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Widows, Sodomites, and Welfare Queens: The Radical Potential of Queer Lectionaries?

Jimmy Hoke

Jimmy Hoke (he/they) is a campus and congregational leader, the author of the book Feminism, Queerness, Affect, and Romans: Under God? and the creator of Queering the Lectionary (

Why start queering the lectionary? Let me tell a bit of the origin story that, like Genesis 2:4b–25, is both true and also shapes multiple real experiences into the memory of a single event.

As a queer worshiper, I usually leave church frustrated. “Queering the Lectionary” was born from these frustrations with lectionary-based preaching that did not account for the rich insights queer biblical scholars have brought to these texts for decades. 

For the lectionary to proclaim a queer gospel, it must account for the intersectional nature of oppression and marginalization in both biblical texts and the contemporary world.

When knotted into systems of economic injustice, patriarchy, and white supremacy, heteronormativity also oppresses many straight people.

I challenge the ways Matthew’s Jesus’ rhetoric around labor and enslavement encourages hard work and productivity under unjust conditions, all of which only benefits the enslaver-employer. 

Casting Bricks and Bruising Injustice

In the second chapter of Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability, Robert McRuer analyzes the case of Karen Thompson, whose live-in partner, Sharon Kowalski, was disabled in a car accident. Because this happened in the 1990s, these two women’s relationship could not be legally recognized. Kowalski’s medical care and consent defaulted to her parents, who denied Thompson the ability to visit Kowalski and insisted that Kowalski was too disabled to go home, effectively incarcerating their daughter to a medical facility. 

McRuer observes that Thompson originally had faith in the justice of the legal system: her case that Kowalski could come home with her had ample evidence. Kowalski had clearly indicated her preference was to go home with Thompson, and the medical experts and professionals who spent the most time with Kowalski attested that this was the patient’s clear desire, that she was medically able to go home, and that Kowalski clearly was healthier and happier when Thompson was present. Justice can be muddy, but this was not a legal gray zone. The bulk of the best evidence was on Thompson and Kowalski’s side.

But justice was denied. Kowalski’s parents argued their daughter was not capable of consent; they hired medical experts—who spent little to no time with the patient—to back up their claim and counter Thompson’s claim. Those who denied justice knew from the testimony that these expert opinions were less credible; some of them were so unbelievable they had to be retracted. But the system is ableist: the decision was made by the assumption that disabled people cannot make autonomous, rational decisions. The system is homophobic: if given the chance, it will rule against queer people.1

In Luke 18:1–8 (Proper 24, RCL Year C, Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost), Luke’s Jesus tells the story of a widow who repeatedly appears before a judge and demands that they rule in her favor (and, therefore, justly) against her adversary. Since this judge, Jesus tells his audience, “was not afraid of God and did not feel regard for humanity” (18:2), they don’t want to grant her justice.2 Eventually, they realize it is in their best interest to rule in the woman’s favor: “Because this widow produces hardship for me, I will rule justly in her favor so that she does not bruise me until she comes to a conclusion,” the judge says to themself (18:5). Jesus tells this story as a contrast to God’s justice: unlike the judge, God makes their remedy swiftly. God’s justice will not require this woman’s persistent demands for the barest of tolerance because God will remedy and rule swiftly in favor of the oppressed and marginalized. But then, Luke’s Jesus ends this story with a vexing question: “Only, will the son of humanity, when they arrive, find faith upon the earth?” (18:8).

Like the judge in Luke 18, our current system of justice and power does not fear God’s justice, nor does it care about it. It doesn’t feel regard for any humanity that doesn’t look or love like it. The system feels regard for its own benefit. Like the widow of Luke, Thompson’s persistence eventually paid off—Kowalski came home—but only due to a fight with a system that could refuse no longer.

