Forthcoming lecture at Santa Clara University, Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education

As a constructive Christian theologian and theological ethicist, I was delighted to receive an invitation from the Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education at Santa Clara University to speak as part of the Bannan Institute series on Gender Justice and the Common Good. The Ignatian Center’s vision to hold together faith, justice and intellectual life accords very closely with my own. 

There has been some opposition to the invitation from people who believe that my research is blasphemous. I would therefore like to clear up some misconceptions about my work. 

First, it is claimed by protestors that I have suggested Jesus could have been a “hermaphrodite”. In fact, I have stated that it is not possible to be 100 per cent certain, without physical proof, that anyone's physiology does not include intersex elements such as genetic mosaicism (a combination of XX and XY chromosomes). Therefore, my claim was about what we cannot know, rather than a positive claim about Jesus’ biology. 

Second, it is claimed that I referred to Conchita Wurst as a Christ-like figure. In fact, I made reference to a paper by another scholar, in an academic panel to which I was scheduled to be a respondent, exploring why Wurst had been styled as a Christ-like figure and used Christ-like iconography, in the context of discussions about blasphemy and religious innovation. 

Third, it is claimed that I twist and distort biblical truth “to favour the destruction of the family and dismantle the biological reality of male and female”. In fact, my work has focused intently on “biological reality” and has queried why Christian theologies of sex, gender, sexuality and theological anthropology have so often failed to take proper account of those people whose bodies are not biologically male or female. 

I have never advocated the destruction of the family, but have called for more open, creative and inclusive accounts of family, kinship and relationship, which are informed by human biological experience, reason and Christian scripture and tradition. Such accounts underpin (for example) my work on Christian theologies of marriage. 

I am grateful for the Ignatian Center’s ongoing work and very much look forward to contributing to the series in October.