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Paperback Sex as God Intended: A Reflection on Human Sexuality as Play Book

ISBN: 1590210425

ISBN13: 9781590210420

Sex as God Intended: A Reflection on Human Sexuality as Play

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Book Overview

Noted biblical scholar John McNeill (The Church and the Homosexual) offers further insight into the role of sex in the Bible and how the Catholic Church has twisted the original viewpoints of Church Fathers over the years. This book also offers a festschrift by current scholars in honor of McNeill. John McNeill was co-founder of the New York City chapter of Dignity, a group for Catholic gays and lesbians. For over twenty-five years, he has been...

Customer Reviews

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A true gay prophet

To many of us in Dignity, John McNeill is a familiar and beloved figure. Yet because he is so well-known to us, it is possible to lose sight of the vast scope of the achievements and gifts of this prophet in our own land. In 1970, John published the first theological articles defending homosexuality from a Catholic perspective, which became the basis for Dignity's original Statement of Position and Purpose. In 1972, he co-founded Dignity/New York. In 1976, he published the groundbreaking book The Church and the Homosexual, which brought his subject into the international spotlight for the first time. Over the next two decades, John followed with Taking a Chance on God; Freedom, Glorious Freedom; and his autobiography, Both Feet Firmly Planted in Midair. As a Jesuit priest and psychotherapist, John counseled hundreds of LGBT Catholics and others. As a workshop and retreat leader, he reached thousands more around the world. In addition to many other honors, he received DignityUSA's Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997. A featured speaker at every Dignity national convention except one (when he was briefly silenced by the Vatican), John will be with us in San Francisco to introduce his new book, Sex as God Intended: A Reflection on Human Sexuality as Play. In it, John offers fresh, joyous, and challenging insights into a subject of intense interest to each of us, while expanding on the major theological and psychological themes he has developed over a lifetime. In addition, twelve of John's distinguished fellow theologians, writers, and activists - including Sr. Jeannine Gramick, Daniel Helminiak, Mary Hunt, and Mark Jordan - present their own insightful and provocative reflections on his work and life in a festschrift of essays. John poses a central question at the beginning of Sex as God Intended: "Christian revelation, as it came from Jesus, was one of the most sex-positive and body-positive religions in the history of the world. How, then, in just a few centuries did it become such a body- and sex-negative religion and remain so to this day?" Turning to both Scripture and personal experience, John seeks out the revelations of God's intention for human sex as play, from the Old Testament's frankly erotic "Song of Songs" to four profound affirmations of the body in the New Testament. In John's view, God's plan for sex as a source of joy, pleasure, and love fully embraces same-gender partners. He finds biblical support for this conviction in the stories of Jonathan and David, and Ruth and Naomi, as well as accounts of Jesus's beloved disciple, the gay centurion and his beloved boy, and Jesus's membership in a highly unconventional family of choice. John's vision of playful same-gender sexuality includes the complete spectrum of the LGBT community's experience. He writes: "Intimacy, both physical and spiritual, is precisely the goal of playful sex. But . . . in order to have the freedom to play and to overcome self-consciousness, we

The Prophetic Gay Theology of John McNeill: Sex As God Intended

Sex As God Intended gathers a lifetime of prophetic thought by therapist-theologian John McNeill about the vocation of gay persons in church and society. At a point at which a theological discourse by and about the gay experience was almost non-existent in Christian churches, John McNeill crafted such a discourse--in part, out of his own joyous, painful experience as a gay believer, in part, out of his experience working with other gay believers as a therapist. In doing so, he opened a path for many of us who continue to think it important to try to hold our gay experience together with our experience of faith. One of John McNeill's most significant contributions to Christian theology is his carefully worked-out insistence that gay and lesbian human beings fit into God's plan for the world. McNeill not merely asserts this: he demonstrates why it is the case, and he does so using unimpeachably traditional building blocks of Christian theology to make his case. McNeill situates the lives of gay persons--he situates our existence in the world, an existence willed by the Creator--within the longstanding Christian tradition that through Christ, God has caught the entire cosmos up into a grand drama of divine salvation, in which all that has been created has a role to play in moving the created world to liberation. Echoing the Pauline insistence that the whole universe groans for salvation, and the declaration of patristic thinkers such as Irenaeus that the Spirit moves within all creation to make it (including human beings) fully alive, John McNeill asks what particular gifts gay and lesbian persons bring to the human community, to assist it in its movement to full life. To ask this is also to ask precisely what it is that makes the human community fully alive. To ask about the particular gifts that gay and lesbian persons offer the human community is to ask about the eschatological goal towards which we move, as a human community. What is it to be liberated, to be saved? What does this mean, concretely? From what exactly do we seek salvation? John McNeill's thought is incisive on this point. In his view, the Western mind (and the mind of the human community in general) has, throughout history, been involved in a constant dialectic interplay between the masculine and the feminine (p. 100). McNeill notes that great religious founders including Jesus and Ignatius of Loyola were, in cultures and historic periods heavily dominated by a masculine mind, "extraordinarily open to the feminine" (ibid.). He attributes the fruitfulness of such religious founders' vision to their ability to draw on the creative energies of the feminine in cultures and periods resistant to the feminine. In McNeill's view, the human community is currently undergoing deep crisis as it attempts to move beyond the crippling strictures of a masculine mindset imbued with heterosexism and driven by feminophobia (pp. 98, 114). McNeill sees inbuilt in modernity itself "an essentially

