Is the Christian message on sex still relevant?
Guardian Senior Reporter
Published: Sep 26, 2013
Many religions teach conservative values about sex, instructing congregations and worshippers to abstain from pre-marital intercourse.
The argument makes sense for those who believe that sexual acts should be constrained to a hopefully happy marriage, ensuring that children are born into a stable family unit.
However, statistics show that over the past 40 years the birth rate to single mothers has skyrocketed.
Religious leader Bishop Simeon Hall thinks the data is evidence that the church needs to have a frank discussion about the realities of sex.
“Should we say to those young ladies in the church who are sexually active that it’s time for you to take some kind of protection because you’re sexually active already or what?,” he asked.
“The church tends to be shy about public discussions about sex, yet everyone has engaged in some sex act or is planning to.”
The bishop thinks the church must continue to preach the benefits of morals and abstinence while not glossing over reality.
“The more people have central values with what the church propagates the more they can correct their behavior. It is contradictory that almost 70 percent of our children are born out of wedlock and we have 4,000 churches,” Hall said.
“It is a debate that the church should talk about since it is so blatantly contradictory to what the ideal of the church is.”
Data collected by the Department of Statistics on The Bahamas’ birth rate shows that births to unwed mothers have nearly doubled since 1970 and continue to account for “the largest annual natural increase to the Bahamian population”.
The report, released last year, noted that births to unwed mothers in The Bahamas rose from 29 percent in 1970 to a high of 62 percent in 2009. The data is part of the Department of Statistics’ births reports, based on information collected from 1970 to 2010.
The rise in single mothers is something Hall is worried about not just because it shows the contrast in the church’s and secular world’s views on sex, but due to its effect on the family unit.
Hall said the church must continue to advocate for the traditional family structure of a man and a woman raising children together.
Joy Smith, a 29-year-old woman who was raised in the Anglican church, said she feels many young people aren’t buying into the church’s message of waiting for sex because they are driven to express their emotions on the physical level.
Smith said that as a teen with a strong religious upbringing, she thought she would wait until marriage for sex. However, her views on sexual relationships changed and her sexual decisions were no longer guided by what she was taught on Sundays.
“I equate my love and feelings in the sexual act. You use that to manifest your love and passion for the person,” Smith said.
“In my innocence I said I will wait for marriage. In my second adult relationship my outlook changed.”
Smith thinks modern views on sex should compel the church to teach teens about contraceptives.
“You want to educate but you don’t want to give too much information to expose [young people] to a potentially dangerous lifestyle of hopping around,” she said.
“Sex is a responsibility that people take for granted.”
• Smith’s real name has been changed in this article.