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Why young Christians aren't waiting anymore
A young Christian at an purity rally spreads the word.
September 27th, 2011
08:39 AM ET

Why young Christians aren't waiting anymore

By John Blake,  CNN

(CNN) –True love doesn’t wait after all.

That’s the implication in the upcoming October issue of an evangelical magazine that claims that young, unmarried Christians are having premarital sex almost as much as their non-Christian peers.

The article in Relevant magazine, entitled “(Almost) Everyone’s Doing It,” cited several studies examining the sexual activity of single Christians. One of the biggest surprises was a December 2009 study, conducted by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, which included information on sexual activity.

While the study’s primary report did not explore religion, some additional analysis focusing on sexual activity and religious identification yielded this result: 80 percent of unmarried evangelical young adults (18 to 29) said that they have had sex - slightly less than 88 percent of unmarried adults, according to the teen pregnancy prevention organization.

The article highlights what challenges abstinence movements face. Movements such as “True Love Waits,” encourage teens to wear purity rings, sign virginity pledges and pledge chastity during public ceremonies.

Yet many of these Christian youths eventually abandon their purity pledges, Relevant’s Tyler Charles concludes in the article. Tyler talked to people like “Maria,” an evangelical woman who said she wanted to wait until marriage to have sex.

CNN's Belief Blog – all the faith angles to the day's top stories

But she said she started having sex with her college boyfriend when she turned 20 because nearly everyone, even most of  her Christian friends, were having sex.

Maria:

It seemed everyone in my life, older and younger, had “done it.” In fact, I waited longer than most people I knew and longer than both of my sisters, even though we were all Christians and came from a good home.

Relevant theorizes about why it’s so hard for so many young Christians to wait, including the saturation of sex in popular culture, the prevalence of pornography and a popular “do what feels good philosophy.”

Yet the article also asks a question that rarely comes up in discussions about abstinence movement. Relevant notes that in biblical times, people married earlier. The average age for marriage has been increasing in the U.S for the last 40 years.

Today, it’s not unusual to meet a Christian who is single at 30 - or 40 or 50, for that matter. So what do you tell them? Keep waiting?

Scot McKnight, author of “The Jesus Creed,” and "One.Faith: Jesus Calls, We Follow," acknowledges that young, single Christians face temptations that their counterparts in the biblical age didn’t face.

He  tells Relevant:

Sociologically speaking, the one big difference – and it’s monstrous – between the biblical teaching and our culture is the arranged marriages of very young people. If you get married when you’re 13, you don’t have 15 years of temptation.

So what should a Christian parent or youth pastor do? How do they convince more young Christians to wait until marriage, or should they stop even trying?

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church • Culture & Science • Culture wars

soundoff (5,768 Responses)
  1. samsjmail

    "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, "

    But then he took him back right? Jesus rose and went back to heaven, correct? So, what exactly did God "sacrifice", since his son didn't really die? And why was a "sacrifice" necessary? And who is this all powerful god sacrificing his son TO.

    Chrisitanity would be a lot easier to believe if it wasn't so obtuse.

    September 27, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
    • Ben

      Yeah, but if it wasn't so obtuse, it would be harder to con people with it.

      September 27, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
    • Cris

      I want you to consider carefully what I am going to say: You follow the law of the state, right? I am assuming that you don't murder, steal or lie in court because you are afraid to go to jail, not because you are moral but because you are afraid. The God who created hte universe and all the laws of physics also created a moral law, if you break that law, you are gulity of sin. Problem with sin its judgement is eternal because the one we sin against is eternal and we are essentially underestimating the seriousness of sin. The sin has to be atoned for or paid for to be absloved, much like a jail sentence or life sentence....so God sent his son Jesus Christ to die in your place and to pay for your sin....that only happens if you acknowledge this and put your FAITH (I used capital letters to emphasize) in Him. Not obtuse at all if you can see the simplicity of faith that is required. Jesus did die but He rose again and is alive, therefore He can hear you when to speak to him.

      September 27, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
    • Observer

      "I am assuming that you don't murder, steal or lie in court because you are afraid to go to jail, not because you are moral but because you are afraid."

      Wow. If you represent many Christians, you sure have low regard for mankind. At least atheists and agnostics don't need bribes (heaven) to do what they think is right.

      September 27, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
    • Cris

      To the Observer, you do realize that I am adressing most of humnaity, right? Please try not to be offended by wordplay but Please, I sincerely ask you to consider the meassge I am presenting.

