In this book, Janet R.
Jakobsen and AnnPellegrini examine the intricacies of sex and religion. Love the Sin shows how sexuality and homosexuality are evaluated inthe public sphere. Moreover, the book provides crucial links between sexual andreligious freedoms, while pinpointing the effects of religion as a regulatorytool for sexuality. Lovethe Sin comprehensively details sex, gender and religion withcompelling arguments. One of the arguments is in regards to the evaluation of conflictbetween the sex and religion. The twoare more alike than they are different.
Jakobsen and Pellegrini note thatreligion and sex are able to coexist. The authors are critical of the LBTQcommunity due to their lack of fervor in demanding equal rights. Freedom andequal justice should be the priority of the LBTQ community per Jakobsen andPellegrini. Apart from criticizing members of this community, the authors are equallycritical of the phrase, “love the sinner, hate the sin.” Jakobsen andPellegrini imply that someone can be falsely empathetic but still want actionto be taken upon the individual for their sin. The authorsemphasize that tolerance cannot be a substitute for freedom. Freedom is worthtoo much. Freedom, not tolerance, is the driving force behind justice.
Concurrently, Jakobsen and Pellegrini emphasizethe “born this way” perspective adopted by the LBGTQ community. Though aperspective with much scientific evidence behind it, Jakobsen and Pellegrini questionthe perspective due to to its potential consequences. The consequences are thatbiblical literalists will continually use scripture to further condemn homosexuality.Neither scientific evidence nor biblical evidence adds to the conversation. Jakobsenand Pellegrini note that the two statements “born that way” and “love thesinner, hate the sin,” still overlook the fact that religion should notdirectly influence public policy. Sexual freedom is a practice. Jakobsen andPellegrini concur that if individuals are free to exercise religion, individualsshould have free exercise of their sexual practices. In Lovethe Sin, Jakobsen and Pellegrini emphasize how sex and religion areintertwined with one another.
It is not possible to evaluate sex withoutevaluating religion and vice-versa. The authors note that many right-wingChristians regard religion and sex synonymously in the public sphere despitethe emphasis on the separation of church and state. Several Supreme Courtrulings on homosexuality that have passed have been in favor of conservativebiblical perceptions. With this, the authors further emphasize how Christiandoctrine becomes disguised as common American values. The Supreme Court usesthese theological views in order to evaluate law and ethics. Jakobsen andPellegrini argue that the Bible is not a tool for framing public and socialpolicy regarding sexuality and homosexuality.
The Bible should be confined tothe church and religious discussion. An accompanying point of contention is thelack of religious freedom and sexual freedom possessed by individuals. Jakobsenand Pellegrini note that religious conservatives have turned Christianity intothe premiere religion of the nation and use it to govern the American legalsystem. Freedom of religion is not practiced; instead tolerance of religion ispracticed. Christianity is used as the foundation for a variety of activitiesin this country. Jakobsen and Pellegrini note that the currency proclaims, “InGod We Trust,” and heterosexuality is the expectation throughout the governmentsystem. Americans now have neither sexual freedom nor religious freedom.
Jakobsenand Pellegrini argue that sexuality and the free exercise of religion are theforces needed to provide the nation with equality and justice. Jakobsen andPellegrini declare that this will not be an easy task. Jakobsen and Pellegrini arguethat changing the current landscape of religion and sexuality in this countrywill require a great deal of sacrifice.
Finally, the summary will end with Jakobsenand Pellegrini’s take on love, intimacy and sex. Sex should not focus on loveand intimacy. It is valuable regardless of love or intimacy. There is nodefinitive way to have sex. The act of having sex is very versatile. Jakobsenand Pellegrini note that sex in America is the inherent problem and the way tocounter is sex is with religion.
Sexual freedom is inherently stifled byreligion. Religion inhibits the freedom to develop relationships. The freedomsthat individuals have in America per Jakobsen and Pellegrini do not spill overinto the free exercise of sex. Being sexually free would imply immorality andchaos. Jakobsen and Pellegrini note that the commonbelief is that sexual regulation is an imperative moral value that will upholdour democracy. Traditionalists are afraid that heterosexuals will adopt thefree sexual lifestyles that are characterized in the homosexual communities.Traditionalists are less concerned with heterosexuals becoming homosexual orengaging in intercourse with homosexuals; instead traditionalists are moreafraid that the prospective homosexual cultural attitudes will rub off on theheterosexual community.
