There is a chart in Kinnaman’s book, unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity… and Why It Matters, that just about took my breath away. The chart is a comparison of those age 23-41 and those over 42 regarding morally acceptable behavior. Here is some of the data from the chart on page 53. The percentages below reflect the percent of people saying something is morally acceptable:
- Cohabitation: Ages 23-41 = 59%; Ages 42+ = 33%
- Gambling: Ages 23-41 = 58%; Ages 42+ = 38%
- Sexual thoughts/fantasies about someone: Ages 23-41 = 57%; Ages 42+ = 35%
- Sex outside marriage: Ages 23-41 = 44%; Ages 42+ = 23%
- Pornography: Ages 23-41 = 33%; Ages 42+ = 19%
These are just a few numbers from a larger chart. There are a couple of disturbing trends that we might be able to surmise from this information. The first is obvious, Christian young adults are significantly more open to several forms of immorality (also including homosexuality, drug use, and profanity), than older Christians.
Second, notice the progression in order of Most acceptable to Least acceptable: Cohabitation — Sexual fantasies about someone — Sex outside of marriage — Pornography
- What would account for such a large discrepancy between cohabitation and sex outside of marriage when those are basically the same thing?
- What would account for thinking pornography is less acceptable than actually having sex with someone you aren’t married to?
- What would make sense of being more okay with sexual fantasies about someone than viewing pornography?
In each of these instances relationship might be the difference maker. Saying you are willing to live with someone is perceived as expressing more about a relationship than just sleeping with someone. Fantasizing about someone you know is seen as more acceptable than viewing images of people you don’t. The more relational immorality becomes the more acceptable it becomes. People seek connection. Connection and relationship can be the building blocks of a strong faith or they can be the very thing that leads someone to compromise the core beliefs of their faith. That’s my gut feeling on these numbers. What are your thoughts?