At this time of year, we are accustomed to numerous pleas to “Put Christ back into Christmas”. These are entirely appropriate. The commercial binge and festive eating and drinking have nothing to do with the religious celebration of the Nativity. To the extent that secular jollity has crowded out the story of Christ, we do indeed need to put Christ back into Christmas. (However, I do not deplore the secular celebrations alongside – in the northern winter, they are a welcome antidote to the cold and dark, and were a part of the established seasonal calendar long before the religious festival commandeered some of their features).
There is also a more important aspect of putting Christ back into Christmas: reinstating the place of Christ the man, not just the infant Jesus. Celebrate the incarnation, not just the nativity. As we do so, let us recall the full implications of Christ’s humanity, and of his words and actions as we have them in the Gospels, not as they have been distorted, sanitized and abused by centuries of theological and popular overlay to support human agendas.
For this last week of Advent, I want to explore Christmas as a time to reflect on the Incarnation, and it’s implications. I will be looking at the remarkable absence of Christ’s words or example in the CDF teaching on sexuality, and on homosexuality in particular. In contrast, I will consider Robert Goss’s emphasis on Christology as a turning point in the development of gay and lesbian theology towards queer theology, and the Christological models of sin and grace proposed by Patrick Chen. I will reflect on the unavoidable fact of Christ’s real, physical male body. Together with Rev Cindi Love, I will ask “Would Christ Discriminate”?
Finally, I will conclude with an appeal to bring Christ back into Christianity at the most basic, personal level – by developing a strong personal relationship, growing in spirituality, by “Taking a Chance on God.”
The first instalment, on the near exclusion of Christ from the CDF writing on human sexuality, I hope to publish later today. The rest, and possibly more, will follow at intervals during the week.