homodoxy crawls

When figuring out what to call this website, I was mainly considering “against the church,” which is the phrase I’m using to think about theology. Theology contra ecclesiam is appealing to me because of the history of the condemnation of homosex as the sin against nature, contra naturam, and the common tagline of theology as being “for the church.” As the against? page says, I find “against” to be a better preposition for describing the many sorts of complex relationships queer people have with the church. But after talking through this with my friend Lacey, who kindly entertained my out-of-nowhere urgent need to parse potential meanings of various phrases to buy a domain name, I came to think that calling the website “against the church” would be gimmicky, easily dismissible, and perhaps not as attractive to the intended audience for this website, which is faggots of all genders who contend with Christ and the church, from within and without. Homodoxy is short, gay, and suggestive. Hello, homos. Those who do not fit that description are more than welcome to stay, with the qualification below.

I googled “homodoxy” before buying the domain and found a few different people coining the term as a theological aid. It is used to solve problems raised by disputes between orthodoxy and heterodoxy. I’ll give a couple of examples. In a 2010 post, a blogging priest from New Zealand uses homodox as a name for people who claim to be orthodox but are not.

Homodox means “having the same opinion”. Many people who are misusing, abusing the term “orthodox” are in fact not orthodox at all, they are homodox (let me preempt the comment now: it does not mean worshipping gays 🙂 ) They want everyone to think exactly like them (yes, often particularly about gays). Orthodox can cope with diversity, do not need everyone to agree about everything, celebrate diversity, honour difference: In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas. (In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.)

https://liturgy.co.nz/homodoxy. Picked up by an American blogger here.

One commenter asks, “So, can two people be homodoxaphobic and still like each other?” Other commenters suggest that some homodoxy can indeed be orthodoxy. I don’t know what exactly they are talking about. At any rate, here, orthodoxy is charitable, unlike the gay-obsessed, narcissistic homodox.

More recently, a Roman Catholic blogger at “Christian Renaissance Movement” offered this definition, in a post calling for “more right teaching on marriage and anthropology”:

Homodoxy (n.) – The ideology which supports, casually tolerates, or downplays the disordered nature of same-sex activity, attraction, or public policy which promotes such; adj. homodox; “The homodoxy of the German bishop was being imposed upon the diocese.”; “The thought that clericalism is the root of the abuse crisis strikes me as homodox.”

From “The Heterodoxy We Need”

“Homodoxy” here mirrors homosex while contrasting itself from straight heterodoxy, which is wrong belief that is nevertheless against homosex. He continues, “While there is more than one kind of position which might fall under this definition, and we should always try to understand the precise nature and motivation of some person’s erroneous or bizarre point of view, there is certainly a real current of pro-gay thought which can be called such.” So one might listen to the homodox to understand their fascinating experience while still recognizing it as incorrect. Once the other’s motivations and natures are understood, what then? There’s something flirtatious in this definition that I can’t quite put my finger on.

In both definitions there is concern about uniformity, the imposition of gay beliefs (and bodies) onto other people. The gays are portrayed as colonizers obsessed with reproducing themselves (huh), which is a common trope in Christian discourse about queerness around the world, i.e., the only way for thinking of homosexuality and gender variation is as “Western” ideologies. Christianity isn’t the colonizer; the queers are. We can’t procreate, so we recruit! To anyone with such concerns, I warmly invite you to leave. Or stay, keep reading, if there is some part of you that is intrigued.

Contrast this critique to queer theorists from around the world who have critiqued queer theory for being largely a white, academic, “Western” enterprise, and who call for understandings of queerness stemming from particular contexts. Queer theory can be colonizing, not because it imports homosexuality and gender variation but because it ignores understandings of gender and sexuality already at work in contexts beyond that from which the author is writing.

So, what is homodoxy in the context of this website? The “casual[] tolerat[ion]” of “the disordered nature of same-sex activity” isn’t a bad start.

In contemporary academic writing in a variety of humanities disciplines, including queer studies, it’s a common thing to find your neologism and at the start of one’s project, to state how it makes its critical intervention. These projects often do make necessary critiques and produce fascinating and helpful concepts, but the norms surrounding language and What A Project Does have become a bit tiring. I’ve been joking for a while about wanting to only stage unnecessary interventions. Unnecessary and excessive might be other attributes of homodoxy. Am I selling it?

I am at the start of things (my PhD, my life as a theologian, these thoughts), not the end, so I have no set positive definition to offer. And finding one isn’t my goal. Not a one-to-one relationship of homo- to -doxy, not a solution to a problem, not a set Project so much as a place for many projects. I mainly think of homodoxy and this website as a placeholder for the mix of people and beliefs I want to spend time with—theologians, poets, novelists, theorists, and others. A common ground for faggots who think about God without wanting church authorities to do something with their experience, however understood.

I don’t put “homodox” in competition with “orthodox” or “heretical,” but the following words from Helmut Thielicke’s A Little Exercise for Young Theologians have stuck with me for a few years,

Sacred theology therefore is not a word to be lightly taken upon our lips. Theology is a very human business, a craft, and sometimes an art. In the last analysis it is always ambivalent. It can be sacred theology or diabolical theology. That depends upon the hands and hearts which further it. But which of the two it is cannot necessarily be seen by the fact that in one case it is orthodox and in the other heretical. I don’t believe that God is a fussy faultfinder in dealing with theological ideas. He who provides forgiveness for a sinful life will also surely be a generous judge of theological reflections. Even an orthodox theologian can be spiritually dead, while perhaps a heretic crawls on forbidden bypaths to the sources of life.

Helmut Thielicke, A Little Exercise for Young Theologians, translated by Charles L. Taylor (Grand Rapids, MI: WIlliam B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2016), 68. First published in German in 1959.

Homodoxy crawls.

Published by Samuel Ernest

I am a doctoral student in theology at Yale.

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