I have a new post up on Political Theology Today:
The raw physicality of the covenant sign may come as a shock to those with delicate sensibilities. Perhaps it is for this reason that this week’s lection elides the part of the passage that speaks of it. Yet the fact that this foundational text pays so much attention to the foreskin of Abraham and to the womb of Sarah is a matter worthy of reflection. In opening the womb of Sarah and claiming Abraham’s flesh and sexual agency with the rite of circumcision, the bodies of Abraham, Sarah, and their descendants came to bear and to perpetuate covenant meaning.
As Paul Kahn has observed, the story of Abraham in Genesis punctures a liberal myth of the separation of private and public, of sex and politics. God’s claiming of the flesh and sexual agency of Abraham and Sarah ensures that the intergenerational project of the family can be one that sustains covenant purpose and identity and yields the promise that Abraham and Sarah will become a great nation. Sexual relations—on account of their procreative potential—are a vocation in service of a higher public purpose, turned towards the task of (re)producing covenantal and societal meaning. It is out of the love and calling of the family that politics grows: the promise of the nation cannot be detached from the claiming of the foreskin and the opening of the womb. Those who refused the covenant claim upon their sexual organ were excluded from the covenant project (v.14).
Read the whole thing here.