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Course Number: STP 626
Course Title: Introduction to Sexual Ethics
Term: Summer 2014  (Version March 27, 2014)

Professor

Professor: Dr. Cynthia Toolin

Email: ctoolin@holyapostles.edu

1. Course Description

This course is constructed to partially fulfill the Holy Apostles College and Seminary mission statement “to cultivate lay, consecrated and ordained Catholic leaders for the purpose of evangelization.”

To be able to evangelize, a future leader must have a working knowledge of Church doctrine. This course exposes the student to Catholic sexual ethics using the work of John Paul II. We examine the significant philosophical thought of Karol Wojtyla on this topic in his Book, Love and Responsibility.  We also examine his mature theological thought, as pope, concerning the theology of the body as found in his general Wednesday audiences. The student is required to demonstrate knowledge of Catholic sexual ethics through eleven weekly postings.

But to be able to evangelize, knowing basic doctrine is not enough. The evangelizer must be able to recall the doctrine and interpret it in a manner applicable to the situation. Rarely will the leader be asked to present formal lessons on Catholic sexual ethics. More often the situation will be one where the leader needs to explain or support the Church’s articulated doctrine against error or heresy by formulating a correct answer to a question, or contrasting true Church authentic teaching with that of secular society. In this course, the student is challenged to develop such answers in a series of two real-life scenario papers and a term paper.

2. Envisioned Learning Outcomes

  1. Student will demonstrate the ability to locate and define major concepts in, and recall overarching themes of, Catholic sexual ethics in order to construct and present the information in a formal and informal manner.
  2. Students will demonstrate a working knowledge (defined as the ability to recall, paraphrase, and interpret) of Church doctrine as opposed to the teaching of secularism by applying it in given scenarios.
  3. Students will demonstrate the ability to formulate answers to common questions to prepare him or her to explain authentic Church teaching as presented in magisterial documents as opposed to the teaching of secular society.

3. Text Material and Resources:

Most of the readings in this course are available on the internet.  

Texts to Purchase

Karol Wojtyla. Love and Responsibility. Translated by H. T. Willetts. San Francisco: Ignatius   

Press,1993. ISBN 0-89870-445-6. $16.95.

Required Internet Sources

John Paul II, General Audiences on the Theology of the Body.

Couple to Couple League, "What Does the Church Teach about Birth Control?"

4. Suggested Media:

Janet Smith’s Sexual Common Sense series; $9.95 MP3 Download

5. Weekly Schedule

Week 1

Topic

Some of the important things we will learn about this week are the meanings of the verb "to use" and their relationship to love, as well as the personalistic norm. We will also start learning about John Paul's II's extensive theology of the body.

Readings

Read Wojtyla, Chapter 1: Analysis of the Verb "to Use". Then read John Paul II, General Audiences: Week 1 (Of the Unity and Indissolubility of Marriage) to Week 8 (Original Unity of Man and Woman).

Assignments:

Summarize the readings from Wojtyla and John Paul II. Post your summary. Read and comment on the work of the other students.

Week 2

Topic

Some of the important things we will learn this week involve the issue of the sexual urge and several different ways of interpreting it. We continue our study of John Paul II's theology of the body, focusing again on the first section of his three-part sequence of Wednesday audiences, also known as the Original Unity of Man and Woman.

Readings

Read Wojtyla, Chapter 1: Interpretation of the Sexual Urge. Then read John Paul II, General Audiences, Weeks 9 (Man Becomes the Image of God by Communion of Persons) to 15 (The Man-Person Becomes a Gift in the Freedom of Love).

Assignment

Summarize the readings from Wojtyla and John Paul II. Post your summary.

Week 3

Topic

This week we will start to learn different ways of understanding love. We start by interpreting it in a metaphysical way as attract, desire and goodwill. (If you are interested, C.S. Lewis has a wonderful book called The Four Loves which examines different kinds of love.) We also finish that part of John Paul II's theology of the body called Original Unity of Man and Woman.

Readings

Read Wojtyla, Chapter 2: Metaphysical Analysis of Love.Then read John Paul II, General Audiences, Weeks 16 (Mystery of Man's Original Innocence) to 23 (Marriage in the Integral Vision of Man).