      September 27, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
    • sybaris

      Love that John 3:16

      So this god was a one trick pony?

      September 27, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
    • Rick

      Cris: What makes you think that a creator has to equate to a being that judges "sin"?

      September 27, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
    • sybaris

      This Cris person obviously hasn't spent any time in an anthropology or ethics class.

      Sorry Cris your religion worships a god that used another mans wife to recreate itself, disappeared for 30 years then sacrificed itself to itself in order to atone for creating "imperfect" beings that, in it's omniscience, should have known were imperfect to begin with.

      It fails

      Regardless, that scenario predates Christianity and is just a spin on other pagan religions.

      September 27, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
    • Norman

      Cris: your assumptions are invalid, your beliefs are rubbish, and you are very stupid. Have a nice day.

      September 27, 2011 at 7:30 pm |
  2. DrTune

    Tom says below "Signs young Christians not serious about their beliefs".
    ...Aren't we talking about their parent's beliefs? Since when did christian parents give their kids an option about what to believe?

    The irony is that if my young daughter grows up wanting to follow organized religion (and I'm not sure why she would) – I would personally think it a little foolish and hope she grew out of it, but it'd be her choice. I don't think Christians are equally accepting of their kids choices.

    It's my opinion that some of the greatest liars, conmen, buffoons and hypocrites find a cozy place within organized religion...
    ..That's me going to hell, eh?

    September 27, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
    • bob

      You hit it on the nose, DrTune (or, you're singing my kind of tune).

      September 27, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
    • Rod C. Venger

      Well, Doc, we all hope that your daughter has (a) more sense than you, (b) isn't as cynical as you and (c) isn't as hostile as you. It IS the dream of every parent for their kids to exceed themselves, be better people than themselves, is it not?

      September 27, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      For many, the first step by our children, indivudally and collectively, towards exceeding us is for them to abondon childish beliefs, the most silly being religion of course.

      September 27, 2011 at 6:46 pm |
    • DrTune

      I'm not saying everyone involved in religion is bad, far from it – I appreciate that it brings many good/honest people some comfort in their darker hours.
      ...So does morphine. Which is more real?

      September 27, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
    • rb

      haha nice attempt to try to equate the effects of a drug with faith. While the other keeps you in nice drugged up state free from physical pain ( a fallacy as many people still pain) having true faith in something allows you to get past "pain". There's a difference genius and faith is very real for those who choose to open their minds to it.

      September 27, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
    • John Richardson

      It looks like DrTune's shoe fits Rod! He sure put it on in a hurry!

      September 27, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
  3. Ben

    The objective media lives for stories like these based on facts or not. Let me know when they publish the story about anything good Christians do...won't hold my breath

    September 27, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
  4. samsjmail

    Want to have a good time? Date the preacher's daughter.

    September 27, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
    • blf83

      You'll have to wait in line.

      September 27, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
    • samsjmail

      That's ok, as long as I'm at least third.

      September 27, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
    • Ozymandias71

      Or the preacher's son. ;)

      September 27, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
  5. samsjmail

    What should I do if my statue starts bleeding?

    September 27, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
  6. Mom of 4

    I know plenty of young people who have waited to have s*x on their wedding nights. But it's no wonder, when you have these idiot pastors like Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, etc., who preach a watered-down Gospel and refuse to use words like "sin" and "repentance" for fear of offending someone. I've been a marriage/family counselor for 25 years, and I can tell you for a fact that Christians who wait to have s*x have longer, happier and more content marriages than those who don't wait. There are no comparisons, they learn together, and it is an intimacy that they share ONLY with their spouses and no one else. It is a precious thing and I am so glad my kids waited before they got married. One of the most touching things I ever heard from my oldest son was thanking me for teaching him to respect himself and his fiance. She was worth the wait and he said at his wedding in front of every guest that he would be forever grateful to his parents for teaching him right from wrong and the importance of waiting until marriage. That was a powerful message that influenced a lot of his friends, because you can't hide from TRUTH.

    September 27, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
    • blf83

      Only if the guilt has been drilled into them. BTW, speaking from experience. Makes for a lousy marriage.

      September 27, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
    • Matt

      I totally agree with you! Too often we justify our sinful ways. The commandments are in the Bible. We have two options either follow God and keep the commandments or disobey and follow Satan. Anyway you put it if you go astray thats not God's ways. His path is the straight and narrow!

