The Multigendered Body of Christ

Inspired by a recent Facebook post from my friend Cynthia Nielsen I am reminded of an amazing passage by Graham Ward in his Cities of God (tied for the best book I read in 2010).

The body of Christ is a multigendered body. Its relation to the body of the gendered Jew does not have the logic of cause and effect. This is the logic which lies behind those questions, ‘Can a male saviour save women.’ This is the logic of Hegel’s description of the relationship between God and the Church.

As one who disagrees with Ward at the end of the day on same sex issues in the church, I nevertheless find his logic here compelling.

In fact I often think of Ward and this book during the service of Holy Communion, at the altar rail during the Distribution of the Elements. Frequently I will give a consecrated wafer to a woman saying, “The Body of Christ for you, my sister,” but then, before I finish that phrase, I am now giving a wafer to a man, calling him “sister.” It is a powerful reminder / suggestion to me, enacted during the liturgy, of the way sex and gender are deconstructed in the church.

Of course what I’m saying here presupposes the theology of the Three-fold Body of Christ, promulgated among others by Henri de Lubac.

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It’s all beginning to line up, Matt. Just jump on board! The “cause” needs smart and dedicated thinkers like you to help stand up against that vast and profitable machine of power and inequality! The wall was brought down between Jew and gentile, free and slave, black and white, and it is now being completely brought down against male and female. Those are old bodies that will always remain under the old laws of difference and oppression. The liberating, sacrificing, and unifying body of Christ is trans-gendered, trans-national, trans-ethnic, trans-property, knowing no rights but community and sacrifice, seeing no differences but gifts and design, existing only to be the gracious and redemptive handi-work of God’s “new” world!

Boo,

I’m already on board!

There is, however more to be on board with than this vision only, as great as it is!

All reductionisms are what I aim to avoid.

Miss you.

Peace,

Matt+

[…] Tags: Book Notes (& articles, too),liturgical theology,Me / Us,Radical Orthodoxy,theology / ecclesiology Every once and and while, when I am presiding at the altar during the service of Holy Eucharist, I will have a flash of insight into what’s really going on sacramentally, liturgically, ritually. […]

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