- Format: Kindle Edition
- File Size: 541 KB
- Print Length: 270 pages
- Publisher: Lethe Press (27 Aug. 2008)
- Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
- Language: English
- ASIN: B001HN5HMA
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- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #778,134 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Sex As God Intended Kindle Edition
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"Sex as God Intended" is his latest book, and in it, he clearly debunks the Biblical passages often used to denounce homosexuality, and emphatically proclaims that our loving God intended sex as a source of pleasure and love, play and joy. The Spirit of God dwells within each one of us, McNeill explains, and that the basic human drive is one of intimacy.
"It has always been the prophetic role of lesbians and gay men to lead the Church and Western culture toward embracing embodiment, a sense of identity with the body and its sensuousness," McNeill writes, and readers will come away feeling proud of the role our gay community has been called to: to guide humanity to a deeper appreciation of beauty, hospitality and compassion.
The second half of the book is a Festschrift, essays in praise of McNeill by a whos-who of gay spiritual leaders and activists, such as Mel White, Troy Perry, Jeannine Gramick and Toby Johnson. This alone is a wonderful tribute to a true gay hero, and an important history lesson for all of us.
Like all of McNeill's books, "Sex as God Intended" continues to lovingly affirm those of us seeking to reconcile our spirituality with our sexuality. "Do not waste one ounce of energy in a negative attachment of anger with the Church, but rather, let's commit every ounce of our energy to the positive ministry of love which God has called us," McNeill so beautifully writes. I urge you to read this inspirational book.
-Salvatore Sapienza, author of Seventy Times Seven: A Novel
One of John McNeill's most significant contributions to Christian theology is his carefully worked-out insistence that gay and lesbian human beings fit into God's plan for the world. McNeill not merely asserts this: he demonstrates why it is the case, and he does so using unimpeachably traditional building blocks of Christian theology to make his case.
McNeill situates the lives of gay persons--he situates our existence in the world, an existence willed by the Creator--within the longstanding Christian tradition that through Christ, God has caught the entire cosmos up into a grand drama of divine salvation, in which all that has been created has a role to play in moving the created world to liberation. Echoing the Pauline insistence that the whole universe groans for salvation, and the declaration of patristic thinkers such as Irenaeus that the Spirit moves within all creation to make it (including human beings) fully alive, John McNeill asks what particular gifts gay and lesbian persons bring to the human community, to assist it in its movement to full life.
To ask this is also to ask precisely what it is that makes the human community fully alive. To ask about the particular gifts that gay and lesbian persons offer the human community is to ask about the eschatological goal towards which we move, as a human community. What is it to be liberated, to be saved? What does this mean, concretely? From what exactly do we seek salvation?
John McNeill's thought is incisive on this point. In his view, the Western mind (and the mind of the human community in general) has, throughout history, been involved in a constant dialectic interplay between the masculine and the feminine (p. 100). McNeill notes that great religious founders including Jesus and Ignatius of Loyola were, in cultures and historic periods heavily dominated by a masculine mind, "extraordinarily open to the feminine" (ibid.). He attributes the fruitfulness of such religious founders' vision to their ability to draw on the creative energies of the feminine in cultures and periods resistant to the feminine.
In McNeill's view, the human community is currently undergoing deep crisis as it attempts to move beyond the crippling strictures of a masculine mindset imbued with heterosexism and driven by feminophobia (pp. 98, 114). McNeill sees inbuilt in modernity itself "an essentially masculine crisis" (p. 105). The modern period joined the fate of the human race--and of the world itself--to men's domination of women, to the subjugation of the feminine to the masculine, to the denigration of gay and lesbian human beings by heterosexual ones. In doing so, it has brought the human community (and the world itself) to a perilous point, at which we face the annihilation of everything by nuclear war and unbridled ecological destruction (p. 105).
The salvation of the world depends, then, on the ability of the human race to move beyond the intransigent, stubborn defense of masculine domination of everything, in our current postmodern moment. Unfortunately, at this point of peril, the churches, including the Roman Catholic church, have chosen to make the defense of masculine domination of everything so central to their definition of what it means to be a believer in the world today, that many churches view the attempt to correct the exclusively masculine worldview we have inherited as apocalyptic: to question the right of males to dominate is to court the destruction of the world (p. 110). Churches are impeding a necessary movement forward by the human community, by clinging to outmoded, unjust patriarchal ideas and structures, at a point in which those ideas and structures are revealed as increasingly toxic wherever they prevail.
What do gays and lesbians, who are increasingly the human fallout of the churches' adamantine resistance to the feminine, have to offer in this dialectical struggle for the future of the world? In McNeill's view, gays and lesbians have a providential opportunity to "model the ideal goal of humanity's present evolution," by demonstrating what it might mean to live with a balance of masculine and feminine principles inside oneself and in the culture at large (p. 115). Gays and lesbians can offer, simply by living their lives with unapologetic integrity, an example of "balanced synthesis" that a culture heavily dominated by fear of the feminine and unjust power of the masculine sorely needs, if it is to remain a viable culture.
John McNeill follows his sketch of the dialectic evolutionary process through which humanity is now moving--or, rather, has to move, if it hopes to overcome forces with the perilous ability to destroy the entire world--with a reminder of the special gifts that gay and lesbian persons bring to church and society. This Jungian-oriented analysis of the contributions of gays and lesbians to humanity is one that runs through everything McNeill has written. It sustains his thought, and is one of his most valuable contributions to Christian theology.
