Although bisexuals make up over half of sexual minority people, theology has not adequately addressed the experiences of bisexual people, nor the bisexual theory and theology that we have produced. The diversity and social locations within which concepts of bisexual theory, such as compulsory monosexism, emerge are described, drawing on data from psychology and the social sciences. Through a systematic review of Christian discourse on bisexuality, this chapter demonstrates how bisexuality has been constructed as immature, promiscuous, and as morally and politically inadequate. Key themes are identified in the bisexual theologies of scholars such as Marcella Althaus-Reid, Ibrahim Abdurrahman Farajajé, and Debra Kolodny, and their significance for broader faith communities and justice movements is clarified. Finally, directions for further bisexual theological work are identified.
Rita M. Gross
Because Buddhism is a non-theistic religion, its concepts of ultimate reality do not include the kind of deity familiar from most religions. Instead, one does find anthropomorphic representations of key Buddhist virtues, such as wisdom and compassion, but they have no independent, eternal existence. As a religion that has always valued celibate monasticism, Buddhism has multiple evaluations of sexuality. For monastics, it must be avoided because of the imprisoning entanglements to which it leads, but laypeople can enjoy the pleasures of sexuality without guilt so long as they observe basic sexual ethics. Regarding gender, Buddhism has always had male-dominated institutions, but its philosophy or world view is completely gender-neutral and gender-free. Modern commentators on Buddhism and gender are seeking to alleviate this internal contradiction by changing Buddhism’s institutions.
Globalization has brought with it many benefits “from above” with respect to opening up employment and trade opportunities on a massive scale, and has facilitated, in some cases, a generation of wealth that has trickled down to ordinary citizens, thereby enabling greater freedom of choice with respect to raising the standard of living. However, by and large, such small gains have come at a tremendous cost to those who do not constitute the elite, especially in developing countries (often termed countries at the periphery). At the same time, globalization has facilitated, “from below,” nativist resistance movements, often couched and presented in religious terms, which turn to identity politics and greater control over women's morality, comportment, and role in society, ostensibly to address broader social inequities, but which concomitantly exercise a restrictive effect on the attainment of gender justice. This chapter presents a brief discussion of Muslim hermeneutics on gender in order to understand how nativist resistance movements have been able to draw upon women's comportment and dress as symbols for the authenticity and integrity of the Islamic tradition in an attempt to withstand what they perceive as Western hegemonic practices. It then discusses Muslim feminist hermeneutics, economic privation and gender violence, and capitalist practices and women's bodies.
At the centre of the clerical vocation was the conundrum of balancing the clergy’s commitment to chastity with the many aspects of their professional training and responsibilities that either tacitly or overtly concerned sex. On a pedagogical level, there were pagan authors, like the sexually savvy Ovid, who were at the cornerstone of the acquisition of letters. But biblical tradition, theology, and ascetical literature also treated sexuality and sexual temptation very explicitly. Such concerns loom even larger on a practical level. The clergy had always assumed the responsibility of monitoring lay mortality. But the sexually explicit nature of their pastoral obligations would increase exponentially when the Church established a hegemony over marriage and made auricular confession mandatory for the laity in the high Middle Ages. This chapter provides an overview of the many different kinds of sources that lend insight into this, at times, fraught aspect of the clerical vocation.
For more than half a century, Rousas John Rushdoony and his followers have articulated and disseminated what they understand to be a biblical worldview, based in aspects of traditional reformed theology and both the Old and New Testaments. This worldview seeks to apply biblical law to every aspect of life and to transform every aspect of culture to establish the Kingdom of God. While some components of their vision are so extreme that Christian Reconstructionists are often dismissed as an irrelevant fringe group, other aspects of their vision have taken root in conservative American Protestantism, especially in the Christian homeschool movement, and therefor influenced American conservatism more broadly. This essay outlines that worldview and points to some of those areas of influence.
The churches of the Anglican Communion discussed issues of sex and gender throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty-first century. Arguments about gender focused on the ordination of women to the diaconate, priesthood, and episcopate. Debates about sexuality covered polygamy, divorce and remarriage, and homosexuality. In the first decade of the twenty-first century, these debates became intensely focused on homosexuality and were particularly fierce as liberals and conservatives responded to openly gay bishops and the blessing and marriage of same-sex couples. By the second decade of the twenty-first century, the sex and gender debates had become less acrimonious, the Anglican Communion had not split on these issues as some feared, but the ‘disconnect’ between society and the Church, at least in the West, on issues such as the Church of England’s prevarication on female bishops and opposition to gay marriage, had decreased the Church’s credibility for many.
