Tag Archives: Bible and Homosexuality

Krzysztof Charamsa: “”God loves me, because I love my husband”(German Interview)

It is always worth paying close attention to press interviews with Msgr Krysztof Charamsa, the Catholic theologian at the CDF who came out as both gay and partnered, on the eve of the 2015 Synod on /marriage and family. There have been several of these, initially on the occasion of his coming out, and later with the launch of his book, in the original Italian and the later translations.  Sadly, as far as I am aware, none of these have yet appeared in English.

I therefore provide below, my own free translation (based on a modified Google translation), of his most recent (German) interview with Berliner Zeitung. In this post, I present the interview in full, without comment. My responses will follow, in a series of follow-up posts.

Openly gay Msgr Krysztof Charamsa (left), with partner

Ex-Monsignore Krzysztof Charamsa “Gott liebt mich, weil ich meinen Mann liebe”

(Translation: “God loves me, because I love my husband”)

We meet in the breakfast room of a small hotel at Hamburg main station. Krzysztof Charamsa, 44, has presented his book here. He wears a light, waisted jacket, with a blue handkerchief, if I remember correctly. A white shirt. Blue jeans. He looks very elegant. The most striking however is orange glasses. Krzysztof Charamsa laughs and loves to cry. I had not imagined the Grand Inquisitor of the Catholic Church so. Not even one of his staff. Krzysztof Charamsa is a Pole, but speaks German. Very rarely does he search for a word.

What is Spinning?

This is my sport: cycling in the gym. At the bottom I am struggling, everything is going through my head. I can think clearly.

One does not step forward. This is your favourite sport?

It is like liberation. You kick wildly into the pedals. They sweat. You are exhausted. But you do not have to worry about anything. Your head is free. It hits the spot.

That’s why you wrote a book about the “immutability of God”.

My dissertation. At that time I did not know Spinning. I was looking for security, for a solid foundation. It seemed to me to offer me a God who is self-sufficient. This was a God who does not lean toward his creature. No God of friendship, no God in the world, in history. A very sad image of God, I find today. I’ve been thinking about why we’re going to suffer during my studies. Where we have a gracious God. That was my determining question. I have no answer. But today I think it was my homosexuality, my suffering for it, which made suffering such a big subject. I did not know anything about the pleasures of love, nor of gay love.

When masturbating did you have homosexual fantasies?

Yes.

That was not nice?

I was anxious. I spent my puberty in communist Poland, in the Catholic Church. Both hyper-homophobic facilities! With whom could I have spoken? How? I had no words for it. I had feelings of guilt. I would have had them, even if I had been heterosexual. But my gay fantasies increased my insecurity.

You were ten, eleven years in Hamburg. You  must have seen homosexuals at least at the Hauptbahnhof.

I did not see them. Because I could not see them. In the world I lived in, there were no homosexuals. People just did not talk about them. They did not exist. As one says in Chechnya today: homosexuals can not be suppressed, because they do not exist. This is the way the Catholic Church behaved.

How many homosexuals are there in the Catholic Church?

Nobody can tell you. There are no surveys. I can only g. Based guess. Based on my experience. I was in priestly seminaries, I taught. I have always lived among priests. I was not a monk who lived in a single monastery. I believe that, cautiously estimated, fifty percent of the Catholic clergy is homosexual.

The total population is assumed to be 10%.

The priesthood is a fantastic space to conceal homosexuality when it is not socially accepted. For this reason the priestly life attracts many homosexuals. It does not matter that you are not interested in women. One is always in male company.

A homophobic organization of homosexuals

This is the dilemma of the Church. Hence much of the suffering and despair of the priests. Homosexuals are persecuted and at the same time homosexuality is celebrated. Aesthetic. Pope Benedict XVI has greatly aggravated the hatred of homosexuals. At the same time, however, under his pontificate, it was as gay as never before in the modern age: the red shoes, the peaks, tassels, and fringes that were on display everywhere. “Soon we will all have to wear lace underwear,” one of the papal ceremonial masters complained. See for yourself on Youtube how Ratzinger and other dignitaries of the Vatican look at the naked torsos of the brother Pellegrini! That same Ratzinger writes that homosexuals can not love. They have, he says, only this morbid desire.

