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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. brooksjk

    As a Christian, what makes your faith different than that of a Muslim, a Hindu, or even the “non-faith” of an atheist? Are we able to properly explain our faith to each other, let alone someone who is desperately in need of the healing power of the forgiveness of Jesus Christ? The Four Pillars of the Kingdom is an attempt to help us do just that by laying the groundwork, in an accessible manner, of what it means to be a Christian. The pillar of belief: why do we believe as we do? The pillar of knowledge: how we obtain our knowledge through scripture, prayer and even praise. The pillar of life: what is the proper Christian life and how our actions represent Christ to the rest of the world. And the pillar of love: how all love comes from God and should flow from us to those around us. The Four Pillars of the Kingdom will challenge your relationship with Jesus but, in doing so; make it stronger and closer than you ever thought possible
    .
    Available now on Amazon in Kindle and paperback formats.

    http://bit.ly/joesbookshelf

    November 18, 2011 at 10:14 am |
  2. Jstresponding

    Who cares? IF they aren't waiting maybe it's because it's a stupid idea that doesn't carry any weight whatsoever! Save yourself, give it up, your just as likely to end up in a totally awesome relationship or a totally bad one. Your chances are 50/50.

    November 18, 2011 at 2:49 am |
  3. iHypocrite

    Amusing, entertaining, interesting...a lot of anti-religion are on RELIGION.blogs.cnn.com.

    November 17, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
    • ChristianHat3r

      You Christians only bring it on yourselves with your s-tupidity.

      November 22, 2011 at 1:28 am |
  4. Sums

    I do agree that the atheists seem harsher in forcing their own beliefs on others, its kind of strange to me...perhaps they are over compensating for a sickness within themselves, and trying to justify something that their own hearts will not allow them justify

    November 17, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • Get Real

      Sums,

      If atheists and agnostics are over-compensating for anything, it is for having had their voices suppressed for so long... as it still is in venues other than the internet.

      November 17, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
    • Enrico

      Sure mate, but what about evangelists?

      November 17, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • cekuhnen

      so were do atheist force their opinion on others?

      In the USA the religious fundamentalists are those who force their opinion on others while claiming the USA is practicing separation of state and church.

      Hypocrite !

      November 17, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
    • Rick

      I do agree that the Christians seem harsher in forcing their own beliefs on others, its kind of strange to me...perhaps they are over compensating for a sickness within themselves, and trying to justify something that their own reasoning will not allow them justify

      November 21, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • nonbeliever

      This coming from a follower of a religion that crusaded and murdered millions of people in the name of Christ. I'm not sure you are able to comprehend anything about the religion you follow.

      November 27, 2011 at 8:15 am |
  5. Its like you learn my thoughts! You seem to know a lot about this, such as you wrote the ebook in it or something. I believe that you simply can do with some % to power the message house a little bit, however instead of that, this is magnificent blog. A f

    Interesting post. Found it on yahoo and was a good read, thanks for posting. Do you have any other blogs?

    November 17, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • what

      Did you write a note to yourself?

      November 17, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
  6. Panthiest

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_and_historical_background_of_Jesus

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Development_of_the_New_Testament_canon

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_criticism

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synoptic_problem

    The bible was not historical truth, Jesus was only a man, and Islam is just an extension of religion and myth combining together.
    Man created god, not the other way around.

    November 17, 2011 at 11:08 am |
    • Chris

      Did you just use Wikipedia as your end all be all source to disprove Christianity? Those issues those articles bring up need to be answered by Christians, and there are answers out there, but there are also much better sources to delve into those important questions.

      Sincerely,

      Converted Skeptic

      November 17, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • Kay

      As an atheist I have found that many atheists, despite not believing in gods and accepting evolution, continue to read the Bible like fundamentalists, only with a negative rather than positive take on the godhead. The problem with that is that the godhead and satan are nothing more than a projections of the human animal's psyche and the personification of the forces of nature that are always at work within and beyond the individual and group. We're the ones that decide what is good and evil, we're the ones who are the creators of heaven/hell, justice/injustice, love/hate, war/peace, forgiveness/persecution, and so forth.

      I suggest that if you are unable to read the Bible as a collection of writings that have everything to do with the human condition and nothing at all to do with hocus pocus, then you're as lost as any theist.

      November 17, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • Michael

      Jesus' death, resurrection and ascension were historical events. It's hard to accept because of that whole "what's true" vs. "what I want to be true" thing.

      November 17, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • Get Real

      Michael
      "Jesus' death, resurrection and ascension were historical events."

      No, sorry. There is no verified historical evidence for these events.

