This story first appeared in the February 2018 edition of The Hilltop.
“It seems that everything I do ends up in the spaces that are taboo,” Corey Gilbert, professor of psychology, said. “They should not be. We need healthy spaces to dialogue, question, disagree and even ask really hard questions.”
That’s the kind of space Gilbert has tried to make in his 45-student “Love, Sex, Dating and Marriage Seminar” this month. The seminar has been meeting in PV 101 Thursday evenings at 6:30, and this is the last week.
“Growing up in my home and church, love, sex, marriage and dating were never something we talked about on a real or deep level,” Amity Duke said. “It was always just kind of taboo, and, because of that, I’ve never been able to have a good understanding of what a healthy relationship in those areas looks like.”
Gilbert has seen this trend in the 15 to 16 years he’s been teaching this subject. “It shouldn’t be taboo,” he said.
“It should be something we talk about consistently, not just in February. It should be something we are intentionally teaching, actually from ages two and up.”
Some view human sexuality as a touchy subject.
“He talks about one of the most uncomfortable things for people to talk about: sex,” Will Evans said. “That’s actually an uncomfortable topic, and he addresses it well. He makes it easy for people just to open the conversation and talk about it.”
The open environment has been much appreciated by those taking this class.
“I like the seminar thus far because it brings up conversations and questions we are afraid to ask in a loving, safe and educational environment,” Danielle Peterson said.
Gilbert himself understands the struggle some have with not fitting certain stereotypes in relationships or marriage.
“That’s me,” he said. “I, in so many respects, am the ‘girl:’ emotional, spaghetti brain, etc. [My wife] is logical, organized in her brain, and less emotional. We associate each characteristic with a gender, but we are much more complex. At the end of the day, I am so male and my wife is so female. It is a beautiful mix and balance.
“We are very complex. Yet there are biblical guidelines that help us be smart. For example, sexual play outside of marriage, as fun as it is, by God’s design, has its consequences.”
Gilbert was quick to remind everyone that humans are complex, and no checklist will answer how to do everything perfectly. However, he believes the goal of this class is obtainable.
“The goal is a biblical sexual ethic,” he said, “a perspective with ideas on how to do marriage, dating, building a relationship well. There’s not a right way, but there are biblical principles.”
Hoping to teach this class more often, Gilbert is positive that these “taboo” topics need to be talked about in the church. He wants to “paint the picture of godly biblical marriage.”
Gilbert is convinced that this is a time sexuality needs to have its “taboo” stickers taken off, so it can be discussed authentically in relation to the Bible and the Church.
He hopes that this teaching will spread from these students in the seminar to other students and spark healthy dialogue on the subject. Gilbert believes it is important that the church especially be open and honest about these “taboo topics,” because “The world is watching,” Gilbert said.