LGBTQ people are a gift to the Church and have the potential to revitalize Christianity.
As an openly lesbian Episcopal priest and professional advocate for LGBTQ justice, the Reverend Elizabeth Edman has spent her career grappling with the core tenets of her faith. After deep reflection on her tradition, Edman is struck by the realization that her queer identity has taught her more about how to be a good Christian than the church.
In Queer Virtue, Edman posits that Christianity, at its scriptural core, incessantly challenges its adherents to rupture false binaries, to “queer” lines that pit people against one another. Thus, Edman asserts that Christianity, far from being hostile to queer people, is itself inherently queer. Arguing from the heart of scripture, she reveals how queering Christianity—that is, disrupting simplistic ways of thinking about self and other—can illuminate contemporary Christian faith. Pushing well past the notion that “Christian love = tolerance,” Edman offers a bold alternative: the recognition that queer people can help Christians better understand their fundamental calling and the creation of sacred space where LGBTQ Christians are seen as gifts to the church.
By bringing queer ethics and Christian theology into conversation, Edman also shows how the realities of queer life demand a lived response of high moral caliber—one that resonates with the ethical path laid down by Christianity. Lively and impassioned, Edman proposes that queer experience be celebrated as inherently valuable, ethically virtuous, and illuminating the sacred.
A rich and nuanced exploration, Queer Virtue mines the depths of Christianity’s history, mission, and core theological premises to call all Christians to a more authentic and robust understanding of their faith.
About the Author
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 at 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.
“[Edman’s] tone and personal examples are compelling. By turning the conversation around to show what queerness can tell readers about Christianity, this work provides a striking road map for larger, more productive conversations and community building.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“An intellectual and provocative perspective challenging Christians and others to reconsider the confines of spiritual interconnection, harmony, and progressive inclusion in modern religion.” —Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
“Edman’s fellow progressive Christians may pay closest attention to her absorbing argument. Perhaps all Christians ought to.” —Booklist
“A passionate argument...blend of personal, political, and theological reflection on the experience of LGBTQ people...reach LGBTQ readers who find themselves moved by Edman’s case for the spiritual resonance of queer identities and values...This work will appeal to those with an interest in the relationship between queerness and faith, and the thematic chapters are easily adaptable for group study.” —Library Journal, Starred Review
“Elizabeth Edman’s Queer Virtue is a powerful work of theological and autobiographical reflection that illuminates the deep connections between queerness and Christianity. This book will be a valuable guide for anyone who navigates the liminal spaces between these distinct yet mutually reinforcing worlds.” —Reverend Patrick S. Cheng, author of Radical Love: An Introduction to Queer Theology
“The once marginalized discipline of gay studies is now decidedly back in the curriculum and in the intellectual arena. This book is a sterling example of the best of it, and on a subject—ethics and morality—that is an emerging area of interest in all fields. It will be a little classic, and will be read and argued about for a long time to come.” —Harvey Cox, author of The Future of Faith and How to Read the Bible
“Edman writes with the tender hand, approachable intelligence, and wise humility of that super-smart, big-hearted priest you always want yet rarely find. Her warm and personal words engage Judeo-Christian tradition, as well as pop culture. She returns us to the radical roots of our faith, while showing us how relevant its teachings still are. She calls us to community—a powerful message for queer people who have been alienated from the church. She takes words we think we know—‘scandal,’ ‘pride,’ ‘queerness’—and encourages us to consider them in a new light. And at a time when narratives about Christianity are often hyperindividualistic and oversimplified, she reminds us of a vibrant gospel that’s richly relational, comfortingly complex, and inherently hopeful. A vital read.” —Jeff Chu, author of Does Jesus Really Love Me?: A Gay Christian’s Pilgrimage in Search of God in America
“Hot Damn! Rev. Edman’s book is a breath of fresh, queer, air that scatters away a dusty history of half-assed sexual apologetics with a invigorating proclamation: that sex is good and queerness is Godly. Writing from a place of deep love of queer communities, Edman reveals that, just as in so many biblical stories, the ones who ‘get’ the Gospel are the ones who have been disregarded, disparaged or abandoned by the so-called righteous. In pushing queer folks to the sidelines, the Church has not only damaged God’s children and failed to live in love, but further, missed a central lesson about what it means to follow Jesus. Edman shares her discoveries of the virtue at the heart of queer communities with vivacious smarts and a wicked sense of humor that compels her readers to ditch the false binaries that keep us fettered and instead fully embrace our gloriously multifaceted God-given identities. If you’ve wondered if you can be fully queer and fully Christian, the answer is a resounding ‘yes,’ and Edman will show you the way.” —Emily Scott, pastor, St. Lydia’s Dinner Church