I recently was interviewed by a bright young student studying queer theology. She was trying to figure out what she believed about it. What is queer theology, you ask? Well, as always, people try to adopt Christianity to cultural movements. This isn’t necessarily bad, as God sometimes brings up important truth through the culture. But to do it in a faithful way you must have a firm grasp on the Bible’s truth so you don’t end up damaging or losing the Faith.
Some branches of “Christianity” now adopt the name of Christian but actually deny the basic historic tenets of the faith, things like Jesus’ divinity, Scripture’s inerrancy, or the cross’ substitutionary atonement. And when they do cultural engagement, the results are not pretty. Thus queer theology was born.
So then again, what is queer theology? We could define queerness as the tearing down of the gender binary (masculine and feminine). Queer theology is trying to understand queerness in terms of the Christian faith. Or vice-versa: Understanding the Christian faith in terms of queerness. Rather than bore you with the system or details, I thought it would be helpful to give AffirmingGender readers a quick critique of four salient points (which is what I did for this student). With this quick read you can get an idea of what’s out there:
- Queer theology tends to adopt the culture’s trans-talk terminology. But as soon as you speak of not identifying “with the gender assigned at birth,” you have already conceded that gender is not real. It is something assigned. Yet that is exactly the question, whether it is or not. I argue that the Bible clearly says that, as an internal-external reality of who we are, it is.
- Queer theology refuses to read Genesis 1:27 (God making us male and female) as the paradigm for humanity. It was just something God happened to do with the first two, but is not a law or pattern for the future of people. But the reason we should take Genesis 1:27 (and 2:24, re marriage) as normative is because of how the rest of the Bible builds and continues that thought. It makes a big deal of gender, and gender in marriage, especially in the NT, constantly affirming the reality of these categories as God-given.
- Trans-affirming folks tend to claim that God is genderless. In fact, the Bible says the opposite, that both genders come out of God (1Corinthians 11:12, literally “out of God”). So it is not Biblical to say that God is genderless. Rather, we should say that, somehow, gender teaches us something, by metaphor, of what is in God. Queer theology folks will select some of what the Bible says, what serves their purpose, and ignore other parts, which is just a bad way to do theology. Queer-theology grows from and follows liberation philosophy. That is, it is an attempt to justify what it wants to be so. One had better approach the Bible to hear what it says, rather than what one wants it to say, if one is searching for truth.
- Galatians 3:28 (“…there is no male and female…in Christ Jesus”) is very big in queer theology writings. These theologians take this verse out of the context of the Apostle Paul’s other writings. Paul would never say that there is NO distinction between male and female, as he makes a big deal of it in other places: (1Corinthians 11, Ephesians 5, 1Timothy 2, etc.). So he cannot be saying that male and female melt away in Christ. Galatians 3:28 is very similar to what Peter says in 1Peter 3:6 –that women and men are co-heirs of the inheritance of Christ, that is, they are indistinguishable in receiving salvation. But you will not hear them bring up that verse, because 1Peter 3:1-7 has plenty of gender asymmetry in it!
These points hopefully give you an idea of some of the serious problems in the usual queer theology writings. No, it doesn’t work.
Have you had any experience with it?