Unitarian Universalists have a long history of courage in tackling issues around human sexuality—from campaigning for human rights, to pioneering innovative work in the Our Whole Lives sexuality curriculum… join #UUs this month for a discussion of sex–the challenging parts, the beautiful parts, the spiritual parts, and even the downright goofy parts. UU or not, everyone is welcome to join in the conversation this month at #sexUUality
Most Sunday School offices have shelves of curriculum binders, books, and other resources. Years ago, inventorying my inherited cabinet, I found fifty-three Bibles, a half dozen recycling guides, most every UUA curriculum... and then I came across what looked like a small black laptop bag. The label on the front was something nondescript like "Educator Kit."
I unzipped the bag and laughed as a wooden "condom demonstrator" and a dozen condoms fell to the floor. Further investigation showed a wider variety of contraceptives and other resources.
In partnership with the United Church of Christ, the Unitarian Universalist Association puts a lot of resources into producing Our Whole Lives (OWL), a comprehensive sexuality education program for people at all ages and stages of life. The materials are fact-based, facilitator training is required, and there's a strong emphasis on community-building and dialogue.
In our current social climate of purity education, legislation against women's reproductive rights, and so much discrimination, faith-based sexuality education can seem a ridiculous combination.
But I assure you--this is deeply theological work. Speaking to what is most dear, most joyous, most painful in our lives--the sublime and the messy, sometimes all in the same moment. It is difficult, maybe even impossible, to embody our values without a healthy and moral understanding of our sexuality.
As a Unitarian Universalist religious professional, I am called to be a theologian. And that theology must affirm all people, with their full selves.
Unitarian minister and theologian James Luther Adams explained the qualities of liberal religion--commonly referred to as the Five Smooth Stones of Liberal Religion*.
I asked my blogging community if anyone had applied the five stones to a UU theology of sexuality- a fellow blogger quipped that it might be like adding "in bed" to your fortune... let's see how it lines up. For this exercise, I'm borrowing quick snippets from an Adult Ed resource- text in bold is either a quote or a quick restating of JLA's** key concept.
Revelation is ongoing - We are always learning more about our own sexuality, about our communities, and how we can do better at building a world where we are all affirmed for our full authentic selves. And there's definitely no single Gospel truth to sexuality. PASS.
"All relations between persons ought ideally to rest on mutual, free consent and not on coercion." AMEN. This right here is ginormous and worth every blog post I could write for the rest of my life, especially when we're talking sexuality. So much of the OWL values and sessions speak directly to this point. PASS
I'm going to group these next three, as that's how they play out in my mind...
"The moral obligation to direct one's effort toward the establishment of a just and loving community" - We are called to work for justice.
"we deny the immaculate conception of virtue and affirm the necessity of social incarnation." We can't just assume that it's all going to work out--we make it happen.
"...resources (divine and human) that are available for the achievement of meaningful change justify an attitude of ultimate optimism." There is hope, and the systems and possibilities to make that hope feasible.
The existence of OWL, the many amazing sermons and resources we have created, the important advocacy work we have done as individuals, congregations, and as an association, and the affirmations we make in our relationships with one another--these all speak to a commitment to justice and making change, with real hope and passion. PASS
This post is only a starting point--but this was a February project--the month is nearly over. I welcome questions and suggestions, knowing our truths are forever unfolding.
*You can find the full Adams essay, "Guiding Principles for a Free Faith" in the collection On Being Human Religiously. It's a dense but interesting collection. You can preview the essay here. (By the way--that Five Smooth Stones allusion was chosen by his editor. Please don't cast stones at me or James.)
**Yes, I still think Justice League of America when I see this acronym.