Campus Ministry asks "Can good Christians have good sex?" at panel event Tuesday

By Claire Desmarais | February 18, 2018 10:33pm

Campus ministry asks "Can good Christians have good sex?" with panel event Tuesday. Photo by Kristina Litvjak.

Christian universities across the nation struggle to find the delicate balance of addressing sexual assault issues, but also adhering to church beliefs on premarital sex. Christians do not believe in premarital sex, making a university’s stance on sex and sexual assault difficult to understand. 

Often times, students feel they cannot talk about sex, but on Tuesday, the University of Portland will work to open up these kinds of conversations through the lens of the Christian faith.  Campus Ministry will be hosting a question-and-answer style event called “Can Good Christians Have Good Sex?” at 6:00 p.m. in the Terrace Room below The Commons. 

“It’s been a goal of mine this year to look to have opportunities to have conversations about sex and sexuality,” Fr. Jim Gallagher, Director of Campus Ministry, explained.

Gallagher said the inspiration for the event came from a listening session hosted by Campus Ministry and the Health and Counseling Center last September. Students felt they couldn’t talk about sexual assault because of the University’s affiliation with the Catholic Church, which doesn’t believe in premarital sex. 

“One of those comments did come out of that, that one of the issues is that we can’t talk about sex,” Gallagher explained. “So one of the things I took from that initial conversation was a desire for more conversation on that topic on campus.” 

The goal of this event is to allow for students to hear from panelists who have both a faith background, and also feel comfortable talking about sex. The panelists include Villa Maria Hall Director Jacob Guckenberger and his wife Kelsey Guckenberger, Residence Life Housing Coordinator Jessica Wode, and Joe Pavlish, who works for Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ), which works with campuses nationwide to grow students’ faith. 

“In the beginning I’ll ask a couple of basic questions to get the conversation going,” Gallagher said. “And then at a certain point, I am going to open it up for those present to ask questions.”

Though there will be no formal presentations, Gallagher said students will have the opportunity to ask questions themselves by raising their hand, or submitting questions anonymously through a piece of paper and pen. 

And even though Campus Ministry has worked with the HCC on other events, they will not be involved with this particular event. 

“They (HCC) did an event on sex from the physical and mental wellness, and figured that there were some specific questions that they could answer and specific things that through campus ministry we could answer,” Gallagher said. “And that we didn’t necessarily need each other to do those, and sometimes it’s even helpful to separate those out.”

The event allows for students to “dive deeper” into the topic of sex and faith, Gallagher explained. He said he hopes this will inspire a continuation of regular conversations about the topic, and encourage students to attend more events centered around the topic. 

“If there are further topics to see talked about, to feel free to reach out to myself or the Health and Counseling Center, the opportunity is always there and I’m always looking for student feedback,” Gallagher said.