Is Asking A Question Judgement? or Is It Time To Bury Sunday School pt.13

I deliberately didn’t say whether or not I have participated in an OWL program. That was not the purpose of the post.  The purpose of the post was to ask the question of whether sexuality education, in and of itself, was religious education.

To go even further, what I was asking was what do we offer new UUs, many of whom have little/no religious background, in the way of theological education. How can you ask people to ‘build their own theology’ when they don’t know the varieties of theologies/theo-logical experiences that are out there? 

But…if you wanna to go there…I took two human sexuality classes when I was an undergraduate (back when I thought I was going to go for a grad degree in social work). And let me tell you, anatomy was the focus of about 20% of those two class. The rest of it was about everything else, just like OWL. So let’s not kid ourselves, the secular world does actually talk about everything when it comes to sexuality curriculum.  It’s not as if values are only a religious thing.

But this brings up a different issue…why is it assumed that I’m attacking, or taking aim at, OWL? Is asking a question attacking? I thought I was adding a new element to the conversation…guess I was wrong.

But I’m going to ask the question again; is sexuality education, in and of itself, religious education?

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4 thoughts on “Is Asking A Question Judgement? or Is It Time To Bury Sunday School pt.13

  1. I agree with Paul, based on how you phrased it. In the same way, visiting a church is not in and of itself religious (you could be there as a tourist, to use the bathroom, to attend an art show, etc), reading the Bible is not in and of itself religious (maybe you’re reading it to learn about plant life in ancient Palestine, or to teach yourself Greek, or you’re an atheist who just likes the stories), and so on. Arguably nothing is ever in and of itself religious: religiousness is a value we assign to activities/objects based on context. If I listen to a bell choir perform Pachabel’s Canon in D at a secular summer festival, I appreciate it as an aesthetic experience, but that same choir performing the same piece at church on Sunday morning also inspires more distinctly religious feelings in my due to the setting and circumstances. Likewise, AYS or OWL presented in a secular forum at a local community center likely wouldn’t seem particularly religious to me, but AYS/OWL in a church setting, hosted by the church, for members of the church, communicates to me that I am to take religious as well as educational meaning from the program, and that causes me to relate to the information I am given in a different way.

  2. Is *anything*, in and of itself, religious education?

    Nothing, in and of itself, is a religious education.

    There are too many things that could be. Perhaps that should be.

    Religion is about being part of something larger than oneself, of being bound together, of being more whole (perhaps even whole), because of it. Sexual education is *certainly* part of that. So would education about financial affairs. It’s a question of how our shared values (and we have those, regardless of how differently we may come to them) call us together, and to act together. So… how and what do those values inform us about sex, relationships, finances, ethics, and (reflexively) how we are together?

  3. Kim wrote:
    -snip-
    “But … if you wanna to go there … I took two human sexuality classes when I was an undergraduate (back when I thought I was going to go for a grad degree in social work). And let me tell you, anatomy was the focus of about 20% of those two class. The rest of it was about everything else, just like OWL.”

    Kim – so the secular college class that you took in college was just like an “Our Whole Lives” class combined with the Unitarian Universalist “Sexuality and Our Faith Supplement”?

    You talked about UU religious values (e.g. UU principles and other theological writings) as they relate to human sexuality?

    And you talked UU religious history and its connection to our denominational social justice work connected to human sexuality issues such as BGLT rights, reproductive choice, gender equality, and access to sexuality education?

    If you’re saying that the secular program is pretty much identical to the “Our Whole Lives – Sexuality and Our Faith” program, I’m pretty impressed that a secular university would teach all of this Unitarian Universalist content.

    Perhaps there is a small difference between the program being offered at the secular college setting and what we offer in our congregations? And maybe the comparison between your college class and the OWL – Sexuality and Our Faith program is an “apples and oranges” comparison.

    Keep in mind that the OWL program that we offer in our congregations is not just the OWL program. OWL by itself is an excellent secular sexuality education resource and an example of our denomination offering one of the best programs to the wider secular community.

    Then Kim wrote:
    -snip-
    “So let’s not kid ourselves, the secular world does actually talk about everything when it comes to sexuality curriculum. It’s not as if values are only a religious thing.”

    I’m sure that there are some excellent sexuality curricula out there besides what we offer in our congregations that speak about values.

    But the secular sexuality educators that I’ve worked with from Planned Parenthood and SIECUS (Sexuality Information and Education Council of the US) routinely mention that the Our Whole Lives curricula are among the best ones available (not best “religious sexuality education” — our stuff is among the best in the secular world for this topic).

    So we take one of the best available sexuality education resources available and combine it with supplemental materials that connect the issue to UU values.

    I doubt that this unique combination of an excellent sexuality program with UU theology is something that we would find at the local college or in other secular educational settings.

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