Embarrassing things can happen when one teaches a course on sex. Not long ago, I was standing and talking with a colleague in my college’s mailroom, a major campus thoroughfare. Suddenly, from one end of the room and above the hum of conversations, I heard one student yell to another, “What do you have next?” From the opposite end of the room came the shouted reply, “Sex with Duffy!” Fortunately, enough students know what I teach that this brought scattered laughter rather than looks of horror, but I was glad the room was not filled with visitors to the campus.
Occasional moments of embarrassment or discomfort can also happen during class discussions, of course; talking about some of the most intimate issues of life can be tricky. But, for me and for the small group of students that gathers with me each fall to explore these things, it is worth it. Occasional discomfort means little in the midst of the growth in self-understanding and the cultural insight we gain as we work hard to make sense of this thing called sex.
Making sense of sex is not always easy. After all, sex puzzles. It puzzles, it mystifies, it perplexes. It thrills and enlivens and inspires. It can take us to wonderful emotional highs and send us to deep and despairing lows. It can sustain or improve or wound our relationships. I teach a course on sexual ethics to try to provide students with a safe, constructive and confidential space to ponder all of this. We acknowledge the presence and the power and the puzzling nature of sex and sexuality in our human lives, and we work to grasp its meanings.
After teaching this course a dozen or so times over the last 20 years, I decided to write a book that would examine as frankly and in as much depth as possible the moral issues (the puzzle pieces) relevant to single adults as they ponder whether or not to have sex with a particular partner. In addition, I worked hard to do all this in the style students constantly requested, namely, without preaching or trying to prescribe answers to the reader. Making Sense of Sex explores many issues, including the nature and importance of informed consent, the use and abuse of power, the reader’s faith journey and view of the Bible, promises we make to ourselves and to others, and the broad question of how one wants to treat other people that one meets along this life journey. And the heart of my approach is enabling the reader to solve the puzzle of sex for herself or himself.
Many people have generously allowed me to use stories from their lives in an attempt to help all of us see clearly. I am grateful to them for their participation in this project, and I know that their openness will offer the reader a unique and affirming experience. I hope you will enjoy Making Sense of Sex.
Making Sense of Sex
Responsible Decision Making for Young Singles
By Michael F. Duffy
Available @ www.TheThoughtfulChristian.com
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