On April 5-12, the University of Tennessee hosted “Sex Week,” organized by the student organization Sexual Empowerment and Awareness in Tennessee. The week’s activities, ranging from discussions on virginity to workshops on oral sex and a search for a golden condom, sparked the concern of easily provoked and immensely quotable State Rep. Stacey Campfield (he of “Don’t Say Gay” bill  fame).
With apologies to Campfield’s ever-vigilant protection of Christian sensibilities, the real problem here is not that mandatory student fees are being used to promote sexual education and awareness. The problem is that our tithes aren’t.
Imagine with me, if you will, what would happen if “Sex Week” came to First Baptist Church . . .
If local congregations joined together to dedicate a week to the promotion and exploration of Christian ethics expressed through sexuality, gender, and embodiment, what might the offerings look like? Perhaps these would be a good start:
As I Went Out to the Desert to Pray . . .
If Jesus and Paul affirm singleness and celibacy as valid and healthy expressions of faithful sexuality, then why are we always praying for the future spouses of our little boys and girls? Join us for an exploration and affirmation of the vocation of celibate singleness, led by a panel of monastics who have taken a vow of celibacy.
Fasting from Sex for the Sexually Trafficked
Throughout the world and even in our neighborhoods, countless adults and children are being trafficked for sexual activities. In the biblical tradition, fasting was typically a full-body response to a grievous situation. We invite you to join us in our weeklong fast from all sexual activity in solidarity with those who don’t have such a choice. Then, on Friday, join us for an exploration of opportunities to help victims of the sex-trafficking trade.
Even for the “born again,” addiction to pornography has become an increasingly dirty little secret. Find out more about how to avoid and resist the seduction of the screen in this informative workshop led by local counselors.
When Jesus Met Mary
Are cross-gender friendships possible? Join us for a viewing of When Harry Met Sally, followed by a discussion of Mary Magadalene and Jesus’ scandalous meeting “in the garden alone” where we will dare to let men and women sit next to each other. If you hold out hope that men and women can be “better friends” instead of “more than friends,” this is the place for you.
Tired of being “singled out” because you aren’t hitched?! Cap off the evening in style with an event that reminds single Christians that they are still members of the Body of Christ, even without a spouse! Everyone’s welcome as we dance the night way in the Fellowship Hall. Open bar, but two Dr Pepper limit.
All Part of God’s Family Planning
What do Christians think about birth control? Do Christians think about birth control? All Protestants are welcome as the Catholics in attendance scratch their heads in surprise that, well, we’ve never really thought about that before.
I have no doubts that “Sex Week at First Baptist Church” would spark as much outcry as any collegiate event. How would we respond to our critics? A good place to start would be by borrowing a page from Brianna Rader and Jacob Clark, co-founders of Sexual Empowerment and Awareness in Tennessee, who wrote this op-ed  in response to their critics.
Dave McNeely is an Adjunct Professor of Religion at Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, Tenn. He is also a member of First Baptist Church of Jefferson City , where he serves as the Minister to Youth and College Students.
Image: Sex education illustration, Rob Byron  / Shutterstock.com