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Larry Dixon Says Premarital Sex is Abnormal, Unnatural, and Definitely Not Fun

fear and hysteria

Those of us raised within the confines of the Evangelical ghetto have vivid memories of preachers telling us that certain sins were not fun, pleasurable, or enjoyable. Smoking weed? Drinking booze? Masturbating? Copping a feel on the back of the church bus? Making out with the preacher’s daughter? Running through the third base coach’s stop sign and sliding into home? Hanging out with “worldly” school friends? Going to the dance? Going to the prom? Such behaviors are sins against the thrice holy God, says the preacher down at First Baptist Church. Hoping that good old-fashioned Evangelical guilt and fear will rob sinners of derived pleasures, these stuffed-shirt preachers call on offending parishioners to “repent” and get right with God. And just like trained seals at the zoo, these sinners dutifully confess their sins to the fun-and-pleasure-hating God, promising to never, ever sin again. Of course, these sinners know that, come next Friday or Saturday night, they will once again sin against God, choosing pleasure and fun over the Puritanical morality of their Evangelical pastors and parents.

Larry Dixon is a professor of theology at Columbia International University in Columbia, South Carolina. In a post dealing with the sin of cohabitation, Dixon wrote:

But many today are “buying it”! They’re buying into the lies that premarital sex is normal, natural, and fun — provided certain precautions are taken. They’re buying into the lie that sexual intercourse with life-long commitment is strictly a personal matter. They’re buying into the lie that just like you have to test-drive a car before you buy it . . .
This most intimate of human social actions is neither shunned nor shamed in the Bible, the Word of God. Sex was God’s idea!

The church must wake up and realize that the majority of men and women to which it will minister will not be virgins! They will have sexual scars which cannot be erased, but can be forgiven

Let me break down exactly what Dixon is saying:

  • Sex was created by God.
  • Saying premarital sex is normal, natural, and fun is a lie.
  • Premarital sex is not normal, natural, and fun.
  • Saying sexual intercourse (who, what, when, and where) is a personal matter is a lie.
  • Saying that couples should see if they are sexually compatible before marrying is a lie.
  • People who engage in premarital sex will likely be scarred from their experiences.
  • These sexual scars can’t be erased, but the voyeuristic Christian God will forgive them.

Astoundingly, Dixon admits that most adult Evangelicals are not virgins. I am sure Dixon thinks that the root problem is disobedience to the teachings of the Bible and the moral pronouncements of Evangelical preachers. If people would just listen and obey, all would be well. Certainly that is one way to look at this issue, but I wonder if Dixon has ever considered that what he is preaching is the problem? Perhaps telling people that this or that human behavior is NOT normal, natural, and fun is the problem. Maybe it is time for the Larry Dixons of the world to be honest with people, admitting that preachers and parishioners are alike need, want, and desire sex. While people should be free to “save” themselves for marriage, doing so does not make them morally superior. Surely Dixon is aware of the fact that countless virginal Evangelicals have sexual problems after they marry — problems that could been exposed if the couples had taken the car for a test drive.

Dixon, bound by the sexually repressive teachings of the Bible, will likely continue preaching the gospel of virginity. He should know, though, that most of the students he teaches likely have varied sexual experiences. If Dixon really wants to help his students, perhaps he should teach them how to handle their sexuality and make responsible sexual choices. Telling people that premarital sex is NOT normal, natural, or fun is….how shall I put it in Baptist preacher parlance….a boldfaced lie from the pit of hell. Sex is meant to fun and pleasurable whether it is premarital or post-marital.  Further a marriage license is no guarantee that it will be.

Dixon, by the way, is not preaching anything that is not standard operating procedure at the state accredited Columbia International University. Columbia’s student handbook(pages 22, 23) states:

In keeping with the design of God and the commands of Scripture concerning sexual purity, students are required to maintain irreproachable behavior in sexual matters and to avoid situations that would unduly tempt them to compromise moral standards.

Couples should avoid being alone together in any place of residence or private area. Any sexual misconduct, including, but not limited to, adultery, homosexuality (including any same-sex physical expression of romantic affection), any form of premarital sex, indecent exposure, sexual harassment, use of sexually explicit materials for sexual gratification, and sexual abuse of children, is forbidden.

Expressions of Affection:

Hugs are to be appropriate as between brothers and sisters. Individuals involved in casual dating are to refrain from all expressions of physical affection on and off campus except for brief hugs.

Couples who have committed to date each other with a focus on the possibility of engagement and marriage should be prudent and intentional in establishing boundaries in regard to physical expressions of romantic affection. These couples are to refrain from all expressions of physical affection on and off campus except for hugs as noted above, holding hands, and a brief kiss. In addition, we strongly encourage such couples to establish accountability relationships with mature believers.

