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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.

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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. Roland

    Don't wait until marriage. People who keep saying "your virginity is the best gift you can give to your husband on your wedding night" don't understand and are delusional. Honestly: guys won't care, and they'd actually probably prefer if you had some experience. And if you wait until your husband to have your first time, you won't be prepared for how much it'll hurt, or if it's not enjoyable, and that could ruin your entire relationship.

    November 1, 2011 at 7:12 pm |
    • MailMe

      This is a great example of bad debate and mostly foolish arguments (on both sides). Does anyone else notice that fewer than one in one hundred comments say anything very helpful? Statistics aren't wisdom. Neither are opinions usually.

      November 1, 2011 at 7:52 pm |
    • hippypoet

      @MailMe – i think the reason is that most offer reasons when no reason is worthy due to the act of not waiting is a personal one and therefore all comments are spectulation...sry i can't spell... however the reason most people are commenting the way they are is the t!tle of the article, why young CHRISTIANS aren't waiting... again, this is just an opinion. :)

      November 1, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
  2. Mike

    The answer is in the article – "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 practice abstinence until you are at least 13!

    November 1, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
    • Just Some Ninja

      Done did!!!

      -21 year old experienced successful atheist

      November 1, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
  3. bwllm

    I am Christian, and come from a family of Christians, but some concepts are out dated and inflexibility is ignorant. One thing my mama taught me was never buy a car with out test driving it first, because you never know if it will feel and handle right, and there is nothing wrong with buying a used car, It can still be the one for you. for you idiots our there, that's a metaphor

    November 1, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
    • Just Some Ninja

      This is the same thing(in different words) that I try to express to everyone I argue this point with. There are people out there that do not blend well with yourself. I have been with women whose pheromones are not and will never be pleasant to be around. I cannot imagine a marriage lasting very long or at least being healthy(when their "values" or culture won't allow for divorce) if two people that don't even smell good to each other. Sounds like a nightmare of an experience.

      November 1, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
  4. andy

    40 percent of you will get divorced, so don't worry about saving it.

    November 1, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  5. andy

    Most men are just terrible at satisfying a woman. You guys need to step up your game.

    November 1, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
    • Derek

      Andy, thats very ignorant and not helpful to anyone.

      November 1, 2011 at 8:08 pm |
  6. andy

    SO does waiting mean you cant fool around. I mean what is the big deal if you can do all of the other fun things. Or does waiting mean all you can do is hold hands and kiss.

    November 1, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
  7. hammr

    well thats simple...because wives cut their HUSBANDS off after marriage...especially after children because they are liers.

    November 1, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
    • andy

      hammr , it sounds like you need to learn how to use your hammer.

      November 1, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
  8. Pancakes

    Don't do 'it', Wait and enjoy the intimacy in your marriage. It is so much more fun!

    November 1, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
    • Diamond

      Yep, virginity is the best gift you can give your partner on your wedding night!

      November 1, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
    • bwllm

      I am Christian, and come from a family of Christians, but some concepts are out dated and inflexibility is ignorant. One thing my mama taught me was never buy a car with out test driving it first, because you never know if it will feel and handle right, and there is nothing wrong with buying a used car, It can still be the one for you. for you idiots our there, that's a metaphor

      November 1, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
    • Motar

      bwllm:

      "I am Christian...you idiots"

      "But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell." (Matthew 5:22 NLT)

      November 1, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
  9. Just_a_girl

    I am 22-years-old and single, and one of the few true virgins that I know. In high school, I was the only virgin I knew, but I wanted to wait. In college, I met a couple other girlfriends who were virgins. Many of them fell off the wagon somewhere along the way, but I kept on waiting. Now I'm out of college, and once again I'm surrounded by people – Christians or not – who are "doing it." I love being single, and don't see myself getting married anytime soon, but the longer I wait, the more I ask myself, "What am I waiting for again?"

    November 1, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
    • AtheistDude

      don't wait dear! there is no God and o afterlife and religion is BS! go out and get laid and have fun! it's worth it. this is the only life you got so enjoy every minute of it just be safe and use caution! that's all

      November 1, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
    • RollingEyes

      You just don't know what you are missing.

      November 1, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
    • single, and lovin it'

      You go GIRL! Many people are a slave to their temptations but you are the Queen of yourself!

      November 1, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
    • sh

      Just_a_girl, ahtiestdude has pure motives I am sure. He'd like some skin in the game, if you know what I mean. His religion, oh ya, he has a religion – it's just different than yours. Everyone believes in something, just his is counterproductive to real life. It's worth the wait. What an amazing gift to give your husband, should you decide to marry. You're worth the wait! You have too much value to throw it away.

      November 1, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
    • :)

      You are waiting because it's worth it! The take it fast and as you please tastes good momentarily but leaves a nasty after taste. Many who don't wait justify their choice with something that sounds good to make them feel better! Wait till the consequences appear. Be careful and remain strong!

      November 1, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
    • Erb222

      I totally get you. I'm in my early 30s and still a virgin. I deal with the temptations every day and the feeling that there is something wrong with me. The fact is, we are called to live to a higher standard than our culture's standard. When I think about that, I feel like its worth it. Even if I don't get married, I want to live up to that standard.

      November 1, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • cm1966

      The only problem is that at age 22 you are not likely to meet a guy who has also waited. You are giving him a gift while he has probably been playing around for a while. If that will not bother you go ahead and wait.

      November 1, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
    • Cathy

      You're worth the wait!

