An adjunct seminary professor and a social worker have prepared a resource guide and workbook under the title Gifts from God: Spirituality and Sexuality. The Episcopal Evangelism Society provided financial support for the 16-page resource guide and 28-page workbook.
The authors are Westina Matthews, adjunct professor at General Theological Seminary’s Center for Christian Spirituality, and the Rev. Tommie Lee Watkins Jr., associate rector and assistant chaplain at Canterbury Chapel in Tuscaloosa and an adjunct professor at the University of Alabama School of Social Work.
The materials aim to help people develop skills of holy listening on topics involving sexuality.
“Spirituality and sexuality are intricately connected, infinitely complex, and both are gifts from God. In the second commandment, Jesus taught us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:3),” says the workbook’s introduction. Among people—particularly in faith communities—no other topic provokes such heated debate as sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Many adopt a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ attitude regarding this subject in both teaching and practice.”
The workbook asks students to reflect on what a good sexual experience sounds like, smells like, tastes like, feels like, and looks like. It asks the same questions about a good spiritual experience. It then asks: “Were any of your responses the same for both sexuality and spirituality? If so, which ones?” and “When answering the questions about sexual experiences, did you mention God? Why or why not?”
The workbook includes:
- “The Guest House,” a free-verse work by the 13th-century mystic Jalaluddin Rumi
- Questions for journal-keeping
- “A Blessing for the Senses” by John O’Donohue (“May the Eros of the Earth bless you”)
- Statistics, charts, and a Venn diagram showing the interaction of ability status, age, gender expression, gender identity, race, and sexual orientation
- A “Loving-Kindness Metta” by Steven Smith of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society
Both the resource guide and the workbook are available as free downloads.