The Church’s Answer to Immorality – Part Two

by Mark Gungor

In the last post I began discussing the way most churches handle teaching their young people about sexual purity (or not teaching it as the case may be). While many Christians use purity rings and pledges to ensure right living, they also throw in a healthy measure of the world’s view making concessions for masturbation and what I term “non-sex” sex to tackle the question of sexual immorality. But we are giving the wrong answer.

It’s time that The Church starts acting like The Church, time to start giving the right answer to immorality and that answer is this: Get married.

We rarely, if ever, hear that!  Far and few between are the pastors who preach from their pulpits to get married, like the apostle Paul writes in I Corinthians 7. Seldom is the answer the biblical one, rather what we Christians are spewing is the same twisted answer of the world: No, no, no! You can’t get married! You need to wait!  I will not go on my rant regarding this topic but you can read my post on Young Marriage to get the full story.

This whole stupid idea that young people must delay marriage is what I believe to be the single most detrimental thing that we do in Christian culture today. It reminds me of the C.S. Lewis novel, The Screwtape Letters, where a senior demon named Screwtape writes a series of letters to his nephew, a young demon, Wormword, basically memos from hell on how to destroy the humans and their culture. I think in our modern day version, Satan would be thrilled at the success he’s had in getting Western culture to delay marriage because in doing so, it virtually guarantees nearly everyone will mess up sexually. And it all goes in the toilet from there. People marry with all the baggage, it leads to divorce, which destroys families, is destructive to lives, and leads to a continuous cycle of dysfunction. So much rides on this one thing and it’s a big stinking deal.

It’s the reason why I’m so hard and heavy on it and beat the young marriage thing to death, preaching it wherever I go. As Christians, if we believe purity and morality are good things, then The Church needs to get this right. We have to realize that our answer is young marriage. We have to stop saying put a purity ring on, listen to the abstinence speaker, and since you won’t be able to control yourself we can make allowances to let you masturbate and mess around, but good heavens, whatever you do, don’t get married until you are 30!

I truly believe that people have no idea of the consequences of this kind of thinking. They go right along with the world’s ideas of “you’re not ready for marriage, be free, live your life, get a job, make money, then settle down” and don’t realize that what we are doing is creating entire generations of porn addicts, men who are stuck in cycles of lust not having a clue how to make love to a real woman and young women who have screwed all these guys never knowing the value and importance of sex once they marry. (For more information read The Damage of Sexual Promiscuity.)

People also don’t realize there is a connection between what they do sexually in their younger years and the state of their marriages down the road. But research has been proving, and continues to show, that the two are inextricably linked. People who marry as virgins—and by virgins, I mean any type of sexual activity, not just “technical” virgins who have done everything else but penile/vaginal penetration—have a fraction of the divorce rate. I won’t go into detail on all the studies, but check out these links:

Baptist Press: Premarital sex and divorce—is there a link?

University of Iowa examines link between teen sex and divorce rate

To show you how bad this has gotten, look at a recent email I received from a young, Christian man:

I am a 21 year old born again Christian.  I want to ask sir, is it wrong to date at my age? Am I too young to marry?

First of all, what on earth are pastors teaching that people think it’s wrong?!  The obvious answer is one of two things, either they are not teaching anything on dating, sex, and marriage, or they are teaching the world’s bunk that it’s bad, you shouldn’t be dating and you have to wait until you are 25 or 30 years old. Only what are these young people doing in the meantime?

My advice here is three-fold: to the pastors and leaders in churches, start teaching on this stuff!  Get a pair and preach the biblical standard on this and knock off the nonsense of following the pagans!

To the parents out there, get a clue, if you can’t get one from the church you are in, get it from what I’m saying. Realize that purity rings and pledges have a place, but not for ten or fifteen years! Do the research, investigate and look at what this concept of delaying marriage really means, how it really fails your kids. Be supportive, help them to do life right rather than picking up all the sexual and emotional baggage that will hurt their marriage.

And finally to our Christian young people, stay pure, date and marry the way God intended. If your church or your parents are not teaching you this, if they are telling you to wait, allowing you to make bad compromises on your purity just so you won’t get married too early, then listen to me. Read my other posts and the links provided. Watch my DVD series “Sex, Dating and Relating” to arm yourselves with the ammunition you need to fight for your own future marriage.

Make no mistake, it is a war we are fighting. A war against a culture that imposes its immorality on us 24/7; a war that we will lose to the enemy if we don’t change how we, as The Church, think about this battle and engage it. The stakes are higher than most people realize. It’s time to start connecting the dots to what we do, how we do it and the tragic and broken results we are getting. This one thing—sexual purity and the importance of young marriage—and how we choose to address it can be a pivotal point for the Christian church.  Will we turn the key that could make all the difference in whether we impact this culture…or as people of faith, will we be swallowed up and become just like the world around us?

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    15 Responses to “The Church’s Answer to Immorality – Part Two”

    1. rhonda wrote:

      Bravo Mark. Well said. Keep up the good work & I hope this info reaches everyone. When our ancestors married young we did not have these problems & I know ppl will say they had to marry young due to shorter life spans, but the principle was still the same.

    2. James Poteet II wrote:

      I have to say, I agree with you, but I don’t know how to make it happen. Say my daughter finds a great guy and wants to get married young. It’s likely she’s going to marry someone about her own age. How do they make it financially on their own? It’s impossible to live on what you can make when you’re a high school kid. Do they continue living with one or the other parents? The idea seems sound to me, but how do you make it work logistically?

      • rhonda wrote:

        Yeah, you do have a point James. Times have changed. 3 or 4 decades ago, it was the norm for 18 yr. olds to move out & make it on their own, but that’s a financial impossibility now.

