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Faith and Sex: Intersection or Disconnect?

On Wednesday, November 18 in the Benson Parlors, Religious Studies faculty members Karen Peterson-Iyer and Sean Gross participated alongside Dr. Donna Freitas on a panel presentation entitled Faith and Sex: Intersection or Disconnect? The panel was the culmination of a two-day visit to Santa Clara by Dr. Freitas, author of Sex and the Soul: Juggling Sexuality, Spirituality, Romance, and Religion on America’s College Campuses (2010) and The End of Sex: How the Hookup Culture is Leaving a Generation Unhappy, Sexually Unfulfilled, and Confused About Intimacy (2013). Her visit to SCU was sponsored by Campus Ministry, Cowell Center, Residence Life, Residential Learning Communities, and the Office of Student Life.

While Dr. Freitas’s campus visit encompassed several different events, the Wednesday panel focused specifically on the intersection of spirituality and sex, and the challenge of putting the two into conversation with one another. Dr. Freitas drew upon her research to offer a short reflection on how faith intersects with the values inherent in the hookup culture across U.S. college campuses. Gross then briefly summarized Margaret Farley’s work in sexual ethics to highlight alternative values—values more conducive to human well-being—in which students might ground their actions. Dr. Peterson-Iyer reflected upon her years of experience teaching TESP 119 (Theology, Sex, and Relationships) to relay specific challenges that SCU students face, but also insights and resources that they might employ as they navigate their spiritual beliefs and sexual choices. James Harrison and Sandhya Bodapati, two undergraduate students, brought the panel to a close by offering discerning and astute perspectives on the particularities of faith in the context of SCU’s hookup culture. Audience members had an opportunity to ask questions and engage the panelists about these important dimensions of human experience. On the whole, the panel was a great success, drawing close to a hundred attendees and sparking plentiful discussion.