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Men, Homosexuality, and the Gods: An Exploration into the Religious Significance of Male Homosexuality in World Perspective (Haworth Gay & Lesbian Studies) [Paperback]

John Dececco Phd , Ronald Long

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Book Description

29 July 2004 1560231521 978-1560231523
Compare worldwide religious regulations involving gay sex and masculinity!

Men, Homosexuality, and the Gods: An Exploration into the Religious Significance of Male Homosexuality in World Perspective is an eye-opening look at the traditions of particular religions and their edicts concerning gay sex. This book examines the origins of holy directives involving homosexuality—whether forbidden, tolerated, or mandatory—and establishes a link between theology, sex roles, and the sensitive issue of masculinity. This text draws a parallel between homosexuality and the idea of religion, suggesting that gay rights can be understood as a freedom of religion issue.

While most readers are familiar with the traditional Islamic, Christian, and Hebrew prohibitions against sex between two males, this book also reveals other historic religions from around the world that neither opposed nor looked down on homosexuality. Men, Homosexuality, and the Gods argues that masculinity is the universal theme that formed historical interpretation—warriors and men of high status could not be sexually receptive or “feminine” and still be called “men.” This intriguing text shows how the modern homophile movements are in effect redefining masculinity to obliterate the stigma of being a sexually receptive man.

Men, Homosexuality, and the Gods examines the significance of homosexuality in such religions as:
  • the Sambians of New Guinea
  • the Taoists of Ancient China
  • Plato and the later Stoics
  • Islamic Sufism
  • Native American culture
  • Hebrew Scriptures
  • early Christianity
  • Buddhism
Men, Homosexuality, and the Gods is an enlightening book that honors homosexual claims to moral integrity and appreciates religion and religious figures without rancor. Easy-to-read and free of technical language, this volume is for anyone who has an academic, professional, or personal interest in theology and homosexuality.

The author is available for speaking engagements and can be contacted at

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"Important....A timely, accessible, and valuable resource not only for gay and bisexual men but for everyone concerned with the interlocking questions of religion, gender, and violence."

About the Author

Ronald E. Long is Assistant Professor of Religion at Hunter College of the City University of New York. His essays have appeared in The Harvard Gay and Lesbian Review, The Journal of Men's Studies and The Journal of the American Academy of Religion.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.0 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing 18 Feb 2008
By D. Lamp - Published on
This book was very disappointing, by the title you would think that this book has useful information about the different religions and how homosexuality plays a part in that religion. I could only force myself to read half of this book before I got sick of the author constantly talking about homosexuality as humiliating and ridiculous. Having researched Native American tradition and Wicca I have come to know that neither of these traditions look down on homosexuality as being humiliation or ridiculous. This book is not at all what it appears to be.
20 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read on the Whole "Bible-Homo" Question 8 Oct 2004
By David R. Gillespie - Published on
Professor Long provides a much needed and long awaited treatment of homosexuality in religious perspectives. His focus on the issues of "gender-threat" and its relation to why some religions are antagonistic to male homosexuality is right on target. He combines his knowledge of religious traditions with a cultural eye that gives the reader tremendous insight. I devoured this book, as should anyone interested in the whole "bible-homo" question.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars "Religion"-- not "the Gods"-- more accurate for title 13 Feb 2013
By Paul B. Rucker - Published on
I stumbled upon a mention of this book in someone's blog and was immediately interested because I was expecting a juicy examination of images of Pagan Gods in relation to gay male psychology and identity, and perhaps spiritual practice. (Books that examine images of Gods in relation to men usually tend to be quasi-Jungian redux-- like GODS IN EVERYMAN by Jean Shinoda Bolen or those written by Robert Bly camp followers, and the rarer ones that relate to current Pagan practice tend to be cursory overviews with the intent of introducing the reader to "Paganism 101"-- this includes even the one such book specifically targeted to gay men, THE PATH OF THE GREEN MAN by Michael Thomas Ford.)

Instead, what I received-- thru interlibrary loan, so thankfully I did not waste my money on this dull book-- was a vapid rehash of historical material relating primarily to how major monotheisms (and a few indigenous cultures) accepted or did not accept homosexuality in men. Plus a very dull continuing exegesis on "topping' and "bottoming" as seen through these cultures, blah blah blah. I suspect others who have sought out this book were similarly mislead by the use of the words "the Gods" in the title. A more accurate title, which would have placed this book on the correct heap of existing material-- material has been covered before, and by more interesting writers-- would have been "MEN, HOMOSEXUALITY, AND RELIGION," etc.