In Luke 18:5, the judge acts because they do not want the widow to bruise them until she receives justice. The verb translated “bruise” (Greek: hupōpiazō; NRSVue: “wear me out”) derives from the root meaning “striking someone under their eye,” thus bruising it (i.e., giving them a black eye). Its meaning extends to general bruising as well as wearing out. The woman forces the judge to consider how they materially benefit from doing justice when they otherwise would not. She must make it painful for the judge. Otherwise, they will rule with the status quo that works for them—and not her.

On June 28, 1969, cops raided the Stonewall Inn and arrested mainly trans women and drag queens as part of their enforcement of anti-queer “decency” laws. As the crowd who fled the bar stood outside watching these folks get loaded into vans, headed for incarceration, they grew more restless. They began throwing pennies and then bricks against the unjust system and police corruption. They threw bricks and demanded justice. Queer activists—spurred by trans women of color like Marsha P. Johnson—bruised the justice system that sought to lock them down. 

Four years later, at the 1973 Christopher Street Liberation March (i.e., the NYC Pride Parade), trans activist Silvia Rivera stormed the stage and grabbed the mic. “Y’all better quiet down,” she bellowed. She asked what gay liberation was doing for their trans women sisters—many of whom were women of color—who were in jail. To a chorus of boos, Rivera persisted: she bore witness to the abuse and dehumanization she and her sisters faced. She demanded that queer justice must cry out: “Free our sisters, free ourselves.” Rivera bruised queer folks who celebrated “love is love” but failed to do justice for the folks whose genders, whose races, whose ways of having sex in the streets offended them because not all love is truly considered love.3

This widow’s story is a queer story. Like Pride, the gospel story is about injustice and about how marginalized people demand justice. It is a story about the persistence of injustice in a world that oppresses poor folks, queer folks, and countless others. It reminds audiences how oppressed people must persistently demand justice from a system that persists in denying it to them, even when the rules of the system say they must. In the face of a faithless system, what kinds of faith can we find on earth?

The Need for Queerer Lectionary Resources

In June 2022, I started a Patreon project (Patreon is a digital platform where authors can share content directly via paid subscriptions.) called “Queering the Lectionary”4 that provides pastors and lay folks with queer resources to help understand and interpret the weekly Scripture readings in the Revised Common Lectionary. Though a little longer and more polished than average, the commentary-reflection above exemplifies the work I am doing. My goal is short, accessible reflections (usually five hundred to nine hundred words) on each lectionary text, which connect historical and linguistic elements of biblical texts to ideas from queer and trans studies and activism. 

Why start queering the lectionary? Let me tell a bit of the origin story that, like Genesis 2:4b–25, is both true and also shapes multiple real experiences into the memory of a single event.

One Sunday, I worshiped with a congregation that was clearly committed to including LGBTIA2Q+ folks and to doing justice for trans and queer folks in our local community and across the world. The pastor preached on one of the week’s lectionary texts whose verses included a command to shun “sexual immorality” as part of the “old life” before being in Christ. Though these words were read aloud to the entire congregation, they never came up in the sermon. The pastor talked about the goodness of a new life that they contrasted to the generic “badness” of the old “pagan” life of the text’s original audience. By leaving untouched the condemnation of “sexual immorality” (one of many terms that explicitly connoted queer people in the ancient world), the pastor missed an opportunity to address how this text helps create the model for a church that still assumes members must leave queerness behind as part of their former lives before accepting Jesus. 

Beyond the religious traumas inflicted on us by churches and theologies that overtly condemn LGBTIA2Q+ lives, many trans and queer Christians bear scars from purportedly open-and-affirming congregations where we have been welcomed with open arms, only to learn that acceptance only extends to certain “good gays” whose queerness is palatable to the straight majority. The pastor’s approach to this text leaves trans and queer folks (especially any visitors) wondering what limits this mention of “sexual immorality” implies for their participation in the justice the church proclaims to seek. It does not help allies to better understand how to support and accept LGBTIA2Q+ loved ones. Ignoring queerness in and around lectionary texts does not do justice for the trans and queer lives who are presently endangered in the United States and globally. In fact, it risks perpetuating injustice and causing us further harm. I left worship frustrated.

