Making a Human: A Theological Ethic of Care

“Care is the substance of right human relationship; to care rightly is to be human. ”

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Oluwatomisin O. Oredein Brite Divinity School Contact Me

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Why should Christians in the U.S. care about “care”?

Because it holds the essence of their humanity; because to care rightly is to be human.

Care is not a practice of humanity; it is a significant detail of it. It is theologically and ethically generative.

In my constructive theological work, Making a Human: A Theological Ethic of Care I frame “care” as a theo-ethical concern tied to Christian and human identity but only inasmuch as it is attentive to categories of human relationship to the divine, self, and others. Christians, especially those entangled in the various histories of the United States, should care about “care,” should care about race, gender, and other markers of marginalization because it is a theo-ethical matter not only of humaneness, but primarily of humanness. When it comes to “care,” Christians must explore the practices and categories of whiteness and racism, patriarchy, ethnocentrism, and false conceptions of community in order to do theology well. Care is a creation matter, a critical feature of theological anthropology.

Conceptually “care” as an ethical frame has been addressed in numerous disciplinary areas including but not limited to feminist, psychological, social, anthropological, philosophical, and pastoral theological registers; yet, these categories of thought primarily attend to the connective relevance of care, i.e., what caring “for” one another looks like. They do not quite reach into the foundational, theological questions of care’s relationship to human existence—of care as a state of being (caring “about” another). They do not make the connection that care in human beings reflects not only a manner of being human (being a caring human), but a theological truth (that humans are created from care to be caring beings).

Making a Human proposes a theological ethic of care as a perspectival shift in the care conversation towards a theologically-rooted interrogation of theological anthropology and Christian ethics.