Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The sexual behavior of Christians, conclusion

(Final post, #14, of a series. Series starts here)

In this series I have examined the sexual behavior of Christians. Namely, starting with the basic question "are Christians different?" I examined data from a several data sets, and overall Christians do appear to be different.

Relative to people of no religion, Christians are less likely to:
- have engaged in extramarital sex
- have engaged in premarital sex
- be promiscuous
- view pornography
- pay for sex
- be gay

In addition,
- Christian women are more likely to have orgasms during sex with their main partner
- Christians report relatively high levels of sexual satisfaction
- Christian women are less likely to be forced to have sex

So, what does this mean?

Well, first off, there are many qualifications to make.
The question here is simply "are Christians different." These data can't address whether it is Christianity making them different. Perhaps certain types of people are attracted to Christianity, and this selection accounts for the differences. Perhaps certain types leave more frequently, leaving behind those who look different. There might also be methodological biases--maybe Christians underreport some behaviors. Also, there is inconclusive evidence that Christians are different than members of other religions.

Still, according to the best data available, Christians are different.
This does not mean that the church should be complacent about sexual issues, for this will always be an issue that needs addressing.

Instead, it appears that the state of Christian sexual morals is not as bleak as some commentators would lead us to believe. This should encourage Christian leaders in further teaching and modeling appropriate sexual behavior.


Joyce said...

This has been an interesting series, Brad. I've been a silent reader of your blog for some time now (I linked over from my brother Joe's blog). I would be curious as to where the Christians who answered this series were in their journey with Christ. I'd assume that most were committed Christ-followers for some period of time. Is there any way of knowing?

I'm so glad that you mentioned that even though the stats aren't as bleak as some may have thought, this is always going to be an issue in people's lives and thus will always be an issue of the Church.

I am part of what is a strong seeker-driven church (I guess you might call us emerging although I've never actually heard us call ourselves that!), and our hope is to put people in touch with strong, committed Christ-followers and develop relationships with them so that we can then put them in touch with Jesus and they can develop a relationship with Him. These folks are coming in with a lot of issues (just like the rest of us!) that need to be addressed compassionately, realistically, and honestly.

I appreciate the thought and research you put into this. It helps the rest of us to open our eyes & hearts and serve others more effectively.


S.S.Stone said...

Like joyce, I too have enjoyed this series. I never knew what to expect when clicking in.
Something joyce stated: "our hope is to put people in touch with strong, committed Christ-followers and develop relationships with them so.." reminded me of the homily Bishop Tonnos gave when I made my Confirmation.(Sacrament in the Catholic church where as a young adult, you accept the gifts of the Holy Spirit ).His Excellency said that as "young Christians" we should align ourselves with friends that share the same moral values so that we could continue to walk with Jesus etc...his words stayed with me. I wish everyone could hear Bishop Tonnos speak...he's very charasmatic and I'm without words trying to describe how great a church leader he is. Now this is not to say that "all" my friends are of the same thought, not at all...but I do understand what the Bishop was getting at.

I have more to say on this topic but I've set myself on a timer this morning and it's ringing so I have to get moving lol...

Thank you Brad for such a great series!!!
hmmmm, wondering??? is there a "new" series coming?

Brad Wright said...

Hello Joyce,

Thank you for your kind comment. As for your question about the data, with some data sets it is possible to find out more about the Christians experiences, but I don't think there is a lot.

Your church sounds wonderful! You make a good point of people having stuff to deal with both before and after getting into the church. Sigh, too true.

Glad that you liked the series.

Brad Wright said...

Hello Sarah,

Interesting about Bishop Tonnos... he's certainly right that our friends have a huge impact on us and who we are, especially when we're young.

I'm not sure about the next series. I suppose something will come up, but my series are so long that when I finally finish one, I'm pretty happy just writing regular posts.

S.S.Stone said...

maybe about your experience hang gliding *smile*
Seriously, I enjoy reading your blog very much. Before I started blogging I never gave charts/graphs the time of day but now whenever I see them I find them interesting and of course, think of you!
You sound like a great teacher Brad and I'm sure your students learn a lot from you...seems you can stir people to think in ways they've not used to.

Brad Wright said...

Thank you Sarah.

Perhaps under the heading of "the grass is greener", I wish I could express myself poetically and visually better (which is why I like your blog), but I can do simple tables and graphs.

Joyce said...

I reread (well, re-skimmed) over this series again. When I looked at the numbers in terms of just numbers and statistics, it didn't look so bad. Then I started to look at the numbers as the people they represent, the people right in our own churches, and it made my heart so sorrowful.

10% means in a church of 1000 people there are 100(!!)hurting people broken by sexual sin, not to mention the loved ones hurt by the person's actions. And the percentages were much higher than that in areas of pornography and infidelity. This means hundreds (in my church, it becomes thousands) of people are sitting next to us unable to experience true freedom and joy and love in Christ. Not because God doesn't love them, but because sexual sin chokes a person and swallows them with shame, and shame can be debilitating.

All the more reason why the church needs to address sexual sin in a safe and loving way and help to restore people to sexual wholeness, to use sex in the beautiful and magnificent (and pretty darn fun) way that God designed it for us.

Brad Wright said...


I really like how you phrase it, about sin choking out God via shame. Sounds like the parable of the seeds.

Also, you're absolutely right that converting the percentages to numbers makes clear the importance of the church dealing with these issues.


Anonymous said...

Having met many many evangelical pastors, and knowing the high rate of evangelical divorce, and knowing how many of the pastors now, most of them wrongfully counsel divorce, I next had rightfully concluded that most evangelical pastors are sex maniacs, also confirmed in the light that 70 percent of them in reliable survey had adnmitted to having commmited adultery..

they are not much different then the bad Israelites under Moses now too.

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weberms said...


I just hopped over from your other posting on spurious correlations ( and am pleased to see you've found a perfect example of just such a thing. Although it may appear that being Christian correlates to these behaviors, in reality there are any number of reasons for these correlations to exist, making it potentially spurious.

PS- Sorry for hopping off topic.

Brad Wright said...

Weberms, I think I would hold off on making a strong interpretation of these data as reflecting spurious correlation.

It could be that.

It could also be differential rates of entry in Christianity, differential rates of exit out of Christianity, and the causal effects of being in Christianity.

The data, as collected, don't really give us the means to distinguish between these causal interpretations.

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