Conference announcement & Call for papers

Sexual Reformation?

Theological and ethical reflection on human sexuality

6 – 7 May 2019

Faculty of Theology, Stellenbosch University

Sex in church is a popular topic of discussion the world over. Moreover, Christian faith traditions and Christian texts of faith – including the Bible – have been everything but silent on sex. Yet the emergence of new sexual moralities are not always welcomed within Christianity, whether in regard to lifestyles, communities, identities, or expressions – which then also includes sexual, gender and reproductive rights.

In as much as “sex” and “sexuality” are not words often spoken from pulpits and in academic theological circles, a vast number of utterances have been made in the name of so-called “Christian values” and “biblical views” on sex and sexuality. These are often given from moral-ethical perspectives, and seemingly very prescriptive: who should have sex with whom, when sex should take place, which purposes sex should serve – and especially, when sex is wrong. Moreover, often there is little or no recognition of the complexities surrounding human sexuality, resulting in what appears to be a blueprint for sexuality, applicable to all persons.

In the past year, movements such as #metoo has brought previously concealed sexual violence, harassment, and everyday sexism in different industries into public moral debate – and, to some extent at least, compelled Christian faith communities to consider their own positionality with regard to sexual and gender injustices.

The conference is hosted collaboratively by the Gender Unit of the Beyers Naudé Centre for Public Theology of the Faculty of Theology, Stellenbosch University, and the Faculty of Theology, North-West University. Participants are invited to partake in dialogue reflecting theologically and ethically on human sexuality, with the aim of exploring what a sexual reformation within Christian dialogue might entail – a reformation which moves beyond narrow moral-ethical utterances, toward life-giving discourses which speak to the history of the Christian tradition, the realities of contemporary complex settings, and a future in which Christian theology might still play a part in how people engage, understand, and speak about sexuality and sex.

This theme thus covers a wide range of possible topics and perspectives, including reproductive health; reproductive justice; sexual health and healthy sexualities; sexual moralities; queer theology; queer experiences; biomedical advances and new forms of reproduction, family and parenting; marriage and celibacy; theological perspectives on gender; sexual and gender-based violence; sexual abuse in the church; and sexual education.

Interested parties can submit an abstract of 300-400 words for consideration to the conference organizers to maritasnyman@sun.ac.za by Tuesday 2 April 2019. Due to limited funds, conference participants need to fund their own travel and accommodation costs. A list of options for accommodation can be provided upon enquiry.

For any enquiries, contact Dr Nina Müller van Velden at ninamuller22@gmail.com