Sex and Religion Class Offered Fall Semester

By Alyssa Weston

The Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies will offer a Sex and Religion class beginning in the fall 2018 semester, with Associate Professor Michael Jerryson at the forefront.

Jerryson said the idea for the class came to be when he noticed scriptures or important religious leaders seemed to “make the rules” around sex and the ways they understand sexual relationships to be.

“I thought it would be a wonderful way to devote an entire course to exploring not just one religion, but many of them throughout the centuries,” he said. “[Also,] how they have treated and talked about sexual relations and how it affects the way in which we as people negotiate our intimacy levels.”

Jerryson said the course will take information from books such as Sexuality and World Religions and The History of Sexuality. It will focus on what is considered normal or authorized and some of the minority practices that exist in different religious cultures.

He said learning objectives include identifying how two different religions’ traditions have prescribed and policed sexual appetites and behaviors. Students will reflect upon how religious beliefs have affected sexual relations in the United States and analyze how religious conceptions of gender and orientation have shaped the ways in which we understand and perceive sexual activities.

As of right now, the class is designed as a testing ground. Jerryson said if things go well and he feels the class is well received, he plans to make it a regular course that will be offered to the religious studies department in the future.

Although the class is geared toward religious studies majors, it can serve as a general education credit for non-majors. Jerryson said all of the religious studies classes are set up so students don’t need any background in religious studies to take them.

Jerryson said he wants students to take away an understanding on how to observe their own behaviors and not just study other people.

“I’m hoping that students will become cognizant in the ways in which we have been shaped in our day to day practice, looking at how religion has shaped the way we see sex and what is permissible and what is not permissible, and how this view of what is right and wrong has been fluid and has not been the same throughout the centuries,” he said.

Brianna Stelk, kinesiology and sports science major, said the class could be very beneficial to people who are already religious.

“I would probably recommend it because it seems very interesting,” she said.

Josh Mansfield, sophomore religious studies major, said he would be interested in taking the course and thinks it is good to learn about how different religions view sexual behavior.

Mansfield said non-religious studies majors should consider taking this class to expand their knowledge of what religion teaches about sexual behavior.

“Religion teaches a moral standard, part of which is sexual behavior. Our faith instructs us on what is right and wrong, not only in theology, but in morality, especially sexual morality,” he said