Lucia R. Hulsether, a second-year student at the Divinity School, grew up with conflicting beliefs about sexuality and body image as a resident of a conservative town but a member of a progressive church. These influences had an impact on her understanding of love and sex.
As part of the second annual Sex Week, Hulsether, along with two Harvard chaplains, led a discussion on Wednesday about how religious backgrounds affect individuals’ perspectives on sex and sexuality at “Faith, Sex, and Love: Bring It On!”
After the short panel, students broke into small, confidential groups to discuss faith, relationships, and sex in discussions led by several chaplains.
The event Wednesday was designed to give students a safe space to discuss faith and love together, explained Hazel A. Lever ’13 and Martha R. Farlow ’13, co-presidents of Sexual Health Education & Advocacy throughout Harvard College, the organization that runs Sex Week.
“Religion is a big part of life for a lot of students on campus,” Farlow said, “We want them to be able to talk about that in the context of sexuality, love, relationships, gender identity, and how that lens influences things.”
Bringing faith into conversations about love, relationships, and sex is important and adds a special dimension, panelist W. Scott Campbell, a United Methodist chaplain said.“I think it’s part of our belief as chaplains that the faith perspective ought to be represented in the most important conversations of our lives,” Campbell said.
“I think most of the chaplains believe very strongly that the traditions that we represent are able to bring an integrated perspective to the big questions of life.”
Cyatharine M. Alias ’15, who identifies as Indian Orthodox, agreed that the conversation added a variety of perspectives.“
It was very interesting because it gave us a safe space to talk about things that we otherwise wouldn’t have space to talk about,” Alias said. “[The discussion] gave a variety of ideas and backgrounds, and how that affects each of us differently.”
Even with those different perspectives, though, Alias found that in group discussion, many people were asking the same questions about faith and sexuality.
Thursday’s Sex Week events include “The Female Orgasm & All Things Penis!” and a panel on sexual assault policy.
Reflecting on Sex WeekI hope that the Harvard community will find more ways to engage in the thorough intellectual and emotional introspection that examining one’s own relationship(s) to love, sex, and sexuality demands, and to build relationships with each other in sharing what we have identified in ourselves and our communities.