Last week I began the Human Sexuality course. It is a cross-listed course in our graduate school for both doctoral-level psychology students and masters-level counseling students. We are going over various perspectives on human sexuality, beginning last week with theological perspectives and sociocultural perspectives. Tomorrow and Wednesday we’ll be discussing biological perspectives and clinical perspectives.
Once we’ve taken this overview of the various perspectives on human sexuality, we will focus on the clinical dimensions of our work. We begin with the sexual dysfunctions, such as desire disorders, arousal disorders, and so on, then turn our attention to the paraphilias and sexual addiction. We wrap up the course with discussions of gender identity and sexual identity. It is a fast five weeks!
The picture I’ve got here is of Lisa McMinn’s book, Sexuality & Holy Longing. I like it as the integration resource for the course. We read other standard texts, such as Principles & Practice of Sex Therapy, but McMinn’s book is one of the best resources from a Christian perspective. For example, we just read and discussed her first chapter on rites of passage. She deals with the different rites of passages that males and females experience in our culture today. She argues that for males those rites of passage often deal with competencies, while for females the rites of passage center more on physical changes. It was a good discussion, as students often have their own experiences with rites of passage and may agree with or take issues with some of the points raised in the book.
In any case, I appreciated the observation that young people today will have rites of passage, whether or not parents or others are intentional about them. We may not think of our culture as one that has rites of passage, but we do. It is important, then, to consider ways to foster intentional rites of passage. These would be intentional benchmarks or experiences that carry the meaning that a Christian, for example, wishes to communicate in the area of human sexuality and sexual behavior, as well as broader issues of personal growth and maturity.
The local church already participates in this to some extent when it provides baptisms, marriage ceremonies, and so on. But the church may want to think more about what it means to grow into manhood or womanhood, and which rites of passages are appropriate in communicating a ‘coming of age’ if you will. Again, the argument is that these will occur in the life of the young person, so the church may want to be intentional about it.