A faculty-administered survey has found surprising results about the sexual activity of ACU freshmen.
Dr. Jaime Goff, director of the Marriage and Family Therapy Clinic, began conducting an ongoing survey last year that observes how young adults relate sexuality to spirituality.
The survey asked freshmen questions about their sexual attitudes, their dimensions of spirituality, their self-esteem, religious abstinence programs they had participated in and sexual behaviors they had engaged in.
Goff found that 45 percent of freshmen who responded to the survey reported being sexually active.
“That was surprising to me,” Goff said. “But I talked to some youth ministers, and they said that was in line with what they were hearing in their youth groups.”
In the 2011 fall semester, freshmen were given a chance to complete a survey in their Bible classes concerning their views of sexuality and religion and how each are related.
“As a freshman if you see sexuality completely separate from your spirituality, how might that have either negative or positive effects on your future marriage or relationships? I want to see how this develops over time for people.”
Goff also discovered that there didn’t seem to be any difference in self-esteem between students who are sexually active and those who weren’t.
“In some ways that’s good,” Goff said. “That means they weren’t feeling incredibly shameful because we use a lot of shaming techniques I think with Christian young adults and teenagers.”
There was also a high correlation between high spirituality and negative attitudes about sex.
After the survey, freshmen were given the choice to provide their email if they were willing to provide follow-up information in the future.
“We’re asking for follow-up qualitative data,” Goff said. “Last year we gathered a lot of quantitative data which doesn’t tell us why they decided to do things or what their feelings were.”
Goff hopes to conduct 20 to 30 face-to-face interviews. Her long-term plan is to keep up with the original freshman when they are seniors and even after they graduate. Goff plans to write a book after acquiring enough data and analyzing it.
“I think the way we approach sexuality in our Christian communities, especially for young teenagers and single adults, may sometimes be more harmful than it is helpful,” Goff said. “I hope this research will help us figure out healthier ways to deal with that because I just don’t think we’ve been doing a very good job.”