Our Whole Lives (OWL)
Understanding human sexuality in the context of faith is critically important. Rock Spring addresses this need by periodically offering a course based on the "Our Whole Lives" curriculum. The curriculum promotes sexual and emotional health, and helps participants to clarify their values and practice making decisions and communicating clearly around those values. Participation is voluntary and parental consent is required.
Why offer Our Whole Lives?
Our Whole Lives is ...
A faith-deepening opportunity...
Our Whole Lives offers children and youth a profound opportunity to deepen their faith and put their values into practice. The curriculum promotes sexual and emotional health in our communities and fosters meaningful dialogue between peers, partners, families, and friends. The United Church of Christ's commitment to comprehensive sexuality education is ministry. With the support of ministers, religious educators, and lay leaders, this ministry will grow and flourish in our congregations for years to come.
Our Whole Lives is comprehensive sexuality education, which is about much more than just anatomy and health. It's about values, respect, emotions and justice too. It's about the sacred aspects of sexuality, which is part of the miracle of creation. This is why we teach Our Whole Lives in church—because sexuality is sacred, and sexuality education is ministry.
A response to a need...
Our Whole Lives was developed in response to the need expressed by congregations in the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ for high-quality, lifespan sexuality education resources. We have a proud tradition of sexuality education in our association. Our Whole Lives will bring the ministry of sexuality education to the United Church of Christ throughout the lifespan for years to come.
Responsible leading to healthy decisions...
Our Whole Lives helps participants develop and articulate their religious and sexual values. Our Whole Lives helps participants make responsible, healthy decisions based on those values.
An antidote to misinformation...
We live in a culture that is deeply conflicted about sexuality. Our Whole Lives is an antidote to a culture that is saturated with mixed messages and misinformation about sexuality. Our Whole Lives provides an opportunity to step back, reflect, and evaluate these messages, so that participants can more effectively act on and communicate their religious and sexual values.
Helpful to Parents...
Our Whole Lives helps parents fulfill their role as the primary educators of their children on sexuality issues. Our Whole Lives creates a partnership between the family and the church through parent orientation and parent education programs.
Our Whole Lives is responsible sexuality education. It is based on approaches that work—approaches that increase knowledge, communication, safety and health.
Our Whole Lives Values
Every person is entitled to dignity and self-worth, and to his or her own attitudes and beliefs about sexuality.
Knowledge about human sexuality is helpful, not harmful. Every individual has the right to accurate information about sexuality and to have her or his questions answered.
Healthy sexual relationships are:
- consensual (both people consent)
- non-exploitative (equal in terms of power, neither person is pressuring or forcing the other into activities or behaviors)
- mutually pleasurable (both receive pleasure)
- safe (no or low risk of unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, and emotional pain)
- developmentally appropriate (appropriate to the age and maturity of persons involved)
- based on mutual expectations and caring
- respectful (including the values of honesty and keeping commitments made to others).
- Sexual intercourse is only one of the many valid ways of expressing sexual feelings with a partner. It is healthier for young adolescents to postpone sexual intercourse.
- We are called to enrich our lives by expressing sexuality in ways that enhance human wholeness and fulfillment and express love, commitment, delight and pleasure.
- All persons have the right and obligation to make responsible sexual choices.
Justice and inclusivity
- We need to avoid double standards. Women and men of all ages, people of different races, backgrounds, income levels, physical and mental abilities, and sexual orientations must have equal value and rights.
- Sexual relationships should never be coercive or exploitative.
- Being romantically and sexually attracted to both genders (bisexual), the same gender (homosexual) or the other gender (heterosexual) are all natural in the range of human sexual experience.
Our Whole Lives Assumptions
- All persons are sexual.
- Sexuality is a good part of the human experience.
- Sexuality includes much more than sexual behavior.
- Human beings are sexual from the time they are born until they die.
- It is natural to express sexual feelings in a variety of ways.
- People engage in healthy sexual behavior for a variety of reasons including to express caring and love, to experience intimacy and connection with another, to share pleasure, to bring new life into the world, and to experience fun and relaxation.
- Sexuality in our society is damaged by violence, exploitation, alienation, dishonesty, abuse of power, and the treatment of persons as objects.
- It is healthier for young adolescents to postpone sexual intercourse.