Josh Heyes

Doctoral Researcher

josh heyesCurrent Status

Second year

Research Topic

The lived sexual theo-ethics of Christian young men: challenges for relationships and sex education in England.

Research Suumary

The issue of school-based sex education – who should teach it, to whom, in what way, and why – continues to raise deeply rooted political and moral disagreements, unsurprisingly, given England’s morally pluralistic and multi-cultural society. My research engages critically with the academic and political debates by bringing them into conversation with research on religious young people’s lives. My own empirical project involves in-depth narrative interviews with a small group of Christian young men, of diverse denomination and demography, on their experiences of romantic relationships and sexuality. I foreground what I call their ‘sexual theo-ethics’, analyzing in detail intersections between theological and non-religious lived moralities, as they seek to make sense of their experiences through story-telling. By understanding the unique (as well as the familiar) ethical challenges faced by religious young people in their sexual and romantic lives, my research will enrich the conversation about how sex education might engage with cultural and moral diversity. It will also show how these sex-ethical negotiations, observable in performed narratives, challenge and extend theoretical conceptions of the complex and emergent nature of religion and non-religion in England.

Research Interests

  • Religion and Sexuality
  • Sexual ethics
  • English sex education
  • Christian theology and philosophy
  • Secularization theory
  • Narrative research methods

Research Supervisors

Dr Toni Stolberg

Dr Sarah Hall

Source of Funding


Membership of research and professional organisations

  • British Sociological Association (BERA)
  • Sex Education Forum
  • British Educational Research Association (Sexualities and Gender)

Publications and conference presentations

‘Ordinary ethics and moral education’, (Paper to be given at the Philosophy of Education Research Seminar Series, University of Birmingham, March 2018).

‘Towards a virtue ethical approach to relationships and sex education’ (Paper given at the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues Seminar Series, July 2017)

The emergence of sexual rights frameworks in globalized sex education discourse: locating religious rights and sexual citizenship’ (Paper given at ‘Education in a Changing World’, University of Warwick, May 2017).

 ‘Feminist post-structural approaches to research in relationships and sex education – a critique along with some provocations for Christian education’ (Paper given at ‘Christian Education and Contemporary Culture’ Canterbury Christ Church University, July 2017).

‘“I liked it, but I was also disgusted…” Challenging British sex and relationships education through Christian young men’s experiences of romantic relationships’ (Paper given at University of Birmingham PG Education Conference, October 2016)

Phenomenology in Sex and Relationships Research" (Social Sciences: Different Approaches, Different Solutions? University of Nottingham 2016) “I liked it, but I was also disgusted…” Challenging British sex and relationships education through Christian young men’s experiences of romantic relationships (Birmingham PGR Education Conference 2016)

Contact Details