Defense Date


Graduation Date

Spring 5-13-2022


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name





McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

James Bailey

Committee Member

Anna Scheid

Committee Member

Elizabeth A. Cochran


Hauerwas, Marriage, Sexuality, Christianity, Ethics, Cohabitation, Narrative, Community, Character, PCUSA


Few places in congregational and denominational life are more fraught with tension and division than conversations about marital and sex ethics. Systemic abuses mingled together with individual failures on this issue has led to confusion, conflict, and chaos. Worse yet, the remedies proposed—and they are many—tend to either double down on “Traditional” values or seek massive reformation of Christian convictions in light of Modern philosophical, anthropological, and sociological presuppositions. Interlocutors quickly come to an impasse and fragmentation occurs. The catalyst for these conflicts is often debates over same-sex marriage, but one does not have to wade far into this conversation to discover that the issues run deeper than this single topic.

This dissertation emerges from a conviction that this doesn’t have to be the story of the Protestant church in America in late-20th and early-21st century culture. The opportunity to reclaim Christian unity while maintaining a unique understanding of marriage and sex, which creates inclusive space for same-sex oriented Christians, is possible. To get there, though, the shackles of so many faulty assumptions about this topic will have to fall off and those previously bound will have to embrace the liberty offered them in a shared Christian narrative, community, and character. It is precisely these themes that theological ethicist, Stanley Hauerwas, has spent a career elucidating and it is through a Hauerwasian approach that this dissertation hopes to correct the church’s current broken proclamation and damaged practices of marriage and sex.