St. John’s is excited to announce the upcoming publication of Those Seven References: A Study of the References to "Homosexuality" in the Bible and Their Impact on the Queer Community of Faith by The Rev. John F. Dwyer, one of our Associate Clergy and husband of Minister of Music Ben Riggs. Those Seven References will be released on March 17, 2021, under the Morehouse imprint of Church Publishing, the official publishing house of The Episcopal Church.
1. What inspired you to write Those Seven References?
Initially, my reasoning was to understand these scriptural passages in a clearer way. As my research continued those reasons morphed into providing myself, and others, with language to interpret and understand these scriptures in ways meant by the original authors of the text; to show that how they have been interpreted inaccurately and continue to be mis-used by those understandings, can be countered with a deeper and more clarifying perception of the texts.
2. Who do you hope will read your book?
I hope people who have had these texts inappropriately hurled at them because of who they are as a person, and have as a result left church or communities of faith, will learn that God's love of them is true and pure and strong. I also hope that they will find that there are loving communities of faithful people with hearts open and (post-pandemic) arms outstretched to hug them in welcome. I believe this work can open minds and the hearts of those who have not delved deeply into these texts but have simply believed what they have been told from misguided preachers.
3. What surprised you the most while researching and writing Those Seven References?
I was surprised by the inter-connectivity of these passages, orally created and then written thousands of years apart from each other. The concept that resonates through the multiple ages these passages focus on the importance of respect for individuals, for love of that individual person no matter their heritage or upbringing and is the foundation of God's love for all of us.
4. Why do you think this book remains relevant for today’s readers?
In the headlines this week, one of the world's largest Christian sects, the one based in Rome, has again proved the necessity for this kind of work to exist. Although there have been enormous strides toward equality for the queer community in recent years, there have also been regressive local legislative actions seeking to limit those national steps toward equality. The type of education from this type of study is imperative to counter those regressive steps.
JOHN F. DWYER is an Episcopal priest who has served the church in both seminary and parish settings, and had legal and corporate work experiences prior to being ordained. Throughout his life, he searched for ways to witness to and express the all-inclusive love of God, particularly as a married gay man.
“John Dwyer masterfully navigates the reader through a biblical journey of re-discover…. This is a must-read not only for the LGBTQIA+ community but also for anyone who seeks to be an ally in the building of the Beloved Community.” —The Rt. Rev. Deon K. Johnson, Eleventh Bishop of Missouri
Find out more about Those Seven References and where you can purchase:
Barnes & Noble