Sex, God, and a Generation That Can’t Tell the Difference

The only thing Millennials are black-and-white on when it comes to matters of sexual morality is that you aren’t allowed to be black-and-white on sexual morality.

Before, the sexually moral judged the sexually amoral; today, the sexually amoral judge the sexually moral. If you have a sexual ethic more solid than your average Jello mold, you’re free game for Millennial judgment. Millennials are incredibly judgmental when it comes to sexuality—if you’re not doing something you’re a loser, and if you have convictions you’re a bigot.

 

Last month, the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) released the results of a recent survey entitled, “How Race and Religion Shape Millennial Attitudes on Sexuality and Reproductive Health.” I’ve been dying to comment on the research for a while, but I only recently managed to get the time.

Millennials Are the “Judge the Prude” Generation on Sexual Morality

A couple of weeks ago, Cathy Lynn Grossman of the Religion News Service wrote a post providing analysis of this data that was titled, “Millennials are the ‘don’t judge generation’ on sexual morality: Survey.” Unfortunately, that’s not true. Regarding sexual morality, Millennials are judgmental, just in different ways than their parents or grandparents were.

Grossman quotes Robert Jones, the CEO of PRRI as saying, “Millennials seem reluctant to make blanket black-and-white moral pronouncements about issues they see as complex.” That’s where this idea of the “don’t judge generation” comes from. It’s true, Millennials seem reluctant to make blanket black-and-white moral pronouncements about complex issues, and that’s exactly how they arejudgmental. Millennials don’t just keep from making black-and-white statement themselves, they think that it is morally reprehensible and “discriminatory” for anyone to make black-and-white moral pronouncements about these issues.

The only thing Millennials are black-and-white on when it comes to matters of sexual morality is that you aren’t allowed to be black-and-white on sexual morality.

Before, it was stigma to sleep with someone before marriage or with a partner outside of your marriage. Today, college students are shamed as cowards and prudes for retaining their virginity on campuses across the country. Before, you kept your sexual activity quiet for fear of shame; today, you keep your sexual inactivity quiet for the same reason.

Before, the sexually moral judged the sexually amoral; today, the sexually amoral judge the sexually moral.

If you have a sexual ethic more solid than your average Jello mold, you’re free game for Millennial judgment.

Millennials are incredibly judgmental when it comes to sexuality—if you’re not doing something you’re a loser, and if you have convictions you’re a bigot.

Digging Up the Data

I’d encourage you to read the study yourself at the linked title above, but here on the blog, we’re going to look at the data through the three lenses that drive what we try to do:  1) understand the views of Millennials, 2) reach unbelieving Millennials, and 3) serve believing Millennials.

Today, we’re just going to look at a few snapshots of some key categories of data. On Monday, we’ll look at what the implications of this data have on reaching unbelieving Millennials, and next Wednesday, we’ll look at how we might serve Millennial Christians in light of this data.

The PRRI report is extensive, so for the purposes of our brief analysis, let’s focus on three primary categories: abortion, birth control, and sexual orientation.

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