Assignment

Summarize the readings from Wojtyla and John Paul II. Post your summary. Read and comment on the work of the other students.

Week 4

Topic

This week we will continue to learn about different ways of examining love. The psychological analysis includes topics such as sentiment, sensuality and senses. We also start the second part of John Paul II's development of the theology of the body, in what is commonly referred to as Blessed are the Pure of Heart.

Readings

Read Wojtyla, Chapter 2: Psychological Analysis of Love. Then read John Paul II, General Audiences, Weeks 24 (Christ Appeals to Man's Heart) to 30 (Dominion Over the Other in the Interpersonal Relation).

Assignment

This week, your first writing assignment is due, so you do not have to post on the discussion board. The paper assignment is listed below. It must be emailed to me at ctoolin@holyapostles.edu by 11:59 p.m., Saturday, Eastern Time.

Week 5

Topic

This is our third week looking at different ways of understanding love. We will now turn to the ethical analysis of love. This important section focuses on the person. We continue studying John Paul II's theology of the body. His analysis here focuses on lust.

Readings

Read Wojtyla, Chapter 2: The Ethical Analysis of Love. Then read John Paul II, General Audiences, Weeks 31 (Lust Limits Nuptial Meaning of the Body) to 37 (Adultery: A Breakdown of the Personal Covenant).

Assignment

Summarize the readings from Wojtyla and John Paul II. Post your summary. Read and comment on the work of the other students.

Week 6

Topic

This week we learn about the important topic of chastity and its centrality to living the good (right) life. This analysis includes an interesting look at the structure of sin. As we continue studying John Paul II's theology of the body, we finish the second part of his three-part sequence.

Readings

Read Wojtyla, Chapter 3: The Rehabilitation of Chastity. Then read John Paul II, General Audiences, Weeks 38 (Meaning of Adultery Transferred from the Body to the Heart) to 44 (Gospel Values and Duties of the Human Heart).

Assignment

Summarize the readings from Wojtyla and John Paul II. Post your summary. Read and comment on the work of the other students.

Week 7

Topic

This week we learn more about shame, in its positive sense. We also learn about the problem of shamelessness. This is a very important topic that is poorly understood in today's world.At the same time, we continue in our study of John Paul II's theology of the body. We are starting the third part of his sequence, commonly referred to as Life According to the Spirit.

Readings

Read Wojtyla, Chapter 3: The Metaphysics of Shame. Then read John Paul II, General Audiences, Weeks 45 (Realization of the Value of the Body According to the Plan of the Creator) to 50 (Purity of Heart).

Assignment

Summarize the readings from Wojtyla and John Paul II. Post your summary. Read and comment on the work of the other students.

Week 8

Topic

This week we learn about continence and how important it is to a proper understanding of human sexuality. The emphasis of John Paul II's teaching on the theology of the body here focuses on the teachings of St. Paul.

Readings

Read Wojtyla, Chapter 3: The Problems of Continence. Then read John Paul II, General Audiences, Weeks 51 (Justification in Christ) to 57 (The Pauline Doctrine of Purity as Life According to the Spirit).

Assignment

This week your second writing assignment is due, so you do not have to post on the discussion board. The paper assignment is listed below. It must be emailed to me at ctoolin@holyapostles.edu by 11:59 p.m., Saturday, Eastern Time.

Week 9

Topic

This week we learn about the true meaning of marriage. We learn particularly about monogamy, indissolubility, and procreation. At the same time, much of John Paul II's theology of the body here focuses on the human body and art.

Readings

Read Wojtyla, Chapter 4: Marriage. Then read John Paul II, General Audiences, Weeks 58 (Positive Function of Purity of Heart) to 63 (Ethical Responsibilities in Art).

Assignment

Summarize the readings from Wojtyla and John Paul II. Post your summary. Read and comment on the work of the other students.

Week 10

Topic

This week we turn to studying vocation, a topic poorly understood in today's culture. An important part of this topic is mystical and physical virginity. John Paul II's theology of the body turns to issues of the resurrection, another teaching that is not often understood.