"Gods" in general are *personifications* of the numinous (a term I am using because it embraces the mythic, the mythopoetic, the spiritual, the religious, the archetypal, etc.)-- or more specifically, *aspects* of the numinous. I deal in images of Gods because I am a mythopoeic artist (for examples, you can see my work at In a sentence, I believe that human consciousness meets the Mystery/ that which is Numinous halfway by giving it humanlike (or at least familiar animal-like) attributes. This allows us to create sacred theatre, iconic art,and in a Pagan way, participate in the Mystery in a manner not possible in a monotheism where "God" supposedly encompasses everything.

The Gods, as I am interested in them, are almost not present at all in this book. Other reviewers have judged more sharply the academic content of the material in this book. If I cared enough, I would. Rather, I would like to point readers to more fruitful discussion of Pagan Gods in relation to gay men, in case you too were following a similarly false trail.

Top of this list: CASSELL'S ENCYCLOPEDIA OF QUEER MYTH, SYMBOL AND SPIRIT: GAY, LESBIAN, BISEXUAL AND TRANSGENDER LORE by Randy P. Conner, David Sparks, and Mariya Sparks. (Disclaimer: My image of "The Androgyne" is featured on the back of this book, which is how I found out about it back in 1997. However, no other book dealing with GBLT in relation to myth and the numinous has come close to this masterwork. I also have an interesting story on my website about how my model for "The Androgyne" met Randy Conner years after its publication.) Also by Randy P. Conner: BLOSSOM OF BONE-- RECLAIMING THE CONNECTIONS BETWEEN HOMOEROTICISM AND THE SACRED.

ANOTHER MOTHER TONGUE: GAY WORDS, GAY WORLDS by Judy Grahn (a groundbreaking classic)

GAY SOUL: FINDING THE HEART OF GAY SPIRIT AND NATURE by Mark Thompson (thoughtful essays that go past the "101" approach in connecting gayness with a spiritual life)

MYTH AND SEXUALITY by Jamake Highwater (Highwater is a gay Native American, whose work examines art, myth, culture)

and, for now--

THE HIDDEN SPIRITUALITY OF MEN-- TEN METAPHORS[*]TO AWAKEN THE SACRED MASCULINE by Matthew Fox (*"Metaphors" is his word to re-context the somewhat overused "archetype").
This book deals with homosexuality only in the general context of revisioning numinous masculinity. What impressed me most was his inclusion of radically new "metaphors" that no other "men's studies" authors have offered. In addition to fairly familar faces-- "Father Sky," "the Green Man," and "the Warrior" he presents "Earth Father," "Grandfather Sky"-- and! "The Blue Man." Honestly, I bought the book just for that chapter, because "the Blue Man" is the Divine Face that has mattered most to me in my art and in sacred theatre performance.

Hopefully the above examples will prove inspiring!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Gender/Queer Politics Essential! 18 Feb 2011
By SheistyScholar - Published on
An excellently thought out analysis of several religions and their views on sexuality. Long supposes that historically, sex has been treated as war in the bedroom, even if such war-play is pleasurable, ultimately it has become a crossroads of power and domination, which in is institutionalized through religious teachings. Through his thorough research, he is able to construct a case for how the human psyche came to attribute supernatural/religious significance to the mundane realities of sexual evolution.

Some of his views run slightly counter to the more mainstream teachings of Women's/Gender Studies departments, but his work makes for a great companion text for any such courses.
12 of 42 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Pathetically Weak on Argument - Empty Assertions 10 April 2005
By Black Prince - Published on
Bought this book hoping for a properly constructed thesis, very disappointing. If you don't subscribe to his thesis to begin with that the world is agin men being receptive like women, and that religions that disdain homosexuality are in fear of losing their patriarchal structure; ie. receptive male intercourse undermines male hierarchy and confuses sexual roles - well if you don't accept this to start with you won't after reading this book.

It would be good to read a proper logical argument instead of frantic efforts to heap sand into ramparts before the tide of critical opinion comes in and washes these soluble ramparts away; but I have not yet found it, and this book doesn't either.

It is actually quite pathetic, there is an absence of hard logic or reasoned fact. Men may well engage in same-sex relations because it pleasures them, or for some dysfunctional reason; it is the hedonism that offends religion, not the feminist line about threats to male hierarchy...............then again Dr Long can hardly use "penis envy" as a rationale but otherwise he re-hashes feminist jargon to pose some great threat to male family structures if one of them decides to bend over and be receptive to male advances.

It is like tackling a souffle; the book has no coherent argument and merely reinforces existing prejudices; if you want to believe this nonsensical thesis you will enjoy the book provided you are not given to rational thought; otherwise you will feel you have just read some flaccid prose in a third-rate magazine.............maybe you have !
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