I promise, I’m not meaning to be on some sort of sex kick right now. Maybe it’s the hot weather or something. Anyway, I found an article on Slate today that could tie into the article from Burnside I posted on Tuesday. It’s also an interesting article on its own, if you didn’t read the Burnside essay the other day. (As an aside, next month’s topic for the young adults group at my church is supposed to be sexual ethics. Is it just that we think about sex more when it’s summertime? Bikinis and shorts and skirts and all that? Or is it just that Christians are finally beginning to wake up to the issue of sex and how it relates to our lives?) Plus, I mean, I’m a 24-year-old guy, I’m supposed to think about sex like a billion times every second even when I’m alseep, right? The Slate article: http://www.slate.com/id/2167293?nav=ais.
This article points out something interesting, and something I had heard before: That evangelical Christians are as likely, or even more likely, to have premarital sex than non-Christians, Catholics, or non-evangelical Protestants (like Episcopalians, of which I count myself one). Why is this the case? In my last entry I said it was not the place to talk about my thoughts on the issue, but maybe this entry is the place. I think the reason evangelicals have premarital sex as much or more is because parents, pastors, and peers do such a terrible job of educating teens about it. We toss abstinence-only education at them, we talk about (as the article says) the morals instead of the mechanics, we pride ourselves on our prudence but while doing so create this huge appealing forbidden thing that Christian teens don’t understand enough to really deal with. It’s like we’re sending them out into the world of sex saying “Look, sex is bad. And it’s all around you. Good luck.” And that’s a shoddy way to do things. Americans as a culture are close-minded to the point of anxiety about sexual issues, and then when you add on top of that the close-mindedness of evangelical Christians to all things sexual… you don’t get a good outcome. We are not educated enough, we are trained to see sex as something bad and unable to be talked about, and we refuse to believe that our teens could be influenced by what’s around them. Guess what? As humans, we are hard-wired for sex. To deny that and to mis-and under-educate people about it is to do them a great disservice, and then we act surprised when Christian teens are having sex and getting pregnant at a greater rate than non-Christians.
Want to know why Catholics and non-evangelical Protestants aren’t having sex as much? I think it comes down to two things on the Catholic side, and one thing on the Protestant side: Catholics have had to deal with sexual issues for centuries. The fact that the RCC says only men can be priests forces them to deal with the issue of sex, and when you add in their stance on birth control and the current uproar surrounding priest molestations, the Catholic church has had to deal with sexual issues at the forefront of their church for a while. I would imagine this has led them to educate and teach their young people better. With Protestants, the main thing is, conversely from the Catholics, their stance on women priests and bishops (and in the Episcopal church, the emerging stance on homosexuals). Being forced to talk about these issues has also forced the church to talk about sexual issues as a whole.
The problem is mis- and under-education, and mistaken pride. Not talking about something does not make us better or more pure than anyone else. In fact, it seems evidence shows it makes us less pure.