Readings

Read Wojtyla, Chapter 4: Vocation. Then read John Paul II, General Audiences, Weeks 64 (Marriage and Celibacy in the Light of the Resurrection of the Body) to 71(The Risen Body Will be Incorruptible, Glorious, Dynamic, and Spiritual).

Assignment

Summarize the readings from Wojtyla and John Paul II. Post your summary. Read and comment on the work of the other students.

Week 11

Topic

This is our last week using the Wojtyla text. We turn to sexology as our topic, and learn the application of many of the topics we have studied so far this semester. The emphasis on John Paul II's theology of the body here focuses on continence.

Readings

Read Wojtyla, Chapter 5: A Supplementary Survey. Then read John Paul II, General Audiences, Weeks 72 (Body's Spiritualization Will be Source of Its Power and Incorruptibility) to 77 (Superiority of Continence Does Not Devalue Marriage).

Assignment

Summarize the readings from Wojtyla and John Paul II. Post your summary. Read and comment on the work of the other students.

Week 12

Topic

We now continue our study of contraception, but with special focus on how it and Natural Family Planning (NFP) are distinct.

Readings

Read Couple to Couple League, "What Does the Church Teach about Birth Control?"

Assignment

Summarize the Couple to Couple League article. Post your summary. Read and comment on the work of the other students.

Week 13

Topic

This week we continue reading John Paul II's theology of the body. His focus here is on vocation and on sacrament.

Readings

Read John Paul II, General Audiences, Weeks 78 (Marriage and Continence Complement Each Other) to 101 (Christ Opened Marriage to the Saving Action of God).

Assignment

Summarize the readings from John Paul II. Post your summary. Read and comment on the work of the other students.

Week 14

Topic

As in last week's readings, John Paul II continues to focus on sacrament. He also speaks at length of the importance of the language of the body.

Readings

Read John Paul II, General Audiences, Weeks 102 (Marriage Sacrament an Effective Sign of God's Saving Power) to 113 (The Language of the Body: Actions and Duties Forming the Spirituality of Marriage).

Optional reading: Read John Paul II, General Audiences, Weeks 114 (Morality of Marriage Act Determined by Nature of the Act and of the Subjects) to 129 (Conclusion to the Series: Redemption of the Body and Sacramentality of Marriage).

Assignment

Summarize the required readings from John Paul II (not the optional one). Post your summary. Read and comment on the work of the other students.

Week 15

Assignment: Term Paper

This week your Term Paper is due, so you do not have to post on the discussion board.

Information for the Term Paper is in the Syllabus. It should be emailed to me at ctoolin@holyapostles.edu by Friday, 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time.

6. COURSE REQUIREMENTS

1. Discussion Postings.

In weeks when a discussion post is required, you must post your summary, questions, and answer by Wednesday, 11:59 p.m., Eastern Time.

Summary: A summary should be not more than 400 words long, with enough information to enable you to important points and themes in each. Make sure you include important definitions in your summary (e.g., What does sexual ethics mean? What does artificial means of birth control mean?)

Questions and Answer: Continue the post as follows. Select one important statement from the reading. (Note that in weeks where more than one reading is assigned, select one for this portion of the post.) Construct one to three questions from the statement you have selected. Answer the question as if you were speaking to  a nominal Catholic. Keep in mind your role as a future Catholic evangelist and leader. Remember your audience so that you will formulate questions and answers appropriate to the person you are addressing!

You must address the questions and answers of at least three (3) other students by Saturday, 11:59 p.m., Eastern Time.

You must post using the following procedure:

  1. Select "add" next to the Discussions header to the right of this page
  2. Use the following convention in Title: First and Last name, Week #
  3. Type in your summary, questions, and answer in Topic (I strongly suggest you  copy/paste this so you will not lose your work. DO NOT attach the work; copy and paste it.) This must be completed by Wednesday, 11:59 p.m., Eastern Time.
  4. Save when finished
  5. Read and respond to at least three peers and their posts. This must be completed by Saturday, 11:59 p.m., Eastern Time. 

The posting part of the course addresses Learning Outcome 1.

