Human flourishing and theology of the body
Currently, the trend we see in both youth ministry and the church at large in regards to issues of physical behaviors (especially, but not exclusively, sexual) is one of policing said behaviors in isolation from a larger holistic theological context. When we talk about sexuality or homosexuality we have thus far attempted to do so in a sort of theological vacuum that is void of a baseline agreement on inherit and inalienable worth and goodness of the divinely created being. Based on personal experience in the field, as well as current research, we believe this is ineffective in large part because it lacks a substantive underlying “so what” that provides a fuller understanding of God’s design for covenantal relationships—sexual and otherwise. Without a comprehensive “theology of the body,” youth ministries and the church at large will continue to function in a fearful and reactionary mode to issues of sexuality, sexual practice, health and wellness, etc.
In order to develop a truthful and useful theology of the body, we must first learn processes of theological reflection, which requires and may grow out of a deeper literacy (or perhaps a “theology of the Book,” which in turn will inform a “theology of the Body of Christ” or the rebirth of the church as we know it.) Some possible avenues for this may be a theology of personhood workshop—a guided tour, if you will, among community—rather than just a book. One of the end goals will be to create a mechanism that disallows quick and shallow answers to difficult questions but instead requires reflective responses. Being able to offer reflective theological responses to questions that up to now have either received pat answers (don’t touch, don’t taste, don’t do) or silence (we don’t talk about that here) will require.
Train and Educate:
Resources that exist:
The Center for Youth Ministry Training (CYMT) recently received a $1.19MM grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., to fund the next phase of the Innovation Laboratory. The grant will enable CYMT to strengthen the Innovation Lab by building on what we learned from our original cohorts and tweaking our process and strategy for greater impact.
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