Perhaps the Ratzinger’s own – deep-rooted – life experience … He is doomed to non-love.

That I do not know. But I do know that is precisely the situation in which many thousands of priests find themselves. The situation I was in, it took very long before I realized: it is not homosexuality that is sinful, but the church. Many, many homosexual priests are very good priests.

You were a member of the Congregation for the Congregation for twelve years. You persecuted the devil on behalf of the church. Then, on October 3, 2015, you publicly declared to the world : I, Krzysztof Charamsa, Catholic priest and member of the Congregation of the Faith, am gay, and this is my partner, Eduard Planas, whom I love. You changed from Saul to Paul.

I inherited the place, which became free, when Georg Gänswein became Ratzinger’s private secretary. I inherited his computer, his office, his chair. Paul followed the truth. When he persecuted the Christians, he believed that he had to do so for the sake of the truth. Then he recognized his error and became a Christian. I thought God was against my homosexuality, so I fought it. Then I discovered that God had nothing against my homosexuality. He had given something against which my love was strugling. I was an official of a truth office, a Stasi. I was perfect in this office. I put together, for every question, the views that the Church had represented over the centuries. The new knowledge of science did not matter. The church was in possession of the truth. This treasure was to be lifted. I did not do that as a cynic. I did it because I believed in it.

This was the purpose from one minute to the next.

I had nothing but a suitcase and my husband. That was a liberation. And peace. The first time: peace. A new security. I am a believing man, so I know: That was a gift from God.

You always have to get everything from the top!

Yes, yes. Of course I also have to develop energy and strength. But they also come from God. Life needs a foundation. If you have that, you can let go. This was the experience of Paul. This was also my experience. But it took me a long time to realize that the ecclesiastical texts against homosexuality speak about me. In the Catechism, for example, it says of homosexual relations: “They violate the natural law, for the transmission of life is excluded in sexual act. They do not arise from a true affective and sexual supplementary need. They are in no way to be approved.” Today I know that the catechism preaches homophobia and not the love of God. That’s why I introduced my partner at my coming out. This was a theological statement. I wanted to make it clear: I’m not looking for sex. I’m looking for love. Sex I can have anywhere. For me, it’s about love. Homosexual love.

Is the doctrine that the Father has the Son nailed to the cross in order to save mankind, not unloving?

The suffering, the self-sacrificing God – that is the mystery of religion.

This God, who always kills whole tribes of nations, would not you weep for the dead of Sodom and Gomorrah?

It is impossible to understand how God can allow this. But I believe it is his respect for human freedom. His respect for our freedom. It is the limit of the action of God.

But the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah did not perish because they were fighting each other. God eradicated them.

In the Old Testament there is this image of God. Jesus corrects this. The relationship between God, suffering and freedom is the greatest question of religion. That is their secret. I took the liberty to first acknowledge my homosexuality before God. He accepted me. When I did it before the church, she rejected me.

Sodom and Gomorrah?

When you read the text in the Old Testament, it was not about homosexuality – the later tradition shifted the emphasis to the sexual – but about xenophobia and the refusal of hospitality. Lot receives the strangers, in truth God’s angels, with friendship and is attacked by his fellow citizens. It is – in this the story is quite topical – about the correct handling of refugees and migrants. The Sodom of today is my home country Poland. No one is willing to accept refugees. There is no place for a Syrian family in all Poland. Poland is Catholic, but no one opens strangers to his house. This is just one example of the terrible confusion in the Catholic Church.

“God and the Gay Christian”: WHY Religious Conservatives Are Running Scared.

