By Katie Ellington, News Writer
Last year, Asbury held a weeklong discussion of healthy sexuality with Sexual Wholeness Week. This year’s Human Sexuality Symposium will take place Nov. 14 through 18, and will be the first of many. According to Sarah Baldwin, vice president of student development, a sexuality symposium will become an annual item on the chapel schedule.
“Few things are more important than to speak often and well about sexuality and its influence in our culture and lives,” Baldwin said.
This year’s symposium will have a structure much like last year’s Sexual Wholeness Week, with three chapel messages and two panel discussions devoted to the topic.
“It will be a similar format…but the focus is on an invitation to live our whole lives—as sexual beings—consecrated to Christ,” Baldwin explained. She also said that the new name is intentionally broader, which will allow for discussions on multiple issues concerning sexuality.
Pastor Helen Musick of Quest Church will speak on the theology of sexuality on Monday. Wednesday’s message from Chris Kiesling, a professor and interim dean at the Asbury Theological Seminary, will examine the steps of relationship bonding. Friday’s speaker is Kaylyn Moran, the resident director of Glide-Crawford. Moran will be talking about singleness and celibacy as a sign of the Kingdom of God.
Besides chapel, the week will also include men’s and women’s panels on Tuesday evening and a joint relationship panel discussion on Thursday evening.
Both Baldwin and Campus Chaplain Greg Haseloff reported that students responded positively to last year’s Sexual Wholeness Week.
“I appreciated that it started conversations on campus,” Baldwin said. “When students leave chapel talking about the topic and interacting with what the speaker said, it’s a great step toward deepening understanding and creating a community that thinks, talks, and believes together.”
Junior Grace Wilson, who was an SLA last year, said last year’s chapels and panels prompted healthy discussion in the dorms.
“We had girls staying up late into the night talking in the unit, which proved to be surprisingly liberating and unifying,” said Wilson. Senior Hannah Ramsey also appreciated the freedom to talk openly about a topic that had once made her uncomfortable.
“When I was growing up in the church, sex was demonized, maybe unintentionally, which made it hard for me to talk about or understand sex in a healthy way even in the context of marriage,” said Ramsey. “I appreciate openly talking about sexuality because when we don’t, we create a culture of shame.”
When students leave chapel talking about the topic and interacting with what the speaker said, it’s a great step toward deepening understanding and creating a community that thinks, talks, and believes together.
Some students have said they look forward to continuing the conversation.
“I think it’s a great idea to have it every year,” said junior Sarah Browning. “Talking about sex is still pretty taboo in the church, and that makes me sad because sex is such a rich topic theologically, philosophically, and physically…Refusing to talk about sex as beautiful and good makes it so much more likely and so much easier for people to pervert it.”
“I’ve heard some negative criticism on the content and format with people saying that it made them uncomfortable,” said Ramsey. “Instead of shutting down we need to ask ourselves ‘Why do we feel uncomfortable?’”
“I think something we need to talk about is why sexual sins are so wrong,” said junior Joshua Fritz. “Not just ‘don’t have sex,’ but how it affects people emotionally, physically and psychologically.”