“Evangelical Christians and born-again Christians get divorced just as often, if not a little more, than the general population. And Barna has discovered that 90 percent of the born-again Christians who are divorced got divorced after they accepted Christ. On sexual promiscuity, we’re probably doing a little better than the general population. Josh McDowell has estimated that maybe our evangelical youth are 10 percent better, Lord help us.”
Ron Sider, The Evangelical Scandal, Christianity Today
As for me and my house-wife, we decided when we got married that we would never divorce nor entertain the option of divorce. Nor even talk about it. [not saying this in judgment – i understand the brokenness of the world we inhabit] We have now been married almost 18 years. We have never had any other sex partners, before or during our marriage. I guess that puts us out on the WEIRD FRINGE of the evangelical church with our SEXUAL EXPERIENCE, but it is a good place to be. And we thank God for his protective blanket over our marriage, and for the emerging church and its environment of honesty and deep relationships that keep relationships on the brother-sister level.
This is me and Debbie (who has just started a blog on motherhood) when we were volunteers on Operation Mobilzation’s M.V. Logos (85-87) right before we got married and began our steaming HOT sexual relationship that STILL SIZZLES!
BTW – the recording of my sermon on Song of Solomon entitled “Sex That Sizzles” (1992), preached at North Beach Baptist Church in Australia, is probably still making its rounds through the country. If anyone has a copy – let me know and i will convert it to MP3 for a hot steamy Podcast.
How about others in the emerging church? Are you equally embarrassed at the state of the church in general? Do you think that the greater amount of honesty, accountability in the emerging church is the reason why we have such a lower level of promiscuity than the church in general, or is it because our churches are newer, or because of a holistic emphasis on discipleship? Or what?
WEIRD FRINGE OF SEXUAL EXPERIENCE? Yeah, i put that in to see what Google ads would come up. And to pick up a few Google stragglers who were searching for something along those lines. [shame on you! – what would your mother say? GOOGLE IS NOT YOUR PIMP!! – check out XXXChurch.com]
A naughty blog post? yes, but not nearly as naughty as my XXX HOT NAKED post in 2003 that got my site blocked by every evangelical’s computer with family filtering software. That post is still there.
As for those of you that are tempted to leave some “Why do evangelicals use filtering software on their computer when they are getting it in the flesh? kind of comments [that i will frown upon] and some [Why don’t the emerging church people develop some seminars and Sunday School Lessons on sexual purity for the traditional church audience] . . to you i say . . “Therefore let him who thinks he stands be careful that he doesn’t fall.” 1 Cor 10:12
Yeah, you’re a naughty one Andrew. 🙂 I’ve noticed that I can only access your site from my home pc; at work and at the public library, your site is blocked–the only one on my blogroll that gets blocked mind you!
Oh well, good thoughts here and stuff that I think a lot of us don’t want to talk about, but thanks for bringing it up. Peace
“the only one on my blogroll that gets blocked . . .”
do you mind if i use that in promotional literature (if i ever did any promotional literature, that is) . . it has a good ring to it
I realize i am blocked from a lot of sites, and i dont intend to be the Howard Stern of blog sites, but i did make a choice a long time ago who my audience would be and there are a lot of other blogs out there that are non-offensive enough to slip thru the filters.
i think that these statistics can’t be separated from those further down the same article, which indicate that racism and both sexual and physical abuse are found amongst evangelical Christians in the same proportions as the rest of the population (and i have to say that i find those latter statistics far more disturbing than the ones you’ve listed).
But I think they’re connected – that traditional Christian theology has a lot to answer for in the way we use and abuse power, and have learnt to hate our bodies. There are many barely heard voices around the world who have begun to re-imagine christian theology that looks very different. I hope there’s space in the emerging church to hear those voices.
Homosexuality – an invitation to the Church
Graeme has asked some questions about homosexuality which have needed to be asked for some time now. It’s definitely valuable for us to engage in conversation over the moral and social implication…
With all those XXX Hot Sex comments Andrew, you can guarantee that this post will get lots of hits. Some years back I preached a sermon on ‘skin’ which made reference to the late porn model Lolo Ferrari. The statistics on the church website indicated that it was the most visited page for years following. Sad or what?
