A short paper based on my presentation at the Embodied Ministry: Gender, Sexuality and Formation conference held at Ripon College Cuddesdon in July 2014 has just been published as “Identity and Formation in Theological Education: The Occasion of Intersex”, in Journal of Adult Theological Education 12.1 (2015), 4-15.
Formation towards vocation necessitates continuity and discontinuity with one’s former self. Some commentators understand the language of formation as potentially damaging given the implications of submission and ‘‘unselfing’’, though formation might also be understood as collaborative and agential. People with variant sex or gender may be particularly at risk in contexts which exhort self-emptying, given their already-threatened agency and physical and psychological integrity. However, failure to give adequate space to reflection on sex and gender identity during vocational discernment and theological education may be detrimental to all candidates for ministry, not just variant-sexed or variant-gendered ones. The concept of re-forming identity in relation to God and vocation is not necessarily psychologically sinister; however, questions of sexed, gendered and sexual identity require particularly sensitive handling in theological education institutions, since these facets of the self may be considered acutely vulnerable, especially in contexts where only some manifestations of them are deemed healthy (or even possible) in theological terms.
Keywords: identity, intersex, formation, sex, discernment, vocation.