      Oh, by the way, the Lord is testing you, stay a virgin. DOES He answer prayers? Yes!
      Ask the Lord to send you a husband worthy of your wait; handsome, good provider & great in bed. See if He won't answer!
      Be patient, You're worth the wait!

      November 1, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
    • happy

      I say do what you feel is right and don't feel like you have to do what people tell you to do. Your life, your decisions, your consequences. Both my husband and I waited and it's been absolutely wonderful. For me, it was so worth it.

      November 1, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
  10. 11354324

    I WILL NOT JUDGE, BUT I MUST SAY THAT THESE DAY EVERYONE CALLS THEMSELVES "CHRISTIAN".
    THEY TAKE THE NAME OF THE LORD IN VAIN.

    November 1, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
  11. columbia, sc

    When did they ever wait to begin with?? Its a freaking myth that christians wait til marriage.

    November 1, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
  12. anonymous

    Both my husband and I waited due to our personal convictions and we've reaped the benefits from it. I'm not here to judge those who chose a different way, but I've seen that it is realistic, possible and worth the wait!

    November 1, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
  13. Rebellious Christian

    My fiance and I are both Christians but didn't wait to be married first. We have been together for 6 years and still are waiting for being able to afford a wedding. Sorry to all who think you have to be married. He's my one and only and married or not God loves me. If your belief is to stay pure until your honeymoon there is NOTHING wrong with that. However, understand that some Christians don't wait but it doesn't make it something we can judge. Let him judge the wicked from the good. We all sin.

    November 1, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
  14. If I had a penny for every stupid Republican I'd be rich!

    H orny H orny H orny

    November 1, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  15. Priscilla S.

    Abstinence is something that my faith has always taught. While I believe in the teachings of my religion I think that waiting until marriage is a hopeless cause. I agree with a previous post that says that in biblical times people got married at such a young age and in todays society where getting married at or after the age of 30 is pretty much normal the belief in waiting is outdated. That being said I do not condone promiscuity. I believe that intimacy should only take place when two people are in love not just with any random person you may meet.

    November 1, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
  16. Single or Married

    It's just as hard to stay pure while you're single or when you're married; but if you've built character while you were single to stay pure, you will be able to lean on the same principles and faith to stay pure to your life partner.

    Staying single and staying pure means completely purity – don't kid yourself about masturbation or being a technical virgin.

    Jesus risked it all for you; can't you save it all for Him, and your future partner?

    November 1, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
    • kikaha

      Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!!!!!

      November 1, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
    • Just Some Ninja

      Kikaha, you're my favorite! That's the exact reaction I exhibited after reading this.

      November 1, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
    • Rick

      What did Jesus risk?

      November 2, 2011 at 4:07 am |
  17. Eric

    It definetly is'nt easy to wait untill marriage but it is possible. The way to do it is by following what the bible says in James 4:7- "Subject yourself, therefore, to God; but oppose the Devil, and he will flee from YOU." Following this advice very carefully will allow you to remain faithful untill marriage.

    November 1, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • kikaha

      God and the devil. Sorry to say you have a psychosis or worse you are schizophrenic.

      November 1, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
  18. The commenter

    I am waiting for that one special person... That's why I will get married first.

    November 1, 2011 at 1:05 am |
    • Rick

      what do you think is so special? you will have no experience, and have no idea of what you are doing. if that special person waits also, neither one of you will have any idea of how to please each other. first time for both of you? enjoy that 45 seconds

      November 1, 2011 at 5:16 am |
    • Me

      Don't listen to Rick. I waited and so did my husband. Yeah, we had no experience, either of us. Anyone's first time is awkward but if you love each other you're not embarrassed, we didn't have to be scared that we wouldn't "perform" well enough and would end up alone.

      What's special is learning together. Teaching each other. My husband knows how to please *me*, not four or five other women. And he does it INCREDIBLY well.

      November 1, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • Rick

      Me: You can learn to please each other whether or not you have been with others beforehand. My significant other and I did not wait, but then we had each been married before.

      November 1, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • hammr

      ya and then you will cut your HUSBAND off.

      November 1, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
    • Jeannot

      Surely you meant "that one special victim"

      November 1, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
  19. Motar

    Why young Christians aren't waiting anymore...

    "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord', will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only (s)he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 7:21)

    October 31, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
  20. Alphy

    Not all who claim to know God actually do. Not all Christians who know him know how to conduct themselves. No one who has never met him can judge a relationship they have never known. Those who have met him cannot judge those who have not known him because it is not their job. In Truth it is supposed to be a relationship, not a religion and not a religion wrapped around a relationship. Because I love him and trust him I will not break my vow to him any more so than I would break my vow to my wife. And if I do so, I must ask for forgiveness of the one(s) to whom I have broken my vow. Religion is divisive. The God I have met is inclusive within similar parameters and limits most people would agree with in their daily relationships as well... so that neither we nor he will get hurt. He speaks. It's for real. I hear him and he hears me. All he wants is a little bit of the benefit of our doubt. That, I believe, is all faith really is. Love must come after it.

    He's real. He's cool. He's my friend and it's not a "belief". It's a living breathing real relationship that does not dissatisfy. I don't even attend a church. I meet with others who talk about what he is doing in their lives and we have no hierarchic establishment. I've witnessed real miracles more times than I can count and it was never about me. Don't judge, dig deeper. He knows what he's doing and man does it work.

    October 31, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
    • The commenter

      Good. I'm glad to hear you are strong in your religion.

      November 1, 2011 at 1:04 am |
    • Larry

      You are delusional. You don't know "him". You believe in fairy tales, like a three year old that wants to go to Disneyworld to see Mickey.

      November 1, 2011 at 5:30 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.