Skip to comments.A Sexual Revolution for Young Evangelicals? No.
Posted on 07/09/2014 9:49:18 PM PDT by ReformationFan
In any discussion about the future of religion in America, especially as it relates to stalled growth in churches and denominations, those outside our religious communities find one theory especially compelling. This is the idea: that young Evangelicals are frustrated with Christian orthodoxys strict standards of sexual morality. Were told that these young Evangelicals will soon revolutionize our churches with liberalized views on same-sex marriage, premarital sex, gender identity, and so on. But a new study by a University of Texas sociologist finds that Evangelical Christians ages 18 to 39 are resisting liberalizing trends in the culture.
The suggestion of a shift in attitudes does sound plausible. Indeed, one of us has warned for years that conservative Evangelicals are often slow-motion sexual revolutionaries, adjusting to the ambient culture on, for instance, divorce in ways that have harmed our witness and compromised the Biblical message. How much more vulnerable would Evangelicals be in a culture that is shifting roller-coaster fast on the definition of marriage itself and related issues? But recent data suggest otherwise.
The research, to be fully released in September, was introduced in Mark Regneruss presentation Sex in America: Sociological Trends in American Sexuality, unveiled at a recent gathering of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commissions leadership summit. According to Regnerus, when compared with the general population and with their non-observant peers, churchgoing Evangelical Christians are retaining orthodox views on Biblical sexuality, despite the shifts in broader American culture.
Regnerus surveyed 15,378 persons between the ages of 18 and 60, but he focuses in particular on respondents under 40. Significantly, Regnerus did the important work of differentiating between those who identify merely verbally with a particular religious tradition and those who actually attend church weekly. A political poll that didnt differentiate between likely and unlikely voters wouldnt be an accurate representation of the electorate, and for the same reasons, a survey should distinguish between someone who says Catholic or Baptist when asked for a religious identity and someone who actually shows up in the pews.
While support for same-sex marriage characterized a solid majority of those identifying as atheists, agnostics, liberal Catholics, and liberal Protestants, only 11 percent of young Evangelicals actively expressed support for same-sex marriage.
Approximately 6 percent of religiously active Evangelicals expressed support for abortion rights, while over 70 percent of their non-believing peer group said they believed in abortion rights.
While a large cross-section of all Americans believe in marriages importance, Regnerus found that, for example, Evangelicals are less likely than most to perceive marriage as outdated.
Evangelical Christians were also drastically less likely to believe that cohabitation is a good idea. While upward of 70 percent of those who claim no religious affiliation or those who are spiritual but not religious agree that cohabitation is acceptable, approximately 5 percent of Evangelicals agreed that cohabitation is acceptable. While left-leaning Evangelicals have received considerable media attention lately, it pays to survey the masses and see just whats going on, says Regnerus. These data suggest that while a modest minority of Evangelicals under 40 profess what we might call more sexually liberal attitudes, its not a significant minority. Minorities can be vocal. Survey data help us understand just how large or small they really are.
Regneruss research suggests that younger Evangelicals arent hewing to the cultures expectation that they conform to its values. Thats a welcome reality, especially given the significant cultural pressures that young Christians face in todays culture. This lines up with what we, as conservative Evangelicals, see happening in our own congregations across America.
As American culture secularizes, the most basic Christian tenets seem ever more detached from mainstream American culture. Those who identify with Christianity, and who gather with the people of God, have already decided to walk out of step with the culture. Beliefs arent assumed but are articulated over and against a culture that finds them implausible. Evangelical views on sexuality seem strange, but young Evangelicals in post-Christianizing America have already embraced strangeness by spending Sunday morning at church rather than at brunch.
Moreover, sexuality isnt ancillary to Christianity, in the way some other cultural or political issues are. Marriage and sex point, the Bible says, to a picture of the gospel itself, the union of Christ and his church. This is why the Bible spends so much time, as some critics would put it, obsessed with sex. Thats why, historically, churches that liberalize on sex tend to liberalize themselves right out of Christianity itself.
