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Wow, did you see this piece in CT? It’s by Mark Regnerus.
Indeed, over 90 percent of American adults experience
sexual intercourse before marrying. The percentage of evangelicals who
do so is not much lower. In a nationally representative study of young
adults, just under 80 percent of unmarried, church- going, conservative
Protestants who are currently dating someone are having sex of some
sort. I’m certainly not suggesting that they cannot abstain. I’m
suggesting that in the domain of sex, most of them don’t and won’t.
What to do? Intensify the abstinence message even more?
No. It won’t work. The message must change, because our preoccupation
with sex has unwittingly turned our attention away from the damage that
Americans–including evangelicals–are doing to the institution of
marriage by discouraging it and delaying it.
Late Have I Loved You
If you think it’s difficult to be pro-life in a
pro-choice world, or to be a disciple of Jesus in a sea of skeptics,
try advocating for young marriage. Almost no one empathizes, even among
the faithful. The nearly universal hostile reaction to my April 23,
2009, op-ed on early marriage in The Washington Post
suggests that to esteem marriage in the public sphere today is to speak
a foreign language: you invoke annoyance, confusion, or both.
But after years of studying the sexual behavior and
family decision-making of young Americans, I’ve come to the conclusion
that Christians have made much ado about sex but are becoming slow and
lax about marriage–that more significant, enduring witness to Christ’s
sacrificial love for his bride. Americans are taking flight from
marriage. We are marrying later, if at all, and having fewer children.
While our sexual ideals have remained biblical and thus rooted in
marriage, our ideas about marriage have changed significantly. For all
the heated talk and contested referendums about defending marriage
against attempts to legally redefine it, the church has already ceded
plenty of intellectual ground in its marriage-mindedness. Christian
practical ethics about marriage–not the ones expounded on in books, but
the ones we actually exhibit–have become a nebulous hodgepodge of
pragmatic norms and romantic imperatives, few of which resemble