Exceptions to post after the 11:59 p.m. due dates will only be granted for serious cases, i.e. serious health/family issues… not for vacations. You must contact your professor for consideration of any exceptions. Thus, if permission is given to post beyond the weekly due date, you cannot receive full credit for the posting of that week.

For ease of reading, you will be adding your own discussion areas to post your summaries. Instructions on how to post your own discussion will be provided for you in each weekly lesson container. Please do not add your summary response as an attachment. I do not comment on postings unless a student has posted an error, an interesting point for further discussion, or a direct question. I do, however, read every post.

Note that 50% of your discussion posting grade is based on your summary, questions and answer and 50% is based on your responses to the questions and answer of three other students.

2. Complete all reading and writing assignments.

Reading assignments are listed in the lessons tab under the appropriate week.

You will have two written homework assignments to email to me at ctoolin@holyapostles.edu during the semester. They will be due on Saturday, 11:59 p.m., Eastern Time, of Week 4 and Week 8. You will not have a Discussion Posting assignment those two weeks.

The writing assignments should be double spaced, Times New Roman Font 12, five pages long. In addition to five pages of text, there should be a title page, footnotes and a bibliography of sources you have used in constructing your answer.

If you need an extension on a writing assignment, please request it via email at least one week before the due date. If I do not receive a request, I will reduce the grade of the writing assignment by 1/2 grade each day that it is late. Thus an A writing assignment that is two days late could not receive a grade higher than B+. I am willing to grant extensions for serious reasons, such as health. However, if you need an extension for every writing assignment, you should probably postpone enrolling in distance learning courses until you have more free time."

The two written assignments address Learning Objective 2.

Week 4: Imagine a nominal Catholic, one not well informed in the teachings of the Church, approaches you and argues that due to new social conditions, marriage must be understood in an entirely different way than in the past. He defines “gay marriage” as being within the word “marriage”. Using the knowledge you have obtained in reading about Catholic sexual ethics, develop a well thought out, intelligent, cogent argument articulating the Church’s teaching on this issue. Remember that as a future Catholic evangelist and leader, you must answer arguments politely, defining terms, using themes a person can remember, taking into account the information the other has in his or her possession.

Week 8: Imagine a nominal Catholic, one not well informed in the teachings of the Church, approaches you and argues that due to population growth, birth control should be allowed within marriage. Using the knowledge you have obtained in reading about Catholic sexual ethics develop a well thought out, intelligent, cogent argument articulating the Church’s teaching on this issue. Remember that as a future Catholic evangelist and leader, you must answer arguments politely, defining terms, using themes a person can remember, taking into account the information the other has in his or her possession.

3. Term Paper

You will have a term paper to email to me at ctoolin@holyapostles.edu by Friday, 11:59 p.m., Eastern Time, of week 15.

The paper should be double spaced, Times New Roman Font 12, at least ten pages long. In addition to at least ten pages of text, there should be a title page, endnotes and a bibliography of sources you have used in constructing your answer.

The term paper addresses Learning Outcome 3.

Imagine you are having dinner with two Catholic friends. One is a fully Catholic person, but is not well acquainted with Catholic teaching on equality between the sexes. The other is a good person, but a nominal Catholic with secular leanings. He interprets Church teaching on the equality of the sexes as meaning “sameness”. Using the knowledge you have obtained in reading about Catholic sexual ethics this semester, develop a well thought out, intelligent, cogent argument articulating the Church’s teaching on this matter. Remember that as a future Catholic evangelist and leader, you must answer arguments politely, defining terms, using themes people can remember, taking into account the information the others have in their possession.

7. GRADING

  • Writing Assignments 33%
  • Term Paper 37%
  • Discussion Postings 30%

My grading practice has developed over the last few years. In Populi, you will see grades for Posting Summary, Posting Response, Writing Assignments, and Term Paper depending on the week. When you receive your grades in Populi, you will see each is worth 100 points. Instead of giving a letter grade, all your work will be graded numerically. At the end of the semester the posting grades (composed of 50% being the summary, questions and answer and 50% being responses to the questions and answer of three other students) will be averaged and count for 30% of your final grade; the grades for your two writing assignments will be averaged and count for 33% of your final grade; and the grade for your term paper will count for 37% of your final grade.

