Theologian Megan DeFranza is a bridge-builder in a war zone. As culture battles rage around issues of gender and sexuality, Megan assists Christian communities through controversial conversations related to sex, gender, and sexuality.
Listen as Megan unpacks the Relational View of the imago Dei in Part 4 of the Betwixt Podcast series, "The Image of God & the Feminine Experience." Emerging from and in response to existential thought, modern Christianity recast the imago Dei as primarily relational in nature. Humans manifest the likeness of God when they are in relationship with both God and one another.
Megan explores how the body, particularly sexuality and gender, became deeply significant within this framework. She affirms that all people are made in the image of God — male, female, and intersex – and in relationship with one another, we reveal the complexity and mystery of God.
"We were never meant to image God on our own.
We are always called into communion – into union with God.
And union with God is union with all of our siblings in Christ.”
Tracing the roots of the Relational View, this episode pays particular attention to Karl Barth's gender binary ideology as essential to the image of God. Because God (plural) created male and female in his image, Barth argues that the unity in differentiation of the male/female relationship reveals the essence of the relationality of the Godhead. While many consider this a "win" for women, DeFranza raises the question: Does this view leave out people for whom those categories are not neat or clean or clear?
“Intersex people are among the many whose voices have been silenced . . . Many don’t feel safe to admit they are intersex to begin with let alone do theological reflection.”
Sex difference and theology is at the heart of Dr. Megan DeFranza's scholarship.
She is visiting Researcher at Boston University’s School of Theology and a Research Associate with the Institute for the BioCultural Study of Religion’s Sex Differences Project.
Megan is hard at work on the forthcoming documentary film Intersex & Faith which tells the extraordinary stories of five intersex people, allowing viewers to experience what it feels like to be invisible in our culture and subject to abuse and shame simply for being born different. Their stories also illuminate unique perspectives about gender, faith, and life; perspectives which are particularly timely for a culture conflicted by questions about sex and gender.
*Special thanks to Ryvoli for sharing their music.
Thank you to these freesound.org contributors:
Heartbeatfee by LG
Baby Coo by klankbeeld
Underwater Ambiance Lake by wjoojoo
Footsteps Heels Concrete by ecodios
** Originally posted at MissioAlliance.org
*** Correction: In this episode, I said that it was doubtful that Barth and von Kirschbaum engaged a physical affair, however, the release of Barth's personal letters indicates an on-going love affair between the two. “Karl Barth and Charlotte von Kirschbaum” by Christiane Tietz in Theology Today details more about the complexities of the Barth's relationships.