Androgyny: The Pagan Sexual Ideal -- By: Peter Jones

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 43:3 (Sep 2000)
Article: Androgyny: The Pagan Sexual Ideal
Author: Peter Jones


Androgyny: The Pagan Sexual Ideal

Peter Jonesa

… being a gay man or lesbian entails far more than sexual behavior alone … [it entails] a whole mode of being-in-the-world. 1

Paiens unt tort e Chrestianes unt dreit
Chanson de Roland 2

I. Introduction

Like the ancient pagan Sodomites pounding on the door of Lot’s house millennia ago, the modern gay movement is gathering at the doors of our churches, our academies, and our once traditionally “Christian” culture, demanding entrance and full recognition. Notable scholar David A. J. Clines, professor of OT at Sheffield University, for one, appears ready to lay down the welcome mat. He wrote in 1998: “… [though] queer theory has yet to show its face at the SBL [Society of Biblical Literature], 3 gayness is challenging … all that we hold dear. When we begin to redraw the alterity map, the boundaries between same and different … we find ourselves having to think through everything, and not just sexuality, from scratch.” 4 Clines, who not long ago was known for his conservative theological position, illustrates how far acceptance of the gay movement has come in recent years, even among those from strongly Biblical backgrounds.

This movement has come a long way fast. It will not go away soon, I believe, because it is so intimately tied to deep changes in modern society, in particular those associated with philosophical postmodernism. 5 Because

in the postmodern hermeneutic all meaning is socially generated, queer commentary has little methodological difficulty finding a place in the contemporary religious and theological debate. 6 In cooperation with feminist Biblical interpretation, which has “destabilized normative heterosexuality” by alleging “sexist” bias, 7 queer readings merely seek to take one more step in the hermeneutics of suspicion and expose the “heterosexist bias” of the Bible and Bible interpreters. Identifying exegesis as an exercise in social power, queer theorists reject the oppressive narrowness of the Bible’s male/female binary vision and boldly generate textual meaning on the basis of the “inner erotic power” of the gay interpreter. 8 What could be more postmodern? Employi...

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