This essay examines conflicts concerning sex, sexuality, and gender within Black churches. Black churches are American Protestant churches with a predominantly Black leadership and congregation. Often serving the oppressed and underprivileged, Black churches have a history not only of providing for the spiritual needs of Black Americans, but also of fighting for social justice. Increasingly, controversies have begun to emerge within these churches, about gender equality, HIV/AIDS and safer sex education, and, perhaps the most controversial, about homosexuality and same-sex marriage. This essay discusses how Black churches have responded to these issues and the impact that HIV/AIDS has had on this response. Additionally, examples of the role of women and sexual minorities in Black church denominations and congregations will be provided.
This chapter situates the controversies about sex and gender in the Roman Catholic Church within the context of ongoing debates about the nature of the Church, the dynamism of the tradition, and the authority of the magisterium. It argues that underlying many of the most contentious of these disagreements, including those about reproductive rights, same-sex relationships, and gender-based violence, one can discern fundamentally different theological understandings about the nature of the human body, the relationships between the sexes, and the malleability of sexuality. Having examined these underlying theological controversies, this chapter considers the contours of the contemporary debates about reproductive rights and same-sex relationships. It notes moreover that these controversies are not abating. Rather, the positions are becoming more polarized and the divisions more intractable.
Colleen M. Conway
This chapter begins with a brief overview of the theorists who have shaped gender analytical work on the New Testament, especially the application of gender theory in classical studies. It then concentrates on gender analyses on New Testament writings that demonstrate the differing approaches of masculinity studies, queer theory, and intersectional analysis. The primary focus is on gender construction in Paul’s letters and the canonical gospels, with additional discussion of symbolic and metaphorical uses of gender in other writings of the New Testament. The chapter concludes with a brief discussion of future directions for gender criticism.
Brendan Callaghan SJ
This chapter presents first a survey of some of the insights that have emerged from a number of theoretical approaches to psychological exploration, and situates them in their respective psychological traditions. This survey then serves as a resource for reflections on ‘what theologians need to know’ if theological work is to be grounded in a dialogue with what psychology has to offer.
Key observations include: the pervasiveness of sexuality in human experience (with ‘sexuality’ understood in its widest scope); the fundamentally relational (rather than biological) nature of sexual drive and motivation; the essentially developmental nature of human sexuality; and the great variety of experience and behaviour. It is proposed that theology can benefit from the descriptive work available, even if some of the interpretative and explanatory approaches do not sit easily with classic Christian understandings.
Patrick S. Cheng
This chapter provides an overview of what Christian theologians need to know about queer theory, which is a critical approach to sexuality and gender that challenges the ‘naturalness’ of identities. Based upon developments in queer theory since the early 1990s, the chapter proposes the following four marks of queer theory: (1) identity without essence; (2) transgression; (3) resisting binaries; and (4) social construction. The chapter then discusses four strands of queer theology that correspond with each of the four marks of queer theory. The chapter concludes by suggesting six issues for future queer theological reflection: (1) queer of colour critique; (2) queer post-colonial theory; (3) queer psychoanalytical discourse; (4) queer temporality; (5) queer disability studies; and (6) queer interfaith dialogue.
Sociologists are concerned with the way human behaviour is patterned. They look for plausible explanations of phenomena that strike them as important due to their objective prevalence in social life. This chapter outlines the social scientific tools for studying religion, gender, and sexuality. Drawing on a range of examples from sociology of religion it explores the significance of individuals’ dispositions on the one hand and opportunities they encounter in their everyday lives on the other. The overall argument emphasizes the need for more collaboration between social scientists and theologians, or religious studies scholars. It suggests that secular sociologists would do well to consider the possibility of change in gender relations within religious contexts, and religious scholars could learn from the sociological method of inquiry to understand better the structurally determined mechanisms which make the symbolic gender order so resistant to change.
This article discusses how the study of the history, literature, and religious beliefs and practices of ancient Jews in the Land of Israel and the Diaspora provides the proper background and context for the study of the later books of the Hebrew Bible, the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, and the New Testament writings. From the time of the Babylonian exile, and especially from Hellenistic times onwards, a vibrant Jewish Diaspora existed alongside the Jewish community in the Land of Israel. During the time of the Second Temple (520
Deborah Beth Creamer
This chapter explores models of disability as they relate to sexuality and theology. It begins by examining moral assumptions that define people with disabilities as asexual or hypersexual, and offers alternatives to these limiting perspectives. It then explores medical understandings of disability, highlighting those that facilitate holistic notions of health and that focus on adaptive sexual practices in response to impairment, as well as liberationist understandings that demand justice and sexual rights for all people with disabilities. Finally, this chapter explores the ways in which disability reminds us to attend to embodiment more authentically in general, not as an idealized and static norm but rather in the messiness and limits and goodness of real life. Attention to disability as such offers new possibilities for sexual theology, not just for disabled people but for the (temporarily) non-disabled as well.