"Sex As God Intended" is wonderful

All of John McNeill's books since his ground-breaking "The Church and the Homosexual" have added meaningful insights into important ideas. His writing, like his personality, is upbeat and tender, including a gentle humor which makes everything he shares delightful. His scholarly credentials are unimpeachable, but his writing is neither dry nor academic. I have loved reading all his books, and this one is no exception. Actually, I was led to the discovery of his newest work because it was featured by Kittredge Cherry on her "Jesus in Love" blogspot. I have become an enthusiastic devotee of Cherry's "Jesus in Love" novels, and McNeill's non-fiction work in this instance offers the appropriate support for many of the ideas Cherry shares.

Cause for Thought

McNeill, John J. "Sex as G-d Intended", Lethe Press, 2008. Cause for Thought Amos Lassen John J. McNeill is an ordained priest as well as a psychotherapist who for 35 years has given himself the task of spreading the word of how G-d loves lesbians and gays. He basically examines the question of why G-d invented sex and he derives an answer from Scripture. His claim is that sex is to a source of pleasure and joy and a way to express love. McNeill's book, "Sex as G-d Intended" is the fruit of his labors; a summary of what he has learned during his life. His findings have brought happiness to many. The book is a tribute to McNeill and is a series of essays by friends and students which honor him for the contribution he has made to our lives. The book presents ideas that can be thought about and, in turn, it causes the reader to question all that he has heard from the church and the media about G-d and homosexuality. McNeill shows that the so-called Biblical passages that rule out homosexuality do no such thing. Instead he shows that sex is a pleasure and that the basic drive is intimacy, plain and simple. Lesbians and gay men have a role and that is to show the world that there is a duality between the body and sensuousness. This gives our community a sense of pride as we lead others to understand beauty, compassion and love for each other. The book is conveniently arranged in that we get McNeill's thesis in the first half and essays in reference to it in the second half. There are essays by leaders of gay spirituality and activists such as Toby Johnson, Mel White and Troy Perry among others. In reading McNeill we see how easy and rewarding it is to bring our sexuality and spirituality together and instead of harboring ill feelings toward the church, we should be spreading the idea of universal love because this is what we have been called on to do. The book is so beautifully written that it is almost impossible not to agree.

A Gay Prophet For Our Times

John McNeill has been a hero to the gay Catholic community for decades. A Jesuit priest for 40 years, McNeill was forced by the Vatican to leave the priesthood if he continued to minister to the gay and lesbian community. McNeill left religious life with no bank account, health insurance, etc., but he did not abandon his faith nor his dedication to serving the GLBT community. "Sex as God Intended" is his latest book, and in it, he clearly debunks the Biblical passages often used to denounce homosexuality, and emphatically proclaims that our loving God intended sex as a source of pleasure and love, play and joy. The Spirit of God dwells within each one of us, McNeill explains, and that the basic human drive is one of intimacy. "It has always been the prophetic role of lesbians and gay men to lead the Church and Western culture toward embracing embodiment, a sense of identity with the body and its sensuousness," McNeill writes, and readers will come away feeling proud of the role our gay community has been called to: to guide humanity to a deeper appreciation of beauty, hospitality and compassion. The second half of the book is a Festschrift, essays in praise of McNeill by a whos-who of gay spiritual leaders and activists, such as Mel White, Troy Perry, Jeannine Gramick and Toby Johnson. This alone is a wonderful tribute to a true gay hero, and an important history lesson for all of us. Like all of McNeill's books, "Sex as God Intended" continues to lovingly affirm those of us seeking to reconcile our spirituality with our sexuality. "Do not waste one ounce of energy in a negative attachment of anger with the Church, but rather, let's commit every ounce of our energy to the positive ministry of love which God has called us," McNeill so beautifully writes. I urge you to read this inspirational book. -Salvatore Sapienza, author of Seventy Times Seven: A Novel
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