By Ashley Skidmore
A recent Relevant magazine piece entitled “(Almost) Everyone’s Doing it” reveals that young adults ages 18-29 are having pre-marital sex more often than not. According to a 2009 survey by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, 88% of all young adults have had sex before marriage. What should be shocking is that 80% of all self-identified Evangelical young adults have done the same.
Don’t Christians understand the Bible on this issue? According to a Gallup poll quoted by Relevant, 76% of Evangelicals have a clear Biblical understanding on this issue. Or, to reverse the data, 24% of Evangelicals are alright with premarital sex.
Is the data really shocking though? In a world where nothing is sacred, and where what used to be considered sacred is now fodder for ridicule via every form of entertainment and media, why should the sanctity of marriage be considered any different? Young adults have grown up in an “MTV” world, where sexuality is glorified in television shows like “Skins” and where one cannot buy groceries without being confronted by magazine covers taunting chastity.
One professor quoted by Relevant says that a major sociological difference that contributes to (but does not excuse) the growing statistic of pre-marital sex is the average age of marriage. He compares Biblical arranged marriages of early adolescents to the current average ages of 28.1 for men and 26.1 for women. I posit that this temptation is not a modern one: Paul addresses it in 1 Cor. 7:8-9. Instead, it can be argued that adults ages 18-29 have grown up in an “instant gratification” society, where patience is no longer a virtue. This is even understood and glorified by secular society, as exemplified by the Black Eyed Peas song “Now Generation” with lyrics like “I just can’t wait, I need it immediately.”
Merge the two contributing factors of an over-sexualized society, along with a generation craving instant gratification, and it is no surprise that young adults are engaging in pre-marital sex more than ever. What we need is an Evangelical culture that not only volitionally is against pre-marital sex, but practices what is preached. The church needs to restore that which is sacred, encourage young adults to stay pure, and exemplify purity to the secular world. Eighty percent of young Evangelicals is eighty percent too much.