Another day, another study revealing just how quickly the old norms of the American Church are shifting. The latest evidence comes from Pew Research, which found that whole Christians are generally more conservative when it comes to sex than the culture at large, they’re still a little more permissive than you might think. For example, most of them say sex between unmarried consenting adults in a committed relationship is sometimes or always acceptable, and about half say casual sex is sometimes or always OK.
Pew found that 33 percent of Christians think sex between unmarried adults in a committed relationship is always OK, and 24 percent think it’s at least sometimes acceptable. That’s 57 percent overall, which is quite a bit less than unaffiliated Christians — 79 percent of whom think it’s always or sometimes OK — but it’s still a majority.
Likewise, attitudes about casual sex are changing too. 18 percent of Christians think it’s always OK and 32 percent think it can be acceptable, which comes out to half of all American Christians, compared to 83 percent of unaffiliated Americans.
The differences got a little more stark after that. Only 18 percent of Christians think an open relationship is ever acceptable, compared to 54 percent of unaffiliated Americans. And just 19 percent of Christians think having sex on the first date is ever acceptable, compared to 49 percent of unaffiliated Americans.
Likewise, about a third of American Christians think it’s always or sometimes OK for consenting adults to share sexually explicit photos, compared to seven in ten unaffiliated Americans.
The survey did find that Christians who attend a religious service regularly (or, at least, they did before the pandemic) are less likely than other Christians to find sex outside of marriage acceptable, with only 46 percent of Christians who attend services at least monthly saying they’d approve, compared to 74 percent who go less often.