Relevant magazine reported that 80% of unmarried evangelicals have had sex. A newer survey reports that 56% of unmarried evangelicals have never had sex. Both targeted the same age group: 18-29 years old. Which survey is correct?
According to Relevant, using the National Campaign survey, evangelicals have premarital sex “as much (or more) than non-Christians.” The newer survey, done by Grey Matter, tells a very different story. Relevant‘s survey says that “evangelical” Christians aged 18-29 don’t actually believe or live out their faith when it comes to the physical and sexual aspects of life. The Grey Matter survey demonstrates the majority of “evangelical” Christians aged 18-29 truly live out their faith, even in the face of sociopolitical pressures to normalize fornication. The difference is drastic, especially in light of the Scripture’s consistent call to live out our faith and the truth of the Bible through our words and deeds. Again, which survey is correct?
Christianity Today took a look at the two surveys, asked which was right, and concluded, “Probably both, depending on how you define evangelical.”
So, how did the two surveys define ‘evangelical’? National Campaign simply asked the respondent if they considered themselves a “born-again Christian, evangelical, or fundamentalist.” In other words, Relevant used a survey that really had no definition of ‘evangelical’ from which they drew their alarming statistics. Grey Matter, on the other hand, defined ‘evangelical’ based upon the qualifications of those who “attend church at least monthly, and hold traditional evangelical beliefs on salvation, the Bible, evangelism, and active faith.” The Grey Matter survey actually had a definition, and the results regarding sexual activity differed greatly from those who take the name “evangelical” but don’t believe or live out the definition.
As Christianity Today puts it “In other words, if you call yourself and evangelical but don’t go to church or hold evangelical beliefs, you’re also unlikely to remain chaste.”
Do you consider yourself an evangelical? Do you fit the definition as laid out by Grey Matter? How do you handle the struggles to live out what you claim to believe, if you call yourself an evangelical Christian?
Christianity Today lays out a chart (below) in The Sex Lives of Unmarried Evangelicals that lays out more differences between the two surveys.