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But Christians are hardly exempt from wider mating market dynamics.Sex has become cheap — that is, not hard to get — because it’s much less risky and consequential in the era of birth control.That’s giving church leadership fits over just how “orthodox” they can be or should be on matters of sex and sexuality.“Meeting people where they’re at” becomes challenging.Perceived barriers to marriage, meanwhile, are getting higher — prompting greater marital delay and fewer marriages overall.Add to that Christians’ elevated standards for marriage and you have a recipe for wholesale retreat. It’s an expression of love for same-sex attracted people.’] Young Christians are suffering the bruising effects of participating in the same wider mating market as the rest of the country.
All this puts pressure on American pastors, operating as they are in a free religious market. Because it signals that they can’t count on the predictable return to organized religious life of late 20-somethings after they marry and begin having children. It may not occur at all, if demographer Steven Ruggles’s projection that 1 in 3 20-somethings will never marry proves true.(It’s not easy to raise the price of sex.) To be sure, there are those who hew to a more orthodox path — that is, dating without sex, followed by marriage in a timely fashion. Alternative online dating sites geared specifically toward Christians often disappoint, because their underlying template is no different. [Reverend and rabbi: Removing symbols of racism isn’t enough.Just like secular Tinder or Ok Cupid, the Christian sites are guided by market-driven questions: What does he have to offer? We need policy action.] As marriage rates among Christians begin to decrease, additional change is afoot.Social reinforcement of marriage from sources such as the workplace, the law, entertainment and the education system is fading rapidly or has collapsed completely.The church, by which I mean institutionalized Christianity in the United States, is increasingly alone in its formal privileging of marriage and family.
Congregations are coming face to face with questions of just how central sexual ethics are to their religious life and message.