Sex Before Marriage
Sex Before Marriage
Let’s be honest…..it’s happening everywhere including amongst Christians even committed Christians in Evangelical Churches in New Zealand as it is in the rest of the world. Back in the mid 80’s and into the 90’s I was facing this issue here and there but not that often (and I married a lot of young couples). Many young Christian couples back then tried really hard to resist having sex before they were married. They very rarely moved in together. That ethic, if you wish, has seen a sea change in 30 years. As one young person said to me recently, when you have your church going parent re-coupling (after a divorce or death of a spouse) and sleeping together before they are re-married what do you expect from us?
The rationale basically goes like this. “We love each other, we are committed to each other, we are engaged (or will be soon) and we are going to get married……..so what’s the problem”? Increasingly the rationale is, “we love each other and we are committed to each other so what’s the problem”?
And by the way I am sympathetic. When Jeanette and I were going out and had decided we would marry (we were both in our mid 20’s) we didn’t find it easy either. No that is an understatement, we found it extremely difficult. I presume it was the same for you?
And did you know that one study amongst Christian young adults in the States showed that many did not regard oral sex as ‘really having sex’. That just makes my brain hurt.
So then Pastor how are you navigating these situations with Christian couples?
- Are you willing to talk about it with the couple concerned and show them the better way from scripture?
- What is the content of your pre-marriage talks/counselling?
- Do you refuse to marry them unless they promise to stop sleeping together?
- Do you insist that one of the couple ‘move out’ if they are already living together.
- And what would you do if there are dependent children?
- Do you speed up the wedding day?
And to add to our challenges, anecdotally, it seems many Christian parents are allowing their young adult children to sleep together with their boy/girlfriends and fiancés under their roof. If this is true (and I think it is) then as pastors we have a big job on our hands, don’t you think?
Marriage as God intended it is worth fighting for. But my goodness the pressure to go soft on this issue has never been more powerful.
Finally, I reckon we should talk about this with our pastoral staff, our elders and we should have a D & M about it with our colleagues. How do we navigate this issue while holding on to our commitment to ‘truth and grace’, to ‘speaking the truth in love’?
Alan Vink is currently the Executive Director for LeadershipWorx. Prior to this role he has been the Executive Director of Willow Creek Association NZ (WillowNZ), a Baptist pastor (23 years), Bible College teacher, and church consultant.