A friend of mine just posted something about gender and embodiment in his blog
, and that got me thinking about something I've been discussing with some friends recently.
I saw TransAmerica with a friend of mine last Saturday (which I recommend), and because of that and some other things, I began thinking some about our resurrection bodies, and what they will be like. For example, for someone who is transgendered (let's say a male-to-female transgendered person), they would probably want their resurrection body to be that beautiful female body they've always craved for themselves.
But is that what happens in the afterlife? I think there are a few things to consider.
1) Jesus' resurrection body. Okay, so if we base what resurrection bodies are like on the biblical accounts of Jesus' resurrected body, our resurrection bodies will be somehow both continuous and discontinuous with our current physical nature
. We won't be easily recognizable (e.g., Mary, Emmaus travelers, etc.), and we'll be able to walk through walls, and appear and disappear at will. But on the other hand, we still will be somewhat/eventually recognizable (again, Mary, Emmaus travelers, etc.), and will also be able to eat physical food (love that seaside fish meal).
2) It doesn't seem right that in the afterlife we just get the body we've always thought we wanted. Mostly, in my opinion, this is because the way we think about bodies and physical beauty in this world is very broken. It seems wrong to think that a woman who has always hated the shape of her thighs will suddenly in heaven have the exact thighs she's always desired. Or that a man who lamented his scrawny arms will in the afterlife be some kind of bodybuilder. This, to me, would be an example of our brokenness winning the day. And that won't happen. And plus, as a friend of mine pointed out, it's pretty self-centered to focus on how we will be in the afterlife. Will we really be thinking about the shape of our chin, our extra belly fat, our chicken legs, or our big ears when we are in the presence of the One, Great, Good, God? That does seem kind of odd. But there's also the question of people with physical/developmental disabilities. Will they be without disabilities in the afterlife, or will they be the same, but suddenly the disabilities will not appear to be as such?
3) When I asked another friend: "What do you think our resurrection bodies will look like? Will they be the bodies we've always wanted, or will we look basically the same but suddenly be able to fully enjoy the beauty of the body God created for us, or will we just be our most true selves?" She responded: I don't think those are the right questions. And I kind of agree with her. There probably are different questions to be asking about this. But these are my questions for now.
So far my conclusions are: No, we will not just get the body that in our woundedness we have always thought we wanted. Yes, we will somehow have some continuity with our current bodies. Yes, our current bodies are part of who we are and matter. And finally, it's probably not the most important thing because in the presence of the God of the universe, does it really matter?