The AP and the Star-Tribune provides another example of the mass media’s cluelessness in dealing with matters of religion. Today’s entry involves a study of sexual practices in urban areas from the University of Chicago. For the most part, the story remains mildly interesting, as much as it can be when it’s mostly telling us what we already know about sexual relations these days — people wait longer to get married and have more sexual partners than they did before, men have more partners than women, women want “relational” sex and men want “transactional” sex regardless of sexual orientation. (In fact, it sounds to me like they haven’t changed much in 20 years.)
Towards the end, reporter Martha Irvine makes the following statement:
Still, Laumann and his staff found that social services, the church and law enforcement have been slow to address this latest sexual revolution. … And most churches they examined were not good at “giving guidance about how you manage a stable, but non-married relationship,” Laumann says.
Here’s a clue for both Laumann and Irvine, who felt it necessary to print this revelation — churches that prohibit extramarital sex do not exist to give “guidance” about how to maintain sexual relationships outside of marriage. Singletons who show up with their significant others at a Catholic or Protestant church requesting relationship counseling while sharing a bed will be told to stop doing either the former or the latter. Churches believe it to be a sin, and assisting people in perpetuating the sin makes them a party to it.
No one has to join a church, or follow it once they’ve joined; each person has a free-will choice to make. What Laumann and Irvine suggest is that churches must be co-opted to the relativist values of the day instead of devoting themselves to eternal truths (or their belief about eternal truths). Religions that preach moral relativism cease being religions at all and start becoming new-age encounter groups. The attitude expressed in this article betrays the condescension and disdain the media and academics hold for religious values and organizations. To scold them for not supporting practices that they find not only destructive but in opposition to the core values they cherish is to belittle them. The Strib’s editors need to look at these pieces a little more carefully in the future.
UPDATE: A big welcome to readers of Evangelical Outpost, one of my favorite blogs!