Two weeks ago, younger evangelical leaders gathered in Washington D.C. to reflect about the shape Christianity should take in the world. Q, the conference hosted by Gabe Lyons, is one of the more interesting spots in the evangelical landscape. Self-conscious in its cultural (which is to say, not political) orientation, conference attendees are an interesting cross-section of the evangelical world. Some might be emergent, others might be Reformed, but no one talks much about all that. It's concern about social issues, rather than distinctive theological ones, that attendees seem to gather around.
In a breathtaking moment of unity, however, conference attendees affirmed that churches should advocate for contraceptives for the single people in their midst. After a panel discussion on the best ways to reduce abortions in the church (tacit answer: contraception), an instant poll put the question to attendees: "Do you believe churches should advocate contraception for their single twentysomethings?" The question is ambiguously worded (Advocate how? From the pulpit? Which twentysomethings? All of them?). But even so, 70 percent of respondents understood enough to say "yes."
To suggest that abortion within our churches is a problem is to put it too mildly: it is a scandal, a travesty, a matter for repentance and mourning. And the same goes for the frequency of pre-marital sex among evangelical singles. They are both, as panel participant Jenell Williams Paris aptly pointed out in her opening remarks, symptoms of a stunted theological understanding of human sexuality. (Which raises the question, of course, of why the panel was devoted to addressing these symptoms rather than eliminating the disease).
The problem exists on (at least) ...