Hey thanks! I do agree there’s a concept of enjoying something for its negative qualities of showiness and usury, and we call that “porn.” A nice tact when discussing anti-porn theology might be to say you’re against porn because naked forms are too important not to behold in person.
The Jesus teachings ask for “two or more gathered together…” It’s a radical prompt to engagement with bodies. The bodies are “gathered”—they are meant to be close.
But seeing people is certainly a divine activity. The body is the divine form! The body is a scripture in itself.
I love your provocation to develop a pro-sex Christianity, which is really to acknowledge what’s there. My journey over the past year, dribbling out in these strange articles, has been to realize that the revelation is sexual to its core. It’s restrained only by the biases of its readers. The pieces are mostly there, in scholarship, but without a conceptual framework.
A way to frame that dilemma might be: Does one need a “religion”? Does Jesus say, “I’m founding a religion and the other ones are bad.” That inherently shifts the burden to finding identifiers. What does a Christian do? How are they identified? Jesus answers this in John 13:35: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
This is an activity not directed at him. He is an example to study but the practice is happening between people. The church doesn’t know how to love. It simply is unaware of how to do that. To accept and to be with the accepted person—seems like a start. To see them for their brightest self. To hold a place for their inner divisions and wars, their self-judging, to stop.
The sex that is happening in the New testament is in allowing our spirits to mingle freely with others. I believe we can actually create telepathy, psychic connections in which personhood becomes undivided. But this also means we can export, and import, conflicts and divisions. A next stage of “religion” might be in studying how to get along.
Jesus is the radical example of this kind of sexuality—radically committed to union. I am continuing to think of his crucifixion as a sex scene—not just for David Tombs’ important case that Jesus was raped, but that the scene should be read as a sex scene with Rome as a spiritually male force. I was reviewing tonight Graham Ward’s paper “The displaced body of Jesus Christ,” drawn to this passage:
The passivity of Jesus before Jewish and Roman authorities, and the two scenes of his nakedness (stripped by the Roman guards, according to Matthew and implied by Luke, then reclothed to be stripped again for his crucifixion), set this vulnerable body to play in a field of violent power games. The sexual charge is evident in the delight taken by the soldiers in abusing his body and in the palpable sense of power created through the contrast between Pilate’s towering authority and Jesus’s submissiveness.
I could imagine S&M porn being shown in a church to study the dynamics of the crucifixion. The problem with Christianity is that it simply didn’t know anything about sex. Its knowledge of the body was almost nil. The dynamics of attraction, repulsion, power and submission, were all primitive. We don’t think of “the missionary position” as a creative and interesting sexual approach.