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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. BBoy705

    "I generally avoid temptation unless I can't resist it." – Mae West

    September 27, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  2. gotti

    amen!

    September 27, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  3. george

    Oh no! What's next? Tolerance of others?

    September 27, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  4. Ozymandias71

    It's interesting to see the article point out the changes in society leading to this 'problem' – which leads me to believe that Christian teens were less motivated by their personal convictions, and more motivated by disapproval by society to 'keep them in check'. Nowadays, a Christian teen has only their own religious convictions, because society (for the most part) just doesn't care – and apparently that isn't working.

    September 27, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
  5. ReasonOverFaith

    Love thy neighbor. Go forth and multiply.

    There are two issues here: Adherence to a particular doctrine; and birth control.

    September 27, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
  6. Reality

    WARNING!!! WARNING!!! WARNING!!!============>

    To all overse-xed h-o-mo-sapiens:

    : 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 27, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • jimbo

      It's still worth it.

      September 27, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • RUKIDDING?

      Nothing like a nice, level-headed rant to put things in proper perspective... not!

      September 27, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
  7. jimbo

    Small town america relies on pre-marital unpretected fun becuase that is the only reason kids don't move away. They pop out babies at 16 and are forced to stick around the town for the rest of their lives. Seen it happen to most of my friends.

    September 27, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • jimbo

      Teach them safe s3x and 20 years later it's a ghost town.

      September 27, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
  8. LARRY COFFEY

    WHEN TWO PEOPLE WHO ARE CONNECTED AND WAIT FOR MARRIAGE, THIS HAPPENS BETWEEN THE TWO, THEY GET TO BUILD FAITH AND TRUST. IN THE SPIRIT THEYCAN COMMUNICATE BETWEEN THE TWO IN DREAMS AND BUILD UP THEIR ENERGY AND IF THEY KEEP THIER ENERGY GOING AND IN THIER DREAMS WILL REVEAL THEY ARE MEANT TO BE TOGETHER AND NO HARM IS DONE. THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS

    September 27, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • Hammer0

      Did religion blind you to the use of the shift key?

      September 28, 2011 at 12:29 am |
  9. Jon

    I keep looking for this man who lives in the clouds and grants wishes. So your telling me that God decided hey lets make S E X awesome and the most fun thing created but, but, BUT, i'm going to declare it immoral for you sheep to partake in it because really it's just another sick guise to get you to devote your love and life to me because i'm an insecure pryck who needs the planet doting over my every fart?

    September 27, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
  10. jimbo

    test, test

    September 27, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
  11. humtake

    This is one of those DUH articles. We are talking about a group of people who are innately going to do what everyone else does...they belong to a religion, a society based on crowd control. The whole point of being in religion is to go along with the rules that have been agreed to by everyone else in that religion. So, it stands to reason that the religious people will always choose the side of right or wrong based solely on the more popular stance.

    September 27, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
  12. Elias

    It is amazing what experts will say about things they probably don't know anything about. The last quote on your article is way off base. I wonder if Mr. McKnight has even read the scriptures, and to quote one of the prophets, "...if [he] has, he has not understood them.." How can some one claiming to have written a book go on to make a sensationalist statement as he has that the ONLY

    September 27, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
  13. David Johnson

    I have written many comments on the need for real $ex education. I have pointed out, that abstinence only education, is as worthless as praying to Jesus.

    Tons of money was spent on abstinence only $ex education during the G.W. Bush years. A ton of money wasted.

    Abstinence pledges and purity rings are of no value. They just aren't effective.

    We need $ex ed, that shows our kids how to protect themselves from STDs and pregnancy.

    Have qualified adults teach the young people alternatives to intercourse.

    Make your Sunday schools worthwhile. Dump Jesus and teach your kids life skills.

    You say you hate abortion? Then, prevent unwanted pregnancy.

    Cheers!

    September 27, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • Alyssa

      Ahhhh David! IF ONLY! You hit the nail on the head!

      September 27, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • Vandy

      Gosh David, real proof that you exist! I suppose people will still read about you 2000 years from now.

      September 27, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
  14. David - MD

    Mr. BBoy705 – read the scripture. Mary did not have 's**' with the Holy Spirit, she was overshadowed by the Spirit. Read a little further, you'll find that Joseph did not 'know' her until Jesus was born. Really sad how defiant and warped some minds are when it comes to spiritual matters. If you really found out the depth of the riches and mercies that God has in store for those that will seek Him with a sincere heart, the dialogue posted here would be not be so twisted and contorted. As a man (or women) thinketh in his heart, so is he.

    September 27, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • Observer

      David – MD,

      Basic Biology 101. Sperm and egg must unite to start a pregnancy. Pretending that sperm did not physically get inside her is ludicrous. "overshadowed" is just a way to AVOID the truth.

