Why has the Right’s anti-gay agenda been so successful in galvanizing a broad spectrum of Christians to political action? Why have the issues of gay ordination and gay marriage come to dominate liberal Christian discussions of sexuality? What questions about sexual orientation, sexual ethics, and Christian community are not being asked as a result?
Sex and the Church is a groundbreaking book that brings lesbian and gay theory and experience to bear on questions of sexuality and its relationship to Christian life. Ethicist Kathy Rudy begins by showing how the Christian right’s campaign for “family values” has profoundly shaped American debates about gender and sexuality, and how mainline Protestant denominations have responded by focusing narrowly on questions of inclusion and exclusion, rights and privileges for lesbians and gay men. She then moves the debate onto a new level, drawing on queer theory and the lives of gay and lesbian Christians to answer new questions: Are gender and sexual orientation categories by which we should define ourselves and judge each other? Is the nuclear family the best site for Christian commitment? What is the purpose of sex, and what does it have to do with God? And what kind of intimate relationships best contribute to the formation of Christian community? Rudy concludes by proposing a new Christian sexual ethic that adapts the ancient notions of unitivity and procreativity to the church of today.
This provocative work offers a powerful vision of a renewed Christian community, open to all.
“Challenging liberal and conservative sentimentalities surrounding debates about ‘homosexuality,’ Rudy helps Christians discover that the church matters for how we ought to think about sex. How odd! How wonderful! Everyone should read this book.” —Stanley Hauerwas, Divinity School, Duke University
“Kathy Rudy’s work brings together the unlikely bedfellows of ‘queer’ theory and Christian theology, with fascinating results. Sex and the Church is a must-read for those interested in questions of religion and sexual ethics.” —Lisa Duggan, coauthor of Sex Wars: Sexual Dissent and Political Culture
“Sex and the Church is about all the topics we often avoid in ‘polite’ company-sex, religion, and politics. Turning the pages of Rudy’s book, I found both a kindred spirit and a worthy opponent. She offers a well-drawn map of sexual and moral territory where the borders are in dispute and civil war is common. As an unchurched gay person, I recommend this book to anyone willing (in Rudy’s own words) to ‘examine precisely what our sexuality has to do with loving God and being church.’“
-Scott Tucker, author of Fighting Words
“This important book initiates a whole new chapter in academic and church discussions of homosexuality by revealing the enormously limited thinking of both the Right and the Left on sexual identity and ethics, and by linking the oppressive binary categories of sexual orientation and gender. Rudy brings an advanced knowledge of the history of the construction of sexuality, queer theory, and the church’s ethical thinking to these questions. Rudy also offers an intriguing constructive theological account of the way Christians can distinguish moral from immoral sexual activity without relying on problematic categories from the past.” —Mary McClintock Fulkerson, author of Changing the Subject: Women’s
Discourses and Feminist Theology
“A significant contribution to the field of ethics, American cultural studies, and gay/lesbian theology.” —Robert Goss, author of Jesus Acted Up: A Gay and Lesbian Manifesto