Tag Archives: queer scripture

Roman Gay Marriage Sheds Light on Paul’s Letter to the Romans.

At last a conservative Catholic source has admitted what I and others have often pointed out: same – sex marriage is not, after all, new, and legal recognition is not “redefining” it.

Under the heading Gay Marriage—Nothing New Under the Sun, Benjamin Wiker writes:

Gay marriage was—surprise!—alive and well in Rome, celebrated even and especially by select emperors, a spin-off of the general cultural affirmation of Roman homosexuality. Gay marriage was, along with homosexuality, something the first Christians faced as part of the pagan moral darkness of their time.

What Christians are fighting against today, then, is not yet another sexual innovation peculiar to our “enlightened age,” but the return to pre-Christian, pagan sexual morality.

So, what was happening in ancient Rome? Homosexuality was just as widespread among the Romans as it was among the Greeks (a sign of which is that it was condoned even by the stolid Stoics). The Romans had adopted the pederasty of the Greeks (aimed, generally, at boys between the ages of 12 to 18). There was nothing shameful about such sexual relations among Romans, if the boy was not freeborn. Slaves, both male and female, were considered property, and that included sexual property.

But the Romans also extended homosexuality to adult men, even adult free men. And it is likely that this crossing of the line from child to adult, unfree to free—not homosexuality as such—was what affronted the more austere of the Roman moralists.

via  Catholic World Report 

 Wiker is of course, opposed to marriage equality, and so continues to quote Roman sources to prove that even they were disgusted by the practice. The examples he quotes deserve close attention, because there’s an important point he misses (or avoids), one which clarifies for me the real lesson behind the apparent condemnation of same – sex relationships in Paul’s letter to the Romans.

Nero's Wedding to Pythagoras (with Nero as the bride)
Nero’s Wedding to Pythagoras (with Nero as the bride)

Continue reading Roman Gay Marriage Sheds Light on Paul’s Letter to the Romans.

Is Cardinal Nichols “Queering the Church”?

This is fun. Mark Lambert, referring to the transfer of the old Soho Masses congregation from Warwick Street to Farm Street, writes:

However, it became very obvious, very quickly, that Cardinal Nichols had no intention of stopping the Masses, he simply moved the venue. What about dealing with the Pastoral issue? Surely he did that? Well, the Masses are followed by a “social” organised by LGBT Catholics Westminster Pastoral Council. Their lack of fidelity to Christ and His Church is written all over their Facebook Page here. These are people who self-identify as LGBT, who think the Church is wrong in what it teaches, and who want to change the Church to suit their own sexual predilection.

The Catholic Herald cover the story of the Mass here. Of course, the Cardinal’s spokesman is very careful to articulate that the Mass was not specifically “for gay Catholics”, but for all Farm Street parishioners.

Regardless, the most revealing comments are made by the people the Mass was aimed at. Terence Weldon runs the blog Queering the Church, the title of which disturbs me greatly in itself and speaks to its agenda.

via Cardinal Nichols is Queering the Church.

If the title of my blog is “revealing”, then so are the comments made by Mark Lambert Continue reading Is Cardinal Nichols “Queering the Church”?

"Fidelity to the Gospel" – and Catholic Morality Clauses.

In an attempt to justify the San Francisco diocese’ proposed morality clause for teachers in Catholic schools, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone has claimed that

all teachers are expected to “contribute to an atmosphere of holiness, virtue and familiarity with the Gospel.

Archbishoo Salvatore Cordileone – in opposition to the Gospels.

Really? Continue reading "Fidelity to the Gospel" – and Catholic Morality Clauses.

Mary – the Annunciation and Visitation (Luke 1:26-56)

This passage, the third in the English bishops’ suggested texts for reflection on marriage as part of the consultation process for the Rome Family Synod 2015, is the familiar story of the Annunciation,  Mary’s subsequent visit to Elizabeth, and her song of praise, the “Magnificat”.  (The  text may be read  here, at Bible Gateway)

Fra Angeilico, “The Annunciation”

In my lectio divina practice, for the passage, I went through this as three distinct reflections. For each, I give the phrases that most struck me,  followed by my reasons. Continue reading Mary – the Annunciation and Visitation (Luke 1:26-56)

The prayer of Tobias and Sarah (Tobit 8:4-8)

In preparation for the Rome family synod 2015, the bishops of England and Wales have invited Catholics to reflect in lectio divina on a selection of biblical texts, and in the light of their reflections, to answer a set of questions about their experience of marriage and family life.