Engaged couples are also to be prudent in setting appropriate boundaries to maintain purity and a godly example. Here again, we strongly encourage the establishment of accountability relationships with mature believers. Expressions of affection on and off campus are to be limited to appropriate hugs, holding hands, and brief kisses [what about the slippery slope argument?].

Out of sensitivity to our unmarried students and campus atmosphere, married students should be exemplary models of appropriate public physical expressions of romantic affection. [Yes, you read that right. Married couples should avoid  physical contact lest they cause unmarried students to “sin.”]

Prior to 2007, Columbia did not allow dating unmarried students to have ANY physical contact with the opposite sex except from for brief hugs.


  1. Avatar
    Karen the rock whisperer

    Dear Larry Dixon: get stuffed. Oh, wait, you already are.

    Whether non-marital and/or non-heterosexual sex is a sin or not, the idea that somehow engaging in these behaviors isn’t fun, isn’t pleasurable, and leaves emotional scars is such claptrap that I have trouble seeing how anyone can say it with a straight face. Wouldn’t it be more honest to admit that stuff is enjoyable for the people who want to engage in it, and insist they not do it (or stop doing it) for the honest reason that God says not to? Lying for Jesus infuriates me as almost nothing else.

    Of course, I don’t believe in sin; you can, and we all, do wrong things, but there’s no deity to sin against. And the notion that people old enough to truly consent should not be in charge of their own sexuality deeply offends me. But lying for Jesus really, really makes me cranky; not sure why.

    • Avatar
      Larry Dixon

      Thanks for your comment, but did you read my post? I did say that some people “are buying into the lie that premarital sex is normal, natural, and fun,” but I did not mean to imply that sin isn’t fun — it IS! I’m sure I could have stated my position better. I agree with you that many things we do are fun and enjoyable, but what if there really is a God who holds us accountable for our choices? I’m sorry you’ve rejected the God of the Bible. I would love to continue our conversation, if you wish. Blessings. Larry

      • Avatar

        Larry, what on earth do you mean ‘buying into the lie’? A lie is an untruth based on sound criteria. You provide no reliable foundation on which to use the word ‘lie’. You concede pre-marital sex is fun, but what, other than your opinion, is wrong with it to the extent that you condemn it? And it’s no use quoting the bible to me; it’s a book in which I have almost no interest, regarding it as a collection of largely incomprehensible gibberish.

        • Avatar
          Larry Dixon

          Hey, Geoff. Thanks for your comment. I’m trying to come at the issue from “a biblical point of view.” I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I do accept the Bible (for some very good reasons, I would suggest) as God’s Word. I’m sorry you view the Bible as a collection of largely incomprehensible gibberish. May I ask what parts you’ve read? I read the Bible as my spiritual oxygen, not as a way to garner favor with God, or try to be more spiritual than others, but to survive. I’m happy to continue our conversation. Blessings. Larry

          • Avatar

            I’ve never read the bible cover to cover in the way so many here have, especially Bruce himself. However, I probably have read almost all of it at some time or another. Indeed at the age of ten, as a result of an eager primary school teacher, I spent my pocket money buying the then very new New English Bible. I’d explained to the teacher that I had my doubts about the bible and that I couldn’t understand much of what I read, or more likely was told, and apparently this new version would lay all that to rest. It didn’t; I found it as confusing as ever, but even then I realised that much of the poetic nature of whatever version I was familiar with had been lost, rendering the book even more meaningless.

            As for what’s incomprehensible, and I might add inconsistent? I’m not going down that one, or we’ll be here for evermore. I notice that the OT is now largely regarded in all but the most fervent of fundamentalist circles as mythical, retaining perhaps some of the bits that suit modern day bigotry, such as homosexuality. I am now seeing, however, arguments that the NT also is not intended to be taken literally, being allegorical or metaphorical, or whatever. It was a series of comments put in such a way that I was being made to appear foolish for thinking it should ever have been taken literally. And that, I suppose, is where I came in. If there’s a case for saying that there’s no need to take the bible literally then, albeit not a stance you necessarily take, why hold people to account for the sin of ‘pre-marital sex’ as being absolutely rigid.?

          • Avatar
            Bruce Gerencser

            As a professor at Columbia International University, I suspect Larry Dixon is required to subscribe to and affirm his employer’s statement of faith. According to Columbia’s website, this is their core belief about the Bible:

            “The Bible is the inspired Word of God, the written record of His supernatural revelation of Himself to man, absolute in its authority, complete in its revelation, final in its content, and without any errors in its teachings.”

