“Queer” is the term used to describe the GLBT community. Hitherto, theologians from gay affirmative churches have spent much effort to provide a theological construction to explain the clobber verses and to emphasis that homosexuality is not a sin, but a given, and a gift from God. Queer theology is a further development which extends beyond the GLBT community to cover those that are outside societal norms and constructions to the entire society both straights and gays. It is an emphasis on the expression of uniqueness of the individual/minority groups rather than its suppression based on class/societal/religious structures and power hierarchies (gender/religious/political/racial).
The GLBT persons often lose their individuality in a homophobic and patriarchal world, conforming to the aspirations of their families, society, law and religion to hide their self. Our core individuality and freedom is suppressed and harmed.
Often we unknowingly support the perpetuation of these religious oppressive class structures against gays by attending the mega churches and supporting them financially when these churches in-turn (eg the Methodist Church, the National Council of Churches, the Anglican Church Global South) lead an anti-gay crusade causing much harm to the GLBT community even suicides due to the condemnation put on us.
The fear of God is to worship Christ rather than worshiping the bible as an “idol” for a theological construction to explain everything. We are all created as unique individuals beautifully created by God, yet the identity of Gays are often suppressed by the Christian Right. They are constructing an anti-gay “god” because they could not understand why God create gays at the same time seemingly condemned gays from the bible. They are afraid that once the bible is undermined, the message of the Gospel is compromised. However, their reading of the bible is erroneous because they have superimposed their own history, culture and religion into the bible which distorts its meaning. Making a major dogma from the bible much beyond the centrality of the message of God’s love and redemption undermines the Gospel message of Christ.
It is interesting to note that whilst the struggle for social and wealth equality gains mileage in Latin America via the Liberation theology, the same struggle for prosperity gains following in Africa via the Prosperity theology, and the struggle for bible inerrancy as if our salvation depends on it gains a following the States via the anti-gay theology of the Christian Right.
In a very broad sense, Queer theology in its aspirations for the realization of the individual identity is a branch of Liberation Theology in Latin America which gave a theological construction for freedom of the oppressed starting in the 50s. However, Liberation Theology has been marked by its association with strong leftist and Universalist inclinations and is a mass grass roots movement. This theology is a Latin American Catholic construction made known by the likes Guitierrez, a Catholic Priests and theology processor. It fills an important void that Jesus also came to satisfy our physical needs in the light of the poverty and oppression in Latin America. There is however a tendency to under emphasis the message of the Gospel of spiritual redemption, the issue of sin, and to over emphasize the rights of the individuality and the physical redemption on earth.
The construction of liberation theology gives them a sense of backing from the bible and from God for the strong stance taken against injustice. However, they have rationalized the violence and the harm they caused in the name of justice, and the Leftist theology often integrated with socialist ideals becomes another idol and god with a non-hierarchical power structure only a dream. Nevertheless, Liberation Theology gives us reason to fight for justice and equality lest we take injustice for granted. Liberation theology alone is however limited when compared to the issues faced by GLBT Christians because Gays are condemned on three very different counts:-
a) By Society at large (whereas the Liberation Theology is a mass grass roots movement, and not a movement of a few percentage of society),
b) By the Law. Homosexuality is illegal in many countries and there are long jail terms whereas one would not be jailed for being poor.
c) By the Church. Homosexuality is considered a sin in most mainstream Christian Churches whereas being poor or a racial minority is not a sin. Instead the Liberation theology is a mass movement by the Catholic Church in Latin America whereas Queer theology is against the mis-interpretation of the bible and homophobia by the Catholic Church even in Latin America where they are leading antagonist against gay rights.
Whilst there are similarities eg straight people also suffers from constructions of societal norms such as women, and minorities, we tend to under emphasize that the gay community is thrice condemned and are far more despised than any other groupings. It is one thing to specify what you can and cannot do because of societal norms, but very different to say that one is innately a sinner or to end up in jail just because you were gay.
The paradox in Christianity is that
a) We are all different, yet one in Christ and both are to be celebrated. We lose the freedom to be a new creation to change from glory to glory if we hold on to our old self – our sins, our imperfections, our anger, hatred, causing harm to others etc. Whilst we all have a unique character, God wants to mold it to become Christ like - kindness, gentleness, longsuffering, etc. We become one in Christ when we addressed the issue of sin and redemption through Christ.
The denial of one’s innate character on account of social, legal and religious norms is equally destructive because we become no longer people of innate worth and beauty, beautifully created by God, rather becoming the robots to fit into societal constructions. We are alive physically but dead as an individual unique person even though Christ came to save and redeemed the real us that resides within.
b) We create many “gods” (aka theological constructions) in our own lives, yet united in worshiping one true God in Jesus Christ if the fear of God and the revelation of Christ as the Messiah constraints us.
We tend to make sense of life and salvation, especially our pains, sufferings, and longings through our theological construction. If we are not careful, we become gods molding god with our own hands. Theological constructions should be balanced by the fear of God, for God exists and have its being, character, and righteousness in-spite of how we construct God.
We are queer Christians not in the sense of creating a new “Christ less” or Universalist religion where we create a tent where everyone fit in thus making ineffective the uniqueness of Christ and the message of the Gospel, but to respect the different Christian faith journeys of each and the different Christian theological worlds that one comes from as equally valid perspective of Christ working in our lives within the boundaries of the Gospel message and centrality of Christ which unites us into the ministry of Christ.
(Luke 6:20 NKJV) Then He lifted up His eyes toward His disciples, and said: "Blessed are you poor, For yours is the kingdom of God.
(Luke 6:21 NKJV) Blessed are you who hunger now, For you shall be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, For you shall laugh.
Whilst Queer and Liberation theology are genuine stance against the violent oppression and structures in society, as much as we want to change the outside world, and to correct the injustices within, true freedom and revelation comes within – from a change and molding of character into the righteousness of Christ and to walk by the leading of the Holy Spirit in the faith journey and appointment that God has for us.
Jesus declared that we are blessed because we are poor, because the rich could not see God in their self righteousness and self sufficiency whereas we the poor understands our humanity and dependency on Christ longing for the rule of the Kingdom of Heaven, the coming rule of Christ where all injustice and sufferings will be of the past.
We hunger for the realization of self, to be free from the structures that define us by our families, the church, society and by the law, yet it must start with Christ who fills and accepts us within. We love because Christ first loved us. We can love and accept ourselves as GLBT people, because Christ first loved us.
Jesus Christ didn’t call for a class struggle against the injustice in society, against the structures oppressing the poor and the minorities by the Roman rulers. He did not call for an external revolution against the Romans and the Jewish religious rulers that defines much of today’s liberation theology. He definitely did not call for an anti-gay crusade which defines much of the church today.
Jesus calls for an internal revolution, a change of character, a change of allegiance and faith in Christ, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that we may know how ourselves, to love others, to love God, and to resist perpetuating the existing oppressive class structures. Jesus was indeed Queer, a total exception to the religious norms. We too can be queer, not only because we are gay, but being led and guided by the Holy Spirit which makes the beautiful rainbow in the sky.
There is a calling for Queer Christianity, a recognition that we are beautiful and unique as individuals and to love and accept ourselves as Jesus has loved us, and to find freedom in coming out from the closet of the structures that our families, our society, the law, and the church has set us in, to be free in a Queer Christ.