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New book examines how the church talks to youth about homosexuality
By CSLR | Emory Law | May 24, 2016 10:05:00 AM

A new book by CSLR Senior Fellow Mark D. Jordan explores the language used by Christians regarding homosexuality and the battle for the adolescent soul. Recruiting Young Love: How Christians Talk About Homosexuality (University of Chicago Press, 2011), a product of the CSLR’s Child in Law, Religion and Society project, examines the history of language surrounding homosexuality and the target of this language to shape adolescents.

For years the church has seen homosexuality as a danger for young people. Jordan points out that their impressionability has left them susceptible and the church has taken on the task of protecting them and saving their souls from the evils of homosexuality. Through interviews, stories, memoirs, and pulp novels, Jordan explores where the church has been and where the church is headed. He gives an honest critique of the language of the church and brings to light the misconceptions and misgivings the church has -- and continues -- to live under. 

In his introduction Jordan writes, “Churches will use issues like the ordination of women or honest queer people, like same-sex marriage and adoption, as pretexts for exercising the uglier forms of aggression and domination that always threaten churches…. Despite those fights, underneath them, some church communities will continue to care for those who come to them seeking salvation for their whole selves. For me, games of schism matter much less for Christianity than the invention or improvisation of new characters by those still willing to entrust themselves to Eucharist.”

Jordan is Richard Reinhold Niehbuhr Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School where he focuses on Christian ethics of sex and gender, the limits of religious language, the rhetoric of theology, and the ritual creation of religious identities.


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