This week we’re exploring the various definitions of body theology out there. Read HBTB’s definition of body theology. Read James B. Nelson’s definition from Monday.
Now let’s consider an excerpt from Introducing Body Theology by Lisa Isherwood and Elizabeth Stuart. Take some time to read and reflect on the passages below.
[B]ody theology…creates theology through the body and not about the body. Working through the body is a way of ensuring that theories do not get written on the bodies of “others” who then become marginalized and objects of control. It is also a way of deconstructing the concept of truth that Christianity used to hold so many falsehoods in place. Once one moves from the notion that there is absolute truth into which the bodies of people have to fit, the way is open to begin questioning and we soon realize that truth is not the issue in relation to prescriptions about the body, but power. Christian history shows us the extent to which power has been exerted over bodies in the name of divine truth and the crippling results. If the body is given the space and power to speak what will be the consequences for both the body and theology?
… Body politics have exposed the underlying power games at work in sexuality and society and by so doing have become a source of inspiration and liberation for many. Christianity is an incarnational religion that claims to set captives free, it tells us it is a religion of liberation. Yet it underpins many of the restrictive practices that body politics expose. In some cases Christianity has been the instigator of these practices because of its dualistic vision of the world.
…The questions being posed in our time are to do with the body, that of the world as well as the individual. Can body politics ever become body theology in a truly radical and transforming way? This might mean for example, that the Christian religion…risk taking the bodies of women seriously as sites of revelation in the creation of theology….That it develop a sexual ethic that takes seriously the desire of all and integrates it into a mutual and freeing celebration of embodiment.
…The Christian faith tells us that redemption is brought through the incarnation of God. A redemption that could not be wished or just thought, even by God herself, she had to be enfleshed. Therefore, it can be argued that until the body is liberated from the patriarchal ties that bind it, many of which have been set in place by Christianity, creation will never understand the truly liberating power of incarnation.
I’d love to hear your thoughts! React to and engage with the quotation above in the comment box below.