Eugene F. Rogers Jr.
This essay will show how Christian doctrine can reinvigorate the theology of sexuality, now dominated by distinctively modern categories (e.g., the appeal to experience). Here traditional doctrines such as those of Scripture, God, Christ, Trinity, liturgy, analogy, and asceticism recover neglected resources for making arguments on topics of sexuality and marriage.
The first article of the Book of Ezekiel inaugurates one of the most profound events in Hebrew Scriptures. Extending well beyond the first article and reappearing later in the prophecy, this event represents Ezekiel's encounter with God in the form of an overwhelming vision. By means of this vision, the prophet is called upon to proclaim the divine message to his people in exile during the period of the Babylonian Captivity. This article discusses how the vision of Ezekiel is integrated into the life of the Nation of Islam by focusing on the teachings and experiences of its two most important exponents: the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, known to the Nation as the Messenger of Allah, and the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, the controversial student of the Messenger. Through them, the vision of Ezekiel assumes its own bearing as a vehicle that has ties at once with ‘popular culture’ and at the same time with the most profound of religious experiences. Designated the Mother Wheel, the Mother Plane, or the Mother Ship, as well as simply the Wheel — this vehicle is not only a marvel of technology but an emblem of the ultimate triumph of the black man over his white oppressor.
The first part of the chapter, ‘Sources’, consists of an overview of various theological accounts of families, drawn from Roman Catholic official teaching, from the Protestant Family, Religion, and Culture project, and from a range of other sources. The second part, ‘Themes’, analyses and compares the sources, allowing standard and contested issues to surface. The issues include the analogy between divine and human persons: the designation of families as domestic churches; whether theology stigmatizes ‘non-traditional’ families; the place of equal-regard love in families and the place of kin within the Kingdom of God; the claim that the family of church is prior to the family unit; the idea of kin altruism; and different approaches to the problem of family form. Finally the Trinitarian framework for thinking about families, and the method and key ideas of the Family, Religion and Culture are endorsed as a basis for future theological thinking about families.
This chapter discusses three out of the many theologies in Europe addressing the question of globalization: indigenous theologies, and transcendence through developments in ecotheology and monotheism. It suggests that what is needed to hold back the advance of globalization is a solid sense of personhood rooted in cultural identity, but not so narrowly conceptualized as to be devoid of relational potential and respect for the rootedness of others. This is a significant challenge when the populations of the world are in such motion and we are forced to face the questions of: “How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?” How shall we keep our sense of identity when everything is shifting around us? The global market, with its global “things,” can be a neat and easy answer for so many, but in fact it just adds to the sense of our non-being, our uprootedness, making us citizens of everywhere and nowhere—cheap and disposable like the commodities we so often buy. The importance of the person, the history, the belonging so central to authentic personhood can be so easily dislodged under the force of migration, even voluntary.
Gerard P. Loughlin
This chapter considers how gay identities—and so gay affections—were formed in the course of the twentieth century, building on the late nineteenth-century invention of the ‘homosexual’. It also considers earlier construals of same-sex affections and the people who had them, the soft men and hard women of the first century and the sodomites of the eleventh. It thus sketches a history of continuities and discontinuities, of overlapping identities and emotional possibilities. The chapter resists the assumption that gay identity and experience can be reduced to anything less than the multitude of gay people, and that as Christians they have to give an account of themselves in a way that heterosexual Christians do not. The chapter warns against thinking gay identity undone in Christ.
Māori are the first nation people of Aotearoa New Zealand, a group of South West Pacific Islands. Colonized by the British Empire, Aotearoa came into being through an act consolidated by the signing of a controversial treaty between Māori tribes and Queen Victoria of England. From their earliest encounter, Māori women, or wahine Māori, experienced a dramatic shift in their social position. Traditionally, they occupied leadership roles at all levels of society. However, colonization instigated a societal reassignment that has led them to their current position behind white males, white females, white children, and Māori males, but ahead of Māori children. Key events in history contributed to the invisibility of wahine Māori in their own context and brought them to their present crisis. To assist the reader in understanding this context, this chapter first considers some key elements of Māori spirituality, and then explores developed and developing relationships, specifically the consequences of the differences between values systems of Māori and the British colonizer. The final section describes the current reality of wahine Māori and draws some conclusions about the influence of globalization in the process.