A lecture over the controversy of the status of gays and lesbians within the bounds of the Christian community will be held at the Benton Chapel at Vanderbilt Divinity School on Thursday, Sept. 27, with Professor Ellen T. Armour discussing different perspectives and proposing a constructive theological position that can support progressive Christian sexual politics.

No issue has proven more divisive to the Christian community in recent years than the controversy over the status of gays and lesbians within its bounds.

Should churches ordain openly-gay men and lesbian women? Should they sanction committed gay and lesbian relationships?

These debates are more than internecine disputes; they reflect and effect local, national and even global politics. Thus, much is at stake in them and in their ultimate resolution.

“God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve,” proclaim opponents of the so-called “homosexual agenda.”

Referencing these particular biblical figures not only reflects the Bible’s role in the controversy, but indexes underlying theological and theoretical issues. Heterosexuality, the slogan asserts, is grounded in divinely ordained nature while homosexuality violates the natural order and thus the will of its author. Contemporary theorists, however, call into question the relationship between sex/gender, sexuality and nature that this theological claim presupposes.

In her lecture, Professor Armour will draw on these theoretical perspectives to move toward a constructive theological position that can support progressive Christian sexual politics.

Armour received her undergraduate degree in humanities from Stetson University and a M.A. and Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University. After 16 years at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn., she returned to Vanderbilt in 2006 to join its faculty.

In addition to her teaching responsibilities, Professor Armour currently directs the Carpenter Program in Religion, Gender and Sexuality. Her research interests are in feminist theology and continental philosophy of religion. Her work draws on contemporary theories of sexuality, race, gender, disability and embodiment and seeks to highlight religion’s importance to such theoretical projects.

She is the author of Deconstruction, Feminist Theology, and the Problem of Difference: Subverting the Race/Gender Divide (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999) and co-editor of Bodily Citations: Judith Butler and Religion (Columbia University Press, 2006). She serves as co-editor for theology for Religious Studies Review and on the editorial board of the Bulletin de la Société Americaine de Philosophie de Langue Française.

Her current book project, tentatively entitled Signs and Wonders: Theology after Modernity, will diagnose and craft a theological response to the shifts in our understanding of "man" and "his" others (sexed/raced, animal and divine) as modernity declines.

The Carpenter Chair in Feminist Theology is a gift to Vanderbilt Divinity School from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation. The generosity of the Carpenter Foundation has created three Carpenter Chairs, the Carpenter Scholarship and the Carpenter Program in Religion, Gender and Sexuality at the Divinity School. Amy-Jill Levine is the Carpenter Professor in New Testament Studies and Bonnie J. Miller-McLemore is the Carpenter Professor in Pastoral Theology.

Event Information:

Thursday, Sept. 27, beginning at 4 p.m.
Benton Chapel
Reception immediately following
Tillett Lounge
Vanderbilt Divinity School
Please reply to 615-322-4205 by September 21
Parking available in Wesley Place Garage 

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