The Biennial SGI Lecture


Gay Celibate Asceticism: An Exploration of Eros and Desire in the Theologies of Augustine and Contemporary Anglicanism

The 2024 Inaugural SGI Lecture on Christianity, Sexuality, and Gender

By Dr. David Bennett

dr-david-bennettIn this lecture, Dr. David Bennett will explore how a distinctly Anglican Augustinianism can provide a non-stoical or non-repressive theology of gay celibacy. By probing concepts of eros, desire, the Trinitarian relations (particularly, Christology), he will journey through Augustine’s theology of desire and virginity, Oliver O’Donovan’s ethics of moral order, Sarah Coakley’s new asceticism, Richard Hooker’s Lawes and Graham Ward’s queer approach to redemptive erotics to affirm a renewed account of orthodox sexual ethics, which can lead to flourishing for LBGTQI+ people, but remain continuous with historic orthodoxy.

Dr. David Bennet comes from Sydney, Australia where he studied journalism and then international relations. He moved to Oxford to pursue his studies in theology and train as an apologist from a skeptical, atheist background as an anti-Christian gay activist. David now holds postgraduate degrees in theology from Oxford, a master’s degree in theology from the University of St Andrews, Scotland, and completed a doctorate (DPhil) in theology at Oxford in 2023.

He specializes in the relationship between queer theory, asceticism and contemporary Anglican theology, especially ethics, and the role of desire in knowing God. He currently works as a visiting theologian in residence with churches in San Francisco and New York, and is the Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Theology and Ethics for the Faculty of Theology and Religions at the University of Oxford. His thesis is in the process of being published, tentatively entitled, Queering the Queer: A Theological Ethics of Same-Sex Desire and Gay Celibacy in Contemporary Anglican Thought.

This inaugural lecture is sponsored and hosted by the Sexual & Gender Identity Institute, directed by Dr. Mark Yarhouse.