My laughter continues. By all means, if you need that line for promotion, be my guest. 🙂
We must be on the weird fringe to then.
But let us not forget that in our oversexed society, brokenness abounds. And even in our ‘holy’ state, that may not unaffect us.
It is easy to make ourselves out to be sexually pure (not saying you are doing this at all, Andrew) but this can be a smokescreen for brokenness, and it can make those who are hurting feel worse.
So to those who feel they have failed, I’d just say – God loves you anyway, friend.
I read the article by Sider a while back and was amazed that he was surprised (if you see what I mean). It comes as no surprise to me to find churchy people are as broken and messed up as everyone else.
I think the only difference is (or should be at least) that we know we are broken and are looking for healing.
May God bless this post and all who read it.
joe i agree,
sexually pure? no – not me. not anyone.
which is why we all say these things with the [But we are a broken people] addition, along with [though the righteous man falls, he rises again] and we all fall and we all need God’s amazing grace which is deeper than our own grace and more compassionate than ours also.
but on the other side of the coin, as the church slips down the ladder to approach a lifestyle that is the same as everyone else (which to me, is a dangerous place that invites judgement- it was for the nation of Israel) then somebody has to say:
1. Like . . .dudes . . this cannot go on any longer because it totally sucks – like . . what will God say if he ever found out?
2. despite what the media says, everyone is NOT doing it, and those people who follow Jesus AND keep their pants on until they are married should receive a “Well Done Faithful Servant!” and a huge medal.
3. While the big push is getting people to agree to a correct doctrinal and philosophical statment about epistimological concept of truth, youth group kids who say they believe in truth and that sex before marriage is wrong, are steaming up each others cars.
Maybe . . just maybe . . we should be focusing on teaching to obey, rather than teaching to answer the right questions
sorrry if thats harsh
but i have 5 kids
and i never thought giving them a pep talk everytime they attend a Christian youth group would be necessary – it wasnt when i went to youth group – we sang songs and drank hot chocolote – we didnt boink each other.
and the last one is harsh because i am not an American . . . but
4. These are American figures and even if they represent the worst part of the American church, the numbers show an appauling state of morality for the people of God, that as far as i know, in my travels to about 40 countries, has no parallel in any other country
and it is very probable, that God is decreasing the American voice in global affairs to enable other countries to speak up . . .
and . . it may be time for the American church to open its ears to other nations who can teach, and guide and lead it out of the hole it has dug for itself.
You are welcome to disagree with me strongly if you think i am off base. but i would be curious to hear reactions from believers outside of America, who ARE surprised to read these results, and as far as they know, they should be surprised.
My wife and I are also enjoying the stank nasty blessings of monogamy, and of being each others only sexual partners.
Can I offer a humble suggestion about those stats? Large contemporary evangelical churches attract crowds. There are alot of people who may come once a month, or once or twice a year, and who would identify themselves as evangelical christians, but they don’t soak in the stew of Communion with Christ long enough for it to change their flavor much at all. They may even be regular attenders, but they come for some reasong other than transformation. I don’t know how you would frame the question, but my hope is that if you looked at those same stats for people who have ongoing, consistent, transformational relationships with Christ, that they would look radically different. And as the ECM probably knows better than most, you can find people like that in many, many corners of the kingdom (including mega-churches).
At this point, is seems like the ECM attracts people who are actively seeking transformational experiences. Praise God! I would expect them to find those in a community of like-minded believers, and it certainly seems like they are.
The coming struggle for the ECM is going to be what happens when these same communities gain momentum, and start attracting people who are looking for transformation by osmosis, or the overspill blessings of the community, or social integration through partial participation. These are the people who for years have been coming to large EV churches. Maybe those churches haven’t been the best venues for tranformation. Maybe too, though, some people come to our gatherings not looking to be transformed.
Well, we had sex before we were married.
Indeed, my wife was pregnant before we were married.
I didn’t feel particularly great about myself and certain people in the church made me feel a lot worse. Somehow it is a stigma you never quite shake off.
