Happy Publication Day to Reverend Elizabeth M. Edman and her new book Queer Virtue: What LGBTQ People Know About Life and Love and How It Can Revitalize Christianity! In Queer Virtue, Rev. Edman asserts that Christianity, far from being hostile to queer people, is itself inherently queer. Christianity incessantly challenges its adherents to rupture false binaries, to “queer” the lines that pit people against one another. Rev. Edman also argues for the recognition that queer people can help Christians better understand their fundamental calling and the creation of a sacred place where LGBTQ Christians are seen as gifts to the Church.
Queer Virtue is part of our Queer Action/Queer Ideas Series. Series editor Michael Bronski wrote the following note for the book, showing how Rev. Edman’s book builds on the tradition of literature that gives us an innovative way to think about the complex relationship between faith and queerness. After Bronski’s note, you will find five filmed micro sermons Rev. Edman made specifically for the book, each one outlining the virtue queer people possess and what Christianity can learn from it. You can learn more about Rev. Edman and her book on her website.
The words “queer” and “virtue” hardly ever appear together. Like alpha and omega, sin and grace, and wrong and right, they are always seen as opposing ends of a spectrum. Elizabeth Edman’s Queer Virtue: What LGBTQ People Know About Life and Love and How It Can Revitalize Christianity brilliantly, succinctly, and with enormous empathy and insight argues that these terms, far from being oppositional, are wedded in ways that make them distinctly unique. Indeed, brought together they are the quintessence of Christianity.
The last four decades, since the advent of Gay Liberation in 1969, have produced a wealth of literature dealing with the troubled, ever-evolving relationship between feminism, (homo)sexuality, and Christianity: Mary Daly’s revolutionary Beyond God the Father: Toward a Philosophy of Women’s Liberation (1973), John Boswell’s Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century (1980), Mark D. Jordan’s The Invention of Sodomy in Christian Theology (1997), and Patrick S. Cheng’s From Sin to Amazing Grace: Discovering the Queer Christ (2012) all gave us fresh ways to think about how historically and theologically the relationship between Christianity and queerness is far more complex than we had ever imagined. Queer Virtue builds on these works and takes them a step further—if modern Christianity is in a crisis, it can be saved, revitalized, by the contemporary queer experience and consciousness. Edman’s vision challenges and reawakens Christianity from the inside and forces believers and nonbelievers alike to rethink and reanimate their long held assumptions.
We live in a country in which the lived experience of being LGBTQ and the internal experience and practice of being Christian seem to continually clash: same-sex marriage debates, religious freedom exemptions, the implications of antigay sentiments, and the limits of hate crime laws are in the headlines every day. Queer Virtue addresses none of this directly—and yet, with theological and political perceptivity, Edman gives us new ways to think about all of these issues by demanding that we understand queerness not as compatible with Christianity, but an embodiment of it.
—Michael Bronski, Series Director, Queer Action/Queer Ideas
Rev. Edman’s Queer Virtue Micro Sermons
Identity: “Whether you are queer or Christian or both, knowing who you are is the first step to living a good life, to being the person God created you to be.”
Risk: “Abraham and Sarah left everything they knew to follow God’s call. This kind of risk is the verb form of faith. Queer people live this kind of risk every day, all over the world, simply by being the people God created us to be.”
Touch: “Love—including divine love—involves touch that both wounds and heals. Queer people take on this paradox openly, modeling what it means to push past fear and find the love we all need.”
Adoption: “Queer people create communities that, for many of us, become adoptive families. Christian community is supposed to be like that: an inviting home, not an exclusive club.”
Scandal: “Queer people have long been cast as scandalous, just as Jesus was in his day. Like Jesus, queer people know: embracing scandal creates an ethical vision that frees us from shame and affirms the dignity of every human being.”
About the Authors
The Reverend Elizabeth M. Edman is an Episcopal priest and a political strategist who has been expanding people’s understanding of faith and sexuality for over twenty-five years. She has worked on the most pressing contemporary issues in the intersection of religion and sexuality, serving as an inner-city hospital chaplain to people with HIV/AIDS from 1989 to 1995 and helping to craft political and communications strategies for marriage-equality efforts. She lives in New York City. Follow her on Twitter at @ and visit her website.
Michael Bronski has been involved in gay liberation as a political organizer, writer, and editor for more than four decades. The author of several award-winning books, including A Queer History of the United States, he also coauthored “You Can Tell Just by Looking”: And 20 Other Myths about LGBT Life and People and Considering Hate: Violence, Goodness, and Justice in American Culture and Politics. Bronski is Professor of the Practice in Activism and Media in the Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Harvard University and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.