Discouraged with dating

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Yale sociologist Justin Farrell assessed the sexual and marital attitudes of evangelicals and found consistent age differences — younger evangelicals (below age 30) were notably more permissive on nearly all issues, especially on pornography.

Critics might claim that this is nothing more than the standard age effect on sex visible from time immemorial — that older Americans have always been less permissive about sex than younger ones.

It’s able to poke holes in the “sacred canopy” over the erotic instinct, to borrow the late Peter Berger’s term.

Perhaps the increasing lack of religious affiliation among young adults is partly a consequence of widening trends in nonmarital sexual behavior among young Americans, in the wake of the expansion of pornography and other tech-enhanced sexual behaviors.

Cohabitors without children are far less likely to regularly or even sporadically attend when compared with uncoupled adults, to say nothing of married adults with children.

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But we haven’t reflected enough on how cohabitation erodes religious belief. The nuns fighting the pipeline lost their case, but they aren’t giving up Episcopal churches cook thousands of lobsters.However, exceptions to Farrell’s age effect are apparent among married evangelicals, meaning that under-30 evangelicals who were already married were notably less permissive.But the age at first marriage of evangelicals is climbing, in step with — about a year earlier than — the median age of other marrying Americans (27 for women and 29 for men).Levels of uncertainty — that is, neither agreeing nor disagreeing — about various sexual practices and attitudes are elevated among Christians.When we asked more than 15,000 Americans about sexual ethics, many who attended religious services at least once a week were on the fence. One can interpret those on the fence as movable — open to being convinced.

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