Book About Intersex Individuals Also Critiques How Conservative Christianity Idolizes the Nuclear Family, Sex, and Marriage to the Detriment of Singles and Others

Book About Intersex Individuals Also Critiques How Conservative Christianity Idolizes the Nuclear Family, Sex, and Marriage to the Detriment of Singles and Others

I skimmed the following over the other day. I still don’t have the time or a lot of interest to go back and reread it slowly, but there were a few parts of this that grabbed my attention:

(Link):  The Church’s ‘Intersex’ Challenge – How should we respond to those who don’t seem to have been created male or female? – by M. Anderson, review of a book by DeFranza

Because I have not stopped to read that page slowly, I can’t say how much in agreement I am with the author who is being reviewed, or with the criticisms of the work by the author of the page, Anderson.

The author, DeFranzapoints out how the Christian emphasis on marriage and marital sex marginalizes other groups of people, such as people who do not marry or who cannot marry, and (I’m not sure if I’m explaining her views right, but here’s an attempt), how it may be more proper and biblical to view the Trinity (as well as friendships with other Christians) through the filter of platonic relationship – socializing – rather than through a marriage paradigm.

Here were a few of the portions that I found interesting and applicable to this blog (and some introductory stuff):

  • …DeFranza is right that conservative evangelicals need to attend closely to the ways intersex individuals might challenge traditional “gender binaries” between male and female. But her book leads into a tangled theological thicket, without suggesting a workable path forward.
  • DeFranza’s book is divided into two sections. In the first, she outlines how the medicalizing of our bodies made “intersex” conditions invisible to our contemporary Western consciousness.
  • She then plumbs Jesus’s claim that “some are born eunuchs” (Matt. 19:12), suggesting that the Bible contains resources for recognizing those who do not fit the standard understanding of male and female.
  • And she provides a hasty overview of how we ostensibly went from one sex (male) in the classical period, to two in modernity (male and female), to the postmodern proliferation of sexes. (One theorist proposes five sexes, while another suggests hundreds.)
  • The book’s second half develops DeFranza’s theological response to intersex people, which emerges through her critiques of many figures, particularly evangelical theologian Stanley Grenz and Pope John Paul II.
  • Among DeFranza’s varied and sometimes incisive critiques, she argues that Adam and Eve are not so much prototypes or paradigms for “otherness,” but can be interpreted as “the fountainhead of others who may become more ‘other’ than their parents could have ever conceived.”
  • Genesis, then, is only the beginning of the narrative through which Christians understand their personal identity. As she puts it, “Sex identity as male or female may be essential to personal identity. But there are more essentials than these two.”

Here is some of the most interesting portions of the review, as it describes how Christians over-emphasize the nuclear family and sexuality, in particular marital sex, at the expense of anyone (such as celibate, hetero singles) who are not engaging in sexual activity, or who do not meet gender norms as understood or defined by conservative Christians.

In other words, what this author says of intersex adults can also be true of hetero, celibate adults, or celibate homosexuals as well – churches tend to marginalize those groups, too:

  • Space in the Kingdom

  • Not only does DeFranza’s account try to reframe how we should think about Genesis. It also has implications for our understanding of Christ, the Trinity, and the coming kingdom of God.

  • DeFranza argues that the relationships which best embody the image of God are the bonds we form in churches, rather than the bonds formed in our pursuit of sexual intimacy.

  • As she puts it, the “social imago as the ecclesiological / eschatological community is the proper image of the social Trinity,” rather than marital and procreative communities of male and female.

  • On her view, then, there is “space” for intersex people “as intersex” in the kingdom, a space that should be inaugurated here and now.

  • DeFranza also considers the possibility that Jesus himself was intersex, as an “affirmation of the full humanity of intersex persons, their place in society and in the community of faith.”

  • As she puts it, “The vision of an intersexed Christ (or of a black Christ or a female Christa) is useful for challenging the orthodoxy and hegemony of a male/masculine Christ to whom many cannot relate — either via similarity (as a male in the image of a male Christ) or via complementarity (as the female/feminine bride).”

  • Her argument is subtle, and many parts are commendable.

  • She’s right to emphasize that our “completeness” as individuals happens through the church’s sibling relationships.

  • And her claim that “marriage is not the icon of the social Trinity, but an image of divine love” is similarly helpful. Conservative evangelicals have done a poor job of articulating how different models of God’s love interact. We’ve also been susceptible to uncritically baptizing our contemporary “nuclear family” as the preeminent way of faithful obedience.

Please visit this page to read the rest of the review:

(Link):  The Church’s ‘Intersex’ Challenge – How should we respond to those who don’t seem to have been created male or female? – by M. Anderson, review of a book by DeFranza


Related Posts:

(Link): Never Married Christians Over Age 35 who are childless Are More Ignored Than Divorced or Infertile People or Single Parents

(Link):  The Bible Does Not Teach Christians to “Focus On The Family” – The Idolization of Family by American Christians (article)

(Link): The Nuclear Family Was A Mistake – by David Brooks – and Related Links

(Link): Want To But Can’t – The One Christian Demographic Being Continually Ignored by Christians | Re: Marriage Not Happening for Hetero-sexual Christians Over the Age of 30

(Link): False Christian Teaching: “Only A Few Are Called to Singleness and Celibacy”

Link): The Netherworld of Singleness for Some Singles – You Want Marriage But Don’t Want to Be Disrespected or Ignored for Being Single While You’re Single

(Link): To Get Any Attention or Support from a Church These Days you Have To Be A Stripper, Prostitute, or Orphan

(Link): The Irrelevancy To Single or Childless or Childfree Christian Women of Biblical Gender Complementarian Roles / Biblical Womanhood Teachings

(Link):  Preacher: ‘They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Hot SEX Lives’ – and once more, never-married celibate adults and their experiences, wisdom, and input are ignored

(Link): Statistics Show Single Adults Now Outnumber Married Adults in the United States

(Link):  Stop Overlooking Singles in Church By Joy-Elizabeth Lawrence

(Link):  Kerry Shook Marriage Mystery Sermon Series. Singles Ignored AGAIN.

(Link):  Preacher Whose 90% of Sermons are About How to Have a Great Marriage Warns Audience Not to Make Marriage an Idol – Kerry Shook Update and Irony Alert

(Link): The World Does Not Need More Marriage Sermons – They Don’t Stop Divorce or Get People Married

(Link): The Obligatory, “Oh, but if you’re single you can still benefit from my marriage sermon!” line

(Link):  If the Family Is Central, Christ Isn’t

(Link):  Really, It’s Okay To Be Single – In order to protect marriage, we should be careful not to denigrate singleness – by Peter Chin

(Link):  Are Single People the Lepers of Today’s Church? by Gina Dalfonzo

(Link):  Thirty Year Old Woman Kills Herself Due to Being Single and Childless – Churches contribute to this by either Ignoring adult singles or shaming them for being single and childless

(Link): Typical Erroneous Teaching About Adult Celibacy Rears Its Head Again: To Paraphrase Speaker at Ethics and Public Policy Center: Lifelong Celibacy is “heroic ethical standard that is not expected of heteros, so it should not be expected of homosexuals”