Self-Assessment: Characteristics of Sexually Healthy Religious Professionals

Instructions: On a scale of 1 to 5 (with 5 the highest possible score), rate yourself on these characteristics of a sexually healthy religious professional. Notice if any area needs strengthening and develop plans to address it.

PERSONAL ATTRIBUTES

Sexually healthy religious professionals:

_____ have examined their own personal sexual history.

_____ have explored their own attitudes and confronted their limitations and biases
         about sexuality.

_____ have listened to the attitudes of others about sexuality, which are different
          from their own.

_____ are knowledgeable about sexuality, including sexual behaviors, sexual response,
         sexual orientation and gender identity, and relationships.

_____ undertake theological reflection regarding the integration of sexuality and spirituality.

_____ model ease and comfort in discussing sexuality issues.

_____ interact with people of all genders and ages in respectful and appropriate ways.

_____ affirm their own sexual orientation and gender identity and respect the sexual orientation
          and gender identity of others.

_____ recognize and affirm family diversity.

_____ have personal relationships that express love and intimacy in ways congruent with their
          own values about sexuality.

_____ seek ongoing opportunities for education and information regarding sexuality.

 

_____ TOTAL (Score Range: 11 to 55)

A lower score in this area indicates the need for structured opportunities to explore personal attitudes and feelings about sexuality in one’s own life and in others’ lives. It may also be helpful to speak with colleagues, staff, trusted congregants or advisory committee members about their perceptions of you in this area. A sexuality course for religious professionals or a graduate-level course in sexuality could prove helpful.

 

CONGREGATIONAL SKILLS

Sexually healthy religious professionals:

_____ have good individual, family, and couples counseling skills.

_____ recognize and respect their own personal limitations and boundaries for
          handling sexuality issues.

_____ are familiar with sacred texts on sexuality and theological affirmations of sexuality 
          and how to share them when appropriate in a counseling setting.

_____ know when and where to refer someone who has a sexual issue that they are
          not prepared to handle.

_____ use power justly and constructively and recognize the potential for abuse of power.

_____ understand that sexual feelings for congregants may arise (and vice versa) and know  
          how to deal with them appropriately, including consulting with a supervisor or colleague.

_____ have examined the impact of racism, sexism, heterosexism, and homophobia in 
          ministry.

_____ are knowledgeable about educational techniques, including how to present knowledge,
          help explore attitudes, and develop personal skills.

_____ have conflict management and mediation skills.

_____ are comfortable and skilled in preaching about sexuality-related issues, including 
          knowledge of sacred texts.

_____ identify ethical dilemmas when they arise and seek help when needed.

 

_____ TOTAL (Score Range: 11 to 55)

A lower score in this area can be addressed by graduate-level courses in education or counseling or through supervision by a more experienced colleague. Every pastoral counselor should have a local referral list of mental health professionals who are recommended as high-quality marriage, family and sex therapists. In addition, all clergy should have either a ministerial relations committee or a clergy network they can turn to for help with difficult situations involving power or ethics.

 

COMMUNITY AND DENOMINATIONAL SKILLS

Sexually healthy religious professionals:

_____ are knowledgeable about their denomination’s policies on sexuality.

_____ are knowledgeable about their religion’s sacred texts on sexuality.

_____ are knowledgeable about church history’s teachings on sexuality.

_____ are skilled in community advocacy for sexual justice issues.

_____ challenge and work to change sex-negative values in the faith community and
          denomination.

_____ speak out for sexual justice and seek to collaborate on these issues.

 

_____ TOTAL (Score Range: 6 to 30)

A lower score in this area indicates the need for research on denominational policies and sexuality issues.