(That title is going to drive some Google traffic my way, don’t you think?)
Debra Hafner, Director of the Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing, recently taught a course at Union Theological Seminary in New York on contemporary issues in sexuality. In an era of church history in which these kinds of issues dominate the conversation in nearly every denomination, in which we’re tearing ourselves apart over them, you’d imagine almost every seminary offers courses like this, wouldn’t you?
And you know what? You’d be wrong.
Debra decries the situation on her blog:
Unfortunately most clergy do not take a course on sexuality during their seminary years. As clergy, we are expected to be able to counsel couples and individuals about relationships, often without any specific training or background.
I brought this up during a class discussion at my seminary last week. My professor, who is a seasoned educator, respected scholar, and quite progressive, shook his head. “There has never been such a course here, and there never will be. Our constituents wouldn’t support it.” (By “constituents,” of course, he means “the people who keep our endowment flush.”)
Wake up, seminaries. Wake up, denominations. Wake up, “constituents.” Ignoring these issues isn’t going to make them go away. It is a disservice to your graduates, and an even greater disservice to the congregations they will serve.
(Debra and the Institute have started a Facebook group for seminarians to address these issues, so if you’re on Facebook, check it out!)