The pollsters have deliberated and the news is in… over 80% of Christian evangelicals between the age of 18-29 are engaging in pre-marital sexual encounters and 60% of those are presently engaging in ongoing sexual relations. That’s a lot of illicit sex if your perspective is informed by the Bible. If not and you don’t profess to follow Jesus than have at it, there’s no reason not to even if you aren’t in love. But for the Christian, really!?!?!? Before being accused of being judgmental, I recognize there are mistakes and there is forgiveness available for those who seek it; but what confuses me is the flippancy of this particular segment of the church as it relates to sexual ethics. Pastoring in a large church context in central Canada, I was continually confronted with individuals in this age group that didn’t view sexual activity outside the confines of marriage as sin, in fact, they suggested that the Biblical sexual ethic is archaic and an opt out reality.
While it is true that the biblical authors did a lot to push for the rights of slaves and women in their social context, this is not the trajectory of Scripture when it comes to sexual ethics. The social context of the Hellenized Greek culture was one of sexual promiscuity even to the point of allowing for pedophilia as an acceptable practice. This is the social landscape of the New Testament authors. If anything, the authors nailed down sexual ethics as it pertains to “Christians” or followers of Jesus. The New Testament is not libertine as it relates to sexual standards, it in fact would have been perceived as incredibly counter cultural or “repressive” for the time… much like the post 60′s sexual revolution we presently find ourselves living in. The Bible isn’t archaic as much as it is counter-cultural. We are called to a higher standard; one not informed by Katy Perry, Madonna, Friends, and Hugh Heffner.
If you don’t like it or agree with it, get a new faith! Jenga Christianity only goes so far before collapse. Here are some possible alternatives to the “archaic” Christian worldview. Relativism is a good starting point. What is it? You are the judge, there is no “right” or “wrong.” “What is right for one person isn’t necessarily right for another person, regardless of the culture in which they live.” Everything is merely perspective. Some catch phrases of relativism are tolerance, open mindedness, and being nonjudgmental. The Bible refers to this as every human being doing that which is right in his or her own eyes. Relativism firmly plants your feet in mid-air and firmly establishes you as master of your own destiny. For a faith that firmly establishes you as master of your own destiny, satanism tops the list. For those who don’t know, satanism is not the worship of a red suited, clown character with a pitch fork. Adherents of satanism are committed to SELF. Satan is simply a symbol of carnality. Pretty much take Christianity and either gut or reverse all of its ethical teachings and you have the basic gist behind this faith. It emphasizes the inclinations and desires of what Christian theology would refer to as fallen humanity. As it relates to sex, satanism advocates for having the kind of sex you want not simply as much sex as you can handle. In listening to the young Christian evangelical describe their attitudes about sex, it’s safe to say that they have more in common with relativism and satanism than a Christian worldview as it relates to their sexual ethics. (And to set to the record straight, I’m not saying you are a Satanist if you have sex outside of marriage… only that you would be acting consistently within that worldview)
Dallas Willard suggests, “For good or for evil, the body lies right at the center of the spiritual life… and the body becomes a spiritual barrier to conformity to Christ. He further suggests, “The body usually hinders people in doing what they know to be good and right.” Placing ourselves at the center of the universe, human ruin is sure to follow. “The body becomes our primary source of gratification and the chief instrument for getting what we want. That is a perversion of the role of the body in the life as God intended it; and it results in ‘death’, in alienation from God and the loss of all we will have invested our lives in (Galatians 6:8).”
I agree with Augustine, “If you believe what you like in the Gospels, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the Gospel you believe, but yourself.” There is a lot of this going around at present in our lives and churches. We have set ourselves over and above God’s revelation in flesh and in print. We have transferred authority from Jesus and Scripture to ourselves, but unfortunately the human being’s center is not terribly reliable when it comes to discerning what is good and right. Scriptures tells us the heart is easily deceived and desperately wicked. As it relates to sex, that which is good and healthy has been lost in favor of that which is quick, easy, and pleasurable. We are living in sexual substitution and are reaping the consequences in our lives and relationships.