(Cross-posted from Queering the Church)
In the beginning was a word, and the word was “queer”. But this was seen as offensive, so we changed it to “gay”. Many women felt they were not clearly included, so the words became “gay and lesbian”. Some thought this was a tautology, so it was spelt out: “gay men and lesbians”, sometimes “lesbians and gay men”. “What about us?” asked the bisexuals, so it became “lesbians, gay men and bisexuals”. But some men didn’t like being called gay, they were just “men who have sex with “men” – MSM. Then we realised there were others who were excluded – but lesbian gay bisexual and transgendered was too much of a mouthful, so it became LGBT, later extended to LGBTQI – so adding “queer” (now including all other sexual minorities, or none) and “intersex”.
Yesterday, fellow gay Catholic blogger Michael Bayley and I had a short interchange in the comments thread to a post at Wild Reed.
Today,one of the first news reports I saw this morning on my personalised Google News page was a report of a lecture by Professor Mark Jordan on exactly this topic, together with a comment which pretty will sums up my feelings – but ever so much more eloquently.
(Before giving you Prof Jordan’s remarks, I should clarify may own stance when writing. I don’t like any of the terms that are used, but my preference is “Queer”, with a very specific meaning - see "Why Queer?". But I recognise that many people either dislike the term, or are not familiar with the modern usage. So, in a spirit of inclusiveness, I try to use a range of the less offensive terms without discrimination – and with no attempt to be consistent).
Here follows extracts from the lecture (from Yale Daily News):
According to Harvard Divinity School professor Mark Jordan, the terms LGBT and queer are confusing and unnecessary.
“No one knows what queer means, and no one can know what queer means,” Jordan said in a lecture Tuesday. .....Critiquing homosexual labels, Jordan said Christians adopt these terms ...and use these words to create polarized arguments either attacking or embracing homosexuality.
In the lecture, Jordan argued that Christians should adopt a term that both includes homosexuals in their community and embodies Christian values based on biblical canon. But ..he said he could not describe what the term should be.
Jordan said a problem arises when Christianity “borrows” too many of the terms of sexual orientation from the scientific and political communities. Thus, he argued, because Christians do not have their own term to express sexual orientation, Christian organizations have not accepted homosexuals as readily as secular institutions.
“When we measure by other standards, we don’t measure progress for [Christians],” he said.
Jordan said in the lecture that the term LGBT is not a cohesive descriptor of sexuality, rather a laundry list of non-heterosexual “subdivisions.” To create a more precise term, Jordan said, churches should look to the Bible.
“What we need is the positive equivalent of the sodomite,” he said, referring to the residents of the Biblical city Sodom who engaged in homosexual and heterosexual acts depicted as perverse.
From the comment thread:
“What the Niebuhr lecturer from Harvard Divinity School, Mr. Mark Jordan, is tacitly acknowledging .... is that we have become the fractured faces of Picasso's paintings."
Nobody says "my heterosexual parents" or the man and woman who created me "heterosexually". Why should they say "She's queer" or "He's gay" Or "They're the people who perform lesbian acts in bed?"
Just as it is antiquated for a male to achieve manhood through the ritual of deflowering a woman, so too is it antiquated to attribute personhood to another on the basis of the twitches and impulses of one square foot of their body from navel to knee and whether or not they transform those twitches into sexual acts.
Has anyone ever considered how foolish all this sexuality nonsense is?
People are people. They make different choices. Sometimes they make declarations about those choices and discover decades later that those declarations weren't true to their ongoing interior monologues.
"In the beginning was the Word and the Word was made flesh" is being transformed by Mercantilia into "In the beginning was the flesh and the flesh was made Word (or Label)."
My, what fools these mortals be.”
More on Mark Jordan and his writing:
Queering the Church posts (which are based at least in part on the work of Prof Jordan):