Queer theology refers to the application of queer studies to theology. It emerged from the development of "queer theory" in the 1990s, which sought to explore a multiplicity of human sexualities and sexual identities. This included lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people along with other sexualities. In queer theology these concerns are linked to the nature of the divine and humankind's relationship with God.
Many churches that have embraced Queer Theology (such as the Metropolitan Community Church) would ascribe a broad meaning to queer—including a broad range of those who choose to identify or ally themselves outside the constraints of the prevailing societal norms.
While some Queer Theologians devote some time and energy to work that seeks to refute the more conservative teaching that homosexual desires are disordered and homosexual acts are sinful, increasingly the focus is moving away from the justification of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender desires and behavior and more towards the exploration of wider theological issues arising from these communities.
"We have reclaimed 'Queer' as an active word, a questioning word, a creative word and a challenging word. When we 'Queer' disciplines such as history, literature or religion we are actively looking for Queer people who have been hidden or lost by those disciplines. To Queer these disciplines is also to challenge their homophobic biases. Queer is also an indeterminate or generative word, pointing to the ways all identities are fluid and changing."
The definition and use of the term Queer is not without controversy in the wider academic and social context.
A form of liberation theology
Queer theology is, in many ways, a branch of Liberation theology, sharing much of the same methodology and seeing theology as a tool in addressing the oppression which many queer theologians believe is perpetrated on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people by wider society in general and, in particular, the religious establishment. A reader of feminist theology or womanist theology would recognize a similar approach in queer theology.
Much of liberation theology grew out of social liberation struggles in Latin America and was strongly contextualized by Roman Catholic background of many liberation theologians. Some liberation theologians have not supported the extension of their ideas to the liberation struggle of queer people. Argentinian Queer theologian Professor Marcella Althaus-Reid argued in a 2005 contribution to a work on Latin American Liberation Theology (From Liberation Theology to Indecent Theology - the Trouble with Normality in Theology from Latin American Liberation Theology - The Next Generation Ivan Petrella, Editor) that mainline liberation theology was not being true to itself by ignoring the liberation of queer people.
Several theology schools now offer courses in Queer Theology including Vancouver School of Theology, Pacific School of Religion and the Chicago Theological Seminary.
Leading writers in the field of Queer Theology include:
- Marcella Althaus-Reid
- Bob Goss
- Chris Glaser
- Gerard Loughlin
- John J McNeill
- Ken Stone
- Elizabeth Stuart
- Rembert S. Truluck
- Graham Ward
- Mona West
- Nancy Wilson
- Kyle Corley
These authors all address queer theology from a Christian perspective and, indeed, the bulk of the work done in this field has been undertaken by Christian theologians. However, other faith traditions have also become engaged in the exploration of queer theology—most notably in the Jewish faith where theologians within Reform Judaism and Liberal Judaism have addressed the issues of queer theology. As is often the case, there is much common language and common concern between Jewish and Christian theologians.
- The Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry at the Pacific School of Religion
- Whosoever - an online LGBT Theological Journal
- Black gay Christians
- Wilderness Wanderings: an online Web Journal Capturing the Experiences of LGBT Christians
- The Official Website of the Metropolitan Community Church Philippines
- More Light Presbyterians
- Institute for Progressive Christianity
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