Who better to probe the entangled elements of the carnal and the spiritual but a gay priest? This one rhetorical question not only sets the tone for this sublime life-affirming book, and answers its own question in the author’s unabashedly humane outlook on the interconnectedness of the spirit and the flesh within each of God’s children and in the Christian life, but highlights the life of an Anglican Priest as it has been lived by this man of God.
Now retired, Father Dodman beautifully weaves into a tapestry of many of his life’s dimensions the consistency between love in all its Godly expression and the life of the Spirit. He encourages all of us to recognize our physicality while at the same time recognize that we are being simultaneously nourished by the Spirit.
Given his own life experiences, and experiences as a gay priest, he acknowledges: I have not the slightest doubt that love, whatever its manifestation, is praise to God and that God’s underlying purpose in Creation is to fashion a dominion infused with love. So much of this message has been lost on so many people, Christian and non-Christian alike, and it’s refreshing to be reminded that God created both our spiritual as well as our physical dimensions, and everything created by God is good.
His being gay is discussed in such a way as to show how seamless his sexuality is with his Christian life and profession. Regarding so much homophobia among many professing Christians, he wisely writes …what many Christians feel uncomfortable with is not simply homosexuality, but sexuality itself. Given my own experiences with homophobic professing Christians, I certainly echo Father Dodman's assertion!
His most straightforward explication of same-sex love, a love intensely felt by him toward his spouse Devan, is beautifully and trenchantly expressed when he writes: Because we are two men, our love is no less worthwhile, moral, or true. Those who would pit God against such love, who would attempt to belittle it by arbitrarily invoking questions of what is natural or unnatural, have, in my opinion, either never known love themselves, or do not in fact know God. Perhaps because of the environment in which they grew up they have been conditioned to cringe in fear at the supposed threat homosexuality poses to masculinity. This is no longer defensible.
As I've argued elsewhere, the issue is not why some people are Gay but, rather, why some people are homophobic. Homophobia doesn't make any sense on the very face of it, is inconsistent with the Christian life, and does far more harm to people than can even be imagined! And all the sanctimonious rhetoric and contextually illiterate biblical exegeses, and other manifestations of the hate that is in so many people's hearts, cannot refute the authenticity and spirituality of same-sex love and its equal viability with opposite-sex love for both the Christian and the non-Christian!
Father Dodman quotes the following from the book, “Some Day I’ll Find You,” by Father Harry Williams, he writes: “I slept with several men, in each case fairly regularly. They were all of them friends. Cynics, of course, will smile, but I have seldom felt more like thanking God than when having sex. In bed I used to praise Him there and then for the joy I was receiving and giving.” (P. 371)
Father Dodman fortunately shares this healthy view of the seamless integration of our sexuality and our spiritual lives. Their interconnectedness, like the parts that make up our bodies, are all of one piece, and to torture logic by separating them, serves no other use than by torturing ourselves, and even torturing others. Homophobic values in the name of God; idolatry of the Bible as a substitute for God; separating our emotional/sexual lives from our spiritual lives clearly have no place in Father Dodman’s life, or in any other Christian’s or non-Christian’s life.
The torturing of others is seen in his discussion of the furtiveness of life in the closet; the attempt to keep one’s reputation amidst professing Christians and others who see sexuality as being either one dimensional, a burden to carry that is inimical to the spiritual life, or a necessary part of us devoid of spiritual meaning and the presence of the love of God. Rather, our sexuality is seen as one of God’s many gifts to us, and not merely for procreative purposes, but a God-given gift that nurtures our inner being, just as God undoubtedly intended it to do.
I commend this book to you, as I’m confident that it will bless you as it did me!