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religion. sex. facts.

I do highly-researched posts on the Bible and Christian history. This is a place for facts—not “church facts.”

Check out my other Medium publication, Queer Theory, for when the subject isn’t as ‘Christian’. And click ‘more’ for more God……

The atheist TikTok star takes on his famous Evangelical father, John Piper

Last November an odd guy on TikTok started posting jokey videos about life being meaningless. People noticed: this was the son of John Piper?

I’m catching up on Abraham Piper, with a New York Times profile and lots of discussion online—thinking about the life of an androgynous jester whose father is the sex-punishing moralist of the Evangelical world.

A genius inventor has to keep secrets

He’d say he “never touched a woman” and needed to be single. “I do not think you can name many great inventions that have been made by married men.”

A 1981 biography, Tesla: Man Out of Time, Margaret Cheney notes “the pressures upon him to marry were unrelenting” and there were “whispers that he was a homosexual.”

Does a scientist have sexuality?

Tesla is typically written about by science writers, who seem uneager to explore the subject. He remains a public icon, mysterious, future-thinking, a scientist who is vaguely…asexual?

I’m reading an 1891 newspaper profile of him.

“He is slender in body, nervous in his movements and intense in his application to the mysteries of electricity. His Greek face lights up and his black eyes gleam when he discourses on his favored theme.”


Did a Christian hero keep secrets?

If you grow up Christian, you hear about the hero of the faith who was executed, in 1945, for trying to assassinate Hitler.

He’s called the “patron saint” of Evangelicalism—even as Dietrich Bonhoeffer seems like an odd fit for the religion. He wasn’t too keen on “family values.” He died at age 39, unmarried, childless.

The subject of Bonhoeffer’s sexuality has been—sensitive?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906–1945) (colorized)

He was a bold, handsome hero in a religion without very many of those.

After World War II, there was a few photos of him, and a narrative: Bonhoeffer was a German pastor who became a ‘martyr’ by opposing Nazism — daringly trying to stop World War II by killing Hitler!

A subtext was not always clear. In opposing Hitler, Bonhoeffer had been unusual for a Christian. As the historian Christopher J. Probst writes:


The Italian painter gave Christianity a real messiah

When I was growing up Christian, nobody told me the religion took its key images of Jesus from queer painters.

How ironic, I’d realize later, for a religion that hated the dreaded “gays” to love Michelangelo, Leonardo, etc. The visual imagination of the faith was never far from queer references. Christians loved the movie The Passion of the Christ. The director, Mel Gibson, spoke of his inspiration:

“I think his work is beautiful. I mean it’s violent, it’s dark, it’s spiritual and it also has an odd whimsy or strangeness to it. And it’s so real looking.”

The Italian painter Caravaggio had shown Christians how to see Jesus as a physical man. It took a homosexual to do that?

The “complementarianism” debate heats up

Beth Moore by Amy Kidd Photography (2019; publicity photo)

When you grow up an Evangelical Christian, you’re often told the speech of male humans is sacred, as the speech of women is—not.

As a kid in church I never could figure out if all sounds men made, including belches and farts, were considered holy, but when men spoke, it was like God talking! That’s what they thought.

It’s been a problem for Beth Moore, a rare ‘female Evangelical leader’—a category which, for many, doesn’t exist.

The latest round of sex wars got rough.

She updates: “I love Jesus but I’m about to lose my mind.”

You might think Evangelicalism is a religion about gender role? Or fighting about it.

How are men and women to organize, and ‘authority’ to be enforced, is just so damn important.

But the traditional Evangelical view is clearly untenable. It’s that…

A 1960s rock legend keeps secrets

I’m looking into the sexual history of Jim Morrison, the rock singer of the late 1960s—which begins when he’s molested as a boy.

The 2001 biography Jim Morrison: Life, Death, Legend by Stephen Davis reports that Jim had mentioned the abuse to his lawyer, Max Fink—only revealing it was a man close to his family.

1961 yearbook photo, George Washington High School in Alexandria, Virginia (colorized)

Davis writes:

“When Jimmy tried to tell his mother, Fink claimed, she had gotten angry, called him a liar, and insisted such a thing never could have happened. Fink said that Jim began to cry as he told him the story, and claimed Jim had said that he could never forgive his mother for this.”

The Morrison family, Davis notes, denied it.

He wet the bed a lot…

Bible scholars see details that Christians might not like

I’ve read a pile of recent Bible scholarship, and am learning facts about sex and the New Testament that I never heard in church.

Are Jesus and the gang a lot queerer than what Christianity has been letting on? Here’s seven points to ponder.

Slutmouth, “Jesus was a Drag Queen” (color adjusted)

1. Herod the Great was bisexual

Most men in the ancient world were assumed to be bisexual, so it’s not that surprising to find out that the Jewish official who looms over the New Testament narratives kept slave boys for sex. It’s recalled by the Jewish historian Josephus:

“The king had some eunuchs of whom he was immoderately fond because of their beauty.”

But this suggests a shocking point. Though Jews of this period are often thought to have been very against ‘gay’ stuff, that might’ve…

The surrealist found his messiah in a handsome Hollywood stuntman

In 1945, a stuntman in Hollywood, named Russ Saunders, auditioned to model for a painter he’d never heard of—named Salvador Dali.

The famous Spanish surrealist painter was looking to make a painting that would be a big religious statement. After the Atomic Bomb, he planned to light up the world with a new Jesus.

This image, he’d explain, would leave behind the “ugliness” of previous efforts. He wanted a messiah “as beautiful as the God that He is.”

When Dali saw Russ Saunders—he hired him.

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