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SEX and MARRIAGE Christians Choosing Secular Over Scripture
Recent studies have shown that Christians are more willing to replace their scriptural beliefs with modern cultural trends, according to Christian Mingle and JDate. A poll titled “2014 State of Dating in America” reveals the following: - 61% of Christians said they would have sex before marriage. - 56% said that it’s appropriate to move in with someone after dating for 6 months to 2 years. The results are clear that majority of young Christians are open to pre-marital sex and cohabitation. Both of which are heavily discussed throughout the Bible and God gives very clear instructions on how he intends people to live their lives. Peter Sprigg, a senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council, did warn Christians about dating sites and their validity. He said “Those who are active, committed Christians who believe in biblical values need to be cautious in using sites like Christian Mingle and not assume that others on the site share their values.” Sprigg provides a good warning for Christians who may be looking for someone with the same spiritual beliefs. Rachel Sussmann, a licensed psychotherapist and relationship expert, agrees with Sprigg’s assessment. However, Sussmann suggests that even those who consider themselves strong Christians make unbiblical decisions about sex. She went on to explain a common expression she hears from religious patients: “I practice what the church teaches me, but this is something personal between me and my partner.” Sussmann also suggested that in many ways, churches are “fighting an uphill battle because this is nature.” These assessments have valid points; however churches do not need to make this out to be an unwinnable battle. Sprigg elaborates on the idea, “I would encourage pastors to speak bluntly and boldly about sexuality and the biblical view of sexuality and marriage,” and encourages religious leaders to “not shy away from challenging the values of the culture.” When young Christians are ready to listen about sex and consider marriage, the discussion with their pastors should play a major role. Additionally, Christians need to understand that God is very aware of their strong sexual temptations and human nature. The Corinthians were struggling with this very same issue. Paul addressed it by assuring them in his letter, I Corinthians 7:2-5 “Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” Through this we know God is fully aware of our temptations and lack of self-control. He helps us by emphasizing the marital structure, in which man and women can depend on each other for support. In the same study, 34% of Christians responded that while it would be nice to marry someone of the same faith, it is not required. The alarming results of this poll suggest that Christians are not listening to God’s word. The majority of Christians feel that pre-marital sex and cohabitation is acceptable in today’s world, while putting little emphasis on the importance of committing one's life to a partner with the same spiritual beliefs and values. This data is quite clear that young Christians are not obeying God and what he has planned for us. If Christians know the scriptures, why are they still choosing to adhere to modern cultural trends? Perhaps it seems practical in today’s society. Cohabitation can seem like a good idea and many do so for different reasons. For some, these “trial marriages” provide the opportunity for couples to decide if they are compatible. Others may use them for financial reasons or simply to enjoy the benefits of marriage without having to make any promises or commitments. Scripture is very clear about this and modern studies are alluding that it is, in fact, dangerously problematic. Immediately we see the ramifications of a failed “trial marriage”. When things don’t work out, the two people simply parts ways. Unfortunately it isn’t that clean cut, especially if you are the person who was left. That person may feel as if they are damaged goods or something is wrong with them. This emotional remorse could carry doubt and fear into the next relationship, be it a legitimate marriage or another trial run. Studies and polls show that cohabitation has direct negative results. The research shows that it is correlated with greater likelihood of unhappiness, and domestic violence. These couples report lower levels of satisfaction in the relationship when compared to married couples. Women and children are more likely to be abused in cohabited households, even when the man is the father of the children. In a study examining the factors that impact marital stability, Brigham Young sociologist Tim Heaton studied how pre- marital sexual experiences, pre-marital child bearing, and cohabitation all increased the risk of divorce. Heaton explains his findings, “Dissolution rates are substantially higher among those who initiate sexual activity before marriage.” He contributes the data to the fact that cohabiters have established their life together on “relatively unstable sexual relations.” In a related study conducted by Professor Anthony Paik at the University of Iowa explains that females who first had sex in their teens had roughly double the risk of divorce. Fortunately for young Christians who are getting caught up in modern trends, scientific research is beginning to agree with what Biblical scriptures have been teaching for years. With the help of religious leaders and proven research, Christians are now better equipped to prepare for such commitments. When two people decide to give themselves away it is an emotional, spiritual, and physical gift. The commitment should be a covenant or promise made by a man and a woman before God, to love and care for one another. In this, a couple can truly experience God’s blessings in marriage. There are also a great deal of couples, who took part in pre-marital sex and cohabitation, who are now happily married. Some of these couples did not become Christians until after marriage and unanimously agree that they wish they had waited. This fact is however a testament to a couples vibrant faith in Christ. Much like the young Christians considering pre-marital sex, married couples should also discuss these issues between each other, their pastor, and through prayer. Married couples in this situation can work together, through Jesus, to create a stronger marriage. We find comfort knowing what God teaches us through Moses in Genesis 2:24 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”