You may have noticed this picture trending on Facebook and Pinterest this week.
I ran across it myself, which led me to discovering The Illusionists, a documentary that is currently in post-production and promises to be a balanced and informative look at the commodification of the human body. That’s right up our alley here at HBTB, so I thought I’d do a little plugging for them. Check out the video below.
Is body theology foundational? Is this concept–the way I define and understand it–part of the rock bed of the Christian faith? If Christ is the cornerstone, then is Christ set in body theology?
As I began developing my concept of body theology a few years ago, I was presented with this question and began to ask myself just how much of the Christian faith is wrapped up in my definition of body theology. I came up with four categories: sexuality/physicality, community, media literacy, and service. The more I studied and explored the concept of body theology and the messages of our culture, the more convinced I became that we must first understand ourselves as physical/sexual/worthy beings before we can engage in healthy community, media literacy, and service because everything flows from the core issue of where our identity lies.
Our identity is the source from which we conceptualize everything we believe, from which we make choices to act or react, and through which we relate to God, ourselves, each other, and the world around us.
The issue of sexuality/physicality must be dealt with first because it is the biggest and deepest lie; it is the lens that must change first or it will color the way we understand all the other issues. While it is true that identity can only be discovered in community, in many cases unhealthy messages about our identity have already been internalized and are, thus, already being perpetuated in our communities. Before we can change the community identity, we have to exchange God’s truth for these lies about our bodies. Only then can we engage in community, culture, and service in a healthy way.
So, is body theology foundational? Christ of necessity must be set in body theology precisely because God entered the world in human form–as a body! Christ cannot be set solely in any theoretical or spiritual foundation because that negates the very meaning and purpose of the incarnation: God incarnate; God dwelling among us in the flesh!
This is the foundation of body theology: our bodies matter because God used BODY to create us, to relate to us, and to redeem us.
In this context we find our true identity in Christ. It is our human response to the incarnation of Christ to accept ourselves as the holistic bodyselves we were created to be. Only then, through this identity in Christ, can we begin to develop a healthy theology of bodily sexuality, bodily community, bodily cultural discernment, and bodily service.