When the opportunity arose to write The First American Evangelical, I started thinking harder about biography as a genre. I have always loved reading biographies and have long taught about their use as a strategy when writing or teaching history. But having an assignment to write one encouraged me to begin reading them more carefully, especially to listen for connections between the voice of authors and their subjects.

For two millennia the church has invoked a handful of biblical passages to impose an absolute prohibition against homoerotic behavior of every sort. Yet these passages — in both the Old and New Testaments — were addressed to behaviors of a prurient, one-sided, episodic, and exploitative character. They said nothing explicit about covenantal, nuptial, same-sex love.