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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 (5,770 Responses)
  1. rod

    what would god do if he existed?

    September 28, 2011 at 9:24 am |
    • LukeJon

      He'd be raping little girls left and right. He likes 'em very young, it seems. Why? Did you think god was going to have se.x with you? Unless you're a little girl, you might as well forget about it.

      September 28, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  2. 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? Please no saying real Christians don’t start wars or fight in them. That’s dancing around why "real Christians" don’t protest war openly everyday. You’re willing to get arrested in front of an abortion clinic for all to see so why not in front of a military base or military recruiter?

    September 28, 2011 at 9:23 am |
    • PopeJon

      Funny, you "true Christians" will speak against stoning someone to death but wont explain why you're not out protesting our 2 wars.... Did Jesus say its OK to kill non Christians?

      September 28, 2011 at 9:53 am |
    • Rumtopf

      Sometimes it seems that religious laws like "don't kill people" apply only to people who share your religion.

      It's genocide for everyone else, or so I read several times in the bible...

      September 28, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • PopeJon

      Rumtopf, Like the genocide of the American Indians that lasted well into the 20th century all in the name of converting the indigenous people into Christians?

      September 28, 2011 at 11:27 am |
  3. realtalker1

    Stop treating teenagers like children. They are imature because we coddle them too much. It used to be that once you hit puberty you were an adult and you were treated as such. The culture is such now that a 13 year old is not even allowed to think for themselves. That's why you now have 21 year olds who have the maturity of a 13 year old 200 years ago. People used to understand commitment at an early age and they had integrity and wouldn't dare break that commitment. Why, because their parents taught them values like honer, respect and integrity. Some parents still teach those values but they don't allow the practise of those values. They decide everything for their kids. So the kid just becomes rebellious. If you teach them good values and allow them to make decesions for themselves early in life you'll be surprised at how well rounded they become. They'll respect you for trusting them, they will understand commitment and while they will make mistakes, they will not make as many and they won't be catastrophic. From a $ex standpoint, since it isn't legal to marry until you're 18 abstinence isn't a realistic approach. All you can do is teach them to be responsible and I promise you if you trust them instead of coddling them they will make good decisions in that area too.

    September 28, 2011 at 9:19 am |
  4. InPain

    Men don't want to get married? Ahh.. My name is inPain.. I wanted to get married and love only one women for the rest of my life.. Ahhhh. That is my problem, you see.. I am defiantly a man.. So.. I am now married, sort of anyhow.. Doing everything I can think of to hold things together, no matter how insane the idea is.. Nothing is more important to me than .. And it seems to be the one thing there is no hope of finding or having for me.. No no. We are out there. I have never once cheated on a girlfriend or my wife, not once. And continue to tell other people not to.. They laugh in my face but, I still do.. I believe in marriage dispite everything I have been thrugh and am now going through.. I just wish and hope god will bend his rules a bit so that I am not alone and abandoned in heaven. But I am pretty sure that is not possible.. God does not break his own law.. So. Man I wish like hell I could have found someone.. I could have been a great husband.... If I could have just found one.. See most guys they want several women, but I wanted one true wife.... At least my dog let's me hug him, he growls at me, but he never bites so..

    September 28, 2011 at 9:13 am |
  5. rockysfan

    Being "christian" has nothing to do with abstinance. It's about personal choices. Your parents/church can teach but it is up to the child to make the final decision. Personally, christians are no more likely or less likely than any other religion. They like to think they are better, especially evangelicals. But one look at the palin house tells the tale. Good luck with that abstinance!

    September 28, 2011 at 9:09 am |
  6. Religiosity

    Lenin was right: religion is the opiate of the people. When will the world grow up and stop believing in fairy tales?

    September 28, 2011 at 9:07 am |
    • B.S. Gnarly

      Lenin? Seriously? This opportunity to respond is only too laughable. But, I will not go the self inflating atheist way and cash in on it.

      September 28, 2011 at 9:20 am |
  7. realtalker1

    $ex is not just a part of human nature. It is human nature. It is the central theme. What we've asked our teenagers to do is to wait until they are 27 years old (the average marraige age) and married. That's unrealistic. A man is 10 years past his prime by that time. In biblical times people were getting married at 13 and 14 years old. We are asking way too much of people now. $ex is not just something that people desire. It is something that people are driven to irresistable. How dare we ask people to wait so long. My rule is to be sure you are fully committed to someone for life. I didn't wait til marraige but I have only been with one woman. My wife.

