Thursday, April 19, 2012

Alum ‘queers’ Martin Luther

By Amelia Heath, News Editor

Two faculty and seven students gathered in the Regency Room Wednesday for a lunch with Mary Lowe, a 1986 Pacific Lutheran University alumn and associate professor at Ausburg College in Minneapolis, Minn.

The lunch consisted of casual conversation about gay and lesbian theology. Throughout the conversation, Lowe cited various stories in the Bible which some theologists have said to be stories depicting homosexual relationships, emphasizing the importance of context.

Lowe said she could not determine for certain whether these relationships were or were not in fact of a sexual nature, but did concede that they certainly appeared to be “unusual” or “special” alliances and relationships.

Another aspect of gay and lesbian theology discussed was the use of religious texts against women and the GLBT community. Religion, she said, has been the number-one tool of oppression.

Later Wednesday evening, Lowe followed up with a lecture entitled “Queering Martin Luther.”

Lowe’s lecture used the word “queer” as a verb, meaning, “to question from a queer perspective.” The lecture encouraged students to “queer” the theology behind gender and sexuality, the doctrine of sin and power and specifically the power of the Church. Lowe split each section of the lecture with a question-and-answer session for students and faculty.

In the gender and sexuality portion of the lecture, Lowe criticized the concept of gender essentialism, which limits humans to one of two sexualities: gay and straight. This concept, Lowe said, excludes other aspects of sexuality, such as bisexual, transgender and intersex.

The doctrine of sin, Lowe said, treats the human body as a sinful vessel and sex as a sinful action. Lowe suggested this be remedied by thinking of sin in terms of harming relationships, rather than an individual doing something wrong.

Lowe said many minority groups, including the LGBT community feel they have little or no power, not only in the Church but also in their communities and government. Lowe encouraged her audience to look critically at every situation, asking who has power. She went on to encourage those who have power to give a voice to those who have less power and establish authentic relationships.

Lowe finished her presentation by reminding her audience that every person has power in some aspect of their life.

“I believe in God and I believe in God’s loving presence in the world,” Lowe said, “and I think that is a form of power that’s in us and through us.”