Following Jung, McNeill notes that gays and lesbians bring these gifts to the human community and the churches:
1. Deep bonds of love, which bear an often unacknowledged fruit in many social institutions that transcend the gay community itself;
2. A sensitivity to beauty;
3. Supreme gifts of compassionate service evident in the contributions of gay and lesbian teachers, ministers, medical workers and healers, workers in the fields of human service that serve the blind, those with mental and physical challenges, and so on, and many other service-oriented fields;
4. An interest in and commitment to preserving the best of traditions, aspects of tradition that remain viable and are often overlooked by mainstream culture;
5. And the gift of spiritual leadership.
One cannot read John McNeill's work and not conclude that the church's decision at this moment of its history to reject--even to seek to destroy--such gifts is tragically short-sighted. One cannot read John McNeill's work and struggle, as an unapologetic gay person, to live in some connection to the church without feeling the tremendous weight of the tragedy that the churches are choosing to write today for themselves, the human community, and the earth itself by repudiating and undermining the gifts of gay and lesbian persons to the churches and the human community.
John McNeill's prophetic theology opens up for me and for others a way that would never have been opened to us, had he not written books such as Sex As God Intended. For what he has accomplished, and for who he is, John McNeill deserves high honor and gratitude--and not only from the gay community. From the entire church.
A featured speaker at every Dignity national convention except one (when he was briefly silenced by the Vatican), John will be with us in San Francisco to introduce his new book, Sex as God Intended: A Reflection on Human Sexuality as Play. In it, John offers fresh, joyous, and challenging insights into a subject of intense interest to each of us, while expanding on the major theological and psychological themes he has developed over a lifetime. In addition, twelve of John's distinguished fellow theologians, writers, and activists - including Sr. Jeannine Gramick, Daniel Helminiak, Mary Hunt, and Mark Jordan - present their own insightful and provocative reflections on his work and life in a festschrift of essays.
John poses a central question at the beginning of Sex as God Intended: "Christian revelation, as it came from Jesus, was one of the most sex-positive and body-positive religions in the history of the world. How, then, in just a few centuries did it become such a body- and sex-negative religion and remain so to this day?" Turning to both Scripture and personal experience, John seeks out the revelations of God's intention for human sex as play, from the Old Testament's frankly erotic "Song of Songs" to four profound affirmations of the body in the New Testament. In John's view, God's plan for sex as a source of joy, pleasure, and love fully embraces same-gender partners. He finds biblical support for this conviction in the stories of Jonathan and David, and Ruth and Naomi, as well as accounts of Jesus's beloved disciple, the gay centurion and his beloved boy, and Jesus's membership in a highly unconventional family of choice.
John's vision of playful same-gender sexuality includes the complete spectrum of the LGBT community's experience. He writes: "Intimacy, both physical and spiritual, is precisely the goal of playful sex. But . . . in order to have the freedom to play and to overcome self-consciousness, we must have the felt security of being loved. The primary purpose of a relationship of love is to enable the partners to affirm each other continuously through shared activities in an atmosphere of security and trust. Love gives us that freedom." At the same time, John contends that everyone - not just those in committed relationships - has a right to playful and responsible expression of their sexuality and their search for intimacy. "I agree with Norman Pittenger," he writes, "that there are only three kinds of sexual activity between consenting adults: good, better, and best sex."
Arguing forcefully for the right to same-sex marriage, John declares that there is nothing in either Scripture or human experience to support the denial of official recognition of committed same-sex relationships by church and state. He explores the "providential role of gay marriage," including the potential for same-sex marriage to correct the power imbalances and rigid gender stereotypes of traditional heterosexual marriage. Additionally, he celebrates the special gifts of creativity, compassionate service, and spiritual leadership offered by the LGBT community.
Moreover, John maintains that one of the main roots of homophobia is feminaphobia, or a fear of and contempt for all things feminine. The only cure for this form of homophobia, he states, is the liberation of women to a full and equal status with men. Furthermore, John argues, "It is my belief that Christianity in its present form is dying, along with all the major forms of patriarchy representing the domination and suppression of the feminine by the masculine. The only way it can be resurrected is to recover and affirm the feminine, which will allow the Church once again to proclaim the body- and sex-positive message revealed by God."
The voices of the festschrift writers, as well as foreword author Ken Page, speak eloquently not only of John's deep influence on them personally, but on LGBT Catholics, the broader Catholic and Christian communities, and the entire LGBT spiritual movement. As Mary Hunt writes, "His impact goes well beyond his roots to persons of diverse faith perspectives who seek to hold together their sexuality with their faith. If a Roman Catholic priest can do it and be open and proud about it, why not a devout Muslim, a Southern Presbyterian, or an Orthodox Jew? As our collective movement matures, his example becomes more obvious."
Sex as God Intended is the crowning work of one of our true sages, vital and inspired in his ninth decade. A fount of new and stimulating ideas as well as a compact overview of John McNeill's cumulative wisdom, it is essential reading for all of us who call ourselves lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender and Christian.
No free will....born that way?
We ALL are called to lives of chastity.
We've come a long way, John.
Read the bioethics research.
Read the truth: T. Pacholczyk, Ph.D doctorate in neuroscience from Yale; post-doc work at Harvard.
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