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Medieval church history and queer ministry: using the historical imaginary to build theological community

By V. Gunn


<p>“A woman who takes up devilish ways and plays a male role in coupling with\ud another woman is most vile in My sight, and so is she who subjects herself to\ud such a one in this evil deed…..”1</p>\ud \ud <p>This statement, made by Hildegard of Bingen is representative of much of the vitriol the\ud medieval church liked to produce in response to same sex sexual activity. Indeed, even for\ud as innovative (and on occasions heretical) an author as Hildegard there was neither space\ud nor any evidence of her desire to do other than uphold traditional approaches to two\ud women having sex.2 In the face of such prejudice it is hard not to wonder whether the\ud medieval church has anything positive to offer the queer ecclesial community. Of course, by\ud implication this quote suggests that queer folk existed in the distant past and are not just a\ud figment of our fertile (if not furtive), libidinous, post‐modernist imaginations. Indeed, this\ud quote indicates the existence of not only woman to woman sex, but also role playing of a\ud type that sounds (comfortingly or disquieteningly dependent on your personal view point)\ud like the butch/femme dichotomy. Obviously, this is a translation from Latin and linguistically\ud at least, conveys an inherently post‐medieval reading of the text. However, it is hard to\ud know how a literal interpretation of this particular text would differ. It clearly implies same\ud sex coupling.</p>\ud \ud <p>In this paper I wish to elaborate on why and how medieval church history can be used to\ud benefit of the queer community and those whom identify as its ministers. To do this, I have\ud broken the paper into three key areas: firstly, theoretical frameworks; secondly, the\ud practical implications of these frameworks for queer ministry; and thirdly, a case study of\ud using the historical imaginary and what it suggests as areas for exploration in queer\ud theology.</p

Topics: D111, BV
Year: 2007
OAI identifier:
Provided by: Enlighten

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