The truth about sex and Christian singles is exposed in an eye-opening Relevant Magazine article by Tyler Charles entitled “(Almost) Everyone’s Doing It”. Eighty percent of young, unmarried Christians have had sex. Charles writes, “Of those 80 percent of Christians in the 18-29 age range who have had sex before marriage, 64 percent have done so in the last year and 42 percent are in a current sexual relationship.”
The article lists various reasons why waiting to have sex is so difficult, including cultural pressure to do what feels good, pornography and a widespread misunderstanding of the biblical view of sex.
One of the most interesting observations is how the delay of marriage has affected sexual purity. In biblical times, people married at 13. Citing the U.S Census bureau, Charles points out, “In 1965 the average man married at age 22.8; the average woman, 20.6. In 2010, the average age was 28.1 for men and 26.1 for women.” Young Christians are being asked to face sexual temptation for much longer than previous generations.
While statistics tells us that many high school age Christians are waiting to have sex, most are not waiting through their twenty-something years. What the Relevant article doesn’t discuss is that most Christians are bailing out of church once they graduate from their youth groups. Not only do the above factors make waiting for sex difficult, but increasing the difficulty is the reality that most Christians in the 18-29 age range aren’t involved in a healthy, vibrant Christian community. The Church has dropped the ball when it comes to this life-stage.
Many Christians don’t come back to church until they get married and have kids. Knowing this, for decades the church growth movement has ignored the 18-29 age group. Most church growth philosophies make their target audience the more financially stable young families. Targeting the 18-29 age range is seen as too risky for most church plants. The result is that, until recently, these sexually active twenty-somethings have had no church community to show them a better way.
The Relevant article mentions that churches need to talk more openly and honestly about God’s intended purpose for sex. However, the article fails to recognize that even if these conversations happen, most Christians this age wouldn’t be present for them. What is needed first are more churches that feel welcoming to young twenty-somethings. If we had more churches where people ages 18-29 felt at home, these conversations about sex would happen naturally.
Until then, just talking more about sex won’t solve the problem. The Church doesn’t need married baby boomers discussing with each other the importance of waiting for marriage to have sex. What the Church needs is more pastors and church planters willing to risk making those in the 18-29 age range a priority in the Kingdom of God.