            This statement is boilerplate language similar to that which is found in countless Evangelical statements of faith. I, at one time, would have wholeheartedly agreed with Columbia’s Fundamentalist view of the Bible.

            On their Values page, I found this:

            “The Bible is the ultimate foundation and the final truth in every aspect of our lives. We concentrate on mastering God’s Word, learning to understand its meaning and apply its teaching.”

            You can check out Columbia’s complete statement of faith here

            I did find it interesting that the university is explicitly premillennial.

      • Avatar
        Michael Mock

        I’m still not seeing the lie here. Maybe it’s just me, but:
        Premarital sex is normal. Well, yes, it seems pretty normal.
        Premarital sex is natural. Again, not seeing the problem with this statement. If it wasn’t normal and natural, surely the Church wouldn’t feel compelled to spend so much time and attention preaching against it.
        Premarital sex is fun. I’m not seeing an untruth here, either.

        Now, if you want to make a case that there are long-term side effects involving, I don’t know, the inevitable outcome of sinful behavior, the disapproval of the Almighty, the inability to completely bond with your spouse later on, or any metaphors involving pre-licked lollipops, well… that’s another argument entirely, and I suppose we could discuss that, too.

        But the argument as stated, the idea that acknowledging that “premarital sex is normal, natural, and fun” is “buying into a lie” rather than “acknowledging reality as many of us see and experience it”, doesn’t really appear to hold water.

        • Avatar
          Larry Dixon

          Michael: You make an excellent point. I’m sure I could have been clearer. What I meant to say was that God’s way for us is to enjoy the pleasures of sex within the bond of marriage. I’m sure that premarital sex seems quite normal, natural, and fun. But it is not what God intended. That’s what I meant to say. What a person sees as fun can be quite destructive, especially to one’s self. Thanks for your comment. Larry

          • Avatar
            Bruce Gerencser

            Most people engage in premarital sex — including Evangelicals. Yet, most people make it through life without facing the destruction of self (to use your words). In fact, the people who have the most psychological angst over premarital sex are those raised in conservative/Evangelical homes. Instead of being taught that having sex is normal and healthy, they are told that engaging in premarital sex is NOT normal, natural, or fun. These are your words, Larry. You use the word “seem” to suggest that those who think premarital sex (and all consenting/legal sex) normal, natural, and fun are deceiving themselves. The problem here is religion, not those who act on normal, healthy sexual desires. That Fundamentalists such as yourself have been unable to stem the tide of premarital sex suggests to me that maybe, just maybe there’s a problem with your message. Perhaps, it is time to do an update on the Bible, reflecting modern views of human sexuality.

            Question? Is masturbation a sin?

  2. Avatar
    Ed Maurer

    Is it stil1972? I heard this shit back then. Wasn’t true then, sure isn’t now. I’m still with my girlfriend/wife after 40 plus years.
    Good thing we ignored the guilt preachers and enjoyed ourselves.

    • Avatar

      There is nothing wrong with shacking up, Ed. It is tolerated in many a church, quietly of course and providing that there is absolutely NO SEX! Sex has been documented as a cause of dancing and almighty God gets real real pissed at dancing. You go ahead and ‘enjoy’ yourselves but remember that the devil is sneaking around in your underdrawers. I’ll be preying for both you and that friend-girl you mention…

    • Avatar
      Larry Dixon

      Thanks for your comment, Ed. I don’t see myself as a guilt preacher. I’m thankful for the freedom I’ve found in Jesus to live life to God’s glory (as best I can). My wife Linda and I celebrated 45 years a couple of weeks ago. I’m glad for your marital success as well. Blessings. Larry

  3. Avatar

    “Prior to 2007, Columbia did not allow dating unmarried students to have ANY physical contact with the opposite sex except from for brief hugs.”

    Yeah, as I recall it, my first time was really more like a brief hug! Holy smoke and fire all over the place and brief and briefs and by golly it was indeed university if a sort! (in fairness, Dr. Dixon could be referring to his own experiences and be entirely accurate, quite astute. As he says, Not normal, nor natural and certainly not fun. By golly, Larry, just what were you up to to mess things up like that? )

  4. Avatar
    That Other Jean

    Because sexual incompatibility after marriage when your physical relationship has been confined to hugs, hand-holding, and chaste kisses is NEVER a problem, since marriage fixes everything. Or not. Such instructions are creating a manual for misery.

    Although it’s good to see that sexual abuse of children is forbidden, along with premarital sex and explicit pictures. What is wrong with these nearly-adult people? Must they wait for some authority figure to tell them how to behave? Have they developed no internal moral compass at all?

