Evangelical students are dating with marriage in mind, but the road to the altar is anything but simple.
Whether they had a ring by spring, never had a date, or were somewhere in between, alumni of Christian colleges and universities remember their experience of marriage culture on campus. This is likely true whether they graduated recently or as far back as the mid-20th century. Despite massive changes in gender roles, sexuality, and young-adult patterns of employment and family formation, marriage culture at Christian colleges and universities remains very strong. It’s as if there’s an underlying beat that still carries the song, even as the verses and harmonies change.
Dana Malone’s book From Single to Serious explores relationships, gender, and sexuality on evangelical campuses, describing student and campus culture and how it impacts individuals. Malone, an independent scholar, has years of experience in student affairs work, including a doctoral study focused on students’ relational practices on evangelical campuses and how they differ from broader patterns of campus life in America. The study that resulted in this book follows on her doctoral work, broadening its scope to examine the pathways to intimate relationships. She conducted interviews and focus groups on two campuses, a small and large evangelical university. Readers will have to consider whether this small sample is truly representative. With the breadth and scope of schools affiliated with the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, it is difficult to know how campus culture compares across regions and denominations.
Malone’s doctoral study of students in intimate relationships found that evangelical campuses foster a markedly different pattern of relationship building. A majority of students in relationships were not dating …
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