Days before Christmas, one liberal theologian shared that the story of Jesus being born of the virgin Mary “normalizes rape.”
Dr. Christena Cleveland, psychologist and author of “Black Liberation and the Divine Feminine,” shared an excerpt written by Marty S. in the “Black Trans Prayer Book” on her Instagram Monday, calling it “crucial work.”
Cleveland, who resigned from Duke University’s Divinity School in 2019 as associate professor of the practice of organizational studies citing “anti-Black racism,” shared the post with the content warning of sexual violence and spiritual abuse:
“I feel for Mary this Christmas season because we have normalized imbalances of power, and we often paint situations that are clear abuses of extremely disparate dynamics, as some lucky chosen blessing,” Marty S. writes in the controversial work.
“Who, in the world, would turn down their divine creator when approached to birth a holy being? If the answer is no one, then is that a choice? A real choice we can recognize, and uphold as an example of divine love? As something done for us generously by The Father?” Marty S. writes.
“We should consider how the story of the virgin Mary, in the context of imbalances of power, normalizes rape,” the writer concludes.
The Black Trans Prayer Book is described as an “interfaith, multi-dimensional, artistic and theological work that collects the stories, poems, prayers, meditation, spells, and incantations of Black Trans & Non-Binary people.”
A pastor named Mark Chase responded to the portion Cleveland chose to share.
“This is so important to grapple with, to sit in the tension of. I try to read consent back into Mary’s story, to insert it in between the lines of her encounters with God in the text, but it doesn’t always resolve,” he said. “Thank you for sharing this.”
She replied: “I hear you. I love me some mystery, especially divine mystery. But when it comes to the divine and consent, it’s been life-giving for me to believe in a God who is 100% committed to lovingly demystifying the consent process. I believe in a God who is cross-culturally, intergalactic-ly and crystal CLEAR on consent.”
Another person asked if it was figurative or literal, and Cleveland responded, “I tend to think that this very question ties me to binary thinking, which undermines my ability to truly sit with and learn from wisdom of Black trans people.”
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