A Difficult Discussion on Premarital Sex

Dean David Leedy, Professor Chris Cragin Day, Dr. Dru Johnson, and Director of Events and Production Megan Phelps sit on the Difficult Discussions panel. || Photo credit to Rachel Williamson.

Dean David Leedy, Professor Chris Cragin Day, Dr. Dru Johnson, and Director of Events and Production Megan Phelps sit on the Difficult Discussions panel. || Photo credit to Rachel Williamson.


Students, professors, and faculty members filled the City Room to hear what panelists Dr. Dru Johnson, Professor Chris Cragin Day and Director of Events and Production Megan Phelps had to say about premarital sex in Monday’s Difficult Discussion.

Dean of Students David Leedy moderated the discussion, beginning with surprising statistics regarding the sexual behaviors of  young adults ages 16-25. Statistics show that this demographic is actually having less sex than previous generations.

These statistics spurred the panel to spend the first several minutes defining what sex includes, with Johnson pointing out that there is wide definition of the term “virgin” among Americans ages 18-30. The three panelists set a framework for the hour by agreeing that Christians are held to a higher standard than merely avoiding procreative sex.

Senior Ian Wilson appreciated that the panel opened the conversation to other topics.  

“I like that they talked about porn so openly, how it definitely fits into the premarital sex category,” said Wilson. “I appreciated the fact that they talked about how sex isn’t just the traditional view of sex. There’s also the emotional side of it that happens outside of just procreative sex,”  said Wilson.

Both Cragin-Day and Phelps offered practical advice to help in combating natural temptation to have sex with a significant other, and also provided reasons why waiting until marriage is a wise decision for both Christians and non-Christians. For Cragin-Day, marriage is one of the only ways to allow for complete trust and safety in an act as vulnerable as sex.

Johnson and Cragin-Day emphasized the importance of asking the right questions. For Cragin-Day, the penultimate question is not “how far is too far?” but rather “what is God honoring?”

For those in the room who had taken Introduction to the Literature of the Hebrew Scriptures, Johnson offered a familiar petition for students to “ask not what is right or wrong, but rather what is foolish or wise.”

|| Photo credit to Rachel Williamson.

|| Photo credit to Rachel Williamson.

For Senior Annie Mae Jones, one of the biggest takeaways from the discussion was not just the advice given on abstinence before marriage, but the expectations panelists gave for how actions in current relationship affect life within marriage.

“I think overall the conversation made it clear that these issues and decisions regarding sex don’t magically go away all of a sudden when we get married,” said Jones. “For example, Dr. Johnson pointed out that giving into premarital sexual temptation breaks down levels of trust towards your spouse in the future when you are actually married.”

Wilson felt the discussion did a good job of offering hope to those who have had sexual relationships, particularly with Phelps’ reminder that we often put sex on a pedestal and treat it as something that God’s grace cannot cover.

“I thought they did a really good job of talking about purity culture because they didn’t go to one extreme or the other,” said Wilson. “They didn’t give ammunition to either those that want to have sex or those that feel self-righteous because they haven’t had sex.”

However, though the panelists covered a variety of topics, Wilson and Jones felt that the talk was front-heavy, and spent too much time defining premarital sex which took away from the anonymous audience questions--“like (more) questions about porn and taking steps backwards in a sexual relationship,” said Jones—that came in via text message.

“I wish that Dean Leedy had sped things up a bit, I wanted to get to more questions,” said Wilson and Jones agreed,“Honestly, I wish there would have been more time because the questions were getting better and better, and the panelists all offered good answers and solutions.”

“I thought it was refreshingly open and truthful,” said freshman Ruby Duane. Other students felt the same as Duane expressing that although the panel felt short and opportunity to ask questions was limited by time, the Difficult Discussion spurred conversations afterward.