As a queer worshiper, I usually leave church frustrated. “Queering the Lectionary” was born from these frustrations with lectionary-based preaching that did not account for the rich insights queer biblical scholars have brought to these texts for decades. This is not the fault of the pastor in my story, who clearly consulted commentaries and lectionary aids that offered insights into the text’s historical context.5 There is a lack of good queer resources that are available and accessible to pastors who preach the lectionary. 

Aside from the landmark Queer Bible Commentary (now in its second edition), most queer work on biblical texts exists in academic books, articles, and essays.6 This important work usually focuses on individual passages and does not offer the comprehensive details that commentaries provide across an entire book of the Bible. Even the Queer Bible Commentary is limited in this regard—and, like much queer biblical scholarship, it sits behind a considerable paywall.7 Additionally, few pastors and lay interpreters have time to wade into wider work in queer and trans studies (beyond scholarship in religion and the Bible) and understand it enough to make connections between these academic insights, biblical texts, and the concerns of their congregations. When I peruse more accessible resources in LGBTIA2Q+ readings on the Bible (print and online), most of them are not written by folks with doctoral-level training in biblical studies. To be clear: I do not think advanced training is a prerequisite for producing good queer biblical interpretation. But this work often misses critical insights about the contexts in which different biblical texts were written, the literary and linguistic background of different passages, and the value that understanding multiple critical lenses can bring to reading texts. 

“Queering the Lectionary” starts to fill this gap. I distill arguments from trans and queer biblical studies down to what an interpreter needs to understand in order to deepen their study of the text and live into their commitment to justice for all LGBTIA2Q+ folks. I show interpreters ways they can apply queer insights about one biblical text to help read other biblical texts. And I offer some guidance by suggesting ways they can connect what we see in the biblical text to our concerns for the present and future. “Queering the Lectionary” aids pastors in their work to read and proclaim texts in ways that—instead of frustrating and alienating LGBTIA2Q+ parishioners—challenges and inspires them.

What Does “Queering the Lectionary” Do?

One goal I have with the resource is to distill a wide range of scholarly insights into digestible portions. In the opening commentary-reflection, I give examples of how “Queering the Lectionary” does this. Instead of walking through all the Greek terms, I highlight one term that could (or, I would argue should) be translated differently. By understanding how the term hupōpiazō derives from the idea of giving someone a black eye, for example, readers understand why they might translate it as bruise in order to emphasize the material inconvenience of the widow’s efforts. By showing them why, readers can confidently make their own decision (whether they decide to emphasize the bruising or stick with the NRSVue’s “wear out”) instead of just taking for granted my or other scholars’ insights. I also give a quick literary overview of the passage and highlight important or interesting details. In other reflections, my overview might remind readers of the historical context of the passage: for example, with many texts from the Hebrew Bible, I note how situating the passage into the author’s and audiences’ post-exilic context under imperial/colonial rule shifts our understanding of the words and their impact. It also might remind readers how an individual passage fits into the larger argument or agenda of the text. I tend to do this frequently with Paul’s letters. In every case, I show the value of these historical, linguistic, or literary insights for queer and trans readers and our lives today (e.g., connecting the widow’s bruising of the judge to the bricks thrown at Stonewall and Silvia Rivera’s activism).

I often make these connections using the insights of academic work in trans and queer studies. This means that I also distill the longer arguments (which can be quite dense) of this work into quickly readable portions. In my commentary on the widow, I lay out the story about Kowalski and Thompson and show how McRuer’s argument about the intersections of queerness and disability helps us better understand and apply the widow’s plea to the ways our current system is structurally designed to deny justice to trans and queer disabled folks. 