In my previous post, I noted the furious and frenzied response by some conservative Christians to Matthew Vines’ “God and the Gay Christian”, suggested that the reason for the extraordinary strength of this reaction was that they are “running scared”.  I had barely published that piece, when my speculation was confirmed, by the reactionaries themselves, in the book they have rushed out to counter Vines’ argument:

God and the Gay Christian, response to Vines

Right up front, on the first page of the first chapter of the book, they concede directly that they (the anti – gay defenders of prejudice) are the last outpost of anti-gay religious discrimination and prejudice (except that naturally enough, they don’t call it anti- gay prejudice, preferring to claim that theirs is adherence to biblical truth). R Albert Mohler Jnr. writes:

Evangelical Christians in the United States now face an inevitable moment of decision. While Christians in other movements and in other nations face similar questions, the question of homosexuality now presents evangelicals in the United States with a decision that cannot be avoided. Within a very short time, we will know where everyone stands on this question. There will be no place to hide, and there will be no way to remain silent. To be silent will answer the question. The question is whether evangelicals will remain true to the teachings of Scripture and the unbroken teaching of the Christian church for over 2,000 years on the morality of same-sex acts and the institution of marriage.

They have good reason to be worried. There is now abundant evidence from social surveys that in Europe and the America’s, the tide is turning rapidly in favour of gay marriage, especially among the young. In many countries of the world, Pew Research has found that a majority do not believe that homosexuality is morally unacceptable – and that includes many Christians.

Several denominations no longer exclude gay men or lesbians from ministry, others permit either church weddings or church blessings for same – sex couples. Vines’ critics argue that this is diluting or ignoring biblical truth to accommodate Western liberal, secular values, but what this ignores, is that in every denomination which has changed its regulations, the change has been preceded by extensive study, prayer, listening and discussion among members of the church. This question of study is important. Writing about the conservative response to Vines, Owen Strachan noted that unlike his critics, Vines is not a scholar – but immediately gives away the weakness in his own scholarship. In attempting to refute Vines’ observation that neither homosexual practice nor what could be called homosexual “orientation” is approved of or legitimated in biblical doctrine, Strachan quotes from his chapter on the historical perspective, in which he refers to the fourth century writings of Ambrose and John Chrysostom.

These, however, are commentaries on scripture, their interpretations of the biblical words, and not found in the Good Book itself. Vines claim is absolutely accurate. Strachan’s references to Ambrose and John Chrysostom are telling: his need to quote from fourth century writers, because there are no biblical texts to support him, reveals a fundamental weakness in their entire case. It is simply not true that there exists, as they claim. an “unbroken teaching of the Christian church for over 2,000 years on the morality of same-sex acts and the institution of marriage”.

As a scholar claiming to know something of the history of church teaching on the subject, Strachan should know, as Renato Lings, Theodore Jennings and others have shown, that the fourth century iinterpretations by Ambrose and Chrysostom differed from those of the first century when the texts were written, heavily influenced by non-Christian writers. Similarly, it is now well – established that the familiar identification of the modern word “sodomy” with the original “sin of Sodom” was a medieval invention, and the many changes in Christian understandings of marriage are too numerous to go into here.

The fact is, that the conservatives arguing against full LGBT inclusion in church rest their case on shaky ground, and they know it. Just as David Cameron declared his support for gay marriage not in spite of being a Conservative, but because he is a Conservative, many Christians are now declaring their support for full LGBT inclusion in church not in spite of being Christian – but because, as Christians, they believe that their faith demands it.

This applies also among Evangelicals, In the USA, there is now a majority of Evangelical millenials in support of full marriage equality, and additional support of legal recognition for civil unions.without the name of marriage. They know, from deep within their hearts or from the experience of their peers, and from the findings of science, that a same – sex affectional orientation is entirely natural, God-given and non-pathological. They also know from experience, their own or their friends’, that attempting to deny this basic truth in accordance with traditional church teaching and regulations gives rise to immense psychological, emotional and spiritual harm, seeming to contradict what they also know of God’s unconditional love for all.

