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You’ve probably noticed that the views toward and practices of marriage have changed. But how? And how do Christian views and practices differ?

That’s what Mark Regnerus set out to discover in a global study of Christians from across denominations. You’ll find the results in his new book, The Future of Christian Marriage, published by Oxford University Press. Mark is a professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin and author of many important books, including Cheap Sex and the Transformation of Men, Marriage, and Monogamy and Forbidden Fruit: Sex and Religion in the Lives of American Teenagers.

You might not read a lot of sociology. But if you’re a church leader, you need to read this book. He put into words what I’ve observed but did not understand. He gave me context for the trends and a sense of urgency about the consequences.

Regnerus found that marriage is no longer something Christians pursue in order to meet life goals. It’s something they aspire to do someday if life works out in the meantime. The result is far fewer marriages, of course. But this shift means a lot more, not only for Christian marriage, but for Christian ministry. Regnerus describes the intrusion of the market mentality into our homes, marriages, and bedrooms. He writes, “Our most intimate relationships are being treated as a means, often discarded, to attain those ends and acquisitions that have been most effectively marketed to us.”

And what is the result for Christian marriage? Nothing good, Regnerus warns: “Young adults are offered no guidance about maturation, mortgages, or marriage—save for words of caution, counsel to delay, and cost-benefit evaluation.”

Regnerus joined me on Gospelbound to discuss the “monumental, consequential, and subtle” shift in Christian marriage and way too many questions than I had time to ask.


This episode of Gospelbound is brought to you by the Sing! Global Conference from modern hymnwriters Keith and Kristyn Getty. This four-day online event will bring together an array of more than 100 Christian leaders and artists from around the world—such as John Piper, Trip Lee, Joni Eareckson Tada, and David Platt—to examine how the songs of Scripture build deep believers in the 21st century. Register here by Tuesday, August 25, and save 20 percent with the code GOSPELBOUND.

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