Thursday, November 19, 2009


Society v. Church?

MSNBC recently published and interesting article from a secular perspective:
When Margie and Stephen Zumbrun were battling the urge to have premarital sex, a pastor counseled them to control themselves. The couple signed a purity covenant.

Then, when the two got engaged and Margie went wedding dress shopping, a salesperson called her "the bride who looks like she's 12." Nonchurch friends said that, at 22, she was rushing things.

The agonizing message to a young Christian couple in love: Sex can wait, but so can marriage.

"It's unreasonable to say, 'Don't do anything ... and wait until you have degrees and you're in your 30s to get married,'" said Margie Zumbrun, who did wait for sex, and married Stephen fresh out of Purdue University. "I think that's just inviting people to have sex and feel like they're bad people for doing it."
My reactions to this piece as a whole are all over the map. On the one hand it is a direct swipe at evangelical culture as somehow unrealistic (Imagine! Wait for sex). On the other it is an interesting look at a genuine conflict in people.

I must say that right now I am surrounded by young people that seem to be marrying young. I am very happy for them. As someone who married VERY late (about 40) - waiting is not all it is cracked up to be. Although I am not so sure I waited so much as I had to play the hand that was dealt me. I encouraged all of our friends to marry young - if you find the right person, go for it.

There is an issue that lies at the heart of the very real tension described in the piece. Evangelicalism often does fill its young people with the conflicting expectations of abstinence and the apparent fiscal gains that come from staying single.

As Evangelicals we owe it to young people not only to teach them about abstinence, but also about managing the rest of their lives. Mostly we need to teach them about deferred gratification. Real fiscal stability comes from marriage,not before it. Yes that means travel is deferred from your 20s to your 50s or 60s, but it is so much nicer to visit Europe in luxury hotels and cruise ships rather than youth hostels and a Eurorail pass.

We need to teach them that marriage is not sacrifice, it is fulfillment. We need to teach them the simple fiscal reality that two CAN live as cheaply as one, with subsequently more income and therefore more actual stability.

I guess what I am trying to say is, the article is absolutely right in one of its major "attacks" on Evangelicalism:
...evangelical Christianity's abstinence culture, with its chastity balls and virginity pledges....
We focus too much on that and not enouh on the fact that Christianity is a life changing thing, and that means all of life, not just sex drugs and rock 'n roll. Christianity gives us a different set of expectations and measures of success in ever aspect of our being.

Our faith is not some appendage that we stick on to everything else. It transforms the very heart of who we are.

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