One of the most useful passages in God and the Gay Christian is Vines reflection on the biblical verse, “by their fruits you shall know them”. In his own life, and that of others he was able to observe, he noted that for naturally gay and lesbian people, the fruits of acknowledging honestly the truth of their natural orientation was positive, leading to what in natural law is termed “human flourishing” – and the fruits of denial, for example in the attempts of ex-gay organisations at conversion therapy, were frequently downright tragic.  (Jeremy Marks, who once led an ex-gay ministry in the United Kingdom, aptly described this with another apt biblical phrase, “Exchanging God’s Truth for a Lie”).

Before the publication of this book, Vines had already attracted substantial public attention with his widely viewed Youtube video on the subject, which forms the heart of the book’s content. With the launch of his follow – up Reformation Project, he has an extensive, established base of followers to promote the book, and its ideas.

 

Recommended Books

Countryman, L.WilliamDirt, Greed, and Sex: Sexual Ethics in the New Testament and Their Implications for Today .

Glaser, Chris: The Word Is Out: Daily Reflections on the Bible for Lesbians and Gay Men

Goss, Robert: Take Back the Word: A Queer Reading of the Bible

Guest, DerynMona WestRobert E. Goss, and Thomas Bohache, (eds)The Queer Bible Commentary

Helminiak, Daniel: What the Bible Really Says about Homosexuality

Jennings, Theodore: Plato or Paul?: The Origins of Western Homophobia

Jordan, Mark: The Invention of Sodomy in Christian Theology

Lings, Renato: Love Lost in Translation: Homosexuality and the Bible

Marks, Jeremy: Exchanging the Truth of God for a Lie

Martin, Dale B. Sex and the Single Savior: Gender and Sexuality in Biblical Interpretation

Rogers, Jack Bartlett. Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality: Explode the Myths, Heal the Church

Sharpe, Keith. The Gay Gospels: Good News for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered People.

 

“God and the Gay Christian”: Religious Conservatives Are Running Scared.

Within days of its publication, Matthew Vines’ “God and the Gay Christian” has evoked a flurry of angry denunciation from a wide range of Christian bloggers and scholars, with news headlines like “Pro-gay book ‘exceedingly dangerous’”, “Pro-gay book departs from Christian tradition”, “Should Christians Use the Term “Gay Christian”?” (the writer thinks not), “Haven’t You Read? Answering a modern-day Pharisee”, “Some Honest Questions for Professing ‘Gay Christians’”, “A shameful day in evangelical Christian publishing” and“Deception: Christian publisher sells soul for mammon”

God and the Gay Christian

The extent of this reaction is remarkable. “God and the Gay Christian” is hardly the first book to challenge conservative Christian conventional wisdom on the subject, and not even the first from a conservative, Evangelical perspective. The Anglican Canon Derrek Sherwen Bailey began the reassessment of the biblical evidence almost sixty years ago, and has since been followed by a wide range of scholars and other writers, from the full range of Christian faith traditions, including Catholic, Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist and more.

Nor is it necessarily the best, by any standard – certainly not in terms of scholarship. One of the interesting responses to the book is a newly published e-book by faculty from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary,  “God and the Gay Christian? a response to Matthew Vines. Writing about this at Patheos, Owen Strachan notes

Vines’s book is not dense in terms of scholarship. Hamilton and Burk catch numerous exegetical flaws and errors in his argumentation that their facility with their original languages allows. Indeed, one sees the strength of a program of scholarship in comparing the two books. Vines is a smart person, but he has no formal theological credentials. Hamilton and Burk are able to offer numerous critiques that Vines’s book cannot treat.

– “Thoughtlife”, Patheos blogs

In my own review, I found that although the book has much to recommend it, I had some quibbles of my own: there is some arrogance in seeing himself as a unique trailblazer, and an uncomfortable blending of form: biblical commentary bookended by the story of his personal journey of discovery.

If it’s not the first, or the best, of its kind – why has it provoked such a strong response from his critics?

