Saturday, July 27, 2013

Homophobia and the Theological Imagination of the Churches: The Challenge to See Better, Understand More Aptly

What set off my fellow Catholic who calls herself Purgatrix Ineptiae several days ago was a thoughtful essay at National Catholic Reporter by Presbyterian elder and journalist, Bill Tammeus, in which he argues that we Christians need to develop a better theological imagination today, as we talk about the place of LGBT human beings in church and society. Tammeus notes that the willingness of some Christians today to demonize and exclude those who are gay is not new: he points to the period in which American Christians struggled with the morality of slavery to argue that "I can think of no contemporary issue [i.e., other than homosexuality] that so closely resembles the way in which Americans in past generations abused Scripture to justify or excuse slavery."

As Tammeus maintains,

The pro-slavery crowd horribly twisted the liberating Gospel of Jesus Christ. Those who continue to condemn homosexuality as an abomination in God's eyes abuse it today.

And then he concludes, vis-a-vis the Catholic church, in particular,

And, yes, I know the Catholic church still officially declares the inclination toward homosexuality to be an "objective disorder." But it's not the first issue on which the church has been wrong, and one day I believe this view will change. 

And this is quite specifically what set off the Catholic blogger who contributes to NCR discussions as Purgatrix Ineptiae, and who argues in the thread following Tammeus's essay that she and other Catholics who regard gay men as diseased, child-molesting rapists are equivalent to those who argued for an end to slavery in the 19th century. While an extraordinary Christian witness like Bishop Desmond Tutu, who really understands the abuse of people of color by churches mesmerized for far too long by racist ideas, says precisely the opposite: Tutu says that the struggle for the human rights of LGBT people today is equivalent to the struggle against apartheid several decades ago in South Africa.

Thus implying that homophobic Christians who equate themselves with anti-slavery or anti-apartheid or anti-segregation movements of the past are standing history on its head, and are simply lying about who they are and what they intend with their demonization of LGBT human beings today.

The graphic, a depiction of the effect of imagination on the brain, is by Aleh Ruiz and was shared online by jossars at the imgfave site.

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