Re-Thinking Adolescent Sexual Ethics: A Social Justice Obligation to Adolescent Sexual Health

[1] The dominant sexual ethic communicated to adolescents in the United States reflects an act-centered prescription: abstinence-only-until-marriage. Youth are being told “just don’t do it” without being given the opportunity to discuss the positive meanings of sexuality, the characteristics of healthy relationships, or the pleasure derived from sexual behaviors. An inadequate sexual ethic for adolescents, […]

Gerhard von Rad: A Faith Example

[1] In 1960 I enrolled in the Ph. D. program at Princeton Theological Seminary. To my incredible delight and surprise Dr. Gerhard von Rad was to be a guest professor at Princeton for two quarters in the school year. I had been introduced to von Rad’s teachings my senior year at Trinity Seminary in Dubuque, […]


[1] This October was the first time my grandmother witnessed me in the role of pastor. I was baptizing my first grandson. Around the baptismal font stood five generations of my family. Why were we all standing there? Well, I would say that it was because of my grandmother. My maternal grandmother has heard me […]

Beyond Platitudes: Re-Igniting the Church’s Vision for Children and Youth

[1] Rare is the pastor or other church leader who will not agree that young people are the future of the church or that the church is called to care for children in their midst and in society. Some will even agree with the assertion that young people are not just the future of the […]

Honoring Children’s Bodies

[1] The first crisis of my parenting career came early in my daughter’s life. Having bravely weathered an unexpected early delivery, survived the anxiety of having our healthy but low birth weight child spend her first night in the hospital’s neo-natal intensive care unit, and patiently begun to learn the art of breastfeeding, I was […]

Luther’s Regard for Children

[1] In recent months I have had several conversations with colleagues in various aspects of church work about their experiences balancing family life and vocational obligations. Two particular scenarios stand out sharply. In one instance a friend and I discussed exhortations (or was it reprimands?) we had received from childless persons about not allowing our […]

Rediscovering the Dignity and Complexity of Children: Resources from the Christian Tradition

[1] Certainly many people today are concerned about children in our midst and in our wider culture, and we all wonder: Are they being raised with love and affection? Are they receiving a good education? Are they safe in their homes and schools? Are they being exposed to good role models? Will they have a […]

Reflections on Martin Luther and Childhood Education

[1] Schools in the United States face a multiplicity of challenges, from gaining adequate funds to hiring well-qualified and dedicated teachers to meeting the ever-increasing obligations of state-mandated testing to determining policy about such complex issues as bi-lingual education. In a nation of extraordinary religious, cultural and ethnic diversity, does Martin Luther, writing in the […]

The Christian Ethics of Children: Emerging Questions and Possibilities

[1] Christian ethics of children1 – as opposed, say, to the study of children’s spirituality or faith formation – has traditionally asked profound questions about the larger meaning and purpose of child rearing and the relation of children to society. Deep roots of these questions lie in Jewish concerns with creation, pro-creation, and offspring; New […]

Whither Childhood? Conversations on Moral Accountability with St. Augustine

[1] In his Confessions, St. Augustine tried in vain to understand where his infancy went. Did boyhood overtake it? Or did infancy leave of its own accord, and if so, “where did it go?”1 Were Augustine to write today, he would have only been more confused. Children like Jon Benet Ramsey sport grown-up costumes and […]