| Inset: EQRoy / Shutterstock

As the summer winds down, colleges prepare for the influx of new and returning students. This new academic year, the University of Chicago’s religious studies department will offer its students a course called “Queering God.” According to the course description, this course will look at questions like “Can God be an ally in queer worldmaking? Is God queer?” and “What does queerness have to do with Judaism, Christianity, or Islam?” The course states it will “analyze the ways that contemporary artists, activists, and scholars are using theology to reimagine gender and experiment with new relational forms.” The course will be taught by Olivia Bustion, a Marty Martin Center Fellow with a Master of Divinity from the University of Chicago. According to her fellows page, her dissertation “responds to a problem at the intersection of moral philosophy and critical theory.” Bustion has previously written a paper entitled “Queering the City of God: W. H. Auden’s Later Poetry and the Ethics of Friendship.

This is not the first time attempts have been made to connect God with “queerness.” In May, writing for US Catholics, Ellyn Sanna pushed for “a theology of a queer God.” “Expanding our ideas about God and gender could bring new health to both our society and the church; it can also open up new possibilities in our spiritual lives,” she wrote. Last year, Duke Divinity School, which is associated with the United Methodist Church, held a pride worship service. There, students prayed to “the great Queer One” and were encouraged to “never…abandon yourself. Abandoning the self is negating the truth of who you are, and that is always a lie,” and “God is a ‘queer God’ who loves ‘every part of us.’” In the UK, Jonathan Heath, a junior research fellow at Trinity College in Cambridge, preached a sermon last November stating Jesus had a “trans body.” 

Speaking to the Daily Caller, Joseph Flores, co-president of one of the University of Chicago’s on-campus Christian ministries, criticized the course. “Progressive actors seek to conquer and remake God into some crude mockery in their own image,” he said. “The Christian God is without gender, without sex. To think of Him in such human terms and reduce Him to these categories is deeply disrespectful. The idea of ‘Queering God’ is, on its face, quite ridiculous. Simultaneously foolish and offensive, such a line of thinking is emblematic of the societal and spiritual decay we are suffering in our country today.” A commenter on The Chicago Thinker’s Twitter echoed the sentiment, saying, “The Judeo-Christian God is not queer. You’re confusing Him with satan.” In an opinion piece in The Washington Examiner by Briana Oser, she criticizes the course as “political.” “Bustion exposes her agenda by asking if God can be an ‘ally’ in this scheme. The answer is no, because, in the religions she aims to teach, God is an omnipotent being whose power cannot be subverted to an ideological plan. She is admitting that her course will attempt to use God as a political pawn. Bustion does not want to teach about God. She wants to invent a new god.”

More from Beliefnet and our partners
Close Ad