        • MEgan wrote:

          I don’t believe it. Work your butts off and stop thinking that an expensive college education is the way to a job and life OR alternatively get these young people working at jobs in high school and summers instead of a bazillion extra activities. You want to have sex and be married? Get preparing for that in high school. We aren’t preparing kids for the reality of life with our high standards for living.

          • GDae13 wrote:

            You are 100% CORRECT!! One problem is, this lavish lifestlye of big screen TVs and 1000 channels does not prepare our kids for the real world. Two kids with highschool educations CAN make it if they work for it. Maybe they will need to rent a studio apartment and one person work three jobs while the other attends college. Maybe they will have to take public transportation instead of taking out a car loan. Maybe they will have to live without (God forbid) satellite TV or high speed internet. The truth is, there is no shame starting at the bottom and working your way up.

    3. Stephanie wrote:

      Thanks for sharing! I got married right out of high-school and always felt guilty for NOT waiting, because of what the church and family would say. This makes total sense!

    4. tracy dean wrote:

      Our eldest son, 21, just became engaged to an awesome 19 y/o young woman. They are both in college, both working. We have told them they are welcome to live with us if necessary. I think the best solution is to find a place they can afford and just make it work. tough times teach you so much about yourself and each other so they will have to grow up together. i truly believe they will have a blast forming and defining their “family unit”.

      that being said, the most difficult obstacle for young marriage is the parents opposition and the “cultural norm” that says finish school, begin your career, settle down then marry. we are praying hard for their bond to be deep and strong.

    5. sue wrote:

      I got married at 17 he was 21…will be celebrating our 40th next month…our daughter just got married at 39 him 40….with the GRACE of GOD they will be married their life time too!

    6. Tiffany wrote:

      My husband and I have been married almost 8 years now. We married at 24 and 22, and were still considered to be marrying very young! We were both still virgins, and I must say I am very happy to not be carrying around the same emotional baggage that other people my age are from their failed relationships…

    7. John Finkelde wrote:

      Stirring stuff Mark – never quite stated it that way before. We are always encouraging our young people to date & get married … I’ve preached hard against the insanity of I Kissed Dating Goodbye but I love your angle … Marry Young. Will start weaving that into my preaching.

    8. Erica wrote:

      My husband and I got married at 19 years old, and we’ve been married for almost 19 years! Though the road has been tough from time to time, getting married young was the right thing to do! We brought no major baggage into our marriage, and we’ve enjoyed growing up together. Yes, we’ve made mistakes within our marriage, but we’ve learned along the way that staying under authority, seeking counsel and being teachable has been the glue that has held us together! We look back at that young couple 19 years ago and realize that in the world’s eyes we were crazy, but God has blessed our union and our commitment to one another. I wish the “church” as a whole would get their mind off the world’s perspective and focus on and support the covenant that God established when he created male and female! It’s not popular in today’s society, but the path least traveled never is! Thank you for your article and for your godly perspective!

    9. Shawn wrote:

      I get what you are saying but the problem is – are you really the person that you are going to be when you are older? I am struggling with if you marry young and you aren’t the person you become when you are older the marriage will probably still end in divorce. I guess for me to simplify the problem in my head is this: (1) marry young and get divorced because you dont grow together or you aren’t the same person; or (2) Marry older and possibly have sex sin before marriage. Either way it seems like a sin. Perhaps you are proposing that if you marry young then you will grow together and will not divorce. Even though my parents married when they were 19 and 16 and they are still married today, I’m not sure that scenario flys with me. Thoughts?

      • Rick wrote:

        Shawn, I understand your concerns. People do change as they age and mature – their likes and dislikes, habits, even their values. However, marrying young allows the opportunity for your spouse to impact those things. My wife and I married at 20 years old. Were we completely ready. Probably not. Definitely not financially. But, those challenges forced us to make tough decisions early in our marriage that have greatly affected who we are today. Yes, we struggled. Yes, we did without for awhile. But I am not the same person today BECAUSE of my wife. I’m not advocating the “marry and I’ll change him approach.” What I am saying is that because we married young, we both had input in each others lives when we were still forming those adult life-long habits, and through the struggles we formed a bond that has lasted through 19 years, 6 children, and countless struggles including large quantities of travel on my part. I’m grateful that my bride had the opportunity to walk that road with me. I am a better man today because of it!

    10. stacey wrote:

      In the church that I came from you were an old maid if you were not married by the age of 20! I got married at 21 and my husband was 27. We have had 13 years of ups and downs but mostly ups. My parents were both 18 when they married, and 37 years later are still acting like the high school sweet hearts they were. I think getting married young is a good idea! There may be more financial obstacles but it’s not bad to start out with nothing and understand it took your parents 30 years to get to where they are. I guess my point is that most people I know get married before 20 and there are more happy couples committed to each other and only a few that don’t work out.

    11. Jeri wrote:

      While I absolutely agree, marrying young isn’t an option for everyone, not because they think they have to wait but because they haven’t found anyone worth marrying. I knew I needed to marry but finding a Christian guy worth having (and who was interested in me) wasn’t easy. I was 24 when I did find him and we were married a year later. I have some friends who did find a spouse young but I also have friends who are still looking. They haven’t chosen to wait until they are 30, they haven’t had much of a choice. I feel very blessed to have found my husband as soon as I did…finding a solid Christian that is marriage material is tough. We should encourage people to marry when they find a good one but parents really need to do more to teach their children not only how to find a good one but how to BE a good one. Parents also need to make sure their children know how to endure a long wait if they have to wait. A lot of young people are going to need to know how to be obedient to God while they wait…not everyone is going to find a suitable spouse at 18.

     
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