Pastoral care and gays against the background of same-sex relationships in the Umwelt of the New Testament
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AbstractThe focus of the article is to show how the hegemony of heteronormativity compromises attempts at gay-friendly pastoral care and counselling with sexual minorities. Ecclesial resolutions with regard to same-sex relationships are based on Biblical propositions, theologies of heterosexual marriage, and often also on social stereotypes. This article investigates the textual evidence on same-sex intimacy in antiquity in order to demonstrate that views on sexuality and marriage are not fixed, but change over time. It also traces the formation of the theology of heterosexual marriage in the institutionalized Christian religion. Same-sex intimacy during the period from the end of the Roman Republic and the beginning of the Roman Imperial period is discussed, as well as during early Christianity up to and until marriage was sacramentalized. As a consequence of this historical legacy, churches have largely condemned same-sex relationships and have alienated sexual minorities from the faith community. The article contends that the hegemony of heteronormativity is based on an essentialist view on sexuality, as well as a positivist ethical reading of the texts of the New Testament and the contemporary world. It illustrates that the ecclesia itself has not yet been transformed by the gospel message of inclusive love.