Progressive divinity schools and churches have transitioned from an embrace of inclusivity to instead uproot the fundamental principles of theology. Queer theology branches from Marxist-influenced liberation theology and queer theory. For three centuries, queer theologians attempted to root their armory of arguments and literature in biblical truths. Book titles include Rainbow Theology, Queer Christianities, and The Queer God.
Queer theologian Marcella Althaus-Reid was a driving force in its formation. Althaus-Reid’s theology paints heterosexual and binary norms as oppressive, limiting, and anti-biblical. She asserts that queerness is natural, healthy, and to be celebrated.
In her book, The Queer God, Althaus-Reid wrote that “the Queer God seeks to liberate God from the closet of traditional Christian thought, and to embrace God’s part in the lives of gays, lesbians and the poor… only a theology that dares to be radical can show us the presence of God in our times.” She concluded that “the Queer God…challenges the oppressive powers of heterosexual orthodoxy, whiteness and global capitalism.”
Mainline Protestant divinity schools are exposing these pervasive, heretical, and borderline pornographic ideas to the next generation of ministers.
Most recently, the University of Chicago’s religion department offers a “Queering God” class this fall quarter. The course explores queer and trans foundations in relationship to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam and “analyzes the ways that contemporary artists, activists, and scholars are using theology to reimagine gender and experiment with new relational forms.”
Professor Oliva Bustion of the UChicago Divinity School teaches the class. She asks, “Can God be an ally in queer worldmaking? Is God queer? What does queerness have to do with Judaism, Christianity, or Islam?”
In 2018, Duke Divinity School students protested during the divinity dean’s State of the School speech because they believed the school marginalized gay and trans students. Duke Divinity School now offers a certificate in Gender, Sexuality, Theology, and Ministry (GSTM).
The program “[examines the] intersections of gender with race, ethnicity, class, and sexuality, and asks what these questions mean for the church and for our common work.” To receive the certificate, students must take elective courses in Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies that use gender and sexuality as primary lenses. Last year, Duke Divinity School held a Pride worship service with prayers to “the Great Queer One.”
During the spring 2023 semester, Harvard Divinity School offered a course in “Queering Congregations.” This class focused on dismantling heteronormativity within American congregations. According to the course description,
The course examines the cultural backgrounds, beliefs, morals, values, and heteronormative structures of American churches and proposes methods for restructuring, reimagining, and subverting the heterosexist paradigms and binary assumptions that perpetuate oppression in American ecclesial spaces.
Yale Divinity School professor and leading queer theologian Linn Tonstad wrote in her book “Queer Theology” that she “[has] students working on poetry, preaching, pornography—to name just a few—for queer theological purposes.”
Queer theology sees marginalization, colonialism, and heterogeneity as the greatest evils of our time. Queer scholarship affirms all things lusty, sensual, and extreme, from polyamory to sermons preached by drag queens.
Grove City College professor Carl Trueman describes the modern self with the term expressive individualism in a lecture at the C.S. Lewis Institute. In the contemporary age, we ground our sense of self in psychological satisfaction instead of external obligations. Trueman argues that this shift historically occurred in three stages.
He identifies the first step as an inward turn. In the Middle Ages, people placed their identity in external realities — family, religion, and station, for example. However, Rousseau and the Romantics argued that man is born free but bond him with culture’s corrupting chains.
“The self becomes that inner psychological space. And that immediately means that external social structures and relationships become problematized,” Trueman argued.
Trueman identifies the next step as sexualizing the inner space. The critical figure is psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. Instead of seeing the inner space as idealistic, Freud saw it as dark, destructive, and characterized by violent sexual desires. To Freud, sexuality is at the core of a human being.
Once sexuality develops into an identity, it becomes politicized. Most societies’ moral codes restrict sexual behaviors. When sex becomes an identity, those moral codes restrict one’s identity instead of their actions. “Sexual desire is one of the most powerful things that human beings experience. It’s an easy sell to us that our sexual desires are who we are, especially in a time when there’s nothing else around us that gives us a good and solid grip on who we might be,” Trueman said.
Queer theology places spiritual identity in sexual perversion instead of God’s redeeming grace. Since the problem has various origins, finding a single solution is unachievable. Trueman argues that change begins in church, family, and local communities. To resist worldly temptations effectively, Christians need strong communities that help them develop and understand a biblical perspective.