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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. BlackJackPershing

    Really? Who gives a hoot.

    September 28, 2011 at 5:31 am |
    • NONATHEIST

      You invested the time not only to read the story, but to post a response. To answer your question, I'd say – You, apparently.

      September 28, 2011 at 6:39 am |
  2. Joe

    What would Jesus do???

    September 28, 2011 at 5:10 am |
    • forinfan

      More like, Who Did Jesus Do? Maybe nobody, but the record's a bit murky on what he was up to in his 20s.

      September 28, 2011 at 5:37 am |
  3. Joe

    What would Jesus do????

    September 28, 2011 at 5:09 am |
    • Chara

      He'd whip it out and wave it around and his 12 disciples would get on their knees as a sign of devotion.

      September 28, 2011 at 7:55 am |
  4. JamesRaynor

    is it just me or does anybody else get a huge hard on whenever you hear how pure virgin mary is. if i were in jesus's time, virgin mary would be just mary.

    September 28, 2011 at 5:03 am |
  5. JamesRaynor

    is it just me or does anybody else get a huge hard on whenever you hear how pure virgin mary is. if i had been in jesus's time, virgin mary would be just mary.

    September 28, 2011 at 5:03 am |
  6. David

    Darn Bristol Palin, its all her fault..

    September 28, 2011 at 4:19 am |
  7. Terry Brookman

    The old ones didn't wait either.

    September 28, 2011 at 3:44 am |
  8. mrbaka

    So they finally decided to join the rest of the world. Let the shagathon begin.

    September 28, 2011 at 3:05 am |
    • Lewis

      No, they just finally got their numbers correct. Somebody will be excommunicated over that.

      September 28, 2011 at 3:14 am |
  9. Qaiser Jamil

    Religions are a specify a Standard Operating Procedure in an event, so that humans can deal with each other in an orderly fashion.

    So that point of differences between them can be removed as much as possible.

    Marriage is just an announcement that so and so man & woman are not married couples and like, share everything. Ceremonies are just a social say of enjoying that event and does vary between different countries, societies and religions!

    September 28, 2011 at 3:04 am |
  10. Mark

    Waiting for marriage means what, when adam and eve first mated together there wasn't any wedding. Commitment is the new wedding, when a couple decide to commit to each other for one day of for many years. Its between them not a church of facist rule makers. I am a Christian and no where in the bible does it state a cermony has to take place between a husband and wife, that was made up later to control people.

    September 28, 2011 at 2:35 am |
    • Thinks2010

      You are so right. The creation of marriage has more to do with property and inheritance rights than religious belief

      September 28, 2011 at 2:51 am |
  11. Anon

    All Christians have this type of mentality. Each and everyone of them, no exceptions.
    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vM5n8jESUEk&w=640&h=390]

    September 28, 2011 at 2:13 am |
    • Kitty

      Amen!

      September 28, 2011 at 2:46 am |
    • Dave

      @Anon... your definition of "Christian" is fair but it's a pretty broad statement you make. "No exceptions." You must be a pretty angry dude to make that kind of statement. You've got plenty to be angry at.

      September 28, 2011 at 2:46 am |
    • gupsphoo

      Ramen!

      September 28, 2011 at 5:57 am |
  12. bp

    Rick Santorum will say this study is a bunch of Santorum.

    September 28, 2011 at 2:03 am |
  13. Big O

    Orgasms are great. I recommend to everybody that they have an orgasm as often as they feel the need.

    September 28, 2011 at 2:02 am |
    • Pointless1

      I guess that could be a good thing, but then again I would never leave the house..

      September 28, 2011 at 2:22 am |
  14. Ashrakay

    @Edwin: Pointing to what specifically? That just seemed like an empty attack. I'm sure you had something in mind when you wrote it. I'd love to hear your analysis.

    September 28, 2011 at 1:52 am |
  15. kat

    waiting's over-rated.

    September 28, 2011 at 1:51 am |
    • Luigi

      How do you know? Personal experience? If so, your sample size is one. Statistically insignificant.

      How do you know?

