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Renato Lings

Biography

Kjeld Renato Lings, Ph.D., was born in a rural part of West Jutland, Denmark. His father was a schoolteacher, and his mother was an organist and housewife. They were both committed Christians and active in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark.

Renato’s childhood hobbies included studying maps of the world, reading, raising pigeons, and roaming the countryside. Music was important, particularly communal singing. At age 7 Renato started playing the piano and at 19 he added the guitar. Today his favorite music genres are baroque, Latin American folk, classical jazz, and African-American gospel.

Renato’s teen years were very lonely. Because of social taboos surrounding homosexuality, he took refuge in “the closet.” Haunted by depression, he was ready to implode by age 18 and tried to find a way out of this emotional turmoil. A physician referred him to a psychiatrist. The “help” he got consisted in being told to wait patiently for a few years until he felt attracted to girls.

By age 24, after six years of waiting, Renato realized he was still strongly attracted to male beauty. Fortunately, he found a psychologist who helped him to come out. At last he was able to accept himself as a sexual human being created by God. Soon after this pivotal moment he joined the gay liberation movement in Denmark.

At the University of Copenhagen, his studies focused on Spanish language and literature. He earned a CandPhil degree in 1973. In Spain he studied at the Universidad Complutense in Madrid. Subsequently, he trained to become a certified Translator/Interpreter. In addition to several modern languages, Renato has studied four classical languages, Danish literature, philosophy, sociology, Middle American anthropology, and Quaker literature. In 2006, he gained a Ph.D. degree in theology at the University of Exeter (UK). The title of his thesis was "Restoring Sodom: Towards a Non-sexual Approach."

When he was 18 years old, Renato decided to become a conscientious objector on moral and religious grounds. However, he found that few people in the state-run Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark shared his concerns. He befriended a man from Korea who had been a conscientious objector. Through him Renato was introduced to the Quakers. For the first time he felt welcomed by a community where the vast majority shared his views and concerns on military conscription and nonviolent conflict resolution. After two years of reading and reflection, he joined the Religious Society of Friends.

Renato has travelled extensively and lived in different countries in Europe and the Americas, including Scandinavia, Belgium, France, Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom, Costa Rica, Cuba, Mexico, the United States, and Canada. He has been an active member of LGBT organizations in the countries in which he has lived.

A second major turning point in his life occurred when Renato was 43 years old. He was sliding into a deep existential crisis, facing an abyss of anguish. This lasted for several months. One morning he got down on his knees and prayed. Three days later he attended a brief church service which brought peace to his heart. A few minutes later, he heard the voice of Jesus speaking words of healing. The effect was extraordinary: the very same night all the agony lifted. He believed it to be a miracle.

Since the late 1990s, Renato has published articles on theology, gender and sexuality. In 2011 his first major book in Spanish appeared under the title Biblia y homosexualidad: ¿Se equivocaron los traductores? It was followed by a larger work in English entitled Love Lost in Translation: Homosexuality and the Bible (Trafford, 2013). Both books document how negative Christian attitudes to sexuality are not rooted in the Bible but rather in a long Church tradition, especially the Church Fathers.

Renato toured parts of the U.S. in October and November 2013 to talk about his research and promote his book. A second U.S. tour took place in 2014. Accepting a joint invitation from the Church of Sweden and the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, he toured the latter country in November 2016. He was favorably impressed by the level of scholarship among Filipino theologians, including their understanding of the importance of diversity in the realms of love, sexuality, and gender.

In 2017, Renato published a book in Danish entitled Kærlighed under censur (Love under Censorship). It was followed by a Spanish edition in April 2021: Amores bíblicos bajo censura: Sexualidad, género y traducciones erróneas (Editorial Dykinson, Madrid). An English version appeared in July 2021 under the title Holy Censorship or Mistranslation? Love, Gender and Sexuality in the Bible (HarperCollins, New Delhi). An Italian version of this work came out in early 2023 under the title Amori biblici censurati. Sessualità e traduzioni erronee (Il pozzo di Giacobbe, Trapani). A Swedish edition is in the making.

Currently Renato lives in Spain.

(This biographical statement written by Mark Bowman with information provided by Renato Lings and was later revised by Lings.)

Biography Date: November, 2011; rev. November 2023

Additional Resources

Tags

Friends/Quakers | Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (United Kingdom) | Other Sheep | Author/editor | International Human Rights | Theology | Denmark

Citation

“Renato Lings | Profile”, LGBTQ Religious Archives Network, accessed July 13, 2024, https://lgbtqreligiousarchives.org/profiles/renato-lings.

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