What meanings do Christians place on their experience of pre-marital sexual contact?: A qualitative study



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This qualitative phenomenological study explored the meanings of the experiences that heterosexual Christians aged 25 years and older placed on their experience of pre-marital sexual contact using a narrative therapy theoretical framework. The researcher interviewed 11 participants who volunteered for this study. Semi-structured face-to-face interviews were recorded, transcribed word for word, and analyzed to discover themes. Three themes and fourteen subthemes emerged from the data. Theme One: Lacking Integration of Faith and Sexual Education with subthemes Why Wait to Have Sexual Intimacy?, No Discussion of About Sex Education, Participants Asking Parents About Sex Education, Positive Experience with Sex Education, and Sex Education From Outside the Family. Theme Two: Exploring Faith and Sex with subthemes Suppressing Sexual Thoughts, Grief Over Decision to be Sexually Active, Pre-Marital Sexual Experiences Impact Self-Esteem, Using Sexual Intimacy as A Tool To Control, Seeking God’s Forgiveness for Pre-Marital Sex, Seeking a Safe Haven For Vulnerability, and Pre-Marital Sexual Activity Shapes Future Parenting. Theme Three: Meaning Making of My Faith and Sex with subthemes Marriage Before Sexual Intimacy and Marriage Not Required for Sexual Intimacy. To support each of the themes, verbatim quotes are used. Through this study, the researcher was able to gain a better understanding of the meanings Christian adults place on sexual contact outside of marriage The results of this study showed how people can be the stories they tell and as in narrative therapy, reality is formed by the language that is used to describe it. Also presented are clinical implications for family therapists and mental health clinicians, clergy members, parents, and young adults. Limitations to the study were also discussed as well as recommendations for future research.



Family therapy, Sexual intimacy, Pre-marital sex, Sexual contact, Sex, Christian, Christianity, Qualitative, Phenomenological