      November 18, 2011 at 2:59 am |
    • Andrew

      Ok, genius, lets bring this back to kindergarten, jesus wasnt a fictional character, he was a roman citizen. That means there is roman record of his existence. And did you know that the bible wasnt written by one crazy religious nutjob? no no no, it was written by MANY crazy nutjobs, and its the darndest thing but they all seem to remember the same events, jews come to pilate to crucify jesus, pilate saying why?, and then the jews kill him. So yeah, his birth, existence, and death are actually recorded historical fact. The only part of that equation that you take on faith is A. Was he Gods son? and B. Did he come back from the dead?

      November 18, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • Dan

      Actually there are many historical EXTRA-BIBLICAL (as in NOT THE BIBLE) sources speaking of Jesus' existence, death, AND resurrection. sources historians look to for reliable information on the past(although if you want to be honest the Bible is a source that has itself been proven accurate time and time again). the only actual question is what was the reason for it? the resurrection can't be denied by anyone who actually researches it any more than the existence of Nero or Alexander the Great. (you do know they were right?)

      November 18, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • Never Mind

      Dan and Andrew - if you care about reality...

      http://www.exminister.org/Barker-debunking-historical-Jesus.html

      November 18, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
  7. naiem

    Sinning is bad! wow like you did not know that.Then why does one sin?
    The promised Nessiah put it this way, by asking these questions!
    whould you stick your hand into a hole in the ground without looking what was inside it?
    would you stand in front of wild tiger while it charged you?
    would you drink poison if you knew it was poison?
    then why does one sin?
    because they know the outcome of drinking the poison,or getting bit by a snake in the hole in the ground?
    they are certain of the result, what Christians lack is certainty of God , without this certainty of the existence of God they will keep sinning. Islam can teach this to you but rather you can converse with God thru Islam, if you only realized he exists!

    November 17, 2011 at 10:18 am |
  8. islam Ewis

    The solution is one word "Islam"

    November 16, 2011 at 11:12 pm |
    • Anonymous

      Ha ha.. now that was funny! :)

      November 17, 2011 at 12:38 am |
    • vizier

      What you said is right. I hope people do understand that and not just do haha

      November 17, 2011 at 12:49 am |
    • Kay

      Perhaps the solution is to abandon the pretense that there is someone beyond the universe who decides what is good or evil and start taking full responsibility for ourselves and the moral codes we have created as our species has evolved?

      November 17, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • ChristianHat3r

      Correction: The solution to Islam is one word: genocide. =)

      November 22, 2011 at 2:32 am |
  9. steama

    Waiting? The girls that didn't wait that I know of are all Christian girls. Christians did not wait in the past and they are not going to wait in the future. Why? Because NOT waiting feels so darn good!

    November 16, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
    • Homer

      I waited. My wife did too. I was 25 and she was 29 when we got married. Now, even 20 years later, what we share is just between us, making it that much more loving and honest. I am grateful that we did.

      November 16, 2011 at 9:20 pm |
    • Edge

      @Homer And a lot worse because neither of you know what you're doing...

      November 17, 2011 at 1:38 am |
  10. Dandilion leaf

    All hypocrites!! Practice what you preach, if you say youre "truly christian" then you would actually follow what that "damn bilble" says! But youre 2 faced, "truly not a christian" and only want to pick and choose what best fits your lifestyle! Sooo....all in all you "so called christians" are just cowards and really like pointing the finger and blaming people for the things you wish you could do without being outed just to make you feel superior and closer to the "christian" circle you so want to be apart of! Im not christian because I dont wanna pretend to be "christ like" ! There is not a single person in this world that is a true "christian" just for the simple fact that if you actually wanted to be "christian" then you wouldnt judge....isnt that something you fairytale book "the bible" says!

    November 16, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
    • TRUE_CHISTIAN

      You're right. But you know what, everyone messes up. You can say were hypocrites because we don't always follow everything the bible (not fairytale, proven, scientific fact. You could research it if you want) says. Like I said we mess up. Also you're completely right. A lot of people judge and are hypocritical and think they're superior. I'm sorry you're judging us on those few. Christians should be loving and completely not judgemental because we're all screwups. I hope you meet a true Christian. I feel bad for these people that aren't waiting because you know what? Wait feels sooo much better!!!!

      November 16, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
    • Mirosal

      @ True Christian ... you said the bible was proven scientific fact. Ok, the book exists, that part I'll accept ... so what else was proven and scientific in there? Adam and Eve? The flood? The "exodus"? (no one has found any writings of it ever happening, even in heiroglyphics) .. so what else is real, proven, and scientific?? Do you mean that this sky-fairy of yours has been proven by science to be real? ok then, what are your sources?

      November 22, 2011 at 2:40 am |
    • HellBent

      @Mirosal,

      You've clearly been deceived. Everyone knows it's a scientific fact that the value of pi is 3.