      September 28, 2011 at 1:53 am |
    • Bob Smith

      Waiting damages a person's ability to form healthy sxual relationships. Small wonder divorce is so prevalent with all these unrealistic ideas and expectations concerning simple intercourse with someone they have no idea how things will be in this very dynamic and influential area of human existence.
      You are born with a human body. Your genes, your growth, and your ability to function depend in large part upon your environment. If there is no intellectual development in any particular area of body function and how to integrate it into our lives, then this stunting of a person's functioning is going to cause distortions in every culture where these inhibitory effects are caused by well-meaning but woefully ignorant folk.
      In short, it's stupid to not have rational and effective guidelines available to every human being regardless of age.
      Instead, we have superstltious rules instead of reasonable ones. This destroys the fabric of every society when these rules do not work and are seen to be not only unworkable, but irrational as well.

      Solution? Start dealing with the issues of puberty instead of giggling about it and acting horrified over simple physical and mental needs.
      This is also why there are so many mentally ill people in the world. Primal animal instincts win over silly religious rules every time. We do not have complete control over our bodies or minds. We are all subject to uncontrollable changes in our brains and bodies. If you think some universal rule about a social construct is going to work you are being stupid and unrealistic, but understandably so. Divorce is the "in-your-face" result of your overbearing and patently ridiculous attempts to rule the physical bodies of other people. You violate their human rights. You deny human rights in the name of your religion.

      September 28, 2011 at 2:18 am |
  16. Ashrakay

    Religion can only thrive on selective acceptance of things agreed upon while dismissing glaring facts under the guise of faith. Religion requires willful ignorance and encourages intellectual laziness. Anyone interested in the scientific betterment and overall evolution of the humans, should encourage abstinence in Christians, thereby statistically reducing the possibility of pregnancy and propagation of their particular genes and memes.

    September 28, 2011 at 1:31 am |
    • Luigi

      You researched religious naturalism before composing your post?

      September 28, 2011 at 1:32 am |
    • Correction

      Evolution is religion of its own kind. It requires the adherent to put faith in theory.
      And it doesn't explain anything about the complexity of life and the design shown in Creation.
      Adherents to Evolution like to dodge that one in favor of 'chance'.
      The problem is you don't understand what 'truth' really is. It has been obscured by centuries of Christendom which isn't Christian at all.

      September 28, 2011 at 1:39 am |
    • Ashrakay

      @Correction: Maybe it's time to put down the bible and pick up a science book. Try "The Selfish Gene." Much of the complexity is addressed in that 1976 book. Granted it's not as profound and magical as a spirit being making everything in 6 days, but there's a lot of stuff we call "verifiable." If you take anything from this post, I hope it's that word. It's the difference between scientific theory, and religious theory.

      September 28, 2011 at 1:46 am |
    • Luigi

      @Correction
      "Survival of the fittest" can simply be rewritten as "survival of those who are better equipped for surviving". Furthermore, the expression does become a tautology if one uses the most widely accepted definition of "fitness" in modern biology, namely reproductive success itself (rather than any set of characters conducive to this reproductive success).

      September 28, 2011 at 1:51 am |
    • Edwin

      Ashrakay: I find arrogant christians who make outrageous and ridiculous claims very annoying. The only thing more annoying to me is those who make outrageous arrogant claims in the supposed name of science. Stop it - you know less about science than you know about christianity, which is to say very little.

      September 28, 2011 at 1:51 am |
    • Ashrakay

      @Edwin: Pointing to what specifically? That just seemed like an empty attack. I'm sure you had something in mind when you wrote it. I'd love to hear your analysis.

      September 28, 2011 at 1:52 am |
    • Correction

      Take two things from this post. Explain how the Bible foretold specific details in prophecy hundreds and even thousands of years in advance. And research the odds of the simplest protien molecule evolving. It is impossible. Now explain how man developed his reproductive system, brain, and emotions. How about our cell structure and the way our circulatory system works? And on and on. It's all an engineering marvel that many won't admit to. They believe they have a firm grasp on reality and the facts of the universe. Tell you what – this debate will be settled in time. Read Matthew 24 and 25 and you can see how it will end. You will also see that you are living thru the fulfillment of Prophecy.
      By the way, have you ever read the entire Bible?

      September 28, 2011 at 1:55 am |
    • Edwin

      Fair enough - I apologize for the hostility. I read far to many blogs about politics, and it makes me jumpy.

      But you generalize that (all) religion encourages intellectual laziness. This is untrue. Christian Theology was extremely intellectual, exploring profound philosophies and logical conundrums. Likewise, Islamic Theology (roughly the same time period) was a foundational cornerstone in the whole concept of Higher Educations and the creation of universities. I cannot speak to other religions, but the basic tenets of Science essentially come from Theology.

