Theology is sexy. It is as simple as that. I’ll simply say that it is sexy, hot, super relevant, smack in your face and unavoidable. That is because theology is about life and the meaning of life. Theology is not only the question, but also the the answer even though the quest never ends. Just like ‘sexy’ is about being attractive, so is theology. We can of course debate the meaning I attach to the signum sexy, but I don’t want to do that. Rather, let me give you a few reasons why I believe theology is sexy and then one why maybe it isn’t.
Theology is an interdisciplinary discipline. Wherever it travels, it runs into other discourses’ territories. Thinking about creation and human consciousness it deals with biology, geology and paleontology. Seeking personal well-being of the individual it finds itself in dialogue with psychology. Advocating justice it runs into politicology and economy. Speaking out on society and missionality it addresses cultural anthropology and sociology. Neither the historical dimension nor the conversation with philosophy can be avoided. The theologian has to be a jack of all trades, a mastermind, able to inhabit numerous dwellings all over the world. Conversant with as many discourses, he brings it all together in a creative and imaginative whole. Now, that is sexy.
Together with philosophy, theology is a field-encompassing discipline. That is to say, it not only runs into other territories and not only travels through them, but starts minding their business. It is like the breath of a higher spirit that brings the various sciences and humanities to life. It has the guts to say: ‘This is what it’s all about.’ Theology even means to call philosophy to task when and where it fails (though philosophy has an equally tenacious tendency to return the favor). Yet theology goes way beyond philosophy in not only asking the question of knowability of reality but by starting with the answer. It is not satisfied with the ‘why’ and the ‘how,’ but asks the ‘who’ question. It moves from finite knowing to ultimate meaning, combining revelation with calling. I call that sexy.
Theology is not about metaphysical speculation or about figuring out the ontological structures of reality. Not everything is meant to be known. Rather, theology is about genuine hope, not as a placebo that keeps us content until we realize it was nothing but a fantasy, but a hope that is anchored in the calling from above. Humanity as a whole, but also you and I personally, are on our way to the full realization of that hope: the telos, the purpose of our existence before the face of the one who has called us to life in Christ. Isn’t that sexy?
Yet, ultimately theology is about embodiment. Making the gospel and the character of Christ a tangible reality with our bodied existence on this earth. With these bodies we are on a journey toward making this a reality. To craft such a theology demands an investment of one’s time, one’s life, one’s body in this real world of ours. As such we are on a long journey; we travel on a road on which we pay the price of famine, thirst, hardship and loneliness. For this is no mere mental exercise. Doing theology properly demands the embodiment of truth at whatever cost.
This, then, may make theology a little less sexy. ‘Sexy’ is usually not used in connection with the idea of sacrifice. Yet, what has greater attraction than the body that bears the marks of hardship on behalf of church and world?