Copyright © 2012 by Chris R. Glaser. All rights reserved. Permission granted for non-profit use with attribution of author and blogsite.
The most difficult chapter I wrote in my book on same-sex marriage is entitled, “Sex and the Body of Christ.” But it was also the most satisfying. I didn’t want to write it, but I had to in order to lead readers from the past and sometimes sordid history of marriage to my vision of it as a spiritual discipline, a spiritual practice.
I imagined some kindly old grandmother reading the chapter in her rocking chair, blushing badly and averting her eyes. I unpacked that image in the chapter, recognizing that it was sexist and ageist, but taking particular interest in the word “kindly.” Why would I think of sex as “unkindly”? Why does sex in the Christian tradition get such a bad rap?
According to Genesis, God created us as sexual beings, shaping every part of our bodies, and we walked naked with God in the Garden. According to the Gospels, God put on human flesh in Jesus, undoubtedly anatomically correct. He wasn’t a Ken doll!
Again, according to the Gospels, the body of Jesus was resurrected, and according to the Epistles, our bodies will be too—though I’m hoping my “glorified” body will be hotter than the present one!
Whether you take these stories symbolically or literally, you can still “get” that the Bible is telling us our bodies have sacred worth.
When the apostle Paul addressed sexual ethics, he did not resort to his Jewish training, the rules and regulations on human sexuality in Leviticus, nor the laws of the government, the Roman Empire. Instead he argues sexual ethics from the point of view that we are now members of the Body of Christ. What would Jesus do?
Problem is, most of us can’t think of Jesus as a sexual actor. It’s kind of like thinking of our parents that way! Taboo kicks in.
Yet repeatedly in the Gospels we have stories of Jesus touching and being touched, something the religious elite of the time avoided for fear of being rendered ritually unclean—hence Jesus’ parable contrasting the good Samaritan with a temple priest and lay temple leader who both avoid a wounded man alongside the road from Jericho to the temple at Jerusalem.
I believe we have to re-imagine Jesus, now that we too are his body, and consider how he would make love to someone or how he would like to be made love to. The greater sin to me is when we make love or make church or cast ballots without recognizing we do so as the Body of Christ and that we do so to the Body of Christ.
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