By: Avery Pettway, MARRI Intern
Joshua Kelsey, MARRI Intern
The “2014 State of Dating in America” study, conducted by ChristianMingle and JDate, examines the dating behavior of Christian young adults. The study’s most ominous finding is the rapidly growing Christian acceptance of sex outside of marriage. When asked if they would have sex before marriage, 63% of Christian young adults answered yes, and only 13% said no. When asked how far into the relationship it was acceptable for the couple to move in together, 27% said after six months of dating, 30% said after a year of dating, and only 13% said it was only acceptable after marriage.
This data does not describe the US population at large—this is the state of things within Christendom (or at least the Christendom according to Christian Mingle and JDate). With thoughts like this harbored in Christian minds throughout our land, it makes sense that marriage is falling apart in our country, divorce rates are remarkably high, and the definition of sexuality is in perpetual flux. Such research should shock and disturb Christians—the church, after all, ought to be the solution, not the problem. Our biblical roadmap shows us the way to joyously hold out the single answer to how things work. Shouts of solutions, remedies and programs reverberate through our social conversation, but evidence of their success is grim. As Christians leave the voice of true reason (divine design), they will enter the age of parenting in the midst of moral and ideological chaos. What follows is that our next generation of children will be raised outside God’s paradigm—they will be the first generation, in theory, to have no background of stability. The current generation is rebelling against a standard they despise—the next generation won’t be rebels so much as followers of the new social norm.
How can we Christians who hope for cultural redemption fight chaotic societal trends when 63% of our own are captivated by the same trends? Christian leaders are frustrated, saddened, even angered, by the socio-sexual battle cries thundering against any righteous standard they uphold. The homosexual marriage movement is gaining ground, more children are born out of wedlock, and cohabitation is increasing — all working to undermine the bedrock of society, the family. We as Christians expect the unbelieving world to choose its own paths, to stray from God’s design. Throughout the ages, in varied cultural contexts, societies have turned towards sexual disobedience (among other kinds)—and, one by one, have fallen from splendor. We also know that God’s call to His own people is to turn from sexual immorality, to be set apart, and, most shiver-inducing of all: Be holy, for I am Holy. We adhere to His design for the sexual out of obedience to the Creator of sexuality. We adhere because…it works. Simply put, His design makes sense. He created sexuality, and therefore His way works.
And yet even self-proclaimed followers of God are so blind in the sexual arena. Society’s proposed sexual system only leads to chaos—first within family relationships, leading to breakdowns in the other key institutions. In what other context does society so energetically encourage actions that blatantly do not work? The family (and how sexuality is conducted within this framework) is the root of a functioning society, the stream feeding the tree that grows the branches of government, of economy, of education, etc. The United States will struggle to maintain any coherent identity or global presence if we continue on this road.
The people of God have always been the symbol of hope. In theory, we know what it is that works. This is where we mourn the most tragic part of our national story—Christians are following the tide. Those entrusted with the beautiful knowledge of how to grow a thriving society are putting such wisdom aside and stepping into chaos with the rest.
Many think that people leave the Faith and then become sexually promiscuous. But as the State of Dating in America study showed, this is simply not the case. An increasing many are maintaining their Christian title while adopting the cultural standards of their choice. We should not simply force our adolescents to sit in church pews. We must teach children of relational beauty, young people of sexual wholeness. We must reach out to the young Christian adults facing a sexually chaotic culture, come beside them, and help them discover true sexual order. We must seek to restore faithful zeal, but also to restore sexual clarity and obedience. We must, with care, ask sexuality and religion to lead each other hand-in-hand away from the pit that consumes them. Only then, when our own Christian culture has changed and sex is honored among us, can we have a hope at all of changing the secular culture and thus offering our nation a happy end.