Wednesday, February 08, 2012

New book shows closeted gay Jesus: "Dark Knowledge" by Kenneth Low

If Jesus was gay, was he open and self-affirming… or ashamed and secretive?

People who think that Jesus was queer usually assume that he accepted his own homosexuality, but a new book presents a disturbing portrait of a closeted gay Jesus who felt shame over his same-sex relationships.

Dark Knowledge” by Kenneth Low uses rational arguments to disprove much of the conventional wisdom about Christ. According to Low, Jesus was not heterosexual, not celibate, and not happy with his own identity.

The whole book is an analysis of why Jesus was executed. The standard explanation is that Jesus was crucified for blasphemy. Low dismisses this as too implausible to be believed. Instead he comes to a startling conclusion: Jesus was killed for committing homosexual acts.

Low is a retired physician living in Davis, California and “Dark Knowledge” is his first work. His odd but intriguing book offers no information about the author other than his name. Low’s blog explains that he keeps his background a mystery so that his arguments can be judged purely on their own merits. However Low does admit on his blog, “ ‘Dark Knowledge’ is really a work of vision that is the product of my own personal journey.”

Low presents evidence that Jesus must have been homosexual because he was an unmarried man who surrounded himself with men, including John, his beloved male disciple and sexual partner. Still Low is also clear that Jesus was divine. The following quotation illustrates Low’s viewpoint and detached tone:

In His childhood, Jesus Christ came into His awareness of being the Son of God. His magical authority and other attributes were given to Him as His birthright. As He came into sexual awareness, He discovered Himself to be a homosexual. His awareness of being the Son of God precluded any possibility of denying His sexuality out of some external concern and He began to be sexually active. He was evidently discovered to be a homosexual by people in His hometown and He must have been sharply rebuked and ostracized. He left Galilee and wandered on an endless soulful sojourn seeking a reconciliation of His divinity with His homosexuality. (p. 276)

Low goes on to describe how Jesus brought his life and ministry to its “inevitable conclusion” in Jerusalem. “Just as He couldn’t escape his homosexuality, neither could He keep it a secret forever,” (p. 276) he writes. Low’s version of the Passion story unfolds this way: Judas revealed the “dark knowledge” of Jesus’ homosexuality to the religious authorities, causing a sudden loss of public support for Jesus. In the garden of Gethsemane Jesus was “overwhelmed with sorrow because He was filled with shame” about his soon-to-be-revealed homosexual acts. At his trial the normally eloquent Jesus gave evasive answers because, although he was an expert at religious debate, he couldn’t deny the truth of his homosexuality. Wanting to be punished, he pleaded guilty in exchange for dropping the charges against his sexual partner.

One of the most fascinating parts of the book is Low’s demonstration of how Jesus’ theology was shaped by being queer. Low argues that Jesus came to identify with the poor and disenfranchised because he was gay:

As the Son of God, Jesus Christ had discovered Himself to be a homosexual and had found celibacy impossible… He also understood that homosexuality was a sexual crime under the Law of Moses. His feeling was that His homosexuality was something He needed to passively accept and He was cast in the role of the disobedient Son of God. His feeling of self-worth required that He find meaning in His disobedience and He came to view Himself as an advocate for the sinful disobedience of the world. (p. 286)

Some of Low’s conclusions seem questionable, especially his assertion that “no one is ever really reconciled with his or her sexuality.” If Jesus was truly divine, then surely he could have found a way to unite sexuality and spirituality, an idea that I explore in my novels Jesus in Love and At the Cross (Jesus in Love). Low also seems to assume that each gospel were written by a single eyewitness, an idea disputed by most Bible scholars. Unlike Low, I find it believable that Jesus could have been executed for blasphemy.  Even today LGBT Christians still receive death threats from Christian conservatives who accuse them of blasphemy. Despite its flaws, “Dark Knowledge” makes for stimulating reading and a darkly illuminating vision of a gay Jesus.
Related links:

“Dark Knowledge” review by Toby Johnson, author of Gay Spirituality

Video on Dark Knowledge

Video book trailer for Dark Knowledge


Trudie said...