    September 28, 2011 at 9:04 am |
  8. bachmanntwit

    New movie ... "Human Centipede 2" starring the entire Palin family with special guest star Michele Bachmann " bringing up the rear ".

    September 28, 2011 at 8:56 am |
    • Mimi

      I love it,part one is so horrific and sad ,great comparison

      September 28, 2011 at 9:19 am |
  9. B.S. Gnarly

    Is Richard Dawkins still molesting goats?

    September 28, 2011 at 8:51 am |
    • papataal

      He should join the church, they seem to be molesting other things.

      September 28, 2011 at 9:03 am |
    • B.S. Gnarly

      Nah, according to these boards all they do is molest children. According to me all he does is molest goats. He can join the American Human Association and molest goats with the rest of them.

      September 28, 2011 at 9:22 am |
  10. Soulsistah

    Regardless of religion, this is a great subject for discussion, b/c it's a reality young people face every day. I would encourage them to get married at a younger age, if they are properly prepared for the responsibility by their parents, instead of sleeping around. In my opinion, it is better to grow and experiment with one person than a whole bunch of them. You put yourself at greater risk being promiscuous.

    September 28, 2011 at 8:47 am |
  11. Rob

    Chara said:

    Oh “we can find them guilty” of quite a few things, “if you're looking for a jury.” “We also treat them better” than “they treat us.” “Christians are bigots.” “They can't help it.” “Bigotry has been ground into their brains by their religion.” “Every religion does this.” September 28, 2011 at 8:00 am

    Rob responded:

    Bigot – A person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices, especially one exhibiting intolerance, and animosity toward those of differing beliefs.

    I just wanted to clarify something for Chara since hypocrisy indeed knows no bounds. Even atheism is a religion, as is GAIA-mother earth a religion, as is paganism; so what religion are you Chara? Every group that humans “choose to associate with” has “their philosophy” and adherents. Being different, does not make one a bigot; but being a fool does; let me show you something by using your own words to illustrate a point. I highlighted your comments with “quotation marks,” and above, I’ve even inserted the meaning of a true bigot. It appears that the pendulum truly swings both ways. Obstinate and intolerant makes of itself, a double-edged sword … either side can be guilty … but the true sign of rising above it all is to see if either or both sides are willing to listen, rather than just destroying one another; no wonder the world is in the condition it’s in. Should the sword continue to be swung until no one is left standing? Let’s have a truce people; the “broad brush” can be used to make any case; even if wrongly so.

    September 28, 2011 at 8:46 am |
    • B.S. Gnarly

      your comment makes too much sense. don't expect a response.

      September 28, 2011 at 8:59 am |
    • dude

      Wrong. Lack of a belief is not a religion.

      September 28, 2011 at 9:10 am |
  12. hahahhaha

    You should wait until you think you can trust someone. Do it. Later move in. Really trust someone . and then maybe Marry. It's a new age for women. We have to work and what not. We have a say on our hole life. For all i care...party for a while

    September 28, 2011 at 8:40 am |
  13. Jon

    It sounds like the author is saying Christian parents or youth pastors should encourage children to marriage at 13.

    September 28, 2011 at 8:38 am |
  14. OBA8YEARS

    HEY! WHAT DID YOU THINK? YOUNG/OLDER CHRISTIANS PEOPLE DID NOT HAVE IT DONE YET??!! ""IF YOU EVER THINK THAT WAY? YOU ARE LOSING YOUR MIND""

    September 28, 2011 at 8:36 am |
  15. Richard

    Biblical standard might be difficult, however, it's the best of God for Christians, Those who can't really wait, visit Hebrews 12, and see if you are withholding God's Teaching accordingly!

    September 28, 2011 at 8:24 am |
    • Robert

      Hormones are stronger than scriptures any time.

      September 28, 2011 at 8:46 am |
    • @Robert

      Says you...

      September 28, 2011 at 9:00 am |
  16. B.S. Gnarly

    Why do all atheists, lesbians, and feminists sound the same on internet boards?

    September 28, 2011 at 8:13 am |
    • Freethinksman

      Why do Christians sound like three-year-olds talking about Santa every time they open their mouths?

      September 28, 2011 at 8:18 am |
    • B.S. Gnarley

      HATE SPEEEECH!!!!!!!!!!!!

      September 28, 2011 at 8:23 am |
    • Robert

      It's called Faith. Faith is believing something that no one in their right mind would believe. ~Archie Bunker.

