Imagine you're sitting down for coffee with a young Christian. She's come to you for advice about her dating life-actually it's about someone she met at an online Christian dating site. She says they're attending church together, and wants to know if you think he's the right guy-maybe even marriage material.
But as the conversation goes on, you find out this young couple has actually started sleeping together. Even more troubling, your friend doesn't seem to see anything wrong with that.
If you haven't found yourself in this situation before, well, get ready, because you're likely to in the near future. As Kenny Luck wrote in the Christian Post reports, religious young people are increasingly disassociating their faith in Jesus from His moral commands.
A recent study conducted by ChristianMingle.com, one of the Web's biggest Christian dating networks, tells the whole story. When asked "Would you have sex before marriage?" sixty-three percent of single Christian respondents answered "yes."
That means that the majority of self-professed followers of Jesus looking for love on ChristianMingle and many other websites are, as Luck puts it, practical atheists.
"God," he writes, "has nothing to say to them on that subject of any consequence, or at least anything meaningful enough to dissuade them from following their own course."
The disconnect here reminds me of a fictional character in John Bunyan's "The Pilgrim's Progress" who also professed faith in Christ but didn't let it affect his life.
Just before making their fateful layover in Vanity Fair, Christian and Faithful meet a fellow traveler named Talkative. Talkative has a lot of good things to say about Christianity.
But Christian, who was once Talkative's neighbor, knows better.
"Religion has no place in [Talkative's] heart, or home, or manner of living," he explains. "All that he stands for is based upon his tongue; to make a noise with it is of the very essence of his religion...there is neither prayer nor any sign of repentance for sin."
After a lengthy and futile attempt to persuade Talkative to become a little more-well-walkative, Faithful replies, "I see now that saying and doing are two different things."
And he's exactly right. Proclaiming Jesus without amendment of life is the kind of faith that the letter of James compares to that of demons.
Now I'm not saying Christianity is all about good behavior, or even that this makes you a good Christian. Quite the opposite, actually. As one of my friends and heroes, Tim Keller says, the Gospel doesn't divide the good people from the bad people. It divides the humble-those who admit and repent of their sins-from the proud-those who want to justify their sins.
But as James teaches us, a Christian faith that's all bark and no bite isn't faith at all, and can't save anybody. So this sad statistic about young Christians and sex before marriage ought to challenge us, as the epistle says, to "show our faith by what we do."
It should also open our eyes to how much our culture influences even professing Christians. I agree with Focus on the Family President, Jim Daly, who recently said on "BreakPoint This Week" that the time for defending marriage, family and Christian morals has passed. Our task now is to rebuild an understanding of these things-from the ground up, if necessary.