Now, many things about the article are not crystal-clear to me: how the major terms are defined, how the test was conducted, and so forth. Take this statement: "Twelve percent of churchgoing evangelicals have children out of wedlock, compared with 33 percent of all mothers." Does that include those who sin against God by having sex and conceiving out of wedlock, but marry before birth?
Plus, well, it's the Washington Post. So it starts out with credibility issues.
At any rate, a few things do seem to stand out.
The term "evangelical" continues to mean less and less. "Evangelical" used to mean an affirmation of the Gospel, which included embracing the full authority of Christ's voice as heard in Scripture alone. Obviously, remaining sexually chaste until a marriage recognized by Divine institutions (church, state, family) is part of the praxis of that faith.
It should be that the sexual mores of professors of that faith should stand in stark contrast to their worldling friends and neighbors. The sexual drive is very strong. Without transcendent morality, there is no reason not to find a way to indulge it freely.
The converse however is also true: with the transcendent morality of the Bible, there is every reason to embrace God's better plan of purity.
You see, this is always where the truth of our hearts shows itself: in what we do when God's will crosses ours. For instance, God urges us to eat and enjoy from His good creation (1 Timothy 4:3). When I gladly indulge my natural appetite, it is no great indication of my faith to do so.
However, when God crosses one of my drives — when He says (in effect) "The sexual drive I have given you is a good drive, and you should enjoy it...within, and only within, the bonds of marriage. All other is repulsive to Me. And since you are to love Me above all, that has to matter to you" — that comprises a test. If I have the opportunity to indulge that drive, and refuse to do so only because I honor God, I show a genuine reverence for the Word and name of God (James 2:18b).
So sociologists should see a stark difference between the morality of the general public, or the liberal Protestant public, and that of genuine evangelicals. But they evidently do not.
And BTW, lest anyone think to tell me "Oh well, sex is the strongest drive, you really can't expect even Christian teens to control it," I have a three-part reply:
- No, it really isn't.
- Unless these same teens freely defecate and urinate, in public, and every time the urge strikes them, yes, I can expect them to control that lesser drive.
- But what I expect doesn't really matter. What God expects is what matters, and what He expects is clear (1 Corinthians 6:18; Hebrews 13:4).
But sin also matters. The Cross is not God's way of saying, "Your sin is OK." It is God's way of saying, "Sin is unspeakably horrid, Hell-worthy. Nothing can deal with it except the most extreme measures."
To commit this particular sin, an evangelical kid raised in an evangelical family has to rebel against God on so many levels. His deliberate act states that God's omniscience is inconsequential to him, God's holiness doesn't matter to him, holding the holiness of God's name doesn't matter to him. The soul and conscience of the girl he's using is trivial to him. Honoring his mother and father are down the toilet. The institution of marriage is a formality to him — all Divine institutions (God's speed bumps) are beneath him. He doesn't care whether he's setting an example for his future children. He doesn't care whether he makes a little bastard, giving an innocent bystander child a rough and shameful start to life.And what of the blood of Christ, shed to deliver him from the guilt, power and service of sin? How is he portraying its preciousness?
It is no trivial matter.
Evidently the word hasn't gotten out to the "evangelical" youths in this study.