mediterranean at that time was not a gay pride parade, but tantamount to a prison rape scene. Gay sex was taking place on a heterosexual axis. Like a prison, if you fucked it, it’s your “bitch.” So to simply transplant Paul’s arsenokotai to contemporary LGBT standards is roughly equivalent to comparing a traditional marriage to the BDSM scene. All sex, no power.
The radical possibility of incorporating homosexuality into Christian theology can do much to revision the deadlocked position of gender in modern Christianity to its more radical origins. Only a homosexual perspective is going to make it possible to back away from a strict male-female axis to one that is more fluid, because only homosexuality inverts the male-female relationship. And that is not to suggest merely grafting homosexuality with heterosexuality, but erasing the two by a kind of dialectic. This to me is the only path to understanding agape without eros.
I believe this is a pan-Christian matter, but one of particular weight to the Catholic Church. So far the response to the priest pedophilia scandals has been to swing further to the heterosexual axis. This is not effective. As the Greeks and surely St. Paul knew, it is not being gay that drives one to pedophilia but power. Heterosexuality is sexuality through difference. Pedophilia is not attraction to what is like one’s self, but what is hetero in the strict sense of the word.
Of course, homosexuality itself does not always do away with the binary divisions. One thing that has long bothered me with the norms of homosexuality–particularly MSM–is the popular division of sexual partners into tops and bottoms. There is something eerily Greek and hetero about it. Not to dismiss that people have preferences for how they fuck, but it is nearly becoming a new type of gender. But that’s for another blog post…