Review: Modern Kinship: A Queer Guide to Christian Marriage by David and Constantino Khalaf

Presley Thomas
Mar 11, 2020 · 3 min read
Photo by Tim Arterbury on Unsplash

I read this a while back, but this book seems even more important now as an engaged queer person with an actual wedding date. My fiance and I will be married in our local affirming church in December 2020. I only imagined getting married to some faceless woman because that’s all that my evangelical upbringing allowed me to believe in the first twenty-two years of my life.

In reality, my sexuality is just as holy and good as straight Christians. Marriage is one way to acknowledge that, but as I have argued elsewhere — it doesn’t have to be. It’s not an institution to be entered into lightly, spiritually, or civically, but it’s also not a requirement for a meaningful long-term relationship.

We dishonor the LGBT folks who came before us if we claim it as such. Marriage was a tool of oppression. There are so many concerns outside of queer coupling that impact our individual lives yet unacknowledged by a society that values heterosexuality as more moral or worthy of honor, whether in the courts, politics or our personal lives.

I first heard of David and Constantino “Tino” Khalaf on the Stay Married podcast. I regularly relisten to their interview when my own biological family is being difficult. Their story is different yet similar in some ways. They retell much of that story in this book but dive deeper into what their interior lives look like. They coined the title of the book when they started their relationship blog, Modern Kinship, and use it as a way to describe their perspective on same-sex relationships.

“Look at me. Look at me in the eye. From now on, I will be your family. I will be yours, and you will no longer be alone. I never want to hear you say you’re alone again. I am your family.”

These were David’s words to his husband, Tino, on their engagement. Family as a created thing — ties that bind, not biology — is not new to the LGBT community, but it is unique to the Christian one that David and Tino find themselves speaking new life into. Unaffirming Christians who deny the personhood of queer people point to these blood ties to negate any other version of family.

Even though a married couple, straight or gay, also lacks these blood ties, the presence of children somehow cements the bond according to some. Many homophobic parents don’t acknowledge the relationships of their gay children as family bonds to further infantilize their queer children in a bid to maintain parental authority they no longer possess.

Book cover for Modern Kinship

Dave and Tino do a good job talking about kin and kinship; a sense of belonging often denied to marginalized people. I think it’s especially important that they work to widen not shrink that lens as they allow people who have other identities on the LGBT spectrum speak of their experience(whose names are by now a regular reading list to themselves). The beauty of being different in this way, they say to us, is that there are very few universals outside of love and respect for one another that is a continual work even after we exchange vows.

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Presley Thomas

Written by

Queer lit and thought, cis-gay white disabled dude, he/him/his, contact at pthomasty@gmail.com

New Body

New Body

writings on faith, queerness, and disability by Presley Thomas

Presley Thomas

Written by

Queer lit and thought, cis-gay white disabled dude, he/him/his, contact at pthomasty@gmail.com

New Body

New Body

writings on faith, queerness, and disability by Presley Thomas

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