The latest season of “The Bachelorette” laid bare a widespread practice among Christians — premarital sex.
But Scripture plainly speaks against sexual activity outside of marriage. So how did we get here?
Patrice Kelsey Jean, 23, believes the media is partly to blame.
"The media makes it seem so abnormal to be abstinent. The desire to have sex is natural and if nobody is telling you it’s wrong, why would you wait?" she told The Christian Post.
Jean watched the entire season of “The Bachelorette,” where Hannah Brown, a 24-year-old professing Christian, tried to find her future husband. What sparked controversy and a national discussion was when one of the men, Luke Parker, expressed his Christian convictions for purity.
Parker told Brown that he wants a wife who believes what he believes when it comes to sex.
“Let's talk about sex and how the marriage bed should be kept pure,” he said. “Let’s say you have had sex with one or multiple of these guys, I would be wanting to go home.”
Offended and feeling judged, Brown confessed that she had “physical relations” with other contestants but that “Jesus stills loves her.”
Their spat continued on Twitter after the show.
Brown is not alone when it comes to Christians engaging in sexual relations (and being OK with it) before marriage.
There was a major movement in the '90s and early 2000s where young singles were taking a vow of celibacy and wearing rings that signified their purity. The slogan “true love waits” became a motto then.
At the time, an estimated 2.5 million American teenagers publicly pledged to abstain from sex until marriage. However, a study done for the Journal of Adolescent Health in 2001 showed that 88% of purity pledgers had premarital intercourse.
More recently, as previously reported by CP, a study on Christian attitudes toward dating and marriage revealed a broad acceptance for cohabitation and premarital sex and a rejection of traditional gender roles.
According to the "2014 State of Dating in America" report published by Christian Mingle and JDate, 61% of Christians said they would have sex before marriage.
Pastor JC Mejia of Vida Church Delan in Los Angeles believes there are three major factors contributing to the decline in purity: lack of Bible reading, lack of mentors, and societal pressure.
Though some have placed their faith in Jesus they likely have not engaged in reading the Bible, he said.
And the Bible is clear on the matter.
Steven Osik, apostolic leader of the new ministry God Meet us Face to Face, emphasized that fornication “is a perversion of God’s intention for sex.”
“If a Christian couple falls into sexual immorality they are called to repent immediately. As Christians, we are called to practice the law of love and not the law of lawlessness,” Osik said.
“Practicing fornication with a potential partner does not please God and grieves the Holy Spirit. The Bible is so clear on fornication. Repent is not only a change of mind but a change of action.”
On “The Bachelorette,” Parker quoted Hebrews 13:4, which states, “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”
While arguing her position on the TV show, Brown used the example of the woman caught in adultery and said she felt like Parker was holding a stone over her head and accused him of being "prideful."
Osik, however, said that people who use that story to excuse sin should continue reading the story. “Look at what Jesus said to the women — go and sin no more. That's not only a change of mind but a change in the lady’s actions. That's what God requires of us.”
He further cited Galatians 5:19 — “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery” — and Ephesians 5:3, which states, “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.”
For those who do read Scripture but still engage in premarital sex, Mejia believes a mentor — or someone discipling them — might be missing in their lives.
“A God-honoring mentor will help them apply Kingdom principles to their lives,” he said. “But without a God-honoring voice speaking into their lives, not just from a platform, their perspectives and habits remain the same. A good mentor will break down the ‘why behind the what’ to reveal God's heart for humanity. His heart for us isn't to take away our joy, but rather is to teach us how to live out the abundant life Jesus promised.”
As for societal pressure contributing to a lack of purity, Mejia suggested that many Christians are capitulating to an increasingly sexualized culture.
“I think many youth don't know and simply ‘go with it,’” he lamented. “If there is correction, it might simply be coupled with moralism without understanding the Father's heart with regard to their value, their mental health, and even risks to their physical health.”