Sunday, April 4, 2010

The body informs theology...not the other way around

Jane Grovijahn on the impact of childhood sexual abuse:

"For a young girl victimized by another’s brutalizing touch, more than just her flesh is violated. her very self- that root of whatever we like to think makes us persons - is attacked and violated. And somewhere in that place or location of raped subjectivity, God is very much at risk. Both our relationship with God and the way we achieve personhood occurs within this ambiguity of embodiment...In other words, her sexually abused body teaches her that she is not a person before God. When this extent of spiritual diminishment is combined with traditional Christian language about sin, evil and redemption, an abused woman’s understanding of herself as powerless and without value becomes distinctly religious and rooted in a God-consciousness that all too often confirms her denigrated status. In its most graphic form, the rapability of women’s bodies - their visceral powerlessness and ravaged value - constructs and informs their religious sensibility. Let me say that another way: for childhood sexual abuse survivors, the traditional understanding of theology as faith seeking understanding, exists in direct relationship to the rapability of their bodies. Their knowledge of an experience with God is inescapably woven into their horrific vulnerability scripted onto/into their bodies” (p. 32).

Grovijahn, J. (1998). Theology as an Irruption into Embodiment: Our Need for God. Theology & Sexuality: The Journal of the Institute for the Study of Christianity & Sexuality, (9), 29-35.

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