I do something similar with trans and queer scholarship in biblical studies. For example, when the lectionary includes Psalm 137 on Proper 22 in Year C, I explain how Erin Runions analyzes this text in light of the ongoing uses of “Babylon” to justify imperial oppression by the United States—specifically emphasizing how U.S. troops used Psalm 137 (in song form) as part of the process of torture at Abu Ghraib.8 I asked, “How do we lament with a text that itself has been used to perpetrate the imperial violence it laments?” I connect the text of the psalm and Runions’s analysis to Sara Ahmed’s work on “melancholic migrants” and “unhappy queers” in The Promise of Happiness. She finds (kill)joyous potential in figures who refuse to perform thankful happiness in the face of toxic systems that treat queer immigrants as strange and abnormal.9

Drawing these insights together, I conclude by posing questions to readers that help them to critically examine the psalm and the world around their congregants. Here is an excerpt of what follows:

The demands of mirth from Babylonian captors resonate with the ways heteronormative, capitalist culture celebrates queerness that is profitably cheerful: drag being one example. Most people want to see the glitz, the humor, the cheery shade of drag queens . . . but they do not want to see or think about the ways these performers often live on the margins and scramble to make ends meet. Few drag performers make RuPaul money. In a haunting line in his chapter on queer and trans subcultures, Jack Halberstam notes that, despite the popularity of the film Paris Is Burning, less than five years after the film was produced, all of the queens featured in it were dead.10

Sing us one of the songs of Zion.

The use of this psalm by U.S. forces to torture and harm so-called “enemies” should caution how we read the final wish for God to dash the oppressors’ children against rocks. When the rage of the oppressed is co-opted by oppressors, it leads to disastrous consequences. At the same time, we might understand this ending as an expression of queer, migrant, melancholic rage. In response to your demands of mirth, we will end our song with anger. We will laugh at them, not for them. Though we must take caution with this violence, we can also remember how the language of rage has long been important for the queer and the oppressed.11

Queering the lectionary means making explicit how colonialism, militarism and torture, housing inequity, police violence, unequal pay and exploitative labor conditions, and disparities in healthcare are queer issues because, first and foremost, they all disproportionately impact trans and queer people. This is especially the case for trans and queer populations who experience racism, ableism, or sexism in addition to transphobia or queerphobia. For the lectionary to proclaim a queer gospel, it must account for the intersectional nature of oppression and marginalization in both biblical texts and the contemporary world. 

My queer commentary frequently spends a significant amount of time unpacking anti-Judaism in New Testament texts and their interpretation. I warn Christian readers of potential anti-Jewish pitfalls (e.g., villainizing the Pharisees and assuming the Gospels’ presentations of this group is accurate).12 I walk them through strategies for interpreting these texts in queer alliance with ancient and contemporary Jewish folks.

In her landmark essay “Punks, Bulldaggers, and Welfare Queens: The Radical Potential of Queer Politics?” Cathy J. Cohen challenged queer activists and scholars who honed in exclusively on the differences between gay and straight. She claimed that the radical potential of queer theory lay in its critique of heteronormativity: the system that makes a particular form of sexual expression “normal” while all others are deemed “deviant.” This heteronormative form of sexual expression is the heterosexual nuclear family: husband, wife, and 2.5 kids who all live in a nice home supported by stable employment. Cohen observes that when politicians demonize “welfare queens,” they tend to target straight Black women with the same sexualized rhetoric they use against queerness. When knotted into systems of economic injustice, patriarchy, and white supremacy, heteronormativity also oppresses many straight people. Cohen demands a more radical and transformative queer politics: “I envision a politics where one’s relation to power, and not some homogenized identity, is privileged in determining one’s political comrades. I’m talking about a politics where the nonnormative and marginal position of punks, bulldaggers, and welfare queens, for example, is the basis for progressive coalition work.”13

Starting queer politics with the folks who are most marginalized and nonnormative expands the range of topics and perspectives that can be inherently trans and queer. Rahab, as Runions shows, is a queer figure in Joshua 2 because, though she appears to be heterosexual, she stands at the margins of the text and society because she is a sex worker and a woman racialized as foreign.14

