PS4258 Sex and Sensibility

Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary

Spring 2005
Mondays, 7:10 pm - 10:00 pm
PLTS Giesy Hall #1

Gary Pence

Theological and psycho-social exploration of human sexuality as intrinsic to the divine-human connection and as one of the great arenas for celebrating the Source of Life, with implications for our understandings of major teachings about God, human nature, sin, salvation, history, and eschatology. While sex is commonly affirmed as God's good creation, many religious people still learn to fear, despise, trivialize, and be ashamed of their bodies and their sexual functions. This course will address the relationship of sex and religion, biblical and historical development of Christian views of sex, attitudes toward the body and sexual shame, alternative sexualities, sexual disorders, dysfunctions, and abuse. Development of personal sexual credo and strategies to foster wholesome embrace of sexuality as a core element of human identity. Lectures/discussions/small groups/movies. Students required to use internet resources and discussion group accessible online on the World Wide Web. [Faculty permission required / Sig. on Reg. Card]



  1. Deeper knowledge and acceptance of self as a sexual being.

  2. Increased comfort and confidence in listening and responding to sexual topics.

  3. Appropriation of more healthful sexual perspectives.

  4. Increased integration of your faith with your sexual life.


  1. Repertory of biblical and liturgical texts, theological loci, and common beliefs and practices that affect our attitudes toward sexuality.

  2. Mutual relationships among religious beliefs and practices, child development and adult relationships, and sexual attitudes and behaviors.

  3. Basic psychological principles of healthy and positive sexuality and theological principles that support them.

  4. Awareness of your assumptions and commitments and how these are likely to impact your care giving and care receiving.


  1. Increased alertness to the implications for healthy sexuality of biblical and theological precepts.

  2. Capacity either to reframe abusive or damaging precepts in healthful terms or to eliminate them from your practicing theology.

  3. Capacity to help parishioners and others wounded by religious beliefs and experiences.

  4. Self-care.


  1. Regular class attendance.

  2. Readiness to use Internet and World Wide Web as integral class learning media.

  3. Active participation in class activities.

  4. Individual and/or group study of reading assignments.

  5. Satisfactory completion of class assignments:

    1. First day of class completion of page on your background and experience in pastoral care and counseling and personal expectations of the class.

    2. Weekly journal - your responses, associations, questions, illustrations, explorations related to either the previous week's readings and/or previous week's class session or the coming week's readings and posted either to the online course discussion forums or as an email to me privately. During the 13-week semester write at least 10 journals. The journals should be about 250 words long.

    3. Sexual Autobiography (Due March 28) - Use Zoldbrod, Sex Smart, to assist in reflection on how your sexual consciousness has been shaped by your life experiences. (For an example, read "My Sexual Autobiography" accessible by clicking "Course Documents" and then "Texts.")

    4. Sexual Credo (Due May 2) - a statement of your fundamental sexual beliefs and values. (For an example, read my "Sexual Values Paper" accessible by clicking "Course Documents" and then "Texts.")

    5. Candid and timely consultation with instructor about any issues or problems that trouble you during the course.

All course discussions, papers, journals, etc. will remain strictly confidential and will not be shared either specifically or in general terms with anyone. See my Confidentiality Statement.


Learning in this class derives from your engagement with the readings (assigned and optional), class sessions, written assignments, other students, instructor, your own reflection alone and with others. Students who attend class sessions regularly and complete all assignments will receive an "A". Failure to complete one assignment component reduces the grade to a "C". Failure to complete two assignment components reduces the grade to an "F".


1/31/2005 SESSION 1 Our Ministry to Sexual Wholeness
2/7/2005 SESSION 2 The Christian Tradition & Sexuality
2/14/2005 SESSION 3 Loving Our Bodies/Our Selves
2/21/2005 Presidents' Day (No Class)
2/28/2005 SESSION 4 From Procreation to Pleasure
3/7/2005 SESSION 5 Biology and Psychology of Pleasure
3/14/2005 SESSION 6 Gender
3/21/2005 Spring Recess (No Class)
3/28/2005 SESSION 7 Sexual Diversity
4/4/2005 SESSION 8 Childhood Sexuality
4/11/2005 SESSION 9 Adolescent Sexuality
4/18/2005 SESSION 10 Adult Sexuality
4/25/2005 SESSION 11 Diseases and Dysfunctions
5/2/2005 SESSION 12 Violence and Abuse
5/9/2005 SESSION 13 Spirituality in Sexual Embodiment