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Facebook has grown from its inception in 2004 to over a billion users, and Twitter has grown from its start in 2006 to more than 500 million users.The 2011 American Time Use Survey indicates that, on average, men now spend 9.65% and women spend 6.81% of their leisure time on-line (1).A new study on Christian attitudes toward dating and marriage reveals a broad acceptance for cohabitation, premarital sex and a rejection of traditional gender roles.Experts believe that many Christians are following cultural trends over scripture when it comes to sex and marriage."Christians are perhaps more influenced by the culture than they are by the teachings of scripture or the church," Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council, told The Christian Post in an interview on Friday.Sussmann told CP she hasn't seen research that shows premarital sex or cohabitation lead to divorce, although she admitted that studies on cohabitation are not conclusive.Sprigg, however, argued that many researchers have shown "that even though partners often cohabit as a trial marriage, couples who cohabit before marriage are more likely to divorce, not less likely." He noted that these couples "are not actually practicing marriage – they are practicing lack of commitment."While Sprigg and Sussmann disagreed on some points, they agreed that traditional gender roles – with the husband as the primary breadwinner – are less important in today's society.
Meeting a marital partner in traditional off-line venues has declined over the past several decades but meeting on-line has grown dramatically (2), with on-line dating now a billion-dollar industry (3)."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.These data suggest that the Internet may be altering the dynamics and outcomes of marriage itself.The rise in the Internet has transformed how Americans work, play, search, shop, study, and communicate.