Shame(full): Theology and the Impossibility of Sex

A four-week course that will undertake a unique exploration of sex and sexuality, examining the various elements that contribute to our theological understanding of sex and offers novel ways to think about it. We will dig down into the classic challenges surrounding sex and sexuality in Christian theology and culture-from Adam and Eve to St. Paul; from Christian conservatism to liberal inclusion. We will look at changing attitudes towards sex and sexuality both in and out of the church; the relationship between theology and desire; between sex and spirituality. Bringing together theology, philosophy, psychoanalysis and cultural anthropology, we will shape a theology framework for re-thinking sex in the 21st century church.
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Sex Ed

Sex. Such a small word, but one loaded with so much meaning, dimensionality and complexity. It seems as though virtually every conversation in the world of theology eventually finds its way back to the issues and challenges around sex and sexuality. Whether it’s debates over gender, sexual orientation, pre-marital, casual, or marital sex, sexual ethics, or morality, Christians seem obsessed with all things sex and sexual.  It always seems to come back around to sex.

Deep Impact

Deeply impacted by asceticism and negation of the flesh, Christianity has long considered sex the greatest challenge to spiritual growth. Debates have raged for ages as opposite ends of the spectrums voraciously defend their positions. Conservatives advocate marriage-based sex between men and women. Liberals function with theological inclusion as a banner and argue against the literal interpretations of biblical views on sex and sexuality. 

Different Questions

What if we were to ask different questions about sex and sexuality: Is sex, is sexuality, the object or the obstacle of our emancipation? The damage done has been well-recorded. The guilt and shame of sexual ‘sins,’ the deep scars from being exposed to naive moralizing around purity and abstinence, and the simplistic prohibitions handed down with little regard for changing social and cultural developments about human sexuality.  Time for new questions and a new conversation.

4-Week Outline

What this conversation is all about

Sex is where our greatest vulnerabilities and concerns co-exist. Sex-from the Latin, sexus-simply the two categories male/female that most species fall into. But that’s only part of the story. Sex-act; sexual difference; sexual perversion; sexual taboo. Sex is a site for many contested issues. It is where our morality and our flesh meet, where our ethics and our ideals are tested, where our deepest desires are expressed. Lacan said that sex was our brush with the Absolute.  Yet we speak of it in binary terms that, to put it lightly, is a complete insult to our humanity and our experience as well as diminishes the significance and beauty of sex and sexuality, in general.

Over four weeks, we are going to explore concepts of sex and sexuality within theology, philosophy and how this all has been talked about and decreed within churches and faith communities, the damage and trauma it has left in its wake and some ways forward to talk about sexual ethics from a faith perspective in a way that is actually worthy of it. 

What you can expect

  • This course starts LIVE Thursday, October 15th at 12pm PST via zoom.
  • For those who can't make the LIVE lecture it will be posted to watch at your leisure on our learning platform.
  • If you are purchasing this course after it has started you can go through the course from the beginning and still interact with the instructors in the archive learning section of each week.
  • Each weekly lecture lasts for about an hour or so and there will be a time of Q&A to further engage the content and instructors.
  • There are no assignments, but you can expect sessions packed with content as well as recommended reading and resources.
  • Check out some of our social media content on this course here.
  • Check out our podcast on this course here.

Barry Taylor

Co-Director of H&Co, a theologian-philosopher, musician, artist, academic and writer who has spent more than thirty years challenging traditional notions of religion and church and creating alternative communities built on the idea that life is uncertain, the future is unwritten and that none of us has the answer.

More on Barry here

Maria French

Maria is Co-Creator of H&Co.  The tenure of her career has been in theological education, as both professor and administrator.  Maria also has also worked in ministry, church planting and denominational leadership. She is focused on faith and culture, offering new forums for faith that are viable and sustainable for an uncertain future. 

More on Maria here

"An intellectual person is a person who's found one thing that's more interesting than sex.”

-Aldous Huxley