Friday, December 23, 2011

Flesh (John 1:14a)

And the Word became flesh…                                                                                                        
                   John 1:14a

We queer folk have a deep ability to live in our bodies. We celebrate and enjoy embodied existence. We love to touch and feel and know through our skin. We also drink in being touched and being known through the flesh. I tingle when the nerve endings clustered around my anus are stimulated. It is a thrill. To appropriately enjoy the God-given pleasures of the body is as much an act of spiritual discipline as is prayer. 

The Sacred apparently had no problems with the body. Not only did God fashion creation for embodied existence, but the writer of the Gospel according to John describes how the Sacred chose to become embodied in creation. The swirl of frosty morning air in the lungs, the feel of moist earth under bare feet, the smell of wildflowers on the wind, the refreshing splash of cool water on a hot face, all  these sensualities of the flesh celebrated by the Sacred. According to the christian story by being fleshed up God’s benevolence became more fully accessible.

Some people seem to be divorced from their bodies. The pleasures they derive from the body appear to cause great grief and turmoil. Certain philosophies have gone so far as to burn the bridge between body and soul. As if they are not one and the same entity. This thinking emphasizes the content of the mind over the content of our character.  Pornography runs rampant as we desperately seek the union of bodily pleasure and soulful existence. We have learned that soul without body is empty and unfulfilled.

Embodied existence is tricky. Some queer brothers and sisters need to examine closely their relationship to their own bodies. Our addiction to toned muscles and zero percent body fat is as dangerous as the split between body and soul. It moves the emphasis from the content of our character to the content of our bodies. This shift is problematic as it allows us to share physical pleasure without the deeper connections of heart and soul. Without this connection we are left wanting. We have learned that flesh without soul is empty and unfulfilled.

If later christian storytelling is accurate the Sacred had no problem with the flesh. Abiding with and becoming embodied so that the church could say Jesus was fully human and fully divine. As a queer I hear in this story that for the Creator the body is not a location of shame or of sin. Rather, the body and bodily experiences are rich enough to enflesh the Holy. 

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