In the second of the selected texts, we read about the prayer of Tobias and Sarah before their marriage, in Tobit 8:4-8.

Jan Havicksz. Steen ca. 1626 – 1679 Tobias’ and Sara’s Wedding Night

In my application of lectio divina to this text, the two lines that particularly spoke to me, with the reasons,  were:

‘It is not good for the man to be alone;
    let us make him a helper like himself.’(v,6)

Indeed, it is not good for man to be alone. We all need a companion, a “helpmate” , to assist us in our daily tasks, to support us in times of difficulty, and to shore our joy in the good times. This line mirrors a similar line in the creation story of Genesis 2: “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.”  As John McNeill has pointed out (in “Sex as God Intended”),  the reference to “helper” is gender neutral: it could be a same -sex partner, and need not necessarily be construed as a wife. In this particular statement of the principle in Tobit, gay men will be interested to note that this is even more explicit – I will make him a partner like himself.

In my life, I experienced for many years the comfort, joy and support of such a companion “like myself”, a same – sex partner who  shared with the routines of attending to household tasks and resonsibilities, the care of children when they were with us, and we accompanied each other through several major life stages: deaths of parents and other relations, marriages of my two daughters, and crises in careers.

What was striking in this relationship was how much it was a genuine “partnership”, in a way that just did not apply to m

and

“grant that we may grow old together” (v.7)

Pope Benedict once noted,  when addressing Italian local government officials, that one of the values of marriage, is that it relieves government of many financial obligations – for example, that of caring for the aged. At its best, marriage ensures that instead of depending on the state for care, ageing couples can rely on each other and their children for that care, in the comforting situation of a family home.

It is iniquitous of the Church to expect gay men to be deprived of that family support when they need it most. We too, need companionship, love and family support as we grow old.

The questions suggested by the English bishops for further discussion .  with my responses to some, were:

  • How might Sarah and Tobias have felt on their wedding night, knowing Sarah’s history?
  • How do you think Sarah’s parents felt leaving their daughter in the bridal chamber again? Can you describe a time when you felt something similar?
  • What does it mean to walk in trust with the Lord?
  • When have you and/or your family had an experience of God’s mercy?
  • What part does prayer play in your daily life?
  • How has prayer helped you and/or your family?

The key questions to draw the conversation together might be:

  • How does this story ‘speak’ to us about our ‘call’ to be a family?
  • How does it speak to our ‘journey’?
  • How does it speak to us about our ‘purpose’ or ‘mission’ as a family?
  • What support do we need from the Church?
  • What is already available? What needs to be developed?
  • From our family life experience, what do we offer that could enrich the life of the Church?

The Bishops' Call to Reflect on "The Gift of Marriage and Family Life"

As preparation for the 2015 Synod on Marriage and Family, the Bishops of England and Wales have invited their people to make submissions on their experience of the institution.  In their invitation, “The Call, the Journey and the Mission”, they pose six questions to be answered:

  1. What are your joys and hopes of marriage and family life today?
  2. What are your struggles and fears of marriage and family life today?
  3. How can we better understand marriage as a vocation?
  4. How does your marriage enrich you?
  5. How does your family life enrich those around you?
  6. In what way, through the abiding presence of God, is your family “salt of the earth and light to the world,” and a place of and for handing on our faith?

We could simply go directly to the questionnaire, and dash off some replies. However, they ask that we first reflect on a selection of scripture passages (the links in the headings go to the sections of the bishops’ website, where they suggest specific questions for reflection. The links following the references go to the actual texts at Bible Gateway, NRSV Catholic edition):

bible2

Continue reading The Bishops' Call to Reflect on "The Gift of Marriage and Family Life"

"THE JOY OF SCRIPTURE" – For LGBT Christians!

