So How Are Those New Morals Working Out?
The reason Christian morality is so out of step with secular trends in sexuality is that we hold a radically different belief about human nature. Christians believe we humans are “fallen”, meaning that our nature is corrupted. We were designed for glorious love, pleasure, and praise, but now that direct communion with God is lost, our desires have turned inward and become profoundly selfish. Even our vision for what love is has been lost. Paul says in Romans 1:21, 24
For although they knew God, hey neither glorified him as God nor gave
thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts
were darkened…. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires
of their hearts to sexual impurity.
Sounds pretty negative, right? By contrast secular thinking is much more cheerful. The contemporary secular person believes – or rather assumes, because little critical thought is given to the subject – that we humans are born “basically good”. That philosophy holds that our intentions are good, our desires point us true north, and “follow your heart” is the best advice ever. How does this philosophy translate into sexual behavior? It translates, our screens tell us, into exciting sex and fulfilling relationships.
But secular thinking is rather muddled. If human nature is basically good, why must children be taught to share their toys, eat healthy foods, and have manners? Shouldn’t their natural desires guide them to do so? But when parents don’t teach their children to exercise self-control in these ways, the children become anti-social. Likewise, today’s “liberated” sexual morality, grounded in our “basically good” nature, creates some really painful situations. Consider the following statistics derived from various studies of Americans.
1. Number of sex partners over a lifetime
- Heterosexual women: 4.31
- Heterosexual men: 6.31
- Homosexual men: 67 (by age 44)2
- Active Christian men: 3.63
- Active Christian women: 3.63
- 46% of gay or lesbian couples have open agreements to have sex with people other than those they are married to or in “long-term commitments” with.4 (Does not include couples who have tacit agreements).
- 20% of married heterosexual men and 17% of married women will at some point cheat on their spouse.3
- ¼ of American teenage girls have a sexually transmitted disease5
3. Marriage, Cohabitation, and Divorce
- In 2019 marriage rates hit a new low of 33 marriages per 1000 couples. In 1970 the rate was 86.6 Cohabitation – living together without a marriage vow – has increased fourteenfold since 1970.
- About 45% of today’s marriage will end in divorce.6
- (I couldn’t find stats on non-married couples, but Alicia VanOrman states “Although cohabiting relationships may be lasting longer, up to 18 months on average, they remain relatively unstable.)6.5
4. Effect on Children
- “Nearly three decades of research evaluating the impact of family structure on the health and well-being of children demonstrates that children living with their married, biological parents consistently have better physical, emotional, and academic well-being.”7
- “The most important factor by far in explaining disparities in all manner of life outcomes (poverty, unemployment, crime, education) is whether you were born out-of-wedlock.” 8
- % of White children born out of wedlock, 1965: 3.1% 9
- % of White children born out of wedlock, 2018: 28.2%
- *% of Hispanic children born out of wedlock, 2018: 51.8%
- % of Black children born out of wedlock, 2018: 69.4%
- % of Asian children born out of wedlock, 2018 11.8% 9
Here again I must reinforce that in citing these statistics I have neither the desire nor the qualification to judge people. I’ve got enough to do judging my own behavior. But as a pastor, it’s my duty to teach God’s ways. So my point is that practicing non-biblical sexuality leads to heartbreak and — I am obliged to add — to God’s just judgement. In answer to the questions “How’s that new sexual morality working out for you?”, we have a clear answer: not well at all. And I’m not even including a whole slew of stats on rape, abortion, mental illness, and pornography that tell an even darker story.
I said earlier that in this blog series that I’d discuss good sexuality, and I promise I will. But many Americans have walked so far down the road of sexual immorality that I first must point out how broken that morality is. Otherwise they’ll never even consider an alternative; they’ll keep returning to the loveless, dysfunctional, immoral, and unhappy ways spawned by the new sexual morality.
1 CDC, National Survey of Family Growth, 2020
2 Althea Nagai, Marriage and Religion Research Institute, 1992. The study did not differentiate between men and women.
3 Bradley R.E. Wright, Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites … and Other Lies You’ve Been Told, (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2010), p. 133. NOTE: this figure includes people who were not “active conservative Christians” when they married, so the figure for those who are when they marry is lower.
4 2016 University of San Francisco study of 416 gay and lesbian couples
5 Reported March 14, 2014 in Associated Press by Lyndsey Tanner
6 Wendy Wang, Institute for Family Studies Blog, 2021
6.5 Alicia VanOrman, PRB, November 5, 2020
7 “The Impact of Family Structure on the Health of Children” by Jane Anderson, Linacre Quarterly, 2018
8 An Analysis of Out-of-Wedlock Births, George Akerlof and Janet Yellen, The Brookings Institute, 1996
8 Percentage of Births to Unmarried Women, Roger Clegg, Center for Equal Opportunity, 2/16/2020