      September 27, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
    • Odaisy

      I waited till I found the love of my life and marriage at 36. If I had to do it all over again would I? nope. I think if I had to do it again I still would have waited during High School.

      September 27, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  7. blf83

    Signs, huh!? In my Iowa hometown, the fundamentalists were the ones MOST LIKELY to get pregnant in high school – with some babies conceived within the closet of the church.

    September 27, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
    • wilbur

      Of course. That is why they like to make laws for others to follow. They have a way around them AND it makes them look pure. Everyone knows: more conservative you talk, the more PERVERTED you are. FACT: C hristians and conservatives have more feces in their cracks than any other humans on the planet. It itches, they bother us all with their sticky fingers.

      September 27, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
  8. samsjmail

    So, then what? Since they don't know what a condom is, only abstinence, is the next step an abortion?

    September 27, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
    • wilbur

      Only the 50% of the time the father is the "wrong color".

      September 27, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
  9. Benjamin

    Like I say, "Nobody is innocent."

    September 27, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  10. samsjmail

    So, Adolph Hitler and his 6 million victims all received the same punishment for their "sin" of not accepting Jesus as their personal lord and saviour.

    Where is the "intelligent" part?

    September 27, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
    • Emmanuel Goldstien

      Actually Hitler did, so I guess he is doing better than those 'infidels' he killed.

      September 27, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
    • wilbur

      Agreed. Most scary part is these "people" breeding and making more incredibly idiotic people like themselves. I GOT IT: THE HUMAN SKIN LAMPS LOOK A LOT BETTER WITH A COLORFUL TATTOO AND LORD KNOWS WE GOT LOTS OF TATTOOS. LINE THEM UP, HARVEST THE TATTOOS. (I used to work at a bank so that type of activity is OK).

      September 27, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
    • Matt

      my church teaches we will be punished differently according to our sins! Like you said its not fair nor just for God to judge us on the same sins. It would be like our society treating murder and speeding the same. Its not fair nor will both be treated the same!

      September 27, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
    • samsjmail

      "Your church"

      There are a lot of churches that teach different things, aren't there? How do I know which nutty beliefs are the real nutty beliefs? Can I drive a car? Can I take my sick child to the doctor? Are snakes required? Should I give my money to the poor, or does God really want me to be wealthy? Can I marry my 13 year old cousin and her 12 year old sister? Are they allowed to cut their hair? What should I do if a statue starts bleeding.

      Christianity is so confusing.

      September 27, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
    • samsjmail

      Other "churches" say the only real sin is not accepting Jesus Christ as your saviour. I can take give my money to the poor, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, etc etc etc., but I will STILL go to hell if I'm not a "believer". So, if was exemplary, except for the whole "faith" thing, will Adolf Hitler's fire be hotter than mine? How about Ted Bundy's fire? Is his hotter than mine? How do I know which "church" is the correct church? They all sound nutty, how do I tell the difference?

      September 27, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
  11. sonic10158

    what group isn't waiting?

    September 27, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
  12. wilbur

    Does it count as 'waiting' when the priest r apes the kid? Mary was r aped... Christians worship the electric chair of its day, the cross. It is the religion of r ape, homicide, guilt, and misery. Santa Claus is usually a drunken r apist but at least the easter bunny is somewhat happy. rest of it is a very very depressing religion.

    September 27, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
    • Emmanuel Goldstien

      I agree with part of your post, but you should know that Santa was created by Coke. Or Epstein's. Either way, the church had nothing to do with him. I can see where most people think they did come up with the idea though.The thought of a magic man riding around on a magic sleight visiting one billion houses on one night is just about as silly as a magic man in the sky who made everything and has a very (strange and random) group of moral judgments which he uses to decide if you go to a magic place in the sky or the evil place in the ground (I still don't understand why we can't find Heaven with Hubble or Hell with ground penetrating radar).

      September 27, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
    • Matt

      I don;t believe in the death penalty. It says in the Bible "thou shout not kill". I cannot or will not support either abortion or the death penalty.

      September 27, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
    • Didi

      Actually, @Matt, all that 'eye for an eye' stuff in the OT specifically refers to potentially executing a man who caused a spontaneous abortion (misscarriage). Execution of criminals is as Biblical as it gets, and killing others in the name of your deity is pretty damn Christian and has been for centuries. The chapter (Exodus 20) containing the ten commandments is followed by chapters detailing when to execute Israelites for their crimes, including murder, attacking one's parents, and causing a miscarriage. The idea that the order "thou shalt not kill" doesn't apply to criminals is ludicrous when compared to the surrounding chapters of the Bible.

