Religion can be a source of positive sexual values

I think there's a powerful new trend, a return to religious values in this society in all groups - Catholics, Jews, Protestants.

Many young people find these religious identities and these religious teachings an important part of their upbringing in their life and they're carrying that into their sexual decision-making.

Each of the different traditions has some specifically very different teachings. But in terms of the broad themes - that sexuality is powerful, important, an area of extreme ethical responsibility and at the same time not just a sacred realm that you shouldn't become obsessed with - those themes I think are universal.

Sex is not something which when exercised appropriately you have to be guilty about. It's not the result of a Fall. The book of Genesis suggests that Adam and Eve were to have had sex even before the Fall, so that one doesn't have to feel guilty or evil or bad.

Those who minimize the force of religion in combating popular culture miss how powerful a religious upbringing and a religious community can be in shaping people's lives.

There are thousands and thousands of very religious Christians, Protestants, Catholics, Jews, very religious people, who strive to insulate themselves from this culture, who live in a world of very different values.

Then there are others who get wet from both sides, who know that they have values and teachings and beliefs, but are seduced as well, are struggling, pulled between those. And then of course there are some for whom popular culture appears as the only law.

Those values, religion, with regard to sexuality, are in our culture. They're in our air, around us. Youngsters know that those values exist. Sometimes, they have to make some mistakes to learn about them.

It's our responsibility to give them that opportunity to hear, and to learn.

Professor of Religion and
Director of Ethics Institue at Dartmouth College,
author of Religion and Moral Reason.

To inquire about this project
in video, and printed formats,
send an email to project creator Dan Habib.

All photos ©2010, Dan Habib