Published online by Cambridge University Press: 22 March 2021
In 2007 the bishops of the US Episcopal Church invited my advice on a “theology of same-sex relationships.” Of what other panelists said – PhDs teaching at respected institutions – the most arresting was: “The trouble with same-sex relationships is they impugn the blood of Christ.” They do what? The original remark attempted a hazing; the final result bestowed a gift, the gift of blood made strange. Blood is supposed to wash gay people with the atonement, even as self-accepting gay people say they don’t need cleansing. It’s supposed to unite Christians in communion, even as sexuality debates divide the churches. It’s supposed to protect the succession of priests, even as bishops shield them for sexual crimes. To some Christians, such failures of Christ’s blood amount to a cosmological disturbance. But what if Jesus becomes a bridegroom of blood, who stays on the cross for love of the (male) thief to whom he promises a life together in paradise? Reflects on Anselm, Abelard, Sebastian Moore, and "pleading the blood."