  5. Avatar

    If extra-marital sex is ‘abnormal, unnatural and not fun’, why are so many christian leaders caught out indulging in it? Why do it if it makes them so miserable when they have a faithful spouse at home? (or had pledged themselves to a lifetime of celibacy).

    • Avatar
      Larry Dixon

      Matilda: Great questions! The Bible says that there is pleasure in sin “for a season.” But God made us to enjoy sex within a covenant of trust and faithfulness. My heart breaks when Christian leaders fall. I’ve had to work with some of them — especially with the spouse who has been betrayed. Very sad. But even those terrible choices can be forgiven for those who want forgiveness. Blessings. Larry

      • Avatar

        Larry, like EVERYONE ELSE on this site, I HAVE READ THE BIBLE but have come to completely different conclusions to you. No apologies for the capitals. And never have understood what ‘Blessings’ mean btw.

        • Avatar
          Bruce Gerencser

          One of the common misunderstandings Evangelicals have about atheists is that they are ignorant about the Bible. They cannot wrap their mind around someone reading/studying the Bible and still not believing. Many people are atheists because they HAVE read/studied the Bible.

          This is one of the reasons why many Evangelicals find my story so troubling. I spent 50 years in the Christian church, attended an Evangelical college, and pastored Evangelical churches for 25 years. I have read the Bible from cover to cover numerous times. I have spent thousands of hours studying the Bible. I have preached thousands of sermons, having expositionally preached through a number of the books of the Bible. In particular, I preached over 100 sermons from the gospel of John. Yet, with full knowledge of what the Bible teaches, I reject God/Jesus/Christianity.

          How can this be?, I’ve been asked countless times. Instead of accepting the fact that the Bible is one of the reasons people deconvert, Evangelicals look for other reasons/motives: anger, hatred, hurt, a desire to sin, etc.

      • Avatar

        Well, Larry, let me tell you that as an atheist, I know that there is pleasure for a season in everything. Life is about seasons. Christianity tries to co-opt some of the human realities and suggest they are about fallen life as humans but that bullshit is just that…
        Your marriage, for instance, is not a pleasure for almost half a century. It was seasons of pleasure along with lots else! The Bible is not the owner of decency and glory in life at all. In fact, it demeans the glory of humanity by saying we are not good enough without a big good guy to cover us. Have you forgiven yourself, Larry, for doing what you do?

  6. Avatar
    Larry Dixon

    Bruce: I want to thank you for reading my blog and for commenting. I’ve read your post and understand that you have turned away from Christianity. I would be very interested in knowing your reasons why. I would like to pursue our conversation outside my blog, if you wish. Would you mind sending me an email at: Blessings. Larry

  7. Avatar

    Try actually reading Bruce’s blog, there are number of posts listed as starting points. Bruce has a great deal of wonderful materials with his journey from pastor to atheist.


      • Avatar

        We reject the gospels the same way that we reject that Sauron once ruled Middle-Earth and was defeated by a Hobbit, that Darth Vader helped rule a galactic empire, that there once was a powerful continent called Atlantis, there are canals and 4 armed warriors on Mars and that the moon is made of cheese. While the stories are fun, there is NO evidence for them.

        Stories from our past can have power, but there is no evidence for an afterlife or someone rising from the dead after 3 days.


  8. Avatar

    “You can check out Columbia’s complete statement of faith here

    I did find it interesting that the university is explicitly premillennial.”

    Thanks for the link Bruce. I find it intellectually bereft that a body describing itself as a ‘university’ can possibly subscribe to that kind of superstitious mumbo jumbo, require its teaching staff to, at least in name, sign up to it, and then use that as the basis for educating people. Holy cow!

  9. Avatar
    John Arthur

    Hi Larry,

    I am astounded how any university, worth its name, wants to interfere in the sexual choices of its students. I thought that universities were meant to educate people in the humanities and sciences and in professional training, not put restrictions on their sexual behaviour.

    Okay, your institution is Christian Fundamentalist and I understand why it might want to do this, but repressing sexuality only drives it underground. Humans are sexual beings and, provided we treat others with dignity, respect and loving kindness, then if two persons have sex under such conditions why thunder an ancient book at them when it has inconsistencies in it. Those young people who enter into loving relationships don’t agree with this ” university’s” ultra-strict and repressive sexual morality?


    John Arthur

  10. Avatar

    Evangelical “logic”
    State completely falsefiable and falsefied position:
    “Premarital sex isn’t fun”
    Person who has had premarital sex:
    “I had sex it was fun”
    “You only think it was fun, you’re in denial. Your opinion cannot be included in the statistics if it isn’t my position”
    Restate position:
    “It’s a proven fact, 100 percent of premarital sex isn’t fun”

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Bruce Gerencser