Volume 39, Issue 2, Fall/Winter 2019
Is There No Gomorrah?
Christian Ethics, Identity, and the Turn to Ecclesial Practices: What’s the Difference?
Ecclesial practices have long served as a resource in and for Christian ethical scholarship; drawing on both the postliberal tradition and critical identity studies, a number of contemporary theologians and ethicists have turned to ecclesial practices as a liberative resource for marginalized identities and oppressed communities. Through a close reading of two contemporary examples of this ethical approach, this essay outlines and critically examines how Christian identity, belonging, and practice function discursively, subsuming difference into religious sameness, in ways that perpetuate the systemic and social injustices they aim to address and combat. Drawing on recent critiques of the theo-ethical turns to practice by Katie Grimes and Lauren Winner, and on feminist philosopher Lynne Huffer’s ethics of narrative performance, this essay proposes a more critical attention to difference for and within ethical turns to Christian practices, and begins to outline potential paths forward.