Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sexuality 2.0: A Challenge

First of all this post is not just about homosexuality, although we do touch upon that some. In fact, it seems that the “question of homosexuality and the church” is perhaps even a distraction away from the heart of the matter: Christians don’t know how to talk about any kind of sexuality.

But before we can talk about sexuality, we need to talk about bodies. And bodies are a point of complication for Christians. We divide our bodies from our spirit. Our bodies are flawed, needing to be conquered by the spirit, needing to be overcome by a will stronger than what we say. Christians privilege the will, the mind, and reason over our bodies. It’s an unequal dualism.
Everyone has a body, but not every body is created equal. Some bodies are reduced to what we simply see; some bodies are not even visible at all:
The Latina body is a particular body that is invisible, even when radicalized and sexualized, it’s invisible.
With these bodies, both visible and invisible, we are told how we fit into our society.
These actions are even more prefabricated when discussing sexuality. We have heteronormative, monogamous, and married sexuality. Yet even this solid absolutely model gets frayed at the edges, frayed by practice.

So perhaps a Sexuality After Google, is a sexuality 2.0. It is something that changes the way that we relate and explore to our bodies.

Sexuality 1.0

Sexuality 2.0

Stable

Ambiguity

Male/Female

Gender Queer

Hetereo/Homosexual

Queer

Prefabricated Narratives for Sexuality

Constructed Narratives

Identities

Identification



Instead of understanding sexuality as a stable identity (I am gay, I am straight), then perhaps we can understand sexuality as a fluid, creative identification. Our identity is not told to us, but something we can borrow from, perform, and narrate. Our sexuality is not a permanent category to fit into, but instead part of our stories from which change, grow and elaborate over time.
Then perhaps if we understand sexuality this way, we won’t be Christians that “Need the gays (gaze)” We won’t be a church that uses homosexuality as a litmus test, but instead allow us to have a conversation about sexuality ALL sexual identifications can discuss this beautiful, ambiguous, and powerful experience.

3 comments:

Margaret said...

Wait... are you saying that there ISN'T an irrevocable divide between body and spirit? But then how could Echo tell Caroline off for the fact that her spirit "vacated the premises"??? ;)

No seriously, sounds like a neat topic, and you're very right in saying that Christians suck at talking about sexuality. We need to get better at it, for sure...

I'm interested to hear more of the conference! Stop by & tell me about it sometime. :)

Dakotta said...

Queer Theory :) .. I'd have to disagree though. On one point I see your point on how these fabricated narratives can be misunderstood, but these norms play a role in how our society is today as some people do feel comfortable fitting into a majority group. To simply evolve to a ubiquitous queer model works well in an expressional society, however being goal, tangible, materialistic and the need for classification that model works well in theory. Doesn't work well for advertising! As opposed to adding an all encompassing model, perhaps we should move to an
accepting and tolerating understanding of sexuality. Let bygones be bygones.

Ruth said...

Margaret,

Well I think Dollhouse is more of a old-school Calvinist Predestination understanding of humanity (residual soul = grisly murderer or edgy compassionate activist. Although I may be wrong and that there will be a chance for redemption in Season 2. Hmm. Maybe I should watch that season? Dollhouse does in someways operates with this understanding of soul/body connection, but seems to disconnect consciousness from that. So all of the consciousnesses that are brought into the body/soul are influenced by it. Oh Joss Weedon, for such an avowed atheist you certainly know how to make the theologians ponder.

And yes, we Christians do suck at talking about sexuality. Rarely do I get all excited about the Book of Discipline, but I do love the opening language about sexuality: "We affirm that sexuality is God's good gift to all persons. We cal everyone to responsible stewardship of this gift." (UMC BoD, Para. 161,F) If they stopped there, the denomination would have been in much better shape. Thinking about sexuality as God's blessing instead of a cause of sin would be a fantastic place to start overhauling the way the conversation around sex has been framed.

We really also need to talk about sexuality in such a way that doesn't really make one group bear the responsibility for engaging the question of sexuality, but instead understanding that it is a rather pervasive part of all human experience. I think if we start with the idea that sex is a kind of connection between people that are both body and soul (and spirit?), not a conversation about rubbing certain body parts, then all of us might be able to enter this conversation.

But that's just where I'd start; where would you want to start the Christian sexuality conversation?