During Tennessee ‘Sex Week,’ FOCUS volunteers a Catholic view on sexuality

Knoxville, Tenn., Apr 2, 2019 / 07:00 pm (CNA).- During an annual week of controversial sex-ed events at a Tennessee college, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students has organized an alternative event based on a Catholic view of human sexuality.  

A student group at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville has hosted “Sex Week” on its campus since 2013. Organizers bill it as “a week of free, comprehensive sex education events.” This year’s program includes a drag show, a cabaret, and free HIV testing, according to the organizers’ website.

Kara Logan, a FOCUS alum and doctoral student in theology at Ave Maria University, offered an alternative talk April 2 entitled “How to have Worthwhile Sex: An Alternative View.”

She based her talk on the teachings of St. John Paul II, and his series of addresses on human sexuality that have come to be known as the Theology of the Body.  

Logan told CNA in an interview before the talk that she hopes to help students understand that the so-called “sexual revolution” of the 20th century hasn’t brought with it the happiness and  fulfilment that it promised.

“I think we just want them to see that this ‘doing whatever we want’ [attitude], sexual promiscuity, all these things— they’re just not fulfilling,” Logan told CNA.

“We’re not finding happiness here. And if I can just show them the beauty of the Theology of the Body, the beauty of true love, and of sacrifice, of making a gift to the other and not reducing the other person to an object of use, that would be great. That would be the main thing.”

Logan said she plans to share statistics with the students about the negative effects of hooking up, pornography, contraception and other common practices that society consider part of normal sexual expression.

“The hookup culture is really making young adults less social; they’re more anxious,” she noted.

“The number one reason women go off of oral contraception is because she’s depressed…People who take oral contraception are significantly more depressed than women who aren’t.”

She said she hopes to help the students understand what it means in the Theology of the Body to “give a gift of yourself,” which is rooted in self-mastery and self-possession.

“The heart knows what it’s called to be…that there’s still a call to be a gift, but we’re battling it now because of concupiscence, because of sin,” she said.

“Christ comes to restore the human heart, to fix it…and he shows us, too, that true love is to die to one’s self for the sake of the beloved.”

Logan said that she hopes to show the students that it’s possible to live out the Theology of the Body and be fulfilled in a meaningful way, as opposed to the “lie that you can do whatever you want, or that you don’t really have any meaning, or that Catholicism is just a set of rules to enslave us.”

The concept of “Sex Week” was first introduced at Yale University in the early 2000s. Attendance at the Sex Week events at UTK has ranged from 1,650 participants to more than 3,500, according to Inside HigherEd.

Sex Week at UTK has been controversial ever since its inception in 2013, when it was revealed that student fees were going to fund controversial activities, including a condom scavenger hunt.

Sex Week is not unique to UTK’s campus— other public and private institutions across the country hold similar events— but Tennessee legislators have called the week a “national embarrassment” and have moved to exclude the event from using public funding. University administrators have said that they have done as much as they can to tone down the event without violating the group’s First Amendment rights.

The Tennessee state comptroller released a 269-page report in February about the use of public funds for Sex Week, which detailed the fact that university departments and programs originally committed over $11,000 in funds for Sex Week.

The university chancellor ultimately withdrew the public funds before the 2013 event, and the organizers of UTK’s Sex Week have had to use other funding sources, such as online crowdsource funding, for subsequent years’ events.

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