23
Feb
09

Sex and the UMC

As my father so aptly commented, “Now, this should get interesting! Stay tuned…”

General Board of Church & Society announces series on ‘Sex and the Church’

‘Theology of Sexuality’ will lead off monthly series in agency’s e-mail newsletter Faith in Action.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United Methodist General Board of Church & Society (GBCS) will present a series of articles that address critical aspects of human sexuality. The series, “Sex and the Church,” will run in GBCS’s electronic newsletter, Faith in Action, and will begin March 2 with “The Theology of Sexuality.”

Bishop Deborah Kiesey, GBCS board of directors president, and Jim Winkler, the social justice agency’s chief executive, issued a joint statement announcing the monthly series.

“We see it almost every day in the news in one way or another: HIV & AIDS; rising divorce rates brought on by marital infidelity; teen pregnancy; homosexuality and homophobia. The topic is sexuality,” their statement says. “It is important for us and the Church to address this issue and its impact on all of us.”

“Sex and the Church” will provide theological, educational, scientific and sociological sustenance along with specific questions for dialogue and discernment, according to Kiesey and Winkler.

Kiesey and Winkler point out that the United Methodist Social Principles describe human sexuality as “God’s good gift to all persons.” “Yet we also know that on this the Church has often remained silent or been too polarized,” they declare. “So GBCS has recruited some outstanding resource people to share their expertise on a number of key topics within the framework of human sexuality.”

Dr. Traci West, professor of Ethics and African American Studies at Drew University Theological School, Madison, N.J., wrote the series lead-off article, “The Theology of Sexuality.” West leads sexual ethics seminars and participated in a study that concludes seminaries in the United States are not adequately preparing future clergy to deal with sexuality issues despite ongoing debates within their denominations, particularly on homosexuality.

“Sexuality has to do with the way in which our bodies, our spirit and our mind respond to other people and to the way we understand our bodies as sensual,” West said.

Among other scheduled articles in the series are “Teaching Abstinence in a World Awash with Sex,” “The Myths of Sex: Sex, HIV and Gender,” “Cheaters Think They Prosper: Myths about Marital Infidelity,” “Politics of Sex,” “What Every 21st Century Parent Needs to Know,” “Surviving Rape,” “A Black Woman’s Guide to Sex and Spirituality,” “Clergy Living with AIDS and the Role of the Church,” and “Young People Speak out About Sex!”

Contributors to the series comprise persons from around the world. They include U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.); Kay Warren of Saddleback Church; Dr. Pauline Muchina, UNAIDS; the Rev. Debra Haffner, director of Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice and Healing; the Rev. Steven Baines of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice; the Rev. Gideon Byamugisha of Uganda; and Dr. Hamilton Mvumelwano Dandala of South Africa.

Mike Ratliff, director of the United Methodist Division on Ministries with Young People, and James Richie, author of denomination resource materials on sexuality, will collaborate on the April article: “Sexuality in the Church — Best Practices.”

Linda Bales, director of the Louise and Hugh Moore Population Project at GBCS, is coordinating “Sex and the Church.”

Kiesey and Winkler point out that sexuality plays a pivotal role in everyday lives. “It is an intrinsic part of our personhood and should be treated as sacred,” they say. “We are excited about this series because it will help provide needed education to our children and ourselves. We anticipate it may restore relationships, create new healthy ones and perhaps move people to act.”

At the very least, they say “Sex and the Church” can generate dialogue for United Methodists as they try to honor the sacredness of this important part of living.

“We invite you to read each article and encourage others to do the same,” their statement says. “And as always we welcome and appreciate your comments.”

Faith in Action appears on GBCS’s website, http://www.umc-gbcs.org. Information on how to obtain a free subscription to the newsletter, which provides a roundup of education, advocacy, analysis and commentary on social justice issues, is available on the website.

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