Introduction. Both Flesh and Not
The introduction subtitle comes from David Foster Wallace’s book Both Flesh and Not
(New York: Little, Brown, 2012).
1. For the use of carnality to characterize the people of Judaism, see Daniel Boyarin,
Carnal Israel: Reading Sex in Talmudic Culture (Berkeley: University of California
Press, 1995). The book identifies examples of the association between women
and carnality itself. The characterization of homosexuality as “according to
the flesh” is used more explicitly in contemporary Christian rhe toric. Pope
Shenouda III cites Romans 8:1, 8:5, and 8:13. The pope associates homosexuality
with “carnality” because it is “an abnormality” and “against nature.” He writes,
“when people walked according to the lust of the flesh in the Old Testament,
they received severe punishment from God.” “Lust” becomes the key here: living
according to flesh is living lustfully. Homosexuals live according to the flesh
because “homosexual love is not love, but lust, and there is a great difference
between love and lust, lust of the flesh.” Pope Shenouda III, “Homosexuality and
the Church: An Address to the Coptic Orthodox Priests of England,” Orthodoxy
Today . org, accessed March 15, 2015, http:// www . orthodoxytoday . org / articles2
/ ShenoudaHomosexuality . php.
Another source references Romans 8:13, “If you live according to the flesh,
you will die.” The writer describes same- sex desires as “disordered and broken”;
the answer to these desires is to “kill” them. They are the result of our “sinful
natures,” which the author defines as “flesh.” (“The Bible refers to our sinful
nature as ‘the flesh.’ ”) Obedience to same-sex desires is living according to the
flesh. Nick Roen, “Orienting on Homosexual Orientation,” a blog post on Desir-
ing God, accessed March 15, 2015, http:// www . desiringgod . org / articles / orienting
- on - homosexual - orientation.
2. Hélène Cixous, “Laugh of the Medusa,” Signs 1, no. 4 (1967): 889.
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