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 (sociology, Univ. of California) takes us to two Methodist congregations: one situated in a large urban environment, the other in a small town about 70 miles away. The congregations and the individuals in them are portrayed pseudonymously, but Moon imbues the debates and conflicts with vivid realism. The urban congregation was in the midst of self-examination about whether or not to join the "Reconciling Congregations Program," a movement with American Methodism to welcome sexual minorities explicitly. A substantial group of members of the other congregation were involved in another organization called "Transforming Congregations," which is more conservative in approach. Some of the core issues of Christianity are raised and contested: the nature of sin, the role of politics, and the relationship of Scripture and experience. 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.-David Azzolina, Univ. of Pennsylvania Lib., Philadelphia Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.