Mark Regnerus is sociologist with a strong Christian worldview. He has had to pay a price, among his peers for some of his opinions. Recently he said, “We find ourselves in a liminal spot, one between long-taken-for-granted traditional relationships anchored in marriage and the future relationship system characterized more consistenly by ‘confluent love.’ There will not be two dominant systems.” Which one will prevail in our nations is yet to be seen. Marriage will not disappear, but in Regnerus’ opinion it may become a minority practice.
John Stonestreet challenges us “to rethink how we communicate biblical sexuality both inside and outside the church.” As Christian men, living and communicating a biblical view of sexuality can be an effective witness for our Lord. Stonestreet believes, “Our culture has undergone more that a moral slip into debauched activites. It’s undergone a worldview shift. Our gut-level understanding of sex, relationships, love and marriage has changed dramatically.”
The changes between 2008 and 2018 have been more dynamic than most other decades. Sex has become “cheap” according to Regnerus. In the past sex was expensive in that women demanded more in return, such as marriage, love and fidelity. Today women give sex away without expecting much in return, such as time, respect and faithfulness. As a result men don’t feel they have to behave in an honorable manner. Women, notes Regnerus, “are hoping to find good men without supporting the sexual norms that would actually make men better.”
Regnerus looks at five narratives from the last decade, which have produced profound change in our most intimate relationships. It shows evidence that America is confused and conflicted at a deep level regarding sex, sexuality and the social norms that should be guiding men’s and women’s intimate relations. Ours is a sexually broken culture of confluent love.
First, same-sex marriage becomes law in all fifty states. This is the most significant shift regarding sex and marriage, with two out of every three Americans approving of same-sex marriage today.
Secondly, transgender is trending. The support for transgender issues is found primarily among children, teenagers, and supportive parents. It has produced a conflict over pronouns, bathrooms and sports teams.
Thirdly, “Queer” has gone mainstream. Sexual fluidity is now in. According to Regnerus, “The term ‘queer’ has now become a catch-all for the panoply of non-heterosexual options available today – identities, behaviors, relationships, preferences, and speech.
Fourthly, marriage and cohabiting Americans are having less sex. This may come as a surprise. But the Archives of Sexual Behavior reported that on average, Americans have sex about nine fewer times a year than they did in the late 1990’s. Regnerus wonders if the growing similarity between men and women might be part of the cause.
Fifthly, divorce rates are dropping (because marriage rates are dropping). Americans are getting more pickier about marriage. Marriage is no longer a shelter in which a man and woman commit to be faithful, but marriage is now seen as a symbol, a luxury to be enjoyed in successful adulthood, with children being optional.
How then should a man live. Here are my priorites. First, cry out for God’s mercy and grace to live with sexual purity. Second, be faithful and devoted to my wife. Third, purpose to live in moral integrity with all other women. Fourth, come alongside younger men as they journey through cotemporary America.
While knowing that sex is holy and good, I heed Paul’s admonition, “Keep yourselves from sexual promiscuity. Learn to appreciate and give dignity to your body, not abusing it, as is so common among those who know nothing of God” (I Thess. 4:3-4 – Message).