An early highlight of Pope Francis’ papacy, was the publication of his Apostolic Exhortation, “Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel)“. For LGBT people especially, and also for many others, the Bible is not often seen as a source of joy, but more usually as the primary source for religious excuses for discrimination and oppression.  This is however a serious misperception of the biblical message, and of the Gospels in particular, so I was delighted and inspired by Francis’ text.

I had previously written myself on a similar theme, the joy of scripture, especially for LGBT Catholics and other Christians, and devoted an entire set of back pages to the subject at Queering the Church (also expanded on at “A Queer Ear for the Rainbow Scriptures). Here follows the opening text of the main page. (Explore further in the “Bible” pages in the drop – down menu across the top of the page).

************************ Continue reading "THE JOY OF SCRIPTURE" – For LGBT Christians!

The Queer Holy Family and the Return from Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15,19-23)

The Sunday after Christmas is traditionally celebrated as the Feast of the Holy Family – an occasion which all too often is used in homilies as an excuse to commend the modern nuclear family – thereby leaving the substantial proportion of Catholics who are single, divorced, married but childless, gay, lesbian, trans or otherwise queer distinctly excluded. How are LGBT people of faith to respond to this, how can we truly participate in a great feast which so leaves us excluded?

I have reflected on this twice before. The first time, in “Christ’s Queer Family”, I noted that the Biblical Holy Family was not, as it is usually presented, an example of the “traditional” family beloved of the Christian right, but in fact has much more in common with queer families.

holy-family-with-st-john-the-baptist-297x3001 Continue reading The Queer Holy Family and the Return from Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15,19-23)

Never Cease Demanding Justice: Luke 18:1-8

Jesus told his disciples a parable about the need to pray continually and never lose heart. ‘There was a judge in a certain town’ he said ‘who had neither fear of God nor respect for man. In the same town there was a widow who kept on coming to him and saying, “I want justice from you against my enemy!” For a long time he refused, but at last he said to himself, “Maybe I have neither fear of God nor respect for man, but since she keeps pestering me I must give this widow her just rights, or she will persist in coming and worry me to death.”’

And the Lord said ‘You notice what the unjust judge has to say? Now will not God see justice done to his chosen who cry to him day and night even when he delays to help them? I promise you, he will see justice done to them, and done speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith on earth?’

via Universalis: Mass.

Defang the Serpent of Homophobia: Gaze on It. (Numbers 21:4-9)

In today’s Mass, the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (14th September), the first reading tells the story of the Israelites and the serpents during their wandering through the desert:

On the way through the wilderness the people lost patience. They spoke against God and against Moses, ‘Why did you bring us out of Egypt to die in this wilderness? For there is neither bread nor water here; we are sick of this unsatisfying food.

At this God sent fiery serpents among the people; their bite brought death to many in Israel. The people came and said to Moses, ‘We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you. Intercede for us with the Lord to save us from these serpents.’ Moses interceded for the people, and the Lord answered him, ‘Make a fiery serpent and put it on a standard. If anyone is bitten and looks at it, he shall live.’ So Moses fashioned a bronze serpent which he put on a standard, and if anyone was bitten by a serpent, he looked at the bronze serpent and lived.

Caduceus

As LGBT Christians, we frequently have to deal with the poison of a particular kind of metaphorical serpent – that of homophobia. This may harm us in two distinct ways, by the discrimination,  bullying or violence that may result, but also more insidiously, by poisoning our minds, so that we begin to believe some of the lies and fallacies ourselves, as internalized homophobia or self – loathing. It is in dealing with this latter poison, that the story of the serpents in Numbers carries a lesson for ourselves.

The Israelites were told that if bitten by a serpent, they should gaze on its image, and they would be healed. (It is from the story that we derive the image of the caduceus, the universal symbol of medicine). In the same way, when we are injured by homophobia, gazing on it and its source can heal us not of the objective harm, but of the subjective, internal poison. Homophobia and prejudice do not arise because of any fault or illness on our part, but from ignorance or irrational fear on the side of the bigots. Recognizing and understanding this, will help us to create the antivenom we need.

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