"Even if the church frowns on this behavior, they take it upon themselves to make an educated decision between the two of them."Sussmann paraphrased a common expression she hears from religious patients: "I practice what the church teaches me, but this is something personal between me and my partner." The therapist commented that, in many ways, churches are "fighting an uphill battle because this is nature."According to Sprigg, "there may be a weakness on the part of churches" that explains the gap between sexual behavior and biblical standards.He described "a vicious circle," where a pastor welcomes people regardless of their past sins, and then fails to preach biblical morality due to a fear of being considered too harsh."I would encourage pastors to speak bluntly and boldly about sexuality and a biblical view of sexuality and marriage," Sprigg declared.He urged religious leaders to "not shy away from challenging the values of the culture."Rather than stressing biblical values, Sussmann focuses on communication, empathy and mutual understanding."If one person wants to be abstinent and one doesn't," her job is to reconcile the two, no matter how difficult that might be.
Battling against the "purity culture"Emily Maynard, 28, a writer from Portland, Ore., has witnessed many of her friends rejecting abstinence, in what she interprets as them pushing back against the "purity culture," or the conservative sexual and dating norms with which they were raised."It's a family, church and social system that favors the idea of courtship.Lindsey eventually cut off all people that had been a part of that lifestyle.Several years ago she got married and moved to Atlanta, where, now 31, she is the founder and CEO of Pinky Promise, an organization that encourages single and married women to "rise above cultural pressures and to "stay determined to live for Christ regardless of their circumstances."Only 11 percent of Christians are waiting until marriage before having sex While Christians may see Lindsey's premarital sexual behavior as typical for that outside their faith, a new Christian Mingle study suggests that it is increasingly commonplace for Christians to sleep together outside of a marital context.Interpreting this data, Sprigg shared his warning to Christians about dating sites."Those who are active, committed Christians who believe in biblical values need to be cautious in using sites like Christian Mingle and not assume that others on the site share their values."Rachel Sussmann, a licensed psychotherapist and relationship expert, agreed with Sprigg that even those who consider themselves strong Christians make unbiblical decisions about sex."Oftentimes couples find this as something personal between the two of them," Sussman explained.