Andrew Marin wrote a text in 2009 titled, Love Is An Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community. In 2011, Adrian Thatcher published God, Sex and Gender: An Introduction. Thatcher’s text is broader in scope than Marin’s, but engages some of the same principles at core.
In both of these texts there is a focus on remembering that the topics being discussed always relate to real persons created in the “image of God” – the very Imago Dei is stamped upon them. There is an effort not to remove the conversation to a place of distanced, statistical categorization or some other form of detached observation where it becomes easy to pronounce positionality without relationality.
Let me offer the above concept in a bit more challenging way related to the military-industrial practice of some countries. Both Marin and Thatcher might well suggest that theological discussion of sexuality is often practiced in much the same way that drone warfare is engaged…from a great height & great distance with little to no accountability for the statements that one makes. Opportunity to rain immediate harm upon people becomes feasible due to inordinate socio-political power while unhealthy invulnerability is maintained that allows one to basically never have to answer for deeds done. These texts hope to lessen such division and in doing so hope to increase empathy all-around.
In both texts, some of the emphases that I found significant were focus on justice; on care for the vulnerable – including thoughtful focus on the vital nature of justice for children; on empathy; on recognition that in dealing with humanity a simple answer often means there is need for further study; and on the general incorporation of a broad scope of topics. As well, both text’s incorporated story/personal narrative, but Thatcher’s text was a bit less conversational due to being a textbook covering a much larger quantity of material. Marin was able to thrive with story as the book itself was to significant sense autobiographical in nature to begin with and the additional inclusion of others first-person accounts made most of the text highly narratival.
Marin’s stories brought poignancy to how people deeply hoping for inclusion and love have been met with exclusion and hatred. It offered a powerful telling of how people of “the Church” have far too often been far less than their best selves. However, his book also offered great encouragement through showcasing beautiful examples of love in action.
Both books did discuss the authors’ stances on particular topics/issues, but what I found very encouraging was how each text really emphasized God’s love as first, foremost, and unconditional with everything else discussed as dependent aspects of the independent, prime, foundational, driving characteristic of God’s agape for us.
Of both texts, what I found particularly important was Marin’s discussion in his “Crossing a Bridge” chapter of Jesus’ primarily Socratic style of discussion when confronted with discourse that was meant to pigeon-hole him into answering for a position over-against the deeper principle of care for and love of persons. Jesus consistently stretched his audience toward being more imaginative and creative in their understanding of how to respond with compassion and empathy for others. I don’t think Jesus’ desire has changed for us today.