For good reason, the RCL excludes the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah from its textual cycle. However, the story hovers over Christian anti-queerness today. It turns out the story also hovers over many lectionary texts, which provide their readers with opportunities to counteract harmful legacies around Genesis 19. When Sodom pops up in Isaiah 1:10 (Proper 14, RCL Year C, Ninth Sunday after Pentecost), I unpack God’s promise not to treat Israel in the same way they treated the Bible’s “quintessential immoral cities,” even though Israel has not been faithful to God. “In 1:18–20, God declares themself faithful to Israel: though Israel is like Sodom, God will ‘argue it out’ with them and make room for God’s people to become ‘willing and obedient’; though God’s children are like Gomorrah, God will wash away their sins.” Like queerness, this passage presents a promise that is simultaneously a threat. God’s promise requires good behavior: it requires cleaning up what is queer.15

This queer approach to texts refuses to silence the legacies of Sodom that haunt the Bible and its interpretation today. Grappling with these legacies requires recognizing how the story of Sodom racializes its presentation of the Sodomite men who demand Lot hand over God’s messengers for nonconsensual sexual assault. The story intentionally presents outsiders as inhospitably queer in their sexual attitudes and their treatment of traveling guests.16 I draw upon how the story of Sodom participates in the racialization queerness to conclude my commentary on Isaiah:

This promising threat discomforts the language of cleanliness at the end of the passage. Though some readers find comfort in the image of God clearing away the stains of sin, others recall the racialized and sexualized ways that language of cleanliness has been used to oppress. Only certain people (those who aren’t white) and certain sex practices (the queer ones) get deemed dirty. Does our dirtiness need to be washed away? How might we imagine a God who, with us, digs through the dirt, who plays in the mud? Do we want God to clean the orphan and the widow—to make them “whole”? Or do we want a God who defends them, who stands alongside them and lets them speak for what they want and need?17

Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza notes that a feminist approach requires bringing a “hermeneutic of suspicion” to biblical texts that were written from androcentric perspectives that ignore women’s presence and agency.18 In addition to bringing this feminist lens to lectionary passages, my queer commentaries require being suspicious and critical of texts whose ideas about bodies, relationships, and social structures assume everyone is cis and straight. At the same time, like Schüssler Fiorenza, I bring a hermeneutic of recovery to these texts by suggesting where queer perspectives could be buried within them (e.g., when I considered how we could read the “sisters” Mary and Martha as a lesbian couple). Though suspicion is difficult to bring to the pulpit, I show my readers how suspicion and recovery must go hand in hand when they want to use lectionary texts to proclaim queer liberation.

As an example of how all this comes together, consider my commentary on Matthew 9:35–10:8 (Proper 6, RCL Year A, Third Sunday after Pentecost).19 I hone in on the passage’s implications for confronting unjust labor conditions, especially when we consider the context of Roman-era enslavement. Jesus tells his students, “There is much harvest; there are few workers. Therefore, beg the master of the harvest so that they might cast workers into their harvest” (Matt. 9:37–38). Pointing out the brutal realities that many enslaved workers faced under Roman “masters of the harvest,” I ask what it meant for Jesus to urge his students—as workers whom he metaphorically enslaves—to beg an enslaver to acquire and send more workers. I ask readers to consider: “Why aren’t there enough workers in the first place?” 

I challenge the ways Matthew’s Jesus’ rhetoric around labor and enslavement encourages hard work and productivity under unjust conditions, all of which only benefits the enslaver-employer. Jesus’ question sounds like complaints about “laziness,” about which Roman enslavers wrote. Both are echoed in the discourse around “quiet quitting” and complaints we hear from employers today who ask, “Why doesn’t anyone want to work anymore?”20 I suggest we see a queer approach to labor in the refusal to work, as signaled by the lack of workers for the harvest in Matthew. I note how historians of Roman-era enslavement write that workers “quiet quit” by slowing down their work, making purposeful mistakes, and behaving in ways that made their enslavers call them “lazy” and “slow” in ancient sources.21 My comments on this text end by encouraging readers to consider what it might mean to resist and reread Jesus’ call for labor in ways that do not reinscribe the oppressive conditions that the ancient and contemporary worlds expect workers to endure.

