Course is part of ‘graduate theological curriculum’
A course at a theological school purports to teach students about LGBT issues contained in the Bible and in Christian theology. The instructor says the course is “always well-enrolled.”
“Queer Bible Hermeneutics” at Souther Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology is a “study of the historical, political, cultural, and religious-theological discourses about gender and sexuality in the context of the interpretation of the Hebrew Bible,” the course’s website states.
The course “develops self-critical perspectives about the influence of biblical meanings on hermeneutically dynamic, politically and religiously charged conversations over socio-cultural practices related to LGBTQ communities.”
The syllabus of the course states that queer hermeneutics is “an increasingly important research area in the academic field of biblical studies.”
The instructor of the course, Susanne Scholz, told The College Fix that the course is popular with students.
“It is always well-enrolled,” she said via email. Scholz said, however, that students have recently become trepidatious over debates about homosexuality within the Methodist church.
“Right now our UMC students seem to be rather concerned about the ecclesial situation about gay ordination and gay marriage in the [Methodist church],” Scholz said, adding: “It is breaking the hearts of many UMC members, and our UMC students worry about their ministerial future in light of the decision to disallow gay ordination and gay marriages in UMC congregations.”
Scholz was referring to the recent decision of the United Methodist Church to “strengthen its ban on gay and lesbian clergy and same-sex marriages,” by holding that “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.”
Inspired by gay marriage controversy
Scholz said she was inspired to teach the course following a same-sex marriage controversy in the church. Several years ago, Methodist minister Frank Schaefer had his ministerial credentials revoked by his church for officiating a same-sex marriage ceremony in which his son was one of the participants. Higher church authorities would later restore Schaefer’s credentials.
“Rev. Schaefer’s situation made me realize that I need to teach my seminary students about queer Bible hermeneutics and to equip them to be intellectually, theologically, and biblically educated on the current debates on the bible and queerness in the church, in academia, and in society,” Scholz told The Fix.
The instructor said she has received positive feedback on the course. “Students love to study materials that they have never encountered anywhere else in their previous studies on the undergrad level and at the seminary level,” she wrote, adding that she makes her students work “very hard.”
The course’s syllabus indicates that students are required to write several blog posts, two papers, and participate in a class-wide Buzzfeed page.
Students post blog entries to the course’s website. Titles of those posts include “Ehud and King Eglon – a Queer Reading,” “White (American) Homophobia,” and “The Queerness of the Priests: Exodus 27-30.”
The posts are all nameless. The website states that the class “provide[s] anonymity in the posting because some future clergy worry about being discriminated if they express solidarity with the LGBTQIA/queer communities.”
Scholz said she has taught the class three times—in 2014, 2016 and 2019. The syllabus indicates the course is worth three credits.
The school’s media relations department did not respond to a request for comment on the class.
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