by Chelsen Vicari

The Washington Post ran a fascinating op-ed by Mark Regnerus on September 5 that examines just how negatively society’s dating patterns are impacting young Christians and what this could mean for the Church’s future.

You’ll recall Regnerus, an associate professor at the University of Texas, is the sociologist whose research found children raised by same-sex couples experienced more negative adult outcomes compared to children in traditional family structures. Now Regnerus is turning his attention to unmarried Christians.

His Washington Post article is well worth the read. Regnerus briefly touches on topics including online dating, delayed Christian marriages, clergy’s uncertain responses, and our overly-permissive culture.

Where to start? Premarital sex as an acceptable sin.

Chastity is a lifelong onus for all Christians — married and unmarried. The problem is premarital sex seems like a more acceptable sin among the Millennial generation.

Regnerus identifies “Cheap sex,” as the culprit. Proliferation of the Pill, pornography, convenience of cohabitation, and efficient online dating apps has cheapened sex.

“Young Christians are suffering the bruising effects of participating in the same wider mating market as the rest of the country,” Regnerus writes.

“They want love, like nearly everyone else,” he adds. They couple. Sex often follows, though sometimes after a longer period of time — a pattern that confuses them more than most, because premarital sex remains actively discouraged, but impossible to effectively prevent, in the church.”

The stats hint this may be more than a mere fluke. Eighty percent of unmarried Evangelicals between 18 and 29 had engaged in sex, according to a study in 2009 by National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

So what can we expect?

Honestly, it’s difficult to imagine challenges to the Church’s teachings on sexual ethics could get worse. Amid religious revisionists’ efforts to turn gender into self-expression and marriage into free-for-all groupings, now we face the impact of devalued sex.

The much-maligned purity culture is taking its toll on young Christians. Sex is a good gift. It’s a physical and spiritual union between husband and wife within a lifelong covenant reflective of Christ and His Church. From my own personal observations, this message doesn’t seem to be getting across in youth groups.

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SOURCE: Christian Post

Chelsen Vicari serves as the Evangelical Program Director for the Institute on Religion and Democracy. She earned her Masters of Arts in Government from Regent University and frequently contributes to conservative outlets. Follow her on twitter @ChelsenVicari.