Church Discusses Sex, Christianity

Lenten Speaker Series
Jenna P Anglin

Stephanie A. Paulsell, Houghton Professor of the Practice of Ministry Studies at the Harvard Divinity School, speaks on “Friendship and Intimacy” at Memorial Church.

When it comes to popular topics at Memorial Church, sex is not high up on the list.

But according to Divinity School Professor Stephanie A. Paulsell−who spoke about the relationship between sex, Christianity, and friendship at Memorial Church last night−people of faith should not feel so uncomfortable talking about sex.

“I’ve been talking about sex in Memorial Church all year long,” said Paulsell, a professor of the practice of ministry studies.

According to Paulsell, by being more attentive to the “goodness of body,” people become more attentive to the “goodness of Creation.”

When it comes to the relationship between sex and God, Paulsell said that sex makes us regard the world with “reverence and love.”


Paulsell likened sex to a friendship, saying that sexual partners should be as determined to give pleasure as they are to receive it.

This lecture is part of this year’s Lenten Speaker Series, which is organized by the Harvard Chaplains. The series, entitled “What’s Sex Got to Do With It,” is aimed at providing an open environment for people to examine sex from a religious perspective, said Episcopal Chaplain Robert B. Tobin.

“We believe that for a lot of people of faith, the relationship between religious faith and sexual ethics is a really big question and is not talked openly nowadays,” said Tobin, one of the organizers of the event.

Makazi Ife Mtingwa, a student at the Extension School, said that she attended the lecture in hopes of receiving “a good structured education about sex” and learning how to make “the right decisions about sex.”

During the question and answer section, a member from the audience asked Paulsell about her thoughts on the popularity of casual sex on college campus and its violation of the sacredness of sex.

“Ask the college students,” replied Paulsell, followed by nervous laughter from the audience.

Another student recounted that students frequently do not think about the consequences of casual sexual activity.

The next lecture in the series, “Can’t Get No Satisfaction: Why Christians Can’t Agree About Sex,” will be given by Dale B. Martin, a professor of religious studies at Yale, on March 4 at Memorial Church.


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