Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Study: 80% of single evangelicals aged 18-29 are no longer virigins

Mary sent me this disturbing article from Relevant Magazine.

Excerpt:

[A] recent study reveals that 88 percent of unmarried young adults (ages 18-29) are having sex. The same study, conducted by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, reveals the number doesnʼt drop much among Christians. Of those surveyed who self-identify as “evangelical,” 80 percent say they have had sex.

[...]Of those 80 percent of Christians in the 18-29 age range who have had sex before marriage, 64 percent have done so within the last year and 42 percent are in a current sexual relationship.

In addition to having premarital sex, an alarming number of unmarried Christians are getting pregnant. Among unmarried evangelical women between the ages of 18 and 29, 30 percent have experienced a pregnancy (a number thatʼs actually 1 percent higher than among those who donʼt claim to be evangelical).

According to the Guttmacher Institute, nearly half of all pregnancies in America are unintended. And of those, 40 percent end in abortion. More than 1 million abortions occur in the United States each year. But perhaps the most disturbing statistic for the Church: 65 percent of the women obtaining abortions identify themselves as either Protestant or Catholic (37 percent Protestant and 28 percent Catholic). Thatʼs 650,000 abortions obtained by Christians every year.

The pregnancy stats are shocking to many—and the abortion stats horrifying— but the root problem is the willingness to have sex before marriage. Without sex, pregnancies and abortions donʼt happen.

If abstinence messages were actually working—and this generation of Christians was genuinely committed to saving sex for marriage—then the other issues would dwindle considerably.

If this generation wants to reverse the trend and reduce the number of Christians having premarital sex, the first step is trying to figure out why so few are waiting.

What do I have to say to this? Well, I am in my mid-thirties. I am chaste. In fact, I have not even kissed a woman on the lips, since I am saving that for when I get engaged. So I know how to be chaste and I know why I am doing it. I don’t see the value of sexual activity in a relationship. I don’t see how it helps me to achieve any deeper intimacy with a woman or to increase the probability of having a stable marriage that influences others and produces effective Christian children, which are my goals for marriage. I think the reason why people resort to sex in relationships is because they don’t have the same goals as I do for their relationships. They want recreation, and they think that marriage is a continuation of the fun they are having as singles. But I have a different goal for my relationships, and sex doesn’t fit into it my courting procedure.

What I do instead of sex is that I try to make Christian women read about apologetics, science, marriage, economics, parenting, foreign policy, politics, and so on. I try to undo the influence of non-Christian ideologies like feminism, socialism postmodernism, moral relativism, pacifism, etc. I try to get them to practice disagreeing and arguing with non-Christians so that they are more bold and persuasive in their witnessing. And finally, I try to provide them with a model of what a man should be, so that they find it easier to choose good ones and reject bad ones. All of this worldview development and debating tends to make them feel closer to God, because now they are able to serve him by understanding him and defending him in public. Premarital sex would not help any of my goals for women. I am not trying to have fun with them – I am trying to make them grow and be more effective.

The reason why most Christians don’t follow a plan like mine, and instead prefer sex is because they think that marriage is not a lifelong commitment with the purpose of serving God, but a recreational arrangement in which they will get their needs met without having to do anything. They go to church, they listen to sermons, they sing songs, and they have feelings about all of their churchy stuff. But they don’t really know what marriage is about or how to prepare for it or how to choose someone who will be a good mate. Rather than do the work, they try to short-circuit the process with sex, and then hope for the best. They trust their emotions and intuitions. They don’t want to take away the spontaneity of romance by sitting down and evaluating people to see if they really are Christians and whether they think of marriage as being about commitment and self-sacrifice as a way of serving God.

I do blame pastors for not educating women about how to prepare for marriage. I think the problem is that Christians pastors are too focused on reading the Bible, and not focused on integrating the Bible with external truth from history, science, etc. They stand at the front of the church giving speeches, but they never explain why what they are saying is true. Pastors are notoriously bad at apologetics – they tend to just drone on and on about things that they are not able to support evidentially. And the people listening just don’t bother to do it, since they are not persuaded that anything the pastor says is true. So, even if the pastors tell their flocks to get married and stay married, they don’t really convince why they ought to care what the Bible says, or how to achieve the goals set in the Bible through practical preparation and wise decisions.

I think that the right place to start with people on chastity is by showing them the costs for children who grow up in broken homes. Just studying that brings up the question: what should adults do in order to make sure that they don’t hurt children by being reckless and irresponsible? The answer is: adults should be chaste before marriage and then get married and be faithful and fulfill the roles or father/husband and mother/wife. And, adults should understand what laws and policies encourage or discourage people to get married and stay married, and vote for pro-marriage (anti-feminist) policies. All of the studying laws, policies, economics, etc. flows from that desire to do no harm to children. Even better than doing no harm would be to have a plan to have a marriage that will be a model to non-Christians while producing influential Christian children at the same time.

Who is supposed to explain why people should get married and how to prepare for marriage and how to select someone to marry and how to proceed with a courtship? Well, pastors are the ones who should know about these things. But they are often afraid to put moral boundaries on people who want to be guided by their emotions and the moral standards of their same-age peers and popular culture. And it’s not just a refusal to set moral boundaries and to prove them out using evidence – pastors also shy away from telling their flocks about how different laws and policies provide incentives and disincentives to people to either get married or not, or to stay married or not. How can people vote intelligently for a set of laws and policies that are marriage friendly when they never even think about such things? Pastors don’t want to annoy their flock, and they think that reading and thinking annoys their flock.

I think that we need to ask pastors to do a better job of integrating their Bible teaching with real evidence and arguments, and to integrate Christian values with laws and public policies that support those values, and to have real, practical advice on how to prepare for and execute courtship and marriage.

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2 Responses

  1. Not surprising at all… especially when you consider that 10% or less believe in the basic fundamentals of the faith.

  2. Pat Joy says:

    ‘I do blame pastors for not educating women about how to prepare for marriage.’ Excuse me, but did these women make themselves pregnant, what about educating the men as well. It takes two to make a bargain.

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