Original Research

Kenōsis in sexuality

David T. Williams
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 34, No 1 | a734 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v34i1.734 | © 2013 David T. Williams | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 20 April 2012 | Published: 26 March 2013

About the author(s)

David T. Williams, Centre for Theology and Religion, University of Fort Hare, South Africa


Recent decades have witnessed both a shift in sexual standards, and the loss of the Biblical authority which has traditionally motivated them. This has been the case even with Christians. It is therefore necessary to suggest a new motive for morality, especially in this area. A possibility is the idea of the imitation of Christ, adopting the principles on which he acted, which can be summed up as kenōsis, or self-limitation. Jesus was fundamentally limited through being incarnate; human beings are likewise limited, also with regard to their sexuality. Jesus adopted the practice of self-limitation, seen in his humility; Christians, in imitation of him, likewise should practise self-limitation. Indeed, the manifestation and practice of sexuality is fundamentally limited in any case by its very nature. If the principle of kenōsis is applied in the areas of marriage and divorce, and in related issues such as homosexuality or chastity, it serves to underpin what is a traditional set of practices in a way consistent with a Christian world-view.


Kenōsis; sexuality; marriage; divorce; homosexuality


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