And the reality is the numbers arenʼt going down. 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.
There are the stats. I don’t think there’s a whole lot there that will be crazy shocking, but now we’ve got to ask why. Why is there little to no difference in how Christ followers and non-Christ followers handle themselves when it comes to sex before marriage? Is this some sort of new sexual revolution or are we just more open about it in today’s culture? The article continues…
The mediaʼs marketing of sex, the cultural endorsement of the “do what feels good” mentality, the prevalence of pornography and the widespread misunderstanding of sex that prompts people to chase after love and acceptance in unhealthy physical relationships are all factors that make it difﬁcult to practice chastity. The reality is chastity is not the norm. And such a discipline is certainly not easy.
Godʼs picture of sex and marriage is certainly a beautiful one, but itʼs also … old. Biblical times were a lot different than current times. Is such a picture still relevant?
Scot McKnight, author of One.Life and professor in religious studies at North Park University in Chicago, is aware of the difﬁculties facing unmarried Christians and the shifts in the “reality” of living chastely.
“Sociologically speaking, the one big difference—and itʼs monstrous— between the biblical teaching and our culture is the arranged marriages of very young people. If you get married when youʼre 13, you donʼt have 15 years of temptation.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average age for ﬁrst marriages for both men and women has been increasing for the last 45 years. In 1965, the average man ﬁrst married at age 22.8; the average woman, 20.6. In 2010, the average age was 28.1 for men and 26.1 for women.
Abstinence messages have often been geared toward teenagers, but as the average marrying age creeps closer to 30, the time period when Christians are called to be chaste can easily extend a decade beyond their high school graduation—or much longer. So what does abstinence look like as Christians “grow up” and enter the real world but are still single?
And I think that’s a fair question. What does abstinence look like as Christians “grow up?”
Something tells me handing out promise rings to singles groups just isn’t going to cut it.
Praying for each and every one of you single adults who are trying to navigate these tricky waters with character and integrity. I can’t imagine the temptations you must face day in and day out.