The answer, I suspect, is that they are running scared. Public assessments of same – sex relationships is changing rapidly, even among evangelical Christians, and the defenders of continued discrimination and exclusion know it.

Quite why (in my view) these conservatives should be “running scared”, I leave for my next post.

Recommended Books

Vines, Matthew: God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships

Countryman, L.WilliamDirt, Greed, and Sex: Sexual Ethics in the New Testament and Their Implications for Today .

Glaser, Chris: The Word Is Out: Daily Reflections on the Bible for Lesbians and Gay Men

Goss, Robert: Take Back the Word: A Queer Reading of the Bible

Guest, DerynMona WestRobert E. Goss, and Thomas Bohache, (eds)The Queer Bible Commentary

Helminiak, Daniel: What the Bible Really Says about Homosexuality

Martin, Dale B. Sex and the Single Savior: Gender and Sexuality in Biblical Interpretation

Rogers, Jack Bartlett. Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality: Explode the Myths, Heal the Church

Sharpe, Keith. The Gay Gospels: Good News for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered People.

"Clobber Texts": Resource Page

When I first began to grapple seriously with the tensions between life as a practicing Catholic, and living honestly and with integrity as a gay man in a committed, stable partnership, one of the discoveries that helped me enormously was a Quest pamphlet given to me by a Catholic priest, which showed me for the first time that far from being “obviously” against homosexuality, the Bible includes only a half dozen verses that even appear to be critical, and that the relevance of even these half dozen is seriously disputed by many modern scholars. That was twenty years ago:  since then, many more scholars and theologians have been revising their views on the biblical take on same – sex relationships – and coming down on the side of acceptance.

So when I began to write at Queering the Church, in an attempt to share with readers the ideas and materials that had helped me, one of the first subjects I tackled was this question of the “clobber texts”, in a basic introductory post. Conscious of its limitations, for a long time I intended  to return to the subject, with more detailed reflections on each of these troublesome texts, drawing on and summarising the key arguments about them – but held back, feeling intimidated and inadequate to the task. Later, as my own knowledge matured, I became less interested in the defensive approach to the texts of terror, and more interested in identifying the far more numerous supportive and affirmative passages, both those featuring specific peoples that LGBT Christians could identify with (David and Jonathan, Ruth and Naomi, the “Beloved Disciple”),  and the more general passages emphasising love and inclusion, and warning against legalism or passing judgement on others . So, as I began to expand my back pages at the site into a collection of resource pages, for the pages on scripture I have added extensive links to material on the affirmative texts – but added very little on defence against the nasties.

It was always my intention though, to include as many links to useable posts elsewhere on these clobber texts,  as I could find.  Earlier this week, I was asked by a reader for some help in this area, and as I did not yet have the summary of links that I have planned but not put together, I was forced to do some digging about from scratch. In the process, I finally began the process of adding an extensive list of links to my “Defence Against the Clobber Texts” page (a subpage of the “Rainbow Bible” section, in the navigation bar above). It’s still not exhaustive – I know that I have seen many more on-line articlues on these than I have included. These are just the ones that I was able to track down in the short time that was then available to me.  I will continue to add to it – and would welcome any further suggestions from readers.

This directory of links is permanently housed at the page on “Clobber Texts“, a subdivision of the “Rainbow Bible” pages but as an introduction and for convenience , here it is, as it stands today. (For balance, also see the far more extensive pages on “LGBT Affirmative Scriptures“)

*****

General: Overview

For a general discussion of these “Texts of Terror”, see Countering the Clobber Texts here at QTC,

and also:

The Bible and Homosexuality, ByRev. MonaWest,Ph.D. (at Metropolitan Community Church), with the sub-headings:

  • Sexuality in the Mediterranean World
  • The Story of Sodom in Genesis 19
  • Leviticus
  • The Writings of the Apostle Paul
  • Romans 1:26 ‐ 27
  • Issues of Biblical Authority

Also at MCC,

At Bridges Across the Divide, Homosexuality and the Bible  by Walter Wink

For more detailed discussions on each, see:

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