Monday, February 14, 2005

the background of the previous two posts

I wish to give some sense of where these current posts (and they are sort of a series) have their force and impetus. I am currently reading Cities of God by Graham Ward, and one aspect of his argument is around sexuality, desire, and love. This inquiry isn't so much a direct responce to his argument as that Ward's argument has brought to the fore of my thinking a growing frustration with how love, sexuality, romance are treated and understood in my contexts. Thus, I am coming aware that my own settled understanding of sexuality and love is inadequate as a Christian position.
So, if you are wondering with whom I am arguing in this and to whom I am putting these questions it is as much myself and the unquestioned presuppositions I have long held, and am coming to see that they are not easily brought into subjection to Christ.
Yet I am also trying to get clear about what seems to me to be an understanding of sexuality and love (expressed in sexual intimacy) that is taken as intrinsically salvific. Now this idea doesn't necessarily speak the Christian language of salvation and so Christians can easily mistake it for something compatible with the Mind of Christ. Yet all the same my sense is that an understanding of human fulfillment that finds the rejection of sexual expression and sexual pleasure as dehumanizing is making a salvific claim about sexuality. If I as a human am fulfilled in my romantic relationships (or at least should be) then something ultimate and eternal is being spoken of concerning human sexuality. Such language is then I would contend is not actually compatible with Christian self understanding that what completes and makes whole is God, and not another human or the act of "love making". That love, sex beauty etc..... Are all gifts of God, all in their own way distorted by the fall and because we are in need of redemption need to be redefined in their relation to God.
These thoughts leave me somewhat at a loss. Because, my own thinking about love sex, marriage, sexuality, etc. are bound up in both the Christian language and story and this alternative mythology and soteriology.
Over the next several posts I hope to explore this realization and attempt to begin extracting this competing mythology of love, and to re-inscribe the Christian account.
Some words of caution: The minefeild I am walking into is that as often as not the Christian understanding of sexuality, gender love, sex, marriage has been done in sexist and heterosexist language. . However, it is my presumption that the Christian mythology rightly understood actually transcends these and any other ideology of gender sex and sexuality Gay Straight heterosexist, feminist, queer, sexist whatever. In fact the sexual liberalism of our culture even in its supposedly most liberating forms remains in some ways still bound to heterosexist and sexist conceptions or is some mimickery of these. The reason I feel I can say that Christian thought can transcend this is its valuing of both celibacy and marriage equally (though at instances the tradition has emphasized one over the other, but given the long view of the tradition both are held as equal ways to be a gendered sexual human being), and that if celibacy is at time lifted up as an idea it is because Jesus himself thought that our sexuality is something that is passign away. Our sexual desires and loves are relativised by what God has done and is doing in Christ. It is our living towards the age to come that leads to the affirmation that there is neither male nor female, bond nor free, jew nor greek in Christ Jesus.
Those who teach that you will be fulfilled in sexual intimacy whether of marriage, one man one woman, or in any other form of sexual expression does not live into the eschatological reality of the Christian faith.
My hope is that for myself and those of you reading this that we may renew our minds that we would truly come to share the Mind of Christ in the area of our sexuality, letting go of what ever sexual ideology and soteriology we may hold.