Why do many millennials avoid church? Joel Miller ponders one reason:
College students who lose their virginity, for instance, report declining interest in religion and religious services, according to a new study by Pennsylvania State University. Skipping church, say researchers, is “a way to relieve cognitive dissonance that results from engaging in prohibited behaviors. . . .” The study, summarized by the Boston Globe, is not yet published but seems to echo the observations of others.
In his book, The Making of an Atheist, Taylor University philosophy professor James S. Spiegel quotes Søren Kierkegaard saying it’s wrong to assume objections to Christianity stem from doubt. They instead “spring from insubordination, the dislike of obedience. . . .” Willful immorality, in other words, undermines our faith. We, as Paul says, suppress the truth in unrighteousness.
I find this discussion fascinating in light of the “top-down” anthropology that many evangelicals either explicitly or implicitly believe. The most common way of expressing the relationship between belief and behavior is that belief causes behavior. Consequently, parents of teens are encouraged to build worldview into their children that will guide their lifestyle.
What this data and its attendant analysis seem to suggest is that belief and behavior have a two-way conversation. Sexual habits not only spring from a worldview, they might actually have a hand in creating one.
I once heard a theologian describe relativism as “more pelvic than philosophical.” His point was that arriving at relativism intellectually is much harder and rarer than arriving at it sexually. When pleasure seems irresistable, arguments for absolute truth don’t seem as interesting. Or, as C.S. Lewis once put it, “A man with an addiction is a man with little sales-resistance.”