Althaus-Reid’s Indecent Theology Part II

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On Mary

“For me, if the Virgin Mary had paws instead of hands and her vagina was in her ear, thus making it easier for the Word of God, the Logos, to ‘say its Word’ and penetrate her, it would not make any theological difference. Mary is in the realm of the fantastic and phantasmagorical. Used to rape and incest in their poor overcrowded conditions of living, Latin American women are not necessarily the ones to question why a young woman needs to fulfil a vocation of accommodating God’s desire when God pleases” (39).

“Their bodies can tell stories of what happened to them as children, in their one-roomed, tin-covered huts or under the bridge of the city, stories of having been sexually molested by fathers or brothers or occasional visitors, episodes which happened in the same room where the statue of the Virgin Mary stood, beside the TV and some plastic flowers…Indecenting Mary: her virginity is the first thing that must go because poor women are seldom virgins. Theological virginity must go because it encourages hegemonic memories, false memories to be shared in the false environment of heterosexuality, while the real skeletons in the cupboard are excluded from our sharing and learning as mature people in the community” (75).

I was reminded of the tragically comic idea of converts becoming re-virginized after coming to Christianity. Of course this is usually an idea imposed on women not men. We never stop to consider how abusive this idea is especially since it is a blatant attempt to suppress the actuality of the sexual act. The amount of men and women who are sexually abused is staggering, and the church needs to seriously re-consider the appropriateness of extolling such a damaging and dangerous ideal.

On Christ the Prostitute and the Coming-Out Process as Resurrection

“I have said elsewhere that I can see Christ as a poor prostitute…People who cannot see Jesus as a prostitute refuse to consider seriously the web of sex and oppression which exists in our societies. Technically, there is no difference between seeing Christ as say, a poor miner covered in sweat and broken down by tiredness…and a young girl kept against her will in a sauna…Yet Christ embraces sexual oppression but also intimacy and good love. This Christ gives us food for thought if we consider resurrection as a coming out experience. Christ comes back to life because he loved life. A person comes out as a human being, because that person loves life so much that she has decided to come from structures of death and oppression…Christ’s resurrected presence can only be seen then as a craving, an enthusiastic passion for life and justice, in the diversity and unfenced identity which is searching for that land called Basileia by European theologians and ‘the project of liberation of the Kingdom’ by Latin Americans, in which we are called to be co-workers. We join then Christ’s resurrection with our own coming out for the obscene Christ in a per/verted Christology which reminds us of the ethical need for resurrection” (122-3).

It was Segundo who reflected on people as the crucified people. This has always been such a compelling image, but I never stopped to consider the sexual assumptions of such a theological notion. It is so much more difficult for theology to think of Christ as a prostitute. Also the idea of coming-out process as resurrection is quite powerful. For one the coming-out process is on going. People often have this quaint idea that a person comes out in the middle of town square, announcing it to everyone all at once. This is far from realistic – then again perhaps Twitter could serve such a function – as the closeted person is constantly coming out multiple times to different people. Of course the resurrection can never be separated from the crucifixion, which would analogously be the sexual oppression of queer identities. Many were complicit in the death of Christ, and many likewise refused to acknowledge the resurrected Christ. Analogously, many are responsible for the sexual oppression of marginalized sexual identities, and many likewise refuse to acknowledge and embrace the life and love of the queer person who refuses to remain dead and says Yes to life.

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