The culture is changing, to be sure. The Sexual Revolution marches on, but it doesnt move forward without dissent. On any given Sunday morning, in your community, young Evangelicals are telling America that a sexual counter-revolution is ready to be born, again.
Russell D. Moore is president and CEO of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention, the nations largest Protestant denomination. Andrew Walker is the ERLCs director of policy studies.
Someone who is seriously in touch with the love of God (be that evangelical or other flavor of Christian) is probably also going to appreciate the meaning of marital love. This is the thing that the Lord is keeping special and that is why “fooling around” is considered to be a low thing.
It takes love, however, to teach love. A distant, bossy “God” is not going to get anything but grudging cooperation at best when it comes to sexual purity.
In the world, not of it.
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” John 14:15
That’s what it boils down to. God’s words and standards will never change. If you’re not okay with that, then you love the world and not God.
The “stalled church growth” is mostly acute in the LIBERAL denominations
Mainline Protestants were always made up of Cafeteria Christians, so no explanation is needed for them. They seem to find environmentalism, homosexuality, and abortion make excellent fashion statements.
Good on Evangelicals for rejecting liberal idiocy which goes against the fundamental tenants of being a Christian. Good on Evangelicals for being the most likely to reject Democrat nonsense. Good on Evangelicals for having the Protestant Work Ethic which created man's greatest creation, capitalism.
Encouraging news and not unexpected. Those who are straight on the Gospel and who have a genuine born again relationship with Almighty God will ALWAYS lean towards His will in ALL areas of their lives. It is what happens when the Holy Spirit indwells the believer.
Good news if true. I hope the Evangelicals won’t start going wobbly on issues of sexual morality.
“The stalled church growth is mostly acute in the LIBERAL denominations”
Well, of course - they’ve remade God so effectively to fit the one they see in the mirror that making the jump to atheism is plain and natural. After all, if everything is relative, you create your own truth. You decide if those stuffy old commandments in the Bible actually apply. You are, effectively, your own God.
That’s what liberal Christianity is: a stepping stone for atheism or a study in narcissism, take your pick.
I disconnected myself from the sewer pipe of filth coming out of popular culture when I was in college, and I’ve remained that way ever since. We may not go parading through the streets talking about our bedroom exploits or raising hell every time the left uses us as a collective doormat, but we’re out there.
I was actually having trouble believing that there were more like me at one point, so this news is very encouraging.
“Why isn’t the Catholic Church excommunicating members who espouse deviant practices?”
Probably for the same reason that a lot of Protestant churches around here are afraid to touch anything remotely controversial: they’re afraid of losing members.
They’d rather pay lip service to the truth and keep deviants around, whether it’s to make themselves feel better that they’re “reaching” these lost souls (when nothing could be further from the truth), to appear fashionably in-step with popular culture as you said, or, most likely, to take in their donation money. We’ve got church leaders of all stripes measuring the effectiveness of their denominations by worldly standards, and that’s a shame.
The young people in the Catholic Church are choosing to remain chaste for the most part.
There was a huge study done approximately twenty years ago by BJU and PCC, which showed that a male or female, married within the church, and faithful to church, can look forward to average marriage survivability rates in the 90 percentile.
Amen. Deontological ethics with relationship to a church seemed to be created for the purpose of idiots who don’t want to read Scripture, keep to morals which may lead to personal inconvenience, or use their own minds.
If the Catholic Church is supposed to be the final authority on all subject matters and timeless, why does it keep changing its viewpoints on various matters? At first they say, “Abortion is wrong, and advocating it in society is wrong,” but now they seem to say, “Abortion is wrong, but advocating it in society is fine”. Having Pelosi and Biden as members is especially stupid when you consider that they want to destroy Christianity and replace it with a Secularist Theocracy.
Why did they need to have the Second Vatican Council? Apparently, it was originally God’s intention to have the Bible in Latin, but He changed His mind in the 1960s because churchgoers were otherwise going to turn into pot-smoking Communists, or something along those lines.
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