College Hookup Culture and Christian Ethics: The Lives and Longings of Emerging Adults

ISBN : 9780190268503

Jennifer Erin Beste
368 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Dec 2017
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In America, Christian adolescents and young adults have grown up with fiercely competing narratives about sex, relationships, and fulfillment. Within a Christian world of church services, formal religious education, and retreats, they have been warned about the dangers and sinfulness of premarital sex. All the while, popular culture has inundated them with a very different message: casual sex is fun, thrilling, expected, and no-big-deal. Popular culture's influence is perhaps nowhere more evident than on college campuses where hookups-casual sexual encounters devoid of commitment or emotional attachment-have become the norm for emerging adults. College Hookup Culture and Christian Ethics engages 126 college students as sober ethnographers whose task is to observe and analyze their own complex social reality. Part I reveals students' disillusionment with contemporary sexual and relational norms, challenging benevolent or even neutral views of hookup culture. Part II brings the students into conversation with Christianity's counter-cultural narrative of what it means to become fully human and experience genuine joy and fulfillment. The spokesperson for this vision is theologian Johann Metz, whose portrait of Jesus enduring his desert temptations and becoming fully human resonates profoundly with today's college students. Comparing Jesus' way of being in the world with their college culture's status quo, many undergraduates discover in "poverty of spirit" a hopeful, counter-cultural path to authenticity and happiness. Part III culminates in a call to action. Students explore obstacles to sexual justice on college campuses, identify key commitments necessary for change, and envision how undergraduates can work to create the college culture they truly desire and deserve.


Acknowledgments; Introduction; PART I: Through Their Own Eyes: Undergraduate Ethnographies and Analyses of Party Culture; 1. College Students' Observations of Parties and Hookups; 2. Why College Students Act the Way They Do; 3. Power Dynamics at College Parties; 4. Are College Students Happy in Contemporary Party Culture?; PART II: Johann Metz's Jesus as Fully Human: Embracing Poverty of Spirit; 5. Embracing Our Interdependence on God and Others; 6. Self-Love: Accepting Our Human Condition and Unique Calling; 7. Neighbor-Love and Justice; PART III: Sexual Justice: A Call to Action; 8. Justly Relating to Self and Other in College Culture; 9. Understanding the Complexities of Sexual Assault and its Traumatic Effects; 10. Secondary Victimization: The Community's Role in Traumatization; 11. Creating a Sexually Just Campus Culture; Endnotes; Bibliography; Appendix: Research Methodology

About the author: 

Jennifer Beste is Professor of Theology and Koch Chair of 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. Her research interests include trauma theory and Christian theology, ethnography and Christian ethics, sexual ethics, and feminist ethics.

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