      September 28, 2011 at 8:42 am |
    • Megan

      Why do you feel the need to troll? Trolling message boards pretending to be a Christian has been done. Find a new bit. If you actually are a Christian, you sound like an idiot and need to think before you type. People like you are why Christians have a bad name these days.

      September 28, 2011 at 9:37 am |
    • tekstep1

      Because they form their views based on thoughtful analysis, not a flying spaghetti monster.

      September 28, 2011 at 9:46 am |
  17. lastofall

    Unfortunately "repentance" is rarely mentioned and taught in many churches, and because sin begins with thought, many professing Christians sins are left untouched. And this affects the younger Christians greatly, because in their upbringing in Christ, most never even knew that the first thing that Christ tells us to do is "Repent".

    September 28, 2011 at 8:10 am |
    • You don't get it do you....

      Jesus called non-Jews "dogs". Why should a dog repent of something it did not do in the first place?

      September 28, 2011 at 8:13 am |
    • wayno

      @You don't get it do you....: No he didn't. Check the passages and learn what a similie is.

      September 28, 2011 at 8:41 am |
  18. Reality

    YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE!!!=====================>

    Read carefully, as this may save your life or that of someone else.

    : The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the Pill ( 8.7% failure rate) and male con-dom (17.4% failure rate) have led to the large rate of abortions and S-TDs in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or co-ndoms properly and/or use safer methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.- Failure rate statistics provided by the Gut-tmacher Inst-itute.

    Added information before making your next move:

    from the CDC-2006

    "Se-xually transmitted diseases (STDs) remain a major public health challenge in the United States. While substantial progress has been made in preventing, diagnosing, and treating certain S-TDs in recent years, CDC estimates that approximately 19 million new infections occur each year, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24.1 In addition to the physical and psy-ch-ological consequences of S-TDs, these diseases also exact a tremendous economic toll. Direct medical costs as-sociated with STDs in the United States are estimated at up to $14.7 billion annually in 2006 dollars."

    And from:

    http://pagingdrgupta.blogs.cnn.com/2011/02/20/yes-or-al-se-x-is-se-x-and-it-can-boost-cancer-risk/?npt=NP1

    "Yes, or-al se-x is se-x, and it can boost cancer risk-

    Here's a crucial message for teens (and all se-xually active "post-teeners": Or-al se-x carries many of the same risks as va-ginal se-x, including human papilloma virus, or HPV. And HPV may now be overtaking tobacco as the leading cause of or-al cancers in America in people under age 50.

    "Adolescents don’t think or-al se-x is something to worry about," said Bonnie Halpern-Felsher professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. "They view it as a way to have intimacy without having 's-ex.'"

    September 28, 2011 at 8:04 am |
  19. Ron

    They're not Christians...Christianity is not a Smorgasbord. You either follow the practices or you don't. Thus, you either are a Christian or aren't...it ain't Burger King.

    September 28, 2011 at 8:03 am |
    • Freethinksman

      So the only True Christians are the Westboro Baptists? Or is it the Catholics? Or the Anglicans? Or the Mormons? Or the Jehovah's Witnesses? Maybe you mean the Pentacostals or the the Lutherans or the Megachurch generic christians- but the ones who preach hellfire. Or is it the universalist Megachurches who are more inclusive? Each of those groups truly believe they are christian. Or maybe you just have some pipeline to the truth that billions of other Christians don't have access to.

      Or maybe it's all bunk.

      September 28, 2011 at 8:13 am |
    • Tim

      Well Ron, Then please explain why there's so many different variation of each religion. Apparently it is Burger king because you're having it you way.

      September 28, 2011 at 8:24 am |
    • Chara

      That's the "No True Scotsman" argument and is one of the sillier side-effects of religious delusion.

      September 28, 2011 at 8:31 am |
  20. PJ

    This is news? The Preacher's Daughter loves bondage, S&M, and has two lesbian lovers. Hypocritical Christians talk one thing and do another and another and another....Oh, hey..that Pope still molesting children? Jesus LOOOOOOVES you!!!!

    September 28, 2011 at 7:58 am |
    • Big Difference

      Catholics are not Christians... they are Catholic. They are the only group that prays to Mary and the saints. They are also the same group that also listens to the Pope.

      Christians read and practice what the Bible says... an no where does it say anything about praying to Mary, the saints, or even listening to the Pope. Catholics are lost souls in the eyes Christians, as they are very backwards with what the Bible tells them.

      September 28, 2011 at 9:04 am |
    • tekstep1

      Catholics are Christian, idiot. They just are not Protestant. You must be Baptist... or Pentacostal.

      September 28, 2011 at 9:44 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.