New book dares to show gay Jesus
“Christ’s story is for everyone,” said Kittredge Cherry, author of Jesus In Love, the first novel ever published about a queer Christ.
Jesus In Love is a work of fiction that sparks debate by raising the issue of Christ’s sexuality, including a gay love story between Jesus and his beloved disciple John.
Cherry is not trying to prove that the historical Jesus had a homosexual relationship, although some pioneering Bible scholars have speculated on the subject.
Controversy began even before publication. Hundreds of gay news sites covered the launch of Cherry’s website, JesusInLove.org, which features the growing number of books and art based on the queer Christ.
Bloggers battled over whether it was “sick and disgusting” or “a rather heavenly idea.”
“The queer Christ is a sign of hope when Christians and gays seem to be at war. He loves and stands for all people, including the sexually marginalized,” said Cherry, a lesbian Christian author whose ministry put her at the forefront of the sexuality debate at the National Council of Churches (USA) and the World Council of Churches.
Cherry was ordained by Metropolitan Community Churches and served as clergy in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community for seven years. Her previous books include Hide and Speak, Equal Rites and Womansword. The New York Times Book Review praised her “very graceful, erudite” writing style.
Reverend Mel White, founder of Soulforce, urged people to read Jesus In Love<.I>. “In imagining a Jesus who really lived, laughed and loved, Kitt Cherry has broken through the stained-glass barrier,” he said.
“Don’t be afraid. This is not a prurient look at the sex life of Jesus, but a classic re-telling of the greatest story ever told, the story of a truly human Jesus and those truly human women and men who lived, laughed and loved with him. Read Jesus In Love and you will feel His Spirit reaching out to you, inviting you to live, laugh and love with him as well,” White concluded.
Reverend Carter Heyward, a theology professor, also applauded the novel. “What a lovely, gentle, playful book! It sparkles with erotic christic power, which we might read as an image of Jesus’ own sexual energies.”
Toby Johnson, author of Gay Spirituality, described Jesus In Love as “a wonderful, gay-sensitive, and delightfully ‘shocking’ reassessment of the stories of the old-time religion.” Many publishers rejected Jesus In Love because it was too gay for the church presses, and too Christian for the gay publishers. AndroGyne Press, a new queer studies press based in Berkeley, finally dared to publish it.
Jesus has today’s queer sensibilities and psychological sophistication as he lives out his legendary life in Jesus In Love. The novel shows how Jesus grows over a one-year period–from his decision to get baptised until the day he sends his disciples away to teach others.
Readers can relate to his struggles: Society doesn’t understand him. He falls in love with people of both sexes. He feels like his real self is both male and female. Jesus, the narrator, speaks in an engaging, up-to-date tone as he reveals his intimate relationships with John the beloved disciple, Mary Magdalene and the multi-gendered Holy Spirit
“I wrote the novel to introduce readers to the all-loving Jesus who I met in my own prayer life,” Cherry said. “I believe that Jesus is both divine and human–including the full range of sexual attractions and gender identities.”
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