20 November 2015

Book Review: Sex and the Church

Kathy Rudy is an American professor of women's studies at Duke University. This was her second book. The book deals with the intersections of feminism, political history, theology and homosexuality.

I've reviewed several books that deal with Christian conservatism and homosexuality: How the Religious Right Shaped Lesbian and Gay Activism, God Hates Fags, Recruiting Young Love, The Invention of Sodomy in Christian Theology, Straight to Jesus,  and God v. Gay?

I've also mentioned it in passing in a number of other book reviews and movies reviews. Didi Herman's The Antigay Agenda, which came out around the time of Rudy's book traces how fundamentalists starting in the 1950s picked homosexuality as a particular evil that needed addressing. She then traces how it accumulated interest until it was a major plank of the political Christian conservatism.

Sex and the Church goes a step further and gives a fairly good explanation for how homosexuality was picked out of all the evils of the world for special consideration -- from history, theology and patriarchy.

After she has completed that tour of history and theology, she then takes aim at the shortcomings of liberal mainline Protestant denominations for holding theologically indefensible positions.

I found her chapter on Christian community, gay community and the family to be interesting. Her aim at the nuclear family may have been helped by a more historical materialist analysis of it -- but this is really a small criticism for what otherwise is a tour de force.The only underdeveloped aspect of the book would be the issue of intimacy avoidance in gay communities and how that connects with her theology of intimacy

All in all, it's a fascinating read. I'm only sorry it took me 20 years to find it and read it.

The version I read was in English at 176 pages paperback published by the Beacon Press (June 30, 1998) with an ISBN-10 of 0807010359. The least expensive version I found online was at amazon.com.

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