The great divorce of sex and marriage
by Nick Eicher
Posted on Friday, February 5, 2016, at 1:36 pm
Each week, The World and Everything in It features a “Culture Friday” segment, in which Executive Producer Nick Eicher discusses the latest cultural news with John Stonestreet, president of the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Here is a summary of this week’s conversation.
Almost half of conservative, Protestant church-goers in America believe having sex outside of marriage is OK for consenting adults, according to a recent Barna survey.
“The big story here is that people no longer agree when it comes to the purpose and meaning of sex—including people in our churches,” Barna editor-in-chief Roxanne Stone told religion writer Terry Mattingly.
Unsurprisingly, the survey found the biggest divide in attitudes toward sex is generational. Millennials were half as likely as their elders to say reserving sex for marriage was moral.
John Stonestreet said the shift in attitudes about sex and marriage is the result of a long divorce between the institution of marriage and its God-given purposes. The advent of birth control separated the purpose of sex from childbearing.
“Sex was divorced from procreation; now we divorce sex from marriage,” Stonestreet said. “All of this has to do with sex and its ultimate purpose.”
Churches have done a poor job teaching the purpose of sex in recent generations. They have taught that the purpose of sex is to bring together a man and a woman, but they haven’t driven home the reason why.
“When you separate [sex] from the legitimate, biological aspect of it, that this is … to create another human life, there’s really no physical purpose of marriage,” Stonestreet said. “That’s why it’s extremely hard for millennials to figure out why the God-given biological parts of male and female actually matter to this conversation. Already, procreation doesn’t fundamentally matter in how they’ve been taught. Why would ‘male’ and ‘female’ fundamentally matter?”
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Nick is chief content officer of WORLD and co-host for WORLD Radio. He has served WORLD Magazine as a writer and reporter, managing editor, editor, and publisher. Nick resides with his family in St. Louis, Mo.