My reseach

EXPLORING AND STORYING PROTESTANT CHRISTIAN WOMEN’S EXPERIENCES LIVING IN SEXUALLY UNHAPPY MARRIAGES

 by

NICOLINE SPIES

submitted in accordance of the requirements

for the degree of

DOCTOR OF THEOLOGY IN PRACTICAL THEOLOGY – WITH SPECIALISATION IN PASTORAL THERAPY

Abstract

This research project arose from my journeys with Protestant Christian women who were living in sexually unhappy marriages. In South African Protestant faith communities there is the expectation that Christian marriages will experience sexual fulfilment. For many Christian women however, sexual unhappiness becomes their reality. Sexuality is cocooned in silence not only within the church, but also in many Christian marriages. This leaves many Christian women (and men) with little or no recourse to address sexually unhappy marriages.

My research journey briefly explored the social construction of sexuality within the history of Christianity to see which discourses underpin current constructions of White Christian female sexuality. This participatory feminist action research journey centralised the voices of present-day contexts: Protestant Christian women, as well as clergy, were invited to share their understandings and interpretations of matrimony and sexual practices in relation to their faith. With the help of narrative therapeutic practices, some of the dominant social and religious discourses that constitute White Christian female sexuality were explored, deconstructed and challenged.

 

This research journey aimed to penetrate this silence and to invite Christian women, who are living in sexually unhappy marriages, to share their experiences. This exploration included the faith predicaments and relational complexities, challenges and dilemmas Protestant Christian women experience when living in sexually unhappy marriages. This feminist-grounded action research explored the effects and consequences which living in sexually unhappy marriages held for the co-searchers.

KEY TERMS

Adultery; feminist discourses; Foucault; gender roles; participatory theology; pastoral care; patriarchal discourses; power relations; Protestant Christianity; sexually unhappy marriages; social construction; narrative therapeutic approaches

Electronic version available at – http://hdl.handle.net/10500/4823

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