1 Except as otherwise noted, citations from St John of the Cross are taken from John of the Cross (1991).
2 While cognizant of the shortcomings of the term, and the risk of false inclusiveness, I will use "queer people" as a shorthand intended to include gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered people as well as other gender/sex nonconformists. "Queer" accents both instability and transgression, aspects of sexual desire I seek to apply to desire for God.
3 See Hinkle (2001) for a discussion of John's relevance for pro-gay Christian apologetics.
4 The God John desires is unmistakably gendered, though not, I will claim, in a rigid or exclusive sense. In discussing John I will therefore follow his preference of male language for God.
5 In fact Daniel Dombrowski argues that it was the eroticism of John's writing that scandalized persecutors and delayed publication of his works. See Dombrowski (1992: 97).
6 It is difficult, particularly within the present political context, to consider a pederastic sexual model as other than disgusting and damaging. Thus an association of such a model with God threatens to be either highly offensive or to contribute to a dismissal of Christianity. The model I borrow from Halperin should in principle carry no connotation of violence, psychological damage, deception, or coercion, and refers broadly to differences in status, authority, and accomplishment in addition to age.
7 In the context of The Dark Night, St John's treatment of sameness refers to the progressive divinization of the human soul to becoming a fitting partner for God. This quote taken from "Romances," a poem concerning the Trinity, actually refers to God's taking on flesh in the incarnation. See John of the Cross (1991: 66).
8 Though John's discussion of growing similarity to God suggests a transcending of gender as of all human categories, rhetorically it also functions as a challenge to longstanding defenses of heterosexual privilege based on gender complementarity.
9 Sensitive to the homoerotic character of John of the Cross's desire for God, Jeffrey Kripal has convincingly argued that Christian mysticism in general, based on intense love of a male God, is awkward for heterosexual men, a claim which, if true, no doubt applies to lesbians as well. See Kripal (2001: ch. 1).
10 Here I follow Daniel Dombrowski in preferring an alternative translation to Kavanaugh's "It [the breeze] wounded my neck with its gentle hand" (Dombrowski 1992: 10).
11 In Hinkle (2001) I argue that any pro-gay theology and perhaps any Christian theology compelling in a religious pluralistic culture must rely significantly on religious experience.
12 "Those who not only pay heed to these imaginative apprehensions but think God resembles some of them, and that one can journey to union with God through them, are already in great error and will gradually lose the light of faith" (A 3.12.3; John of the Cross 1991: 284-5).
13 John discusses this excessive attention to the sensual as the "vice of effeminacy," a suggestive appeal to Halperin's categorization above (A 3.25.6; John of the Cross 1991: 312). The error here is not the passivity of desire or its possible homosexual content but the immoderate valuation of sensual pleasure within the religious life.
14 Consider, for example, this statement from John McNeill (1995), quoted by Goss: "To discern spirits is to listen to our own hearts. Our God dwells within us, and the only way to become one with God is to become one with our authentic self. If any action we undertake brings with it a deepening of peace, joy, and fulfillment, then we can be sure what we are doing is right for us" (Goss 2002: 82).
15 Denys Turner describes John as sharing the modern interest in religious experience but as rejecting absolutely modern "experientialism" (see Turner 1995a: 226).
16 St John's emphasis, I argue, is finally on the transformation rather than denial of pleasure. There is a practical danger in the present ecclesial context of this being interpreted as a transformation from homosexuality to heterosexuality, a point I have addressed more fully in Hinkle (2001). Let me reiterate that St John, as I demonstrated above, resists rather than reinforces heteronormativity.
17 He writes, for example, that "it would be vanity for a husband and wife to rejoice in their marriage when they are uncertain whether God is being better served by it" (A 3.18.6; John of the Cross 1991: 297).
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