Young Christians are more sex-positive than the previous generation – Probably Overthinking It


That is the fifth and doubtless closing in a sequence of articles the place I exploit knowledge from the General Social Survey (GSS) to discover

  • Variations in beliefs and attitudes between Christians and folks with no spiritual affiliation (“Nones”),
  • Generational variations between youthful and older Christians, and
  • Generational variations between youthful and older Nones.

In the first article, I looked at changes in religious beliefs and located that youthful Christians are extra secular in some ways than the earlier era.

In the second article, I looked at views related to law and public policy and located that younger Christians are extra progressive on most points than the earlier era.

In the third article, I discovered that generational variations on most questions associated to abortion are small and doubtless not virtually or statistically important.

In the fourth article, I looked at responses to questions related to priorities and public spending. On many dimensions, youthful Christians are transferring towards the beliefs of their secular friends, however there are notable exceptions.

On this article, I exploit the identical dataset to discover adjustments in attitudes associated to intercourse. For details of the methodology, see the first article.

When is intercourse flawed?

GSS respondents had been requested a number of questions associated to their attitudes about intercourse:

There’s been plenty of dialogue about the way in which morals and attitudes about intercourse are altering on this nation.

  • If a person and girl have intercourse relations earlier than marriage, do you assume it’s at all times flawed, virtually at all times flawed, flawed solely generally, or not flawed in any respect?
  • What if they’re of their early teenagers, say 14 to 16 years previous? In that case, do you assume intercourse relations earlier than marriage are at all times flawed, virtually at all times flawed, flawed solely generally, or not flawed in any respect?
  • What about sexual relations between two adults of the identical intercourse–do you assume it’s at all times flawed, virtually at all times flawed, flawed solely generally, or not flawed in any respect?
  • What’s your opinion a few married individual having sexual relations with somebody apart from the wedding accomplice–is it at all times flawed, virtually at all times flawed, flawed solely generally, or not flawed in any respect?

For every of those questions, I rely the fraction of respondents who reply “at all times flawed”.

And I checked out responses to 1 different sex-related query:

Would you be for or in opposition to intercourse schooling within the public colleges?

Listed below are the outcomes:

Generational adjustments in attitudes associated to intercourse.

The blue markers are for folks whose spiritual desire is Catholic, Protestant, or Christian; the orange markers are for folks with no spiritual affiliation.

For every group, the circles present estimated percentages for folks born in 1968; the arrowheads present percentages for folks born in 1993.

For each teams, the estimates are for 2018, when the youthful group was 25 and the older group was 50. The brackets present 90% confidence intervals.

In virtually each state of affairs, younger Christians are much less doubtless than the earlier era to say that intercourse is “at all times flawed”, and within the instances of gay and teenage intercourse, the adjustments are substantial.

Opposition to premarital intercourse was already low and didn’t change as a lot. Help for intercourse schooling was already excessive and is now an amazing majority.

The exception is extramarital intercourse, the place there’s virtually no generational change: greater than 80% of each generations assume it’s at all times flawed.

In comparison with their Christian friends, the non-religious are extra sex-positive by 15-30 share factors. And their generational adjustments go in the identical path, with younger Nones much less prone to assume intercourse in these eventualities is flawed.

However once more, extramarital intercourse is the exception; among the many Nones, the small generational change is throughout the margin of error.

This exception means that each teams distinguish between actions that hurt folks and transgressions of divine legislation.


In 2007, when I started writing about religious trends, I believed the rising variety of folks with no spiritual affiliation was vastly underreported. Now, the “rise of the Nones” is well-known.

Then, for some time, the story was that folks had been leaving organized faith, however they had been nonetheless spiritual or at the very least non secular; that’s, they had been “believing with out belonging”.

Extra just lately, it has change into clear that beliefs and attitudes among the Nones are getting more secular.

On this sequence of articles, I’ve checked out adjustments among the many ones who’re left behind; that’s, the lowering fraction who determine as Christian. On many dimensions, the sample is identical: younger Christians are extra secular than the earlier era.

Responses that observe this sample embrace:

  • Virtually all spiritual beliefs and actions, besides perception within the afterlife.
  • Opposition to intercourse and intercourse schooling, besides extramarital intercourse.
  • Issues of public coverage together with the legalization of marijuana, pornography, and euthanasia; assist for affirmative motion; and opposition to the demise penalty and faculty prayer.

Many questions associated to public spending observe the identical sample, with youthful Christians typically transferring towards positions held by their secular friends; the one substantial exception is mass transportation, which has much less assist amongst younger folks in each teams [although this result is so surprising to me that I need more evidence to be confident it is correct].

Probably the most notable exceptions are opposition to gun management and abortion, which present virtually no generational adjustments. Possibly not coincidentally, these exceptions are in all probability probably the most politicized subjects among the many questions I explored.

In abstract, we will describe secularization within the U.S. because the sum of two traits, adjustments in affiliation and adjustments in perception. Each traits are transferring quick, and they’re transferring in the identical path, away from faith.


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