Older, Wiser and Smarter discuss sexuality, religion


Ashanti Thomas

Amanda Feder, host, and Marita Metzke, guest, of the Older, Wiser, and Smarter discussion, talk about spirituality and religion and how it connects with sexuality.

Katja Benz, Campus Reporter

The discussion series titled Older, Wiser and Smarter had its first discussion Wednesday afternoon, where participants discussed their attitudes, beliefs and values regarding sexuality.

The series is sponsored by the Academy of Lifelong Learning, an academy that helps provide adults with educational opportunities.

Marita Metzke, the director of the Academy of Lifelong Learning, was present during the discussion.

“These events are held to encourage lifelong learners to continue engaging in non-credit educational opportunities for mental and social benefit,” Metzke said.

This first discussion focused on messages about sexuality from faith-based traditions to discuss how those messages can impact people. The event had a speaker lead the conversation.

“The speakers include subject matter experts, enthusiasts for their topic and/or partners that promote the arts, nature and the environment, health and history,” said Metzke.

Amanda Fetter, a graduate student in the clinical counseling program, led the discussion. Fetter is the director of Prevention Services at SACIS, or the Sexual Assault Counseling Resource Service.

Both Fetter and Metzke said they hope attendees learned a lot during the discussions.

“We hope participants are inspired by the presentations to share what they learned, pursue additional resources on the topic, and enjoy learning in an informal environment,” said Metzke.

Fetter said that an important aspect of the discussion was “examining the way that spirituality and religion can intersect with the way we understand sex and relationships within our Western culture, if that’s where you originate from.”

During the discussion, participants had time to reflect on their experiences with religion and sexuality, as well as the intersection between the two topics. There was a discussion about various aspects of this intersection, including about what has changed about people’s willingness to discuss these topics.

Fetter thought the discussion had a lot to do with change.

“I think it goes back into what our group was talking about today with how, especially in the sixties, we saw a kind of boom of sexual liberation, reproductive justice,” Fetter said. “So, a lot of science in cross-cultural examination that can either re-center religion or dismantle it. I think we’re just seeing a lot of conversations about the layers of it rather than taking it as an ultimate truth.”

Aside from the reflection, participants filled out a worksheet that related to their experience discussing that intersection.

On the worksheet, participants could check boxes in relation to what was discussed about sexuality at their religious institutions. The worksheet was discussed after participants had time to answer the worksheets’ questions.

Fetter said she hopes that participants in today’s discussion got “an opportunity to examine their own values with [sexuality] and what was learned at a young age and where they are at with it now because a lot of lived experience can help change those perceptions.”

The next Older, Wiser and Smarter event is Wednesday, Oct. 20 at 3:30 p.m. in Buzzard 1441. It is free and open to the public. The next topic is about exploring online relationships and how to feel comfortable online dating.

If attendees have questions, they can reach out to Marita Metzke via email at [email protected]. People interested in attending can call (217) 581-5114 or register online.


Katja Benz can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].