Fortress Press

Aging and Loving: Christian Faith and Sexuality in Later Life

Aging and Loving

Christian Faith and Sexuality in Later Life

James M. Childs Jr. (Author)


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Aging and Loving: Christian Faith and Sexuality in Later Life aims to address the social, ethical, physical, and spiritual issues related to sexuality and aging. The book is written for various professionals who minister to the aged (pastors, chaplains, other care providers), for the aging and aged themselves, and for their families. The focus is on people sixty-five years old and older. This is the age group whose sexuality is most vulnerable to being dismissed by those around them. It is also the age group that experiences new challenges to their sexual lives as age brings physical and sometimes psychological changes as well as changes in living circumstances.

To be human is to be sexual. Undermining or failing to appreciate that fact in older age can be hurtful. Regarding the diminishments of aging as the end of sexuality and therefore the dissipation of fully meaningful life is a critical dimension of ageism. To understand the realities of sexuality in later life and the choices older adults face, along with providing a theological and ethical account that affirms their sexuality as integral to their humanity and vocation in later life, is a curb against ageism and provides much-needed information to the aged, the aging, and their families. Equipping those who care for the aging and minister to them is essential.

The book seeks to enable those related to the aged to have a deeper respect for their sexuality and, thus, their dignity and to provide an ethical account of Christian love that liberates as it engages the special issues of sexuality in later life.

  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781506466415
  • eBook ISBN 9781506466422
  • Dimensions 6 X 9
  • Pages 150
  • Publication Date June 8, 2021


"In search of a realistic ethic of sexuality and relationship that honors the logistical complexity of our senior years, Jim Childs challenges us to think off-script without departing from our Christian vocation to love and be loved. In the process, he gathers LGBTQ and straight Christians under one gracious roof, honoring marriage while finding common ground among all loving relationships."

Christina Traina, Avery Cardinal Dulles Chair of Catholic Theology, Fordham University

"Lutheran ethicist Jim Childs offers a theologically rich, pastorally sensitive, morally serious, and deeply dignified treatment of Christian sexual ethics for senior adults. The most thoughtful moral analysis is required especially as Christian seniors, and those who accompany them and care for them, seek to discern the way forward. This book could become the indispensable resource for the next stage of that conversation."

David P. Gushee, Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics and Director, Center for Theology & Public Life, Mercer University

"Aging and Loving addresses matters we often ignore, avoid, or talk about clumsily--growing old and sex. James Childs names our failings and illuminates the truth with insight, grace, and compassion. He charts a faithful, ethical path that reframes our vision of what the autumn of life can be when we live with the joy and love that are central to the anticipation of God's coming reign. He does so with the discipline of a scholar and the grace, eloquence, and care of a pastor. This is an essential book for all who age and all who care for the aging.

Timothy V. Olson, lead pastor, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church (ELCA), Ankeny, IA

"With engaging personal commentary, insightful observations, and his trademark depth of ethical and theological wisdom, James Childs has given us a book that thwarts ageism. I found myself casting aside myths and biases and following Childs into an exploration of the fullness of God-given sexuality that turns out to be relevant not only for older adults, but for all ages and orientations."

Margaret Payne, Former bishop of the New England Synod of the ELCA and chair of the ELCA Task Force on Human Sexuality

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Attitudes toward Aging and Sexuality
Chapter 2 The Reality of Sexuality in Older Age
Chapter 3 Long-term Care Facilities
Chapter 4 Co-habitation among Older Adults
Chapter 5 Being Human Is Being Sexual
Chapter 6 Aging, Sexuality, and the Ethics of Christian Love