Grove City College Professor of Sociology Dr. David J. Ayers’ recent research and writing on Christian marriage, the family and human sexuality is getting noticed.
Ayers’ article “Parenting Through Puberty” was prominently featured in the September issue of Modern Reformation.
The article explores the challenges parents and children face in maintaining a historical and biblical sexual ethic in a culture that seems to be working against them. Ayers details current thinking and research on the subject, including surprising data about the sexual experience of young evangelicals, and offers concrete steps to building a healthy and scripturally sound approach to guiding young people to sexual faithfulness.
“We must inspire if we want our youth to aspire. Not with false expectations or with Christianized versions of the same shallow things modern Western culture increasingly pursues, but with a life of deep meaning, lived with integrity before God and, for most of us, a fit companion at our side who stands by us in plenty and want, health and disease, until death,” Ayers writes. “Sexual integrity is key to realizing this, and unrepented sexual profligacy destroys it. We have to help young Christians see this, through modeling and didactic teaching but also through their imaginations, planting images in their mind of a better way, a superior life they can know.”
The article continues a vein of sociological research that Ayers has been pursuing for several years. In 2019 he published “Christian Marriage: A Comprehensive Introduction,” a theologically rich, biblically robust and sociologically-informed treatise on the nature and value of marriage.
That work was adapted into two video courses Ayers taught for Faithlife/Logos Bible Software that are in the final stages of production and release. One is on Christian marriage and another on premarital preparation.
Ayers is currently working on his next book “Sex and the Single Evangelical,” an expansion of a research brief of the same title that was published by The Institute for Family Studies in 2019. That study drew attention to data detailing the pre-marital sexual behavior of young, self-professed evangelicals. The book is slated for publication by Lexham Press in 2021. He is under contract with Christian Focus Publications to begin writing a book for teens on dating, cohabitation and properly preparing for marriage.
“This research is motivated by the desire to see Christ’s church honor and glorify Him with the way they live, distinct from the declining culture around us, in the areas of sex, marriage and family life,” Ayers said.
People are being harmed in measurable ways by engaging in “worldly practices” in the areas of marriage and sex, Ayers said, pointing to out-of-wedlock pregnancies, abortion, sexually transmitted diseases, divorce and other social ills. On issues of sex, Ayers said the church has often waved a “white flag,” failing to uphold traditional scriptural doctrine and ignoring or misusing “solid social science research” to the detriment of its followers. “We can do better. Not perfect, but better,” he noted.
In contrast to many scholars writing for a Christian audience, Ayers builds his case using strong empirical social science and social history, including the latest published research and hard data from non-biased sources, including the National Opinion Research Corporation/University of Chicago’s General Social Survey, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Survey of Family Growth, U.S. Census Data and more.
“My research stands alone in integrating all these and writing specifically for and to the evangelical church, in ways useful to orthodox believers in other faith communions as well, such as Roman Catholics. And all of it within an absolute confidence in the inerrant, authoritative sufficient word of God,” Ayers said.
Ayers holds a Ph.D. in sociology from New York University and has written two books, “Experiencing Social Research” (2001) and “Investigating Social Problems” (2004), as well as numerous articles and book chapters. He has taught courses on marriage and family for more than 30 years.