I return to the theme of “queer labor” in my comments that connect the four lectionary texts for that Sunday. I outline how queer scholars have shown how the nuclear family and capitalism emerge in tandem. Our heteronormative family structure is part of the design of building labor conditions that encourage workers to be most productive.22 I express concern over how Paul’s valorization of suffering in Romans 5:1–8 could support the ways workers often suffer cruel, unsustainable conditions because so many of us believe our suffering will, someday, lead to “the good life.” Yet, for most of us, this good life is unattainable because the labor is designed to produce suffering that actively prevents workers from flourishing.23 As I challenge readers to consider resistant readings of that week’s passages, I introduce them to Matt Brim’s pedagogy of teaching students to be “better queer workers.” Brim recognizes that we all work under compromised conditions in order to survive and support ourselves and our loved ones. He teaches his students skills they need to thrive in the workforce—including (most importantly) how queer theory can help them effectively advocate for themselves, for justice, and for a better future under conditions that teach such advocacy is hopeless. I ask readers, then, to consider how a lens of queer labor could help them to use these lectionary texts to challenge congregations to become better queer workers.

The Radical Potential of Queer Lectionaries

Cohen (quoted above) envisions queer politics that are rooted in transformation. Truly placing “punks, bulldaggers, and welfare queens” at the political center would transform society into one that does justice for all people.24 This is the radical potential of queer politics. This is also the radical potential of queering the lectionary. My suspicious critiques of some biblical texts centers marginalized queer perspectives, both ancient and contemporary. “Queering the Lectionary” assumes that placing these voices at the center transforms how we understand biblical texts and the faiths we build upon them. I believe that by making this radically queer approach to Scripture accessible, it will help church leaders to live into their commitments to doing justice.

“Queering the Lectionary” is about social and spiritual transformation. As seen above, my approach does not simply include LGBTIA2Q+ people in an already familiar, established, analytical structure. Queer and trans studies transform the structure itself and present new possibilities for justice. A queer approach to the lectionary does likewise. It explodes the traditional ways of proclaiming the gospel and takes root in the multiple and different ways that trans and queer people find faith in and around the Bible. Like Sam Smith and Kim Petras’s Grammy-winning hit, it proclaims holiness from the spaces and bodies deemed “Unholy.”


1. The above three paragraphs present portions of Robert McRuer’s Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability (New York: New York University Press, 2006), 77–102.

2. All translations are my own, unless noted otherwise.

3. Sylvia Rivera, “Y’all Better Quiet Down,” 

4. Jimmy Hoke, “Queering the Lectionary,” Patreon project, 

5. These sources must have been fairly dated, since only the most conservative of evangelical New Testament scholars still use pejoratives like “pagan” in contexts like this.

6. Mona West and Robert E. Shore-Goss, eds., The Queer Bible Commentary, 2nd ed. (London: SCM Press, 2022).

7. The retail price of the Queer Bible Commentary is $112. Queer biblical scholarship in books and book collections is often priced between $30 and $60 per book, but since this scholarship tends to be limited to a single biblical text or genre, one needs to purchase a vast quantity to achieve the comprehensive nature of the QBC. Journal articles are potentially the most expensive, since they are most accessible via library databases that require affiliation with an academic institution. An individual annual subscription to Biblical Interpretation, one journal with a long history of publishing queer biblical scholarship, costs $224.

8. See Erin Runions, The Babylon Complex: Theopolitical Fantasies of War, Sex, and Sovereignty (New York: Fordham University Press, 2014), 148–178.

