National Commentary

Nick Benton’s Gay Science No. 64: Promethean Love & the ‘Gay Jesus’ Question, Part 2

The purpose of this series has been to determine and define a constructive, natural and purposeful role for gay people in the grand scheme of things, versus our existence as simply random or a corruption. I think it’s working.

On the “Gay Jesus” question, there is nothing in the message or life of Jesus that contradicts a constructive non-conformist role for gays in the order of creation.
Jesus’ message and life are wholly compatible with the “third way” associated with the ancient Greek archetype of Prometheus, the one that stands between the hostile archetypes of stern law-abiding Apollo and selfish hedonist law-breaking Dionysus.

Prometheus corresponds to nature’s purpose for the existence of gay people. He is the giver of fire, the animated spirit of life itself, to mankind.

Distinct from male-dominated species reproduction and associated aggressive territorial dominion, gay Promethean love inflames the spirit through art, creativity, knowledge, humor and beauty in the cause of universal human empowerment.

In like kind, the life of Christ, as (gay) Oscar Wilde expressed it in his “De Profundis” (1897), “is really an idyll,” a poem, in which Christ “is the leader of all the lovers.” Christ, Wilde wrote, “saw that love was the first secret of the world for which the wise men had been looking, and that it was only through love that one could approach either the heart of the leper or the feet of God.”

(The same core notion is embedded in currents of Judaism, through Philo, and Islam, through Ibn Sina).

Just as Prometheus and Christ were cruelly punished by authoritarian, male dominated “powers that be” for kindling mankind’s capacity for universal love, so those same powers have twisted, distorted and maligned the images and messages of Prometheus and Christ over the centuries. Some of the worst distortions have been within the church, itself, from Apollonian and Dionysian sides.

On the Apollonian side, idolatry substitutes for Christ where Protestant fundamentalism primarily worships a book and Catholicism its institutions.

The earliest church, influenced by (our) Plato, saw Christ’s message and life as an “incarnation” of the causal purpose of creation (God), being “consubstantial” with it. As such, Christ was seen as the “Logos” (in Greek, “Word”) of the Gospel of John, the second person of the Trinity.

But fundamentalists, who hold to the bizarre, magic notion that the Bible is inerrant, the literal word-for-word of God, in practice assign the role of the “Logos” not to the message and life of Christ, but to the Bible. They pervert a “Trinitarian” notion of “God, Christ and Holy Spirit,” substituting “God, Bible and Holy Spirit,” allowing whomever claims to embody the Holy Spirit (any charlatan) to wave the Bible, quote from any passage, and claim he speaks for God, including by condemning gay people to hell.

On the Dionysian side, “consubstantiality” is undermined in a different way, dismissing the message and life of Christ in favor of a reckless and self-serving interpretation often designed to negate guilt associated with excessive hedonism.

For example, the Chicago Theological Seminary’s Ted Jennings joined forces with radical Queer Theory hedonists, spawned in the 1970s by the “Pied Piper of AIDS,” gay philosopher Michel Foucault, to argue that Jesus had an openly gay lifestyle.

There is nothing new in this argument. It was there in the late 1960s, when I graduated from seminary and helped found the Gay Liberation movement in the San Francisco area.

I don’t know, nor do I question Jennings’ integrity. But back then the “Jesus was gay” pitch came from many a slimy and deceitful predator. I knew some personally, and they spurred my efforts at a more adequate expression of the relationship between Christ and gays in “God and My Gay Soul” (1970).

The liberal church failed miserably in the late 1960s period of the mainstreaming of the radical counterculture and thereafter.

The moral suasion of the progressive church peaked in the ministry of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. But following his assassination in 1968 and the flood of hedonistic “sex, drugs and rock and roll” counterculture influences that ensued, the liberal church fell strangely silent.

Instead of providing a moral compass, it bowed to the counterculture. At the Pacific School of Religion’s Earl Lectures in 1970, a rag-tag assemblage of Children of God cultists were marched before the august assembly and given a standing ovation.

Once I became immersed in the gay movement, I learned quickly about the sexual nature of this cult’s so-called ministry, a not-so-subtle form of prostitution, and of the rape and physically abusive practices of so much passing for “free love” inside the counterculture, including the urban gay subculture.

Far from inflaming human spirits, gay behavior devolved to the opposite – exploiting, degrading and raping especially the displaced young. That was why I got out of the whole scene as soon as I did.

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