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Perceived barriers to marriage, meanwhile, are getting higher — prompting greater marital delay and fewer marriages overall.

Add to that Christians’ elevated standards for marriage and you have a recipe for wholesale retreat. It’s an expression of love for same-sex attracted people.’] Young Christians are suffering the bruising effects of participating in the same wider mating market as the rest of the country.

It’s able to poke holes in the “sacred canopy” over the erotic instinct, to borrow the late Peter Berger’s term.

Perhaps the increasing lack of religious affiliation among young adults is partly a consequence of widening trends in nonmarital sexual behavior among young Americans, in the wake of the expansion of pornography and other tech-enhanced sexual behaviors.

(It’s not easy to raise the price of sex.) To be sure, there are those who hew to a more orthodox path — that is, dating without sex, followed by marriage in a timely fashion. Alternative online dating sites geared specifically toward Christians often disappoint, because their underlying template is no different. [Reverend and rabbi: Removing symbols of racism isn’t enough.

Just like secular Tinder or Ok Cupid, the Christian sites are guided by market-driven questions: What does he have to offer? We need policy action.] As marriage rates among Christians begin to decrease, additional change is afoot.

Whereas only 37 percent of the least religious never-married adults in the 2014 Relationships in America survey said they would prefer instead to be married, 56 percent of the most religious never-married adults said the same. These Christians’ narratives are seldom radically different from nonreligious Americans. Moreover, plenty of American Christians have taken breaks from the faith, been burned, returned and then struggle to navigate new relationships in a manner distinctive from their previous mating-market experiences. It can be navigated for noble purposes, but its baseline principles can’t really be reformed.

But Christians are hardly exempt from wider mating market dynamics.

Sex has become cheap — that is, not hard to get — because it’s much less risky and consequential in the era of birth control.

There have always been forces that have pulled marriages apart.

But it is the forces that push people together that are growing increasingly rare.

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