9. Sara Ahmed, The Promise of Happiness (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010).

10 Jack Halberstam, In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives (New York: New York University Press, 2005), 158.

11. Hoke, “Queering the Lectionary,” Proper 22, RCL Year C, Seventeenth Sunday After Pentecost.

12. A good introductory resource for avoiding anti-Judaism with the Gospels’ portrayal of the Pharisees is Amy-Jill Levine, “Quit Picking on the Pharisees!” Sojourners Magazine 44, no. 3 (March 2015): 26–29. Another great, comprehensive resource can be found in the essays and study notes in Levine and Marc Zvi Brettler, eds., The Jewish Annotated New Testament, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017).

13. Cathy J. Cohen, “Punks, Bulldaggers, and Welfare Queens: The Radical Potential of Queer Politics?” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 3 (1997): 438.

14. Erin Runions, “From Disgust to Humor: Rahab’s Queer Affect,” in Bible Trouble: Queer Reading at the Boundaries of Biblical Scholarship, ed. Teresa J. Hornsby and Ken Stone (Atlanta: SBL Press, 2011), 45–74.

15. Hoke, “Queering the Lectionary,” Proper 14, RCL Year C, Ninth Sunday after Pentecost.

16. On this story and its racialized queerness, see Randall C. Bailey, “They’re Nothing but Incestuous Bastards: The Polemical Use of Sex and Sexuality in Hebrew Canon Narratives,” in Reading from the Place: Social Location and Biblical Interpretation, vol. 1, ed. Fernando F. Segovia and Mary Ann Tolbert (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1995), 121–138; Matthew Elia, “Sarah’s Laugh, Sodom’s Sin, Hagar’s Kin: Queering Time and Belonging in Genesis 16–21,” Biblical Interpretation 28 (2020): 398–427; and Kent L. Brintnall, “Who Weeps for the Sodomite?” in Sexual Disorientations, ed. Brintnall, Joseph A. Marchal, and Stephen D. Moore (New York: Fordham University Press, 2017), 145–160. A great book on the contemporary impact of Sodom on Protestant discourse about sexuality is Heather R. White, Reforming Sodom: Protestants and the Rise of Gay Rights (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2015).

17. Hoke, “Queering the Lectionary,” Proper 6, RCL Year A, Third Sunday after Pentecost.

18. See, as one example from her corpus of feminist scholarship, Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, Wisdom Ways: Introducing Feminist Biblical Interpretation (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2001).

19. Hoke, “Queering the Lectionary.” 

20. On the mythical recurrence of this and other complaints, see Micah Loewinger, “Why We Argue about the Same Things Over and Over,” On the Media, Dec. 16, 2022, 

21. See Jennifer A. Glancy, Slavery in Early Christianity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), esp. 103–129; Keith R. Bradley, “Servus Onerosus: Roman Law and the Troublesome Slave,” Slavery and Abolition 11 (1990): 135–157; Sandra R. Joshel and Laura Hackworth Peterson, The Material Lives of Roman Slaves (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014).

22. See especially Elizabeth Freeman, Time Binds: Queer Temporalities, Queer Histories (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010) and Dana Luciano, Arranging Grief: Sacred Time and the Body in Nineteenth-Century America (New York: New York University Press, 2007), esp. 9–12.

23. The idea of cruel optimism and its relation to fantasies of “the good life” comes from queer theorist Lauren Berlant, Cruel Optimism (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011). I have argued these ideas impact Paul’s theological construction of faith in Romans 1–5; see Jimmy Hoke, Feminism, Queerness, Affect, and Romans: Under God? (Atlanta: SBL Press, 2021), 139–200. 

24. This sentiment is also expressed in the 1977 queer, Black feminist statement of the Combahee River Collective, “The Combahee River Collective Statement,” It also aligns with critical race theorist and legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw’s foundational work on intersectionality. Kimberlé Crenshaw, “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory, and Antiracist Politics,” University of Chicago Legal Forum (1989): 139–167,


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