      You also suggest that we can cleanse the gene pool if there were fewer christians having kids. There is a basis for certain personality and intellectual genetics, but linking them to christianity (or any religion) is dramatically far-fetched.

      September 28, 2011 at 2:03 am |
    • Ashrakay

      @Correction, saying the bible predicted things without saying WHAT was predicted is a bit convenient. However, maybe general predictions that people can later read into as fact is not that difficult to do and points to a psychological condition where people see what they expect to find.

      As for me taking the time to teach you what I've studied on my own and learned wouldn't be realistic in this forum. But the books are there for you. I've even pointed to one specifically that directly answers your questions and it's verified by experimentation.

      Lastly, I have read the bible through multiple times as my parents were devout baptists and I spend my first 18 years in a church as well as 13 years in a christian school. It's in fact reading the bible completely what makes religion so distasteful to me. It all began with a question, "why is my standard of morals higher than god's?"

      September 28, 2011 at 2:05 am |
    • Ashrakay

      @Edwin, I refered to memes which was posited by Dawkins in 1976 and has become accepted in evaluational studies as a type of survival mechanism of an idea which can act under similar behaviors as genes. Often memes follow genes.

      I understand people like to point to the good that religion does. And I accept that it had a hand in a lot of development over the years. I'm just not willing to gloss over the overwhelming greater woes it has caused. That's partially what I mean by selective belief.

      September 28, 2011 at 2:09 am |
    • Luigi

      @Correction - you have a direct challenge to your first post in this thread, which you have apparently ignored.

      Second, it is not the responsibility of someone else to explain away your assertions. It is your responsibility to defend your assertions.

      Your comment about the protein molecule is interesting. Let's say the first protein modules couldn't have created themselves. If we accept that, all we've done is support the deism view of God, not the theism view (which is apparently your view). You haven't defeated evolution.

      You should remember that evolution doesn't say that man evolved from apes. Darwin concluded that by using evolution. Perhaps Darwin's conclusion is wrong? Does a mistake by one man (or many people) mean the underlying theory is wrong? If my daughter claims 7 times 7 is 77, is that proof that multiplication is wrong?

      September 28, 2011 at 2:10 am |
    • Luigi

      @Correction – I understand why you don't want to argue against a tautology. Do you think avoidance makes you right?

      September 28, 2011 at 2:13 am |
    • Luigi

      @Correction – before I go, is dodging direct questions some form of loving your neighbors or loving your enemies?

      September 28, 2011 at 2:15 am |
    • Luigi

      Having said that, Correction, I forgive you. Good night.

      September 28, 2011 at 2:15 am |
    • Jimtanker

      Correction,

      You are an idiot. There are no specific prophecies that were predicted in the OT that have come true. NONE.

      Even if something does sound similar to what was written in the OT that is in the NT that just means that the people who wrote the NT knew of what was in the OT. Nothing more. I suppose that you have a brain in your head. Try using it sometime.

      September 28, 2011 at 2:29 am |
    • Tara

      EVERY knee shall bow.

      September 28, 2011 at 3:44 am |
    • glenn robert

      Good post. Evolution as by Darwin is a theory. A theory must be based on fact and must be modified or discarded on the basis of further evidence. Faith or opinion has nothing to offer science.

      September 28, 2011 at 3:53 am |
    • sharoom

      I support the theory of evolution, but please don't spread misinformation. There is no known link between any certain religion and your genes, nor is there any scientific reason to suspect there is any link. However, you are correct to say that religion is linked through memes. Children of religious parents tend to adopt the family religion. This is not due to genetics because even adopted children (thus having different genes) tend to also adopt the family religion. And this is apparent globally, because there are many different religions and religious conversions are very common.

      September 28, 2011 at 4:25 am |
    • amin

      except ISLAM

      September 28, 2011 at 5:31 am |
    • Ashrakay

      @sharoom: if you read my posts, you'll see I mentioned memes. While memes are not required to follow genes, they often do. Christian parents statistically raise christian children. That being said, there is genetic evidence to support what is referred to as "kinship"(official terminology), or us versus them, which is the basis of any religion.

      September 28, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
  17. Luigi

    Guess the censor got me. I'll try again.

    Can anyone find a passage in the Bible that requires "purity" before marriage? If so, can you cite chapter and verse so I can read it?