This is a book I will definitely take a "pass" on. Your review says exactly what I believe; if Jesus did indeed have a contact at the soul level that made him aware of God acting through him in a unique way, Shame would have no part in the picture. I will stay with your vision of Jesus, thanks just the same!

Bill Murphy said...

Jesus said "Let the children come unto me" but I don't think that implies that he was a pedophile. I think's Low's comment that none of us is reconciled with our sexuality is key here- sounds like some self-loathing to me.

Kittredge Cherry said...

Trudie and Bill, I debated in my mind about whether to write about “Dark Knowledge” here because I have similar objections to the author’s viewpoint. The Jesus whom I know through faith is unashamed of being human (sexuality included). He is also able through his divine insight to reconcile the conflicts that we experience between sexuality and spirituality.

However I decided it was important to let people know about “Dark Knowledge” because the concept of a “gay Jesus” is one of the main themes of this blog. I don’t want to enforce a new conformity or political correctness upon those who seriously grapple with what that means, as author Ken Low did. If his book gets a few if us to think more about the life of Christ, then it has provided a valuable service. I’m looking forward to introducing a great new queer theology book by Patrick Cheng when it comes out next month.

Anonymous said...

I may be mistaken, but the reason that Pilot did not find Jesus guilty was because the Romans (as overlords) reserved the exclusive right to use the death-penalty in the areas that they controlled, and Blasphemy against the Hebrew religion/God was not a capitol offense. The Jews brought Jesus before Pilot with the charges of Blasphemy, fully expecting the Governor to take the charge as serious as they did, and Pilot basically responds with "Blasphemy against your religion is not a crime under Roman Law, go away". The Jews realize their mistake and charge him with something they know is a capitol offense under Roman Law, sedition/treason against Roman authorities. By saying that Jesus claimed to be the King of the Jews, they were able to get the Roman's attention. When Pilot still shows skepticism over Jesus' guilt, the Jewish leaders threaten to tell to revolt (or tell the Emperor that Pilot was not loyal and was allowing activities). The Emperor at the time was Tiberious and he did not have a reputation for intolerance and cruelty for nothing. Pilot knew that if their was yet another revolt in the region (or if the Jews poisoned Tiberious' opinion of him) that he would be 'recalled' to Rome (and being called into Tiberius' office was kind of a death sentence). He then agreed to have Jesus executed even though he was innocent to prevent being recalled.

Anyways, I think that there is some value in this book, even if it is mostly inaccurate interpolation.

Kittredge Cherry said...

The anonymous comment is correct in describing the standard interpretation of how the charge of blasphemy was made by the Jews and then switched to treason in order to get the Romans to use the death penalty. In “Dark Knowledge,” the charge made by the Jewish authorities is homosexual acts, which is no more of a crime to the Romans than blasphemy was. But in the book the author explains at length his intriguing theory of how they convinced the Romans to execute Jesus anyway.

Terence Weldon said...

This is an extraordinary post, which has shaken me up substantially. Like Trudie, this is definitely not one I will make time to read - although there do seem to be many merits to it, beyond the headlines claims about Jesus' sexuality.

My immediate, instinctive and visceral reaction to the core claim was to reject it out of hand. Stepping back, to work out why my reaction was so strong, led me to an unexpected conclusion: it's impossible for Jesus to be have been closeted and ashamed - because the closet is a place of sin.

How I got there is too complex to post here, but I have elaborated at Queering the Church -

(Still, I'm pleased that you posted about the book).

Kittredge Cherry said...

Terry, thank you for sharing your response and subsequent reflections here and on your own blog. I do believe that God calls us to keep growing spirituality, and that involves being “shaken up” sometimes.

I also had a strong first reaction that Jesus was not a shame-based closet case. I do see the closet as a place of sin, as in the commandment against “bearing false witness.” Reading “Dark Knowledge” caused me to wonder more about how the human side of Jesus dealt with his attractions to other men. In my “Jesus in Love” novels he has already largely come to terms with his bisexual feelings and accepted them as good. But it is likely that he went through a process of self-knowledge and self-acceptance to reach that enlightened state. And he couldn’t have instantly come out as queer to everyone, so there may well have been some discretion that could be seen as “the closet.”