It is easy to point the finger at liberal Anglican churches for caving into the cultural consensus that sex before marriage is acceptable. datingBut it is sobering to reflect that the larger evangelical Anglican churches are almost certainly not immune from the changes registered by the latest British Social Attitudes survey.

When the BSA survey first appeared in 1983, 31 per cent of Anglicans said that pre-marital sex was “always” or “mostly” wrong; in 2012, only ten per cent thought this.

Evangelical churches and para-church organisations 30 years ago generally gave clear biblical teaching against pre-marital sex. But given the ranks of unmarried, professing Christian couples now attending the larger evangelical Anglican flagships, both conservative and charismatic, one wonders why they are not choosing to get married as they age side by side in the pew.

Is it realistic to claim that such ‘evangelical’ couples, in many cases in long-term relationships, are not having pre-marital sex?

If they are, then are they deliberately ignoring what they are being taught from the pulpit or is the Bible’s teaching being soft-pedalled?

Or – worst case scenario – have their pastors thrown in the towel on this issue in the teeth of the almost universal cultural acceptance of pre-marital sex in Britain today?

Whatever the truthful answer to those questions, there is no doubting the biblical clarity of the Anglican Church in Nigeria. The Bishop’s Charge to the 12th Synod of the Diocese of Jos earlier this summer, now published, contains a section on friendship, courtship and marriage in which Dr Ben Kwashi does not pussy-foot about:

There should be no fornication during courtship. Respect one another as brother and sister and do not let your today spoil your tomorrow….Western civilisation has tended to throw off the traditional, cultural and Christian Biblical approach to courtship and marriage and has introduced a Hollywood type of marriage. The young couple may choose to be living together and then decide whether they want to marry or not…they throw completely overboard every caution carefully to seek the will of God, observe chastity and do all that makes for a happily married life. It used to be thought that this kind of liberal approach to courtship was not going to happen in Africa or Nigeria, but alas we are witnesses of it today. It is our prayer that the church will rise with every sense of urgency to restore the will of God in Friendship, Courtship and Marriage, to save this generation and generations yet unborn from the calamity of broken homes, broken hearts and broken families.

Now that kind of clear, courageous and loving proclamation of the truth of God’s Word is called serving the Body of Christ. We English evangelicals need substantial crates of it bottled and urgently dispatched over here.

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