The Embrace of Eros
Bodies, Desires, and Sexuality in Christianity
Publication Year: 2010
The topic of sexuality intersects directly with the most contested historical, theological, and ethical questions of our day. In this edgy yet profound volume, noted scholars and theologians assay the Christian tradition's classic and contemporary understandings of sex, sexuality, and sexual identity.
The project unfolds in three phases: contemporary assessments of the Christian tradition, new thinking about eros and being human religiously, and new perspectives on classic mysteries in light of eros and embodiment.
Published by: Augsburg Fortress Publishers
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Title Page, Copyright
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I want to acknowledge a debt of thanks to the Workgroup on Constructive Theology, which under the leadership of Serene Jones and Paul Lakeland sponsored the April 21–23, 2006, conference on sex that planted the seeds for this anthology. At that conference, some of the authors in this volume presented papers that grew into these essays. ...
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The genesis of The Embrace of Eros: Bodies, Desires, and Sexuality in Christianity was a 2006 conference attended by about fifty theologians and scholars of religion from across North America who came together to discuss how eros and sexuality have fared in Christianity historically and up to the present.2 ...
Part I. History: Engaging Eros in the Tradition
Chapter 1. The Bible and Sex
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For centuries Christians have argued about sex. The Bible figures prominently in this history of argument, perhaps more prominently than anything else in Christian traditions. Across the generations, Christians have cited biblical texts to endorse or prohibit various sexual behaviors, argued with those same texts, ...
Chapter 2. Early Christian Contempt for the Flesh and the Woman Who Loved Too Much in the Gospel of Luke
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At its origins, Christianity was deeply troubled about the role of the body and sexual expression in spiritual life (“It is well for a man not to touch a woman,” 1 Cor. 7:1). Today, however, many Christians are moving into a joyous space where sexual pleasure and intimacy are valued as a primary site of God’s presence in human community.1 ...
Chapter 3. The New Testament, Empire, and Homoeroticism
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A new acceptance of same-gender couples is now dawning in Western countries. In the United States a number of jurisdictions have begun to allow gay marriages or civil unions, and many more are likely to do so in the years ahead. ...
Chapter 4. Augustine on Eros, Desire, and Sexuality
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The theological career of Aurelius Augustinus (354–430) has so influenced the Christian tradition that one could credibly argue that no person besides Jesus himself has had more of a hand in shaping its beliefs and practices. Augustine’s views on the Trinity, creation, the nature of the church, grace and free choice, ...
Chapter 5. Thomas Aquinas on the Body and Bodily Passions
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Scholasticism exercised a profound influence on Christianity in the medieval West, and Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274) was one of its foremost figures.1 Aquinas’s writings both reflect general trends in medieval Christian thought and display a brilliance of their own. ...
Chapter 6. Humanae vitae, Sexual Ethics, and the Roman Catholic Church
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In twentieth-century documents on social, economic, and political matters, popes and the Second Vatican Council have spoken to the world with credibility and poignancy about the exploitation and oppression that fuel injustice for much of the world’s population.1 ...
Chapter 7. Reformation Views on Celibacy: An Analogy for Gay Protestants Today
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A theological perspective is shaped, to a large extent, by a person’s experience of life. It is also the case that a well-articulated theological framework can inform the interpretation of experience by providing religious categories that enable us to make sense of our lives. ...
Part II. Culture: Bodies, Desires, and Sexual Identities
Chapter 8. Passing as Male in the Academy: Dynamics of Performance and Desire
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I first realized I had been passing when I was retrieving luggage from the overhead bin of an airplane. Preparing to race to my connecting flight, I was pulling down my bag in the midst of a crush of passengers. A man touched my arm to prevent my being bashed by another bag descending from the same bin. ...
Chapter 9. “Baptizing” Queer Characters
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Since the Second World War, churchly discourse about same-sex desire has changed remarkably—in its detail and volume, in its varieties of evidence and manners of argument, but above all in its choices to “baptize” certain identities or characters, as I prefer to say.1 ...
Chapter 10. Eroticized Wives: Evangelical Marriage Guides and God’s Plan for the Christian Family
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As the clock approaches the hour of her husband’s return, a nervous housewife readies herself for his arrival. She checks herself one last time in the mirror, smoothes her hair, and practices a sultry pout. Hearing her husband’s car in the driveway, she shuffles, penguin-style, to the front door and waits. ...
Chapter 11. “Eros,” AIDS, and African Bodies: A Theological Commentary on Deadly Desires
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In Africa today, “eros” and erotic desire are linked to sickness and death. Indeed, there is an important sense in which both “eros” and erotic desire have become agents of sickness and death. This can be ascertained through two simple observations that follow from each other. ...
Chapter 12. Queering White Male Fear in the Mirror of Hip-Hop Erotics
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In his 1995 exposé entitled The Rhythms of Black Folk, Jon Michael Spencer identifies the influence of hip-hop culture among white youth as a kind of return of the repressed—a penetration of vanilla suburbs by the sounds of subjugated blackness—that demands analysis in postmodern America as a profound datum.1 ...
Part III. Reconstruction: Erotic Theology
Chapter 13. Creation as God’s Call into Erotic Embodied Relationality
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God creates. This statement represents one of the central doctrinal claims at the heart of most Christian theology. At the heart of God’s creative activity is reflected God’s relational essence, love (1 John 4:8). In its rich and multidimensional form, love is both the power and the material by which God constructs creation. ...
Chapter 14. Promiscuous Incarnation
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Incarnation and the relationship of the body to divinity has long been a theme in feminist, womanist, black, and other liberation concepts of God. The very idea that divine essence and will are somehow located in the struggles of the oppressed focuses incarnation in two related directions: ...
Chapter 15. Ecclesiology, Desire, and the Erotic
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From the Song of Songs to the present day, images of human love have been employed, even in sacred Scripture, to characterize the relationship between God and human beings. We love God, and God loves us. God, indeed, is love. But what kind of love is it that God and we are involved in together? ...
Chapter 16. Sex in Heaven? Eschatological Eros and the Resurrection of the Body
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Is there sex in heaven? Given the antierotic tendencies of Christianity historically, one might assume a resounding “No!” Nevertheless, various scholars have recently investigated how important theological figures within the Christian tradition of the past (Augustine and Dante Alighieri) might be read as answering: ...
Chapter 17. “Flesh That Dances”: A Theology of Sexuality and the Spirit in Toni Morrison’s Beloved
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In Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Baby Suggs “offer[s] up . . . her great big heart” as members of the community gather together for a weekly ritual. The ritual locus is simply known as “the Clearing.” The Clearing, an open space in the woods, serves as a place of refuge and solidarity. ...
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I had the privilege of being present at this book’s beginning: a Workgroup on Constructive Theology conference convened in Nashville several years ago.1 Fifty theologians from around the country had gathered, as we do every year, to wrestle with topics pertinent to present-day life. ...
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Biblical Reference Index
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Page Count: 368
Publication Year: 2010