The Illusion of Inclusion: How Progressive Theology Books May Perpetuate Inequality




Mays, Cindy Jo

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Utilizing a qualitative content analysis on ten theology books advocating for the inclusion of LGBTQIA+ identities in the Christian religion, the current study examines how these books may potentially challenge and/or perpetuate gender and sexual inequalities. Findings indicate that these books reify the privileging of heterosexuality by heralding heterosexual allies as unbiased sources of advocacy, and by underscoring the virtue of grace when dealing with sexual marginalization. Further, the books’ authors offer conditional acceptance of nonheterornormative individuals by demanding monogamy and Christianity for morality. Salvation comes through the viewing of heterosexual pornography and conforming to traditional gender behavior and/or minimizing the saliency of sexuality. However, salvation can also come directly from the marginalization that LGBTQIA+ Christians experience—adding a potential negotiation of sexual identity that challenges the privileging of Christian heterosexuality. By utilizing the intersections of gender, sexuality, and religion, the current study extends the literature by offering analyzation of the social construction of sin and the pervasive gender and sexual inequalities inherent in even “progressive” movements for inclusion.



Doing gender, Doing religion, Godly homonormativity, LGBTQIA+, Heteronormativity


Mays, C. J. (2021). <i>The illusion of inclusion: How progressive theology books may perpetuate inequality</i> (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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