8. DISABILITIES ACCOMMODATIONS POLICY

Holy Apostles College & Seminary is committed to the goal of achieving equal educational opportunities and full participation in higher education for persons with disabilities who qualify for admission to the College. Students enrolled in online courses who have documented disabilities requiring special accommodations should contact Bob Mish, the Director of Online Student Affairs, at rmish@holyapostles.edu or 860-632-3015. In all cases, reasonable accommodations will be made to ensure that all students with disabilities have access to course materials in a mode in which they can receive them. Students who have technological limitations (e.g., slow Internet connection speeds in convents) are asked to notify their instructors the first week of class for alternative means of delivery.

9. ACADEMIC HONESTY POLICY

Students at Holy Apostles College & Seminary are expected to practice academic honesty.

Avoiding Plagiarism

In its broadest sense, plagiarism is using someone else's work or ideas, presented or claimed as your own.  At this stage in your academic career, you should be fully conscious of what it means to plagiarize. This is an inherently unethical activity because it entails the uncredited use of someone else's expression of ideas for another's personal advancement; that is, it entails the use of a person merely as a means to another person’s ends.

Students, where applicable:

  • Should identify the title, author, page number/webpage address, and publication date of works when directly quoting small portions of texts, articles, interviews, or websites.
  • Students should not copy more than two paragraphs from any source as a major component of papers or projects.
  • Should appropriately identify the source of information when paraphrasing (restating) ideas from texts, interviews, articles, or websites.
  • Should follow the Holy Apostles College & Seminary Stylesheet (available on the Online Writing Lab’s website at http://www.holyapostles.edu/owl/resources).

Consequences of Academic Dishonesty:

Because of the nature of this class, academic dishonesty is taken very seriously.  Students participating in academic dishonesty may be removed from the course and from the program.

10. ATTENDANCE POLICY

Even though you are not required to be logged in at any precise time or day, you are expected to login several times during each week. Because this class is being taught entirely in a technology-mediated forum, it is important to actively participate each week in the course. In a traditional classroom setting for a 3-credit course, students would be required, per the federal standards, to be in class three 50-minute sessions (or 2.5 hours a week) and prepare for class discussions six 50-minute sessions (or 5 hours) a week. Expect to devote at least nine 50-minute sessions (or 7.5 quality hours) a week to this course. A failure on the student’s part to actively participate in the life of the course may result in a reduction of the final grade.

11. INCOMPLETE POLICY

An Incomplete is a temporary grade assigned at the discretion of the faculty member. It is typically allowed in situations in which the student has satisfactorily completed major components of the course and has the ability to finish the remaining work without re-enrolling, but has encountered extenuating circumstances, such as illness, that prevent his or her doing so prior to the last day of class.

To request an incomplete, distance-learning students must first download a copy of the Incomplete Request Form. This document is located within the Shared folder of the Files tab in Populi. Secondly, students must fill in any necessary information directly within the PDF document. Lastly, students must send their form to their professor via email for approval. “Approval” should be understood as the professor responding to the student’s email in favor of granting the “Incomplete” status of the student.

Students receiving an Incomplete must submit the missing course work by the end of the sixth week following the semester in which they were enrolled. An incomplete grade (I) automatically turns into the grade of “F” if the course work is not completed.

Students who have completed little or no work are ineligible for an incomplete. Students who feel they are in danger of failing the course due to an inability to complete course assignments should withdraw from the course.

A “W” (Withdrawal) will appear on the student’s permanent record for any course dropped after the end of the first week of a semester to the end of the third week. A “WF” (Withdrawal/Fail) will appear on the student’s permanent record for any course dropped after the end of the third week of a semester and on or before the Friday before the last week of the semester.

12. ABOUT YOUR PROFESSOR

I am a Professor of Dogmatic and Moral Theology at Holy Apostles, where I have worked since 1997. I hold a Ph.D. and an M.A. in sociology from the University of Massachusetts, a ninety credit M.A. in theology from Holy Apostles, and an S.T.L. in moral theology from Dominican House of Studies.

 

(860) 632-3010