Thanks James, In general I suspect that Christians become important leaders the more they suppress their homosexuality, using misogynist hatred to suppress their latent femininity.
I’m just now reading a long discussion of St. Augustine’s curious relationship with Alypius, his longtime male friend, which John Boswell had intimated might have been homosexual. Augustine writes in the Confessions of his ‘friend’: “For I felt that my soul and his were one soul in two bodies, and therefore life was a horror to me, since I did not want to live as a half; and yet I was also afraid to die lest he, whom I had loved so much, would completely die.”
Now, to me, this reads as gay, 100%, no question, as I adjust for modes of repression as we see, for example, in Victorian England, as with Tennyson and Hallam, etc. I don’t need to see physical expression.
But for Christian scholars, there is no explicit sex scene, and so nothing to see here. It’s two friends, and we move along to other subjects.
I was just now reading some letters of Martin Luther, and I must say I am a little startled. He had a younger man named Jerome Weller who lived with his family, tutoring the children, and was noted in Luther studies for having unexplained depression or despair. In a well-known letter of 1530, Luther writes him with counsel for bouncing out of it:
In these kinds of struggles, you must show contempt for the devil if you wish to defeat him. Laugh at him, scorn him, and ask him who he thinks he is. Most importantly avoid being alone, for the devil becomes most dangerous to you when you are alone. The devil is conquered by mocking and insulting him, not by resisting and arguing with him. Therefore, Jerome, joke and frolic with my wife and others. That’s the best way to rid yourself of diabolical thoughts and be strong.
Now, I don’t read German, so I can’t analyze the context of “joke and frolic with my wife and others.” It seems a little odd. But then I had earlier read Luther’s 1533 letter to Weller that I find only in this book. Luther is explaining his own ways of dealing with depression.
How often have I grasped my wife and rubbed against her naked body that by arousing sexual desire in this way I might drive away those thoughts that come from Satan. But it has not been very effective; he refuses to give up. For Satan is the author of death; he has so defiled our nature that we do not accept consolation. Hence let everyone strive to expel these diabolical thoughts by arousing in himself other thoughts such as of beautiful girls, or by hearty eating and drinking, or by stirring up in himself some other powerful feeling. I recommend these things, although the best of all remedies is to believe in Jesus Christ.
I find that I read Luther writing a younger man saying he rubs his naked wife to deal with depression, but it doesn’t work, as homosexual. I suspect Weller is gay, Luther is gay, and Luther is advising Weller on things to try for despair since being gay is impossible.
But I suspect others would not feel this even possible.
Two papers I’ve noticed but not yet read:
Virginia Burrus, “Queer Lives of Saints: Jerome’s Hagiography”
Michael Nausner, “Toward Community Beyond Gender Binaries: Gregory of Nyssa’s Transgendering as Part of his Transformative Eschatology”