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God, Sex, and Politics

Homosexuality and Everyday Theologies

God, Sex, and Politics examines both sides of the church controversy over homosexuality to consider the ways in which people develop, in everyday thought and interaction, their beliefs about God and justice. Dawne Moon explores how members of Protestant congregations determine what is just and what is not, what is right and what is wrong, what is loving and what is sinful.

Through this compelling work we learn that the considerable turmoil surrounding homosexuality in churches has less to do with homosexuality than with the fear of weakening the church’s spiritual, communal solidarity. We learn too how the church mirrors the secular world—the fear of division and politics leads members to avoid conflict in the congregations Moon examines. And so, the Protestants who are the subject of her study avoid debating the key issue of whether homosexuality is sinful because of its potentially polarizing effects. The religious culture Moon uncovers is ultimately critical of politics and of the intense moral and social discord that members believe it entails.

God, Sex, and Politics will be of enormous value to sociologists of religion and anyone interested in religious controversies over sexuality.


"While there have been plenty of books written about religion and gays, there is little ethnographic accounting of how particular religious communities grapple with the issues. Moon takes us to two Methodist congregations. . . . The congregations and the individuals in them are portrayed pseudonymously, but Moon imbues the debates and conflicts with vivid realism. . . . The book shows how people put into effect their beliefs on a specific issue (in this case, homosexuality) when faced with the broader questions. Moon has an unusual ability to explain social science theory clearly and give a three-dimensional report on real people grappling with issues that are very important to them. Both general and academic readers will find much in this book to commend."

Library Journal

"This book is a significant contribution to the sociologies of religion, culture, and sexuality, as well as to important questions in queer studies about the micro-level intersections of religion, (homo)sexuality, and social power. . . . Moon’s book contributes to existing sociological studies of religion and sexuality as an excellent example of how discussions and debates about homosexuality actually take place in individual congregations."

Wendty Cadge | Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion

"A must read for anyone--sociologists or not--who wants abundant insight into why homosexuality has become (and shall remain) an issue with the potential to rip apart religious communities on local, national, and even international levels."

Thomas J. Linneman | American Journal of Sociology

"Moon’s use of Foucault is nothing short of brilliant. Foucauldian thought has been conspicuously absent from the sociology of religion and this book demonstrates how it can be incorporated effectively. . . . An important read not only for those working in the sociologies of religion or sexuality, but all those interested in power more generally."

Bradley A. Koch | Sociology of Religion

Table of Contents

Doing unto Others ... (A Theoretical Introduction)
1. Debating Homosexuality
2. Feeling the Spirit in Two Congregations
3. Scripture and Everyday Theologies
4. Community and Dissent
5. The Problem of Politics in Church
6. Body, Spirit, and Sexuality
7. The Truth of Emotions in Everyday Theologies
8. Gay Pain and Politics
Conclusion: The Perils of Pain and Politics

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