Moreover, Jakobsen and Pellegrini argue that sexualpractices and religious values should be disconnected. Similarly it is theirbelief that Christianity and religious freedom should be disconnected. Jakobsenand Pellegrini argue for a more complete separation of church and state, acomplete model of religious freedom and a complete model of sexual freedom. Lovethe Sin and Queer Theology are very similar. The most glaringsimilarity between these two readings is the emphasis on the establishment’stradition and challenging traditional views on sexuality. Traditionalists inboth readings view sexuality as a fixed binary system, whereas these two readingsview sexuality as fluid and non-binary. Both readings discuss how Christianityhas been used as a tool to suppress sexual minorities. Love the Sin argues that sexual practices and religious values shouldbe disconnected and that Christianity and religious freedom should bedisconnected.
Queer Theology argues for challenging and deconstructing thebinary placement of sexual and gender identity as well as the society’s norms pertainingto gender and sexuality. Both readings note how traditional Christianitycondemns same-sex acts. Christianity is the norm and anything that is outsideof the realm of Christianity’s fundamentalist teachings is deviant. Both readings note the scrutiny that is placedunder sexual and gender minorities on a daily basis. Any behaviors or actionsthat deviate from normal Christian practices are viewed with a keen eye. Eachreading points out that gender and sexual minorities should be able to livetheir everyday lives without this intense scrutiny.
Cheng states, “As notedabove, even though people may differ in terms of, say, hat size, thatparticular physical marker of difference has little to no relevance in everydaylife.” (19).While the readings are similar, they dovary in certain aspects. Both readings offer a perspective of inclusivity forgender and sexual minorities but perhaps the way in which they offer this perspectiveis somewhat divergent. Queer theology is written by the LGBTQ community for theLGBTQ community.
Followers of queer theology still look to God and Christianityas a source of guidance. Cheng notes, “…queer theology is premised upon thebelief that God acts within the specific contexts of our lives and experiences,despite the fact that LGBTQ lives and experiences have been excluded fromtraditional theological discourse (18). Lovethe Sin, however looksto provide inclusivity by eliminating the intrusiveness of Christianity fromthe lives of gender and sexual minorities. Christianity from the view of Jakobsenand Pellegrini is seen as too involved in the lives of American society,particularly in the lives of gender and sexual minorities. American society perJakobsen and Pellegrini is contradictory for the most part because it proclaimsfreedom of religion yet Christianity keeps a watchful eye; and the authors notethe of lack of freedom to exercise sexual practices is because of religiousvalues.
Jakobsen and Pellegrini state, “When sexual freedom is contemplated itraises the specter of licentiousness, not liberty,” (129). Lovethe Sin makes great points regarding sex and religion. I cannot agree morewith their statements. As a heterosexual Christian male, it is hard toacknowledge the privilege that I have on a daily basis.
That is why privilegeis invisible. My religion and my sexuality match what is deemed as the norm. Subjectsdo not become clear until an individual allocates time to self-reflect. Jakobsen and Pellegrini succeed in their goalof challenging current institutions.The institutions of Christianity andheterosexuality in American society are not devoid of criticism. America cannotmarch on with the principles of freedom if the actual implementation of freedomis not done adequately.
Americans, more specifically conservative ChristianAmericans, must be cognizant of the fact that gender and sexual minorities willforever be among us. As Jakobsen and Pellegrini noted, tolerance will notsuffice. Tolerance only perpetuates the injustice and inequities among gender andsexual minorities. Americans must allow for freedom ofreligion and for freedom of sexual practice. America was founded on theprinciples of freedom. As a heterosexual Christian male, it is imperative forme to educate others on the dangers of tolerance and inaction.
Moreover, Iagree with Jakobsen and Pellegrini’s stance on disestablishment. I have alwayswondered why Christianity continues in the face of religious freedom. Sexualfreedom should not be stifled. This deviates from inclusivity. Moreover,heterosexual Christians must let the voices of the gender and sexual minoritiesring true for all to hear.