The guy sitting across from me is a professing and practicing Christian. He drops by my office unannounced today to talk to me about his new online-dating life. Specifically, he wants to talk about the overwillingness of Christian women he has encountered on several of his dates who want to jump right from a very public conversation and vanilla latte at Starbucks to very private whispers and physical exchanges between the sheets back at his place.
Usually this gender scenario is reversed, but the sex, love and dating landscape continues to move in a progressively liberal direction among Christians without any solid indicators that it will change anytime soon. Both genders today, across all ages and Christian demographics, are prone to compartmentalize their faith away from their sexual life.
While Christian singles report that praying and church attendance are highly desirable qualities in the dating matrix, a troubling and confusing dichotomy arises when the issue of sex before marriage presents itself. Specifically, single Christians enter a sexual fog. That fog clouds and hides the reality that an identity rooted in Christ should manifest itself in intelligent and hope-filled sexual restraint based on God’s promises and instead replaces it with fear and pride-filled choices based on some other promise they believe more.
A Church Full of Sexual Atheists?
In a recent study conducted by ChristianMingle.com, Christian singles between the ages of 18 to 59 were asked, “Would you have sex before marriage?” The response? Sixty-three percent of the single Christian respondents indicated yes.
In my 30 years of youth and adult ministry experience, this is as unfiltered, direct and honest as a question and answer can be.
It is equally honest to say that nearly nine out of 10 self-proclaimed single Christians are, in practice, sexual atheists. In other words, God has nothing to say to them on that subject of any consequence or, at least, anything meaningful enough to dissuade them from following their own course of conduct. It is the ultimate oxymoron. A person who at once believes in a wise, sovereign and loving God who created them and all things, can also believe simultaneously He should not, cannot or will not inform their thinking or living sexually. It reminds me of those famous red letters in Luke’s Gospel where Jesus says, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46, NIV). There is a disconnect between identity and activity.
If you let the paint mentally dry on the statistic above and the perception about God it reflects for a moment, perhaps my contention of sexual atheism won’t seem so far-fetched. No amount of hand-wringing at the many-headed hydra of the entertainment world or raucous deploring of immoral political philosophies invading our nation can explain this one.
No, our life in God and for our God reflects our real view of God. These are our adults who populate our weekend services, attend our Bible studies, download our podcast messages, pray often and who have Jesus Culture, TobyMac and Maroon 5 in their playlists. Having tracked this trend among youth for decades, it is no surprise to me that the broad spectrum of single adults—yesterday’s youth—both feel and act this way. We should really make an effort to not be too shocked or surprised.