My particular, professional, interest involves the Moravians, an oft overlooked group of radical Christian missionaries who transgressed many boundaries, considered sacrosanct by Anglo-Protestants, in the pursuit of mission. The Moravians came from the old proto-Protestant group known as the Unitas Fratrum, or the Unity, which spawned in the Hussite Wars of the 15th century. The Moravians were reconstituted and given a particular energy by the eccentric, and profound, Christian preacher and prince, Count von Zinzendorf. His theology, connections, and drive were apart of the Moravian evangelical zeal that took the world by storm in the 18th century.
Zinzendorf was a Pietist and a Lutheran, of sorts, but he differed significantly. This shift originally started with Zinzendorf's disagreement with the Pietist establishment at Halle over the nature of conversion. Unlike other Pietists, Zinzendorf did not believe one needed to feel despair and the conviction of sin. Instead, as he himself testified, one might be enclosed by grace before one recognizes sins. While some may feel despair before they are lifted up by grace, this was not universally applicable. One was a Christian whether or not one felt agony and pain over their state of abandon. What was more important was the force of grace, the knowledge that God, in Christ, was indeed the Savior of all mankind.
This break was furthered by other developments. Zinzendorf possessed a different kind of anthropology than most of the Protestant establishment at the time. In a kind of Eastern twist, Zinzendorf believed in a kind of recapitulation, where Christ restored the honor and health of all stations of life through His Incarnation. As per Gregory Nazianzen, what was not assumed was not healed, thus Christ took up all of Human nature. Zinzendorf rejected Original Guilt, as infants were restored to grace through the life of Christ in His own infancy.
What this produced was a more "fleshy" anthropology that valued the Human body and did not devalue it as hopelessly corrupt. Life in the flesh could be the conduit for life in the Spirit, and one did not deny one's Humanity in order to be a Christian. Thus, in Zinzendorf's interpretation of Christ's incarnation as a male and His circumcision, we ought to value the Human penis as something that is redeemed. Contrary to some Eastern fathers who thought sex organs were a concession to weakness (pace Gregory of Nyssa), Zinzendorf promulgated a fully sexed Humanity as part of God's good creation.
Before continuing with the theme of the title of this post, let me elaborate upon Zinzendorf's, and subsequent Moravian, theology. Zinzendorf argued for a sanctification of Humanity, which included our body. But he was no hedonist or one who argued for love of worldly pleasures. As per his theology, Moravians maintained sexual segregation as a means to stay focused on mission. The Moravians appreciated the full Humanness of God in the flesh, but did not mistake this as a means to indulge. The Moravians subjugated their bodies for the purposes of preaching the Gospel. Unlike most other Protestants at the time, the Moravians gave value to singleness, but, like other Protestants, also emphasized the good of marriage. In both cases, Moravian doctrine contextualized both as means for mission. Marriage was a kind of partnership in order to reach more peoples, both male and female. This empowered women as ministers to other women, where men would mostly keep to other men. This gendered segregation of mission was quite effective in the Americas.
Anyway, Zinzendorf promoted a kind of reverence of the maleness of Christ through His male organ. While this might sound disturbing or a like a phallus cult, that is only our own Anglo sensibilities speaking. What Zinzendorf did was only recover a most developed anthropology that we see burgeoning, in some ways, during the Renaissance. In that period, art and statuary of the crucifixion depicted Christ, naked, with an erection. This was not blasphemy or profanation. The point of the art was to proclaim that Christ possessed full control and full virility. Even in what might be considered His most humiliating moment, Christ was victorious. His erection was a sign that the powers of evil could not emasculate Him (as the cross could be construed as a phallic symbol). Rather, Christ was the conqueror of all the evils behind the Romans and Jewish elite, yea, even Death.
We ought to cultivate a kind of appreciation for the penis of Christ in the same way. It ought not shame us that our God took upon the fullness of Human nature, including our sexed identity. Too often, the Christ we are presented is a kind of de-sexed, ethereal individual. This is akin to how modern German theology described Christ as a kind of "beautiful soul", beyond the dirt and sweat of normal Human existence. To some this was a mark of praise, to others (Nietzsche) this was a mark of scorn. But the truth is beyond such.
While there are quite a few preachers who have emphasized, to an idiotic degree, Jesus' manliness by confusing it with cultural visions, they are not completely blameworthy. Rather, they are merely the resultant pendulum swing that made Jesus into some de-sexed, yea, even feminized, individual, reflecting a deficient piety that disinclined men towards kneeling before the King of Kings. Lest we be swept away by emasulated masculinity per our age, or be taken into the machismo of "punch you in the nose" UFC pseudo-piety, hopefully the very fact of our Lord's penis keeps us grounded. This is a strange thought, I admit as much, but it is necessary for us to preserve a healthy understanding of both the Incarnation of God and ourselves.
Yes, in Paradise, we will be as the angels, and we will no longer be given in marriage. Heaven will not be an orgy of any kind. However, nowhere in that passage does it say we cease to be the sexed beings that we are in the present. In the drama of the full Incarnation (which includes crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension), both men and women are redeemed. May we see as such as we continue our pilgrimage through this life.