Saturday, October 8, 2011
How can something that feels so right be wrong?
Relevant magazine has it all... read it and weep. 80% of young, unmarried Christians have had sex. 2/3 within the past year. Even though 3/4 know and believe that this is a moral wrong. In fact, some Christians complain, I waited longer than most! So much for True Love Waits. Could it be that if God is in everything good, that God reveals Himself through the profoundly breathtaking act of sex, too. Hmmmm.....
Lets look at the facts. We are not talking about a primarily teen age problem. With marriage being pushed back closer and closer to age 30, the time that people must wait has been extended so much that they are, in effect, being asked to wait most of their sexually mature lives before engaging in sexual intercourse. This does not make it right to be sexually active but it frames the reality of what people are facing. The abstinence programs are targeted toward teen agers but this is not simply a teen age issue.
Could it be that the real issue is that marriage itself is not worth it? In order to control your desires you must be convinced that what you are delaying is worth the wait and worth the sacrifice. Could it be that the larger issue here is not sexual activity prior to marriage but the growing idea that marriage is not necessarily all it was thought to be and what it offers to you is certainly is not worth half a life of self-denial? Could it be that we are reaping the rewards of a generation or so of churches teaching us by word and example that pleasure is good, that faith is about happiness, that God wants what you want for yourself, and that faith is a means to obtaining all your goals of success, happiness, achievement, etc.? Could it be that the mixing up of secular goals and values with Scripture and the Church has left Christian young people without a clear message of why wait and why marry -- if personal happiness and obtaining all your goals has become a religious message as well as a secular one?
So, do we just read the stats and weep.... or do we reinforce the positive messages of what marriage is as a gift of God, of the love that delights in sacrifice, of the noble calling of husband and wife (father and mother), and of the connection between the relationship of husband and wife to the love betwixt Christ and His Church? It seems to me the greater Christianity has done our young people no favor. We tell them things are wrong and then we fill their minds with the prospects of a married life of happiness and bliss, wild and crazy sex, and rewards upon rewards (with nary a trouble or need to serve or sacrifice along the way). We confuse happiness with godliness and getting what you want with holiness and then we are shocked because they want it all and they want it now. We have indulged our children either out of our need to make them love us or out of guilt for leaving them so much alone and then we are surprised that they indulge themselves even when their moral compass is pointing WRONG. There are things we can do. If marriage is worth waiting for, we need to tell them why. If sex belongs within marriage, we need to tell them why. If life does not consist of God supplying what we want, then we need to give them a Scriptural picture of what life really is (life under the cross, life bearing the cross).
The issue of sexual activity prior to and outside of marriage is not an isolated issue. It is connected to the way in which we have painted God and depicted the function of religion. It is sin, to be sure, but sin fueled by the false images painted by so many so-called Christian teachers and preachers.