      September 27, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
    • Observer

      Matt,

      The Bible offers more in support of abortion than it does against abortion. Read it all.

      September 27, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
    • samsjmail

      "I agree with part of your post, but you should know that Santa was created by Coke. "

      Yes, but who created Coke? Anything as complex as Coke had to have an intelligent designer as well, right?

      September 27, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
    • samsjmail

      ""thou shalt not kill"

      So, it should have read, "Thou shalt not kill, in most cases, unless contradicted elsewhere in this book by something else I said"

      Why wasn't the intelligent designer intelligent enough to make this less confusing?

      September 27, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
  13. BrewtownPsych

    big Surprise. By the way, there is not such thing as "Christian Children." There are children of Christian parents, but having a religion thrust onto you before you are old enough to vote does not make you fundamentally a Christian. you can't even be accountable for many of your actions under the criminal justice system, how can we really think our children can make such an important decision in life. preposterous.

    September 27, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
    • samsjmail

      Does this mean that the Jewish children murdered by Hitler got a free pass to Heaven, even though they didn't believe in Jesus?

      September 27, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
    • wilbur

      Look, once you let a kid watch TV and get him/her an Iphone... they instantly all become Jews. Good thing, horrible religion might be gone in 15 years if we are lucky.

      September 27, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
    • samsjmail

      ummmm.......the holocaust was before TV.

      September 27, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
    • samsjmail

      .....but I'm not sure about the iphone. Was the iphone 1S out in 1942?

      September 27, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
  14. *frank*

    Sex is life-affirming; Xtianity is life-denying.
    Life wins every time.

    September 27, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
  15. samsjmail

    "no one comes to Him except through Jesus"

    So, the 6 million Jews murdered by Hilter are all burning in the fires of Hell for eternity. I get that part, but is their fire the same temperature as Hitler's?

    I'm assuming that Hitler (who was raised as a Christian) did not "Find Jesus" as the Russians approached the bunker, and (like all condemned death row inmates) repent his sins, get "saved", and enter the gates of heaven to sit at the right hand of Jesus while his victims burn for eternity. That is a possiblity isn't it?

    September 27, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
  16. abby

    hormones can trump values on any given day... emotions can override common sense on any given day. the problem is that teaching "abstinence only" doesn't work! abstinence only + young people = unplanned pregnancies....

    September 27, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
    • wisdom4u2

      Huh??? What????

      September 27, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
    • blf83

      Well said, and accurate.

      September 27, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
  17. wisdom4u2

    Well, Yeahhhh!!! Don‘t forget the ‘world‘ is telling our young people they are missing out on something that is considered ‘forbidden‘, which naturally makes them want to find out for themselves!
    But Matthew 7:13-14 says:
    "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."
    So, a lot of the young Christians are also finding these scripture verses to be totally true.
    Why not write about them, huh?

    September 27, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Huh??? What????

      September 27, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
    • Emmanuel Goldstien

      coo-coo coo-coo coo-coo

      September 27, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
  18. Dan

    Abstinence is just another of those things christians choose to ignore in the bible when it applies to THEM; all the while screaming that being gay is an abomination because it's in the scriptures. It's great to have a religion that lets you pick and choose on the fly which passages you have to follow to get into heaven.

    September 27, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  19. True Religion

    God said to Adam one day "I want to give you the perfect woman,she will be beautiful, she won't nag you, she will do all the house work and be the perfect lover,but I will need your arm to make her". Adam thought a minute "What do I get for a rib?"

    September 27, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
  20. Carrie

    ANYONE WHO THINKS THEY HAVE THE ANSWER ON A CNN COMMENT BOARD SHOULD CONSIDER RETIRING FROM LIFE EARLY. EVERYONE, SHUT UP

    September 27, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
    • Observer

      So why not set a good example for us?

      September 27, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
    • wilbur

      Carrie, you are not one of those murdering Ch ristians are you? Guilty of 2000 years of worldwide death and misery? Worshiping the electric chair of the day...the cross? Headed up and run by P edophiles for 1000 years at least? Is that YOU Carrie? Consider you are actually the devil placed on earth to torment normal cool freaks like me.

      September 27, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.