Intersex conditions undermine the assumptions about the clear delineation between male and female which underpin the theology of Christians that oppose women bishops.Dr Cornwall says that many contemporary theological accounts of sex, gender, and sexuality take too little heed to the existence of physical intersex conditions.“The important question is what definition of maleness the authors of The Church, Women Bishops and Provision are using, and what it is in which they believe that maleness inheres,” she writes. “Intersex disturbs the discreteness of maleness and femaleness, and might therefore also disturb the gendered roles which are pinned to them.”Dr Cornwall believes that “very little” has been written about the impact of such conditions on theology and the Church’s ministry.“Generally, there has been a growing awareness that intersex exists but not specifically theological reflection,” she said. “The pastoral concern is the big impetus for my project, but I don’t think it’s possible to do that without thinking about the theological considerations.”– full report at Church Times
In her paper “Intersex & Ontology, A Response to The Church, Women Bishops and Provision”, she argues that it is not possible to know “with any certainty” that Jesus did not suffer from an intersex condition, with both male and female organs.
In an extraordinary paper she says: “It is not possible to assert with any degree of certainty that Jesus was male as we now define maleness.
“There is no way of knowing for sure that Jesus did not have one of the intersex conditions which would give him a body which appeared externally to be unremarkably male, but which might nonetheless have had some “hidden” female physical features.”
Dr Cornwall argues that the fact that Jesus is not recorded to have had children made his gender status “even more uncertain”.
She continues: “We cannot know for sure that Jesus was male – since we do not have a body to examine and analyse – it can only be that Jesus’ masculine gender role, rather than his male sex, is having to bear the weight of all this authority.”
- Beyond Male and Female: Gender Trouble, Biology Trouble.
- How a Woman Became a Dominican Priest, and Teacher of Moral Theology.
- LGBT History Month: Queer Icons, in Faith – Jesus Christ.
- “T and Conversation”: Beyond Binary Pronouns
- Jesus ‘May Have Been Hermaphrodite’, Says Researcher (ibtimes.com)
- Orchids sheds light on the secrecy surrounding intersex (kallmannssyndrome.wordpress.com)
- Gender Character and Intersex Conditions (socyberty.com)
- Women bishops and the February General Synod (thinkinganglicans.org.uk)
- Jesus may have been a hermaphrodite, claims academic (telegraph.co.uk)