The nation's largest evangelical body on Thursday launched a new abortion reduction initiative in which discussion about sex is a major focus.
Sexual activity outside of marriage is occurring at a significant level among young evangelicals, said the National Association of Evangelicals. And young unmarried evangelicals are among those who are having abortions.
"There are a significant number of abortions taking place within the evangelical community but we don't really talk about that," said Galen Carey, director of government affairs at the NAE, to The Christian Post. "So we want to stimulate a conversation."
"We believe there is a close connection to a respect to sex and a respect for life," he added.
The NAE, which represents 40 denominations and 30 million U.S. evangelicals, released a "Theology of Sex" booklet earlier this week that it hopes will inspire discussion about sex within the church. The 24-page booklet lists four reasons for sex: "one-flesh union" to consummate marriage, procreation, expression of love to one's spouse, and enjoyment and pleasure.
"[W]hen people have sexual intercourse with someone other than their spouse, they have engaged in a life-uniting act without life-uniting intent," the booklet states. "This act violates not only the partner but also God's intention for sex."
The booklet also highlights that God intended human life to come from "the most intimate, loving union possible: the one-flesh relationship of husband and wife."
"As we discern what is happening in our churches and our communities we realized that just being against legalized abortion is not an adequate response," Carey said. "In fact we need to address the real issue that real people face, especially with marriage being delayed."
Carey noted that young, unmarried evangelicals in their 20's are confronted with sexual ethics and need to be supported if they face a decision about abortion.
The discussion about God's purpose for sex is the first part of the NAE's new abortion reduction initiative. The second part is to stimulate conversations between evangelicals and other segments of society on how they can work together to reduce abortion.
Surveys have indicated that the majority of Americans would like to see fewer abortions in the country. A Pew Research Center survey last year revealed that two-thirds of Americans, up from 59 percent in July 2005, said it would be good to reduce the number of abortions performed in the U.S.
Additionally, a poll conducted last year by the Gallup, Inc. for the NAE found that nearly nine in 10 evangelicals believe abortion is a serious problem in the country. The poll also found that evangelicals think that it should be an important priority in the country to work together to reduce the number of abortions.
In response to the poll's results, the NAE board of directors adopted a resolution, reaffirming that the group "actively, ardently and unwavering opposes abortion on demand." It also noted that longtime opponents of the NAE's abortion position have expressed interest in working together to reduce abortion in the United States.
"Without compromising our core convictions, we seek honest conversation about ways to achieve this goal," the resolution reads. "These conversations should build on our shared concerns for human dignity, protecting children and promoting healthy families and communities."
Carey said the NAE has not started reaching out to groups yet, but it is considering reaching out to disability rights organizations.
"Upwards of 90 percent of pregnancies where there is a pre-natal diagnosis of fetal abnormality result in abortion," noted Carey, who has a son with Down syndrome.
He explained that although Down syndrome organizations want abortion to remain legal, they also want parents to be given accurate information so fewer babies would be aborted.
The NAE Generation Forum, which oversees the group's effort to engage evangelical Christians in reducing abortions, will host events across the country to stimulate dialogue about how local churches can effectively decrease the number of abortions in their congregations and communities. The first NAE forum on respecting sex and reducing abortion was held at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill., on Thursday.