    September 28, 2011 at 1:22 am |
    • Ashrakay

      Trying to glean morality from a book that's full of atrocities is the equivalent of going to MacDonalds for the healthy salads.

      September 28, 2011 at 1:34 am |
    • Luigi

      Kay, interesting reply but my post was a request based on the article. Some people in the article say they are Christians. As such, I was making an inquiry related to the belief of those people. Whether their belief system is sound or not has no relevance on my inquiry. The Bible exists. That's not up for debate. I was asking if something was in it or not, without concern over if it's moral or not. I asked a question. Do you have an answer?

      September 28, 2011 at 1:37 am |
    • Ashrakay

      @Luigi, have you tried google?

      September 28, 2011 at 1:39 am |
    • Luigi

      Yes, Kay, I did. After I did that (this was quite a while ago), I found a Christian minister (Baptist, I think) and told him what I did and asked him if he could find such a passage. He couldn't.

      So, yes, I did research.

      September 28, 2011 at 1:46 am |
    • Ashrakay

      @Luigi, my god-friend sites 1 Corinthians 7:2 as one reference.

      September 28, 2011 at 1:51 am |
    • Luigi

      Kay, once I saw the passage, I remember studying it. It's out of context. Paul is addressing a specific issue local to Cornith. The problem was that sometimes a husband would convert to Christianity and the wife wouldn't. Or the wife would convert... This was intended to keep the marriages intact.

      September 28, 2011 at 1:56 am |
    • justmereally

      Hebrews 13:4

      September 28, 2011 at 3:14 am |
    • David

      Actually, there are a few passages, particularly in Leviticus, that say either basically or explicitly that if the wife is not a virgin after marriage, she should be put to death. So if you want to rely on "does scripture say?", then you should probably be put to death. Throw out that outdated hipster literature and start relying on common sense.

      And if you have not read the bible, maybe try it before saying "No, it totally doesn't say that!".

      September 28, 2011 at 3:20 am |
    • David

      Fine, fine, since you're lazy, per previous statements, Deuteronomy 22:13-21. Please respond to let people know you are an idiot.

      September 28, 2011 at 3:24 am |
  18. PopeJon

    "Thou shall not kill". I've herd it interpreted in many self serving ways. But the version Christians want to plaster all over my local court house wall is "Thou shall not kill". No if's and or buts.... So self proclaimed true Christians, why is there not a world wide protest everyday of Christians in all countries against the 2 wars in the middle east were people of all faiths are being killed everyday? Your willing to get arrested in front of an abortion clinic for all to see so why not in front of an army base or recruiter?

    September 28, 2011 at 1:22 am |
    • Luigi

      Ask them to read Galatians 3 and then explain to you why they are quotes from the OT? Perhaps they have a good answer. Wonder what it would be. Or perhaps they don't.

      September 28, 2011 at 1:24 am |
    • Luigi

      Ask them to read Galatians 3 and then explain to you why they are quoting from the OT? Perhaps they have a good answer. Wonder what it would be. Or perhaps they don't.

      September 28, 2011 at 1:24 am |
    • Correction

      Jon

      People that participate in wars are not real Christians. Neither are those that try to stear politics and frame morality thru legaslation. Jesus was not involved in either and neither were his follower until decades after his death when they began to wash down his tachings and those of the apostles with Greek philosophy and Roman politics. But then, that was foretold to happen.

      September 28, 2011 at 1:43 am |
    • Edwin

      Most people are, shall we say, selective in the interpretation of their morals. In spite of the biblical quote, most christians who protest abortions are not protesting killing. They are actually protesting the harm of babies - a much more visceral feeling which has its basis in genetics rather than religion.

      Most do not protest wars or the death penalty nearly as vehemently because it does not trigger the same gut response. This explains why some go so far as to kill abortion doctors, and why many "pro-life" people cheer when child killers get the death penalty.

      September 28, 2011 at 2:11 am |
    • Observer

      There is more in the Bible to support abortion than to oppose abortion. Christians need to read the Bible that they love to make believe says things it doesn't.

      September 28, 2011 at 2:38 am |
  19. @Michael

    Jesus was knocking on doors without doorknobs? What kinda carpenter was he? I woulda fired him!!

    September 28, 2011 at 1:20 am |
  20. larry

    People might be doing it not to fit in, just cause it feels good.

    September 28, 2011 at 1:11 am |
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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.