Religion of the heart : Zinzendorf's theology and its implications for sexuality in the Moravian Church today.

Date of Award


Document Type



College of Liberal Arts

Degree Name

Bachelor in Arts


This thesis examines the role of the theology of Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf (1700-60) in the discussion of human sexuality within the Moravian Church in North America today and puts forth an argument for the validity of same-sex sex from within Moravian tradition. The theology of Zinzendorf, though it manifested itself in 18th-century General Economy Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in its highly structured and participatory community, did not manifest itself fully; its otherwise egalitarian notions of sex were codified by stringent sex roles and marital status. While the theology of the side wound, through which it is understood that Christ birthed the Church and which therefore represents a female and motherly mode, validates the human state of women, Moravian society deferred to men. While all souls were considered brides of Christ, sex roles were stringent and similarly deferred to man as representative of Christ. These sex roles are, perhaps most importantly, based on a cultural understanding of sex and gender largely understood to be socially constructed rather than inherent. Through an understanding of gender as performed, it is possible within Moravian tradition to reinterpret the theology of Zinzendorf to allow for fluidity of sex roles and fluidity of gender that extends to the sex act. It is possible to use Zinzendorfs understanding of Verstand, reason used to understand the natural world, to see these stringent sex roles as unnecessary and not necessarily reflective of the nature of humanity. The set of conflicts surrounding sexuality is one in response to which the Moravian Church has the opportunity to redefine its identity, and the Church must do so within the context of its own history and theology. This thesis argues that same-sex sex viewed through a Zinzendorfian lens can achieve reflection of unity with Christ.