College Hookup Culture and Christian Ethics

The Lives and Longings of Emerging Adults

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Jennifer Beste
  • Oxford, England: 
    Oxford University Press
    , December
     2017.
     368 pages.
     $35.00.
     Hardcover.
    ISBN
    9780190268503.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.

Description

Today's Christian adolescents and young adults have grown up with fiercely competing narratives about sex, relationships, and fulfillment. Within a Christian world of church services and formal religious education, they have been warned repeatedly about the dangers (or sinfulness) of premarital sex. At the same time, popular culture has inundated them with a very different message: casual sex is fun, thrilling, expected, and no big deal. Jennifer Beste calls into question the widespread assumption that the media's narrative of sex is positively liberating, while a Christian theological account is repressive, sex-negative, and altogether irrelevant. Her argument is based on a qualitative analysis of college students' own accounts of their social and sexual culture. She draws on the reflections of 126 undergraduate students who set out as sober ethnographers to observe and analyze peers at college parties. Overwhelmingly, undergraduates' perspectives challenge a neutral or even benevolent view of hookup culture embraced by some sociologists, "sex-positive" feminists, and popular culture in general. Beste goes on to share her own and her students' theological and ethical reflections as they explored the intersection between their social reality, the Christian tradition, and other academic disciplines, and sought to discern more deeply: what it means to become fully human; what constitutes happiness and fulfillment; and how to envision and create more socially and sexually just communities.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Jennifer Beste is Professor of Theology and holds the Koch Chair in Catholic Thought and Culture at the College of Saint Benedict in St. Joseph, MN. She is the author of God and the Victim: Traumatic Intrusions on Grace and Freedom (Oxford University Press, 2007). Her research interests include trauma theory and Christian theology; ethnography and Christian ethics; sexual ethics; feminist ethics; and children, justice, and Catholicism.

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