There are many, different oppressions throughout human society that are intricately woven together and interconnected. Many of these oppressions are formed within a patriarchal, Christian theology and involve the body: the body of Earth, the bodies of women, the body of animals. Sallie McFague sets up a model of bodies to help break these connected oppressions. McFague’s work emphasizes that the body and its oppressions are what connects Christian theology, feminism, and ecology. Her model focuses on the metaphorical idea that the body of the earth is the body of God (McFague, 1993).
To better understand this model, we must first examine how bodies have been viewed and affected within the Christian religion framework of our western culture. Christianity has a long tradition of focusing on embodiment. Its basic practices and ideas of incarnation, Christology, the Resurrection, and the Eucharist, even the metaphor of the church being the body of Christ, all involve embodiment in some way (McFague, 1993). Yet, with these embodiment characteristics of Christianity, this religion still devalues nature and women’s bodies. It has set up a patriarchal framework for western culture of devaluing the body, and women. “Western culture and religion have a long, painful history of demeaning the female by identifying her with the body and with nature, while elevating the male by identifying him with reason and spirit” (McFague, 1993). This idea reinforces stereotypes that oppress women and separates the body from the mind and soul. Until we reconcile this disconnect of the body and mind, we cannot fully love all bodies; this leads to the inability to love the “body” of the earth (McFague, 1993). Without this love, we cannot fully appreciate nature and all of God’s creation. McFague argues that until we work within a theology that values the body and claims that bodies matter, we will not be able to unite Christianity, feminism, and ecology:
What if, with Christianity, we accepted the claim that the Word is made flesh and dwells with us; with feminism, that the natural world is in some sense sacred; with ecology, that the planet is a living organism that is our home and source of nurture? What if we dared to think of our planet and indeed the entire universe as the body of God? (1993)
Christians have traditionally seen God, the earth, and the people on it as three separate, disconnected things. This traditional view creates a hierarchy of all things spiritual, heavenly, and eternal exalted above all earthly, bodily, material beings (McFague, 2008). This dualistic thinking leads to Christians, and ultimately Westerners, to believe in “an understanding of salvation as the escape of individuals to the spiritual world” and builds a sense of neglect for this world that God created (McFague, 2008). This devaluement of Earth causes us to degrade the planet and ultimately harm others on it with our wasteful, energy intensive lifestyles. To imagine the body of...