I read an article the other day that made me sick. But not for the reasons it might have made other people sick. It made me sick because it pretended to be different from the Evangelical mainstream, pretended to take a good, hard look at the facts and make a brutally honest assessment of the situation. But instead it lied, just like the majority of the Evangelical church, so it could conclude by reaffirming the status quo it admitted was unreasonable.
This is the epitome of bad faith.
If the status quo – viz, abstinence from sex until marriage – is unreasonable in our current cultural context, a new understanding of chastity is required. What is acceptable and what isn’t? What does it mean to be chaste in 21st century America? How can we cast off the longstanding tradition of what it means to be chaste while maintaining the crux of chastity itself?
If it is not unreasonable, if it truly is possible for the majority of twenty-something Christians to abstain from sex until getting married at an average age of 28.4 for men and 26.6 for women1, a better explanation is required. If God created us as sexual beings – a trait that can’t simply be turned off when it’s inconvenient – what form of expression of that sexual nature is appropriate for unmarried twenty-somethings? Why is the requirement of head coverings for women specific to one culture and the prohibition of fornication universal? If 80% of unmarried Evangelicals between 18 and 29 have had sex2, or if 80% of unmarried, church-going, conservative Protestants who are currently dating someone are having sex3, why? Do the believe it’s wrong and do it anyway, or do they not think it’s wrong? Is there a realistic solution? Preaching abstinence or getting married younger don’t work since the former appears to be ineffective and the later is not possible for many.
The Evangelical church as a whole doesn’t seem to have room for dissenting voices. A friend of mine wrote a blog post about this recently. But I think dissenting voices are exactly what are called for here. Open, honest, two-way dialogue.
That’s why I feel it’s really important that this documentary be made. It’s a chance for both sides of the debate to speak. A chance to think for yourself instead of having a pastor or leader think for you. If you support balanced dialogue on this issue, please consider giving them $5 to help make it happen. Or $500. But do it soon, they’re down to the last few days. If they don’t reach their goal, they won’t get any money at all.
I’ll leave you with a bit of scripture that reminds me of most Evangelical leaders’ teaching on this issue. It’s Jesus speaking about the Pharisees:
But be careful about following them. They talk a good line, but they don’t live it. They don’t take it into their hearts and live it out in their behavior. It’s all spit-and-polish veneer.
Instead of giving you God’s Law as food and drink by which you can banquet on God, they package it in bundles of rules, loading you down like pack animals. They seem to take pleasure in watching you stagger under these loads, and wouldn’t think of lifting a finger to help.
Matthew 23 (The Message)