      You also believe that a married couple did not have s-x until AFTER she got pregnant by someone else. Wow!

      September 27, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • EnjoyingLife

      It also says....."the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were fair and lie and went down from the heavens tolie down with them"
      hmmm...just saying

      September 27, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
  15. Vandy

    It never ceases to amaze me. Because Jesus died, we have been delivered from the wrath of God. He lived his life asking, not demanding, that we turn to him (God in flesh). He made it clear we can do anything we want to (very liberal) but there are consequences. It is completely our choice. Man's wisdom is mockery to God. He made wisdom and wrote it down for us to learn. It's simple, man says I won't believe it till I see it. God says you won't see it till you believe it. His door is always open for those who choose to change their mind (repent). All past actions are forgotten. The renewed mind will grasp the wisdom of His words (Bible). Have a nice day!

    September 27, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Vandy

      There is no real evidence that Jesus ever lived.

      Cheers!

      September 27, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
  16. Floyd Johnson

    I am more concerned with the 12-17 age group than the 18-29 age group addressed in this article. In the younger age group the abstinence rate has clearly increased (http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/publications/446?task=view). The article's conclusion is correct: the longer individuals postpone marriage, the more likely they will have intercourse before marriage.

    September 27, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Floyd Johnson

      If you do a good job educating kids in High School, they will armored with the word of science and truth all the rest of their lives.

      Most women have more than one partner in their lifetimes. Let's show them how NOT to collect a child from each relationship.

      It is what Jesus would do, if He wasn't dead.

      Cheers!

      September 27, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  17. Jason

    I'm glad I got in plenty of practice before marriage so that I can keep my wife satifisfied and we have a happy marriage. I wonder how many marriages where people waited end up in divorce because the husband/wife thinks "I wonder what it would be like with __________".

    Some people are discounting how much $exual compatibility counts in a marriage. Is it the whole thing? No, but I want to enjoy that aspect of marriage as much as any other.

    September 27, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
  18. A HARD MEMBER

    UHH... IM GONNA GO BEAT OFF

    September 27, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
  19. Bo

    @MC827 I would hope that "little piece of paper" would help you love her more. I just hope you don't end up a statictic. People that have lived together before getting married more often than not end up divorcing within 3 years, or sooner. I read a case one time that a couple had lived together for about 40 years, raised a family. It was acctually the kids that promped their parent to get married. They married and seperated in one month. Go figure! I still puzzle over that.

    September 27, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Bo

      My daughter and I were reading the bible, before bedtime, when we came across this:

      Jesus had healed a woman on the Sabbath:

      Luke 13 31:33 KJV
      31The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee.

      32And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.

      33Nevertheless I must walk to day, and to morrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem.

      Jesus said, because He is a prophet, He could not be killed outside of Jerusalem. Seems clear on this...

      Yet, Jesus WAS killed outside Jerusalem.

      Calvary or Golgotha was the site, OUTSIDE of ancient Jerusalem’s early first century walls, at which the crucifixion of Jesus is said to have occurred.

      My daughter is questioning the whole Jesus was the Messiah and Son of God Shtick. I am appalled. Whatever will I do?

      I'm sure there is a spin to this. Please share.

      Cheers!

      I was totally dumbfounded.

      September 27, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • Anton LaVey

      David Johnson

      @Bo

      My daughter and I were reading the bible, before bedtime, when we came across this:

      Jesus had healed a woman on the Sabbath:

      Luke 13 31:33 KJV
      31The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee.

      32And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.

      33Nevertheless I must walk to day, and to morrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem.

      Jesus said, because He is a prophet, He could not be killed outside of Jerusalem. Seems clear on this...

      Yet, Jesus WAS killed outside Jerusalem.

      Calvary or Golgotha was the site, OUTSIDE of ancient Jerusalem’s early first century walls, at which the crucifixion of Jesus is said to have occurred.

      My daughter is questioning the whole Jesus was the Messiah and Son of God Shtick. I am appalled. Whatever will I do?

      I'm sure there is a spin to this. Please share.

      Cheers!

      I was totally dumbfounded.

      ----
      Thats because he was never the messiah...even the jews know this. Christianity was self created cult that took root. Heck even the jews are a self created cult from Moses. If it hadn't been for Moses and his writings the jews would have faded over time. Islam...another self created cult.

      September 27, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
  20. Joe

    Hey, here's an idea for preventing unplanned pregnancy. Teach kids about birth control and how to be responsible, rather than clinging to failed abstinence-only programs.

    September 27, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
    • Zoe Jean

      What a novel idea!

      September 27, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
    • Jason

      Jesus says "Bag it before you tag it".

      September 27, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • Alyssa

      I second that! What a novel idea!! LOL!

      September 27, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • Pope Benedict

      Rick Perry "Abstinence works!"

      September 27, 2011 at 1:27 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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.