From cafeteria tables to the hallways of Mercer, the Bryan College campus has exploded with conversation in response to talks given by Dr. Mark Regnerus in chapel, a “Coffee and Conversation” event and classes where he spoke on the economy of sex, dating, and marriage in the context of popular culture.
Regnerus spoke at Bryan as a part of a week and a half chapel theme titled “Sex, Singleness and Marriage.” His first talk, “What If We Don’t Kiss Dating Goodbye?” began an uproar of conversations still continuing among the student body.
Regnerus is the associate professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, and he holds three degrees in sociology from Trinity Christian College and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
He approaches his topics from the standpoint of a social scientist with statistics and facts, addressing the status quo of a society driven by the “economy of sex.” In chapel Monday (Feb. 6) he spoke of how young people easily become frustrated in their efforts to remain physically pure before marriage because the “price” of sex is so cheap in modern culture.
Monday afternoon he took questions from students during a “Coffee and Conversation” event sponsored by the Spiritual Formation Office. Tuesday he spoke in classes including “A Biblical View of Sexuality” and “CLF:Worldview & Life.”
In chapel Wednesday Regnerus addressed pre-marital sex, marriage, and the progression two people should take leading up to a marriage commitment.
“He’s doing a great job at generating conversation” said junior Callie Dawkins in response to the reactions of students at a table in the cafeteria Monday afternoon.
Some students really appreciate Regnerus’ casual approach to the topics, but others were taken back by his information and presentation. Still others are simply confused as to what their response should be.
“I don’t really feel like he said much of anything in [Monday’s] chapel… He raised some questions, but he didn’t really answer them,” said sophomore Luke Howell.
Wednesday’s chapel opened with an explanation from Ben Norquist, director of faith and mission, who encouraged students to remember that Regnerus speaks out of his background as a sociologist, and as such his talks require students to “hear in a different way.” Dr. Ken Turner, associate professor of Bible, echoed Norquist’s advice.
Turner said he is able to appreciate Regnerus’ talks because he can “frame it with an understanding of his (Regnerus) discipline.”
Turner believes these are the types of speakers needed at Bryan: professionals who can speak in their field and cause students to ask questions, research truth and have conversations with each other on difficult issues. He continued to say it is the responsibility of the Bryan faculty and staff to then step in and help guide students as they work through issues.
Many students are doing just this.
Freshman Annie Prescott, in response to Wednesday’s chapel, said, “As Christians it is hard to hear (about the status of modern culture) because it is a reality. But, as believers we know we are called to something much better. I hope we can take from his message that we don’t have to live like that.”