I can offer no explanation or excuse. I am not suggesting people should walk the road I have walked.
In humility, the church must hold up its hands and own its part in the problem (I mean the general problem – we were adults and old enough to know better). Too often single people have been treated as failures. Too often young people have been excluded from the party – and without some safeguards, people with bags of hormones will surcome.
Also with the level of stigma attached to sexual sin, I’d be surprised if the situation was not considerably worse than is suggested.
It is sad really – the loss of childhood and teenagehood more than anything else.
again – no stigma coming to you from my angle
and i dont remember Jesus throwing stones at the women caught in adultery but rather the opposite
and michael – your humble suggestion is accepted. i have worked inside the american church for 10 years and i know of great success stories of purity and righteousness – without which the church will not move ahead in power.
its a land of extremes, isnt it?
“and it is very probable, that God is decreasing the American voice in global affairs to enable other countries to speak up . . .”
here is one american who agrees with you.
and i love hearing those other voices.
Are there statistics about sex and promiscuity in the emerging church? You say it’s “such a lower level” which makes me think there must be some data out there? I would have assumed that the numbers would be higher if you polled my “emerging” church compared to the Southern Baptist down the street. Just because the age range scews younger, and because I think my church attracts people who might not go to a “traditional” church precisely because they are dealing with issues like sexual struggles.
Can you point me to the data on the emerging church vs the “church in general?”
Also, I will agree that the church has done a lousy job of preparing young people to enjoy healthy married sex. My husband and I each entered marriage with sexual baggage that has taken us 10 years to sort out.
We did pre-marital counseling with 2 pastors….neither of them questioned us about sexual issues. Why didn’t they ask the difficult questions about areas of weakness and failures so that we could commit to each other with eyes open to it? Why didn’t encourage us to treasure this beautiful gift that God created us to enjoy?
To celebrate “sex that sizzles” I have started to blog about sex: http://marriedsexisbest.blogspot.com/
I also became a Passion Parties consultant. I hope that I can use these in-home parties to educate women about their bodies and issues surrounding sex. Just tonight I was at a party of about 15 women from all backgrounds and we were saying how at age 20-25, we were so unprepared and ill-informed regarding our sensuality and sexuality. A lot of them have turned to questionable sources to get their education and inspiration.
wow – great becky – cant wait to see your blog
it looks like the world in general – secular society – is less promiscious than before and young people are choosing NOT to have sex (this is not the church – this is research among young “hip” people in England)
and research in Hungary shows that young Hungarians are far less promiscious than their parents were and had less sex partners at the same age.
if this trend is true for many more countries – and it the church is going the opposite direction, then its a very bad sign.
I have seen a few divorced leaders in the emerging church – usually the women left the men (in case you were wondering) but not recently, and many of these churches dont go by the “emerging” label.
Maybe it would be helpful to do some serious research?
the traditional evengelical fear of our bodies doesn’t help anything. my six year old came home from her christian primary school (evangelical and in europe) and told me that a friend had told her that if her underpants show when she’s climbing on the monkey bars at school, it’s a sin. i wanted to take my christian hands and go wring some christian necks! but i resisted and had a helpful chat with my little girl instead.
Andrew… You might be a blogger that could help make a dent in the vast misconception that has now circled the globe many times over — regarding Barna’s 1999 ‘evangelical divorce rate’ that Sider, Horton and Piper all cite as they make their case. After reading the interview with Sider in CT and then reading his book, I decided to do some followup fact-checking, and it turns out that what everyone seems to understand… is very different than what it actually is. You’ll see, at… Transforming the Evangelical Meme”.
Ok you with that sex-Cum and see thing- you are just asking to poke some buttons-yes christian filtering can be a pain sometimes but it is for good measure.
As a bit of an aside, perhaps, I experienced more disapproval of my relationship from people in the church after I was married than I did before, because my husband was not a Christian.
We did marry over 20 years ago, but it was still apparent when the kids were small, 10 or less years ago, particularly in Baptist churches I attended.
You might be interested in this site.
It is not surprising that Christians divorce because both Jesus and Paul supported a right to divorce for “just-cause”
author’s email above