      November 22, 2011 at 3:00 am |
    • Mirosal

      actually it's 3.1415926 .... I could go on and on and on ... just asking what her scientific sources are that say everything in that book is a scientific fact... I'd like to see the research on it.

      November 22, 2011 at 3:06 am |
  11. WatchmanDave

    All views seem to "Throw Around" the idea that those who SAY they are "Christians" are "Like the Messiah" (Christ)...really? You would have been stone to death in my Messiah's day for doing the things you do if you named the Name of JEHOVAH Yaweh Adonai...I understand Grace, I also understand Repentance...even you who give your wisdom as "Christians" have one thing wrong and that is...What a Christian is...A Christian is the WHO they were to REFLECT likewise...Christ JESUS...but you hate or despise your neighbor...You live the Law that is a death sentence...You scream because they take down the TEN Commandments (the Old Covenant) in various areas of Public and Government sites, BUTTT, there's that big BUTTT you sit on with your BIG mouths open...you don't Complain that the GOOD NEWS of the GOSPEL of JESUS CHRIST wasn't given EQUAL time as a message of a Better Covenant...you who fit this BILL need to shut up...repent of your own hypocracy...stop repeating what your hypocratic pastors and teachers are leading you into...ask the Holy Spirit to enlightened you first about YOU...and the WORD HE inspired...then do it...AGAPAO YAWEH JEHOVAH ADONAI and HIS SON JESHUAH who died for you...& by doing those things the SON COMMANDED US all to do...Basically the article is saying you are being caught with your pants or zipper down, or you beared your thigh and breasts and you proudly say it's OK...I don't believe that speaks for all of us...not those of us who have a reality of what is cost our Lord and Savior to bring us back into Relationship with the FATHER of all eternity...repent! all of you...

    November 16, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • Rick

      WatchmanDave: Many of us do not believe we need to repent from anything. Good you do, but it ain't for everyone. I do not seek heaven, nor do I fear hell. I think they are both mythical places

      November 16, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • The-Other-Guy

      WatchmanDave. I love yr reaction, but I have to remind you of one thing. By pointing too much on OTHERS' problems as if any of us was perfect by our own power.

      I am not quoting Scriptures to "convince" you or any other reader of anything. Let the Word speak instead of me trying to use plenty of words to mean what I wanna say. Sounds like you are a believer, then you will certainly agree at lest with the following:

      Matthew 7:1 "Do not judge, or you too will be judged.
      Matthew 7:3 "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
      Luke 6:40 A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.
      Luke 6:42 How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.

      November 17, 2011 at 12:41 am |
    • WatchmanDave

      The Other Guy- the judging there has to do with the measuring stick used...which ever one you use it will be used on you...simple rule...the measuring stick we use has alot of Marks on it...it held the Son of GOD High and left it's marks in HIM...some call it a Cross...stone tablets are very hard to drag around to compare your brother to...Jehsuah only needed to drag the Cross up a hill Once...just so you know what I'm thinking and know...AGAPAOS...Shalom! (my first challenge of every day is to look in the mirror and SEE who PAPA GOD loves...then walk like it) : )

      November 20, 2011 at 10:22 am |
  12. anon

    I think the reason "Christians" aren't waiting anymore is because they've grown spirtually weak, and carnal. There is no power anymore in Christianity.

    November 16, 2011 at 8:41 am |
    • Atheist

      They are just a bunch of hypocrites. I know people who are atheists donate money to the charity while some Christians who go to church and update "christian" status on facebook, but they complain not enough gifts on christmas. After seeing people like that, what would you think?

      November 16, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
  13. Andrey

    God gave everyone a free will. You're free to do what ever you want to do, no one is obligated to wait. This is a topic of sowing and reaping. What ever you do in life will shape you.

    November 16, 2011 at 8:37 am |
    • slackdaemon

      "free will" is a cosmic joke...
      christianity is just stupid

      November 16, 2011 at 10:00 am |
    • Andrey

      take God and "free will" out of what i said, it's still true.

      November 16, 2011 at 10:27 am |
  14. LaMartian

    I can't trust any "god" that gives me a fully functional brain and body and sends me to hell for using them.

    November 16, 2011 at 4:30 am |
    • Mike

      You don't go to hell for sin my friend. You go to hell for NOT believing that Jesus died for your sins so that you can get to heaven. It's about believing and having faith, not living a sinless life

      November 16, 2011 at 9:54 am |
    • JOn

      You obviosly don't know what you are talking about. Learn the facts and understand before going public with comments.

      November 16, 2011 at 10:06 am |
    • Grace

      Love it!

      November 22, 2011 at 8:45 pm |
  15. errca

    I definitely believe that everyone should do what feels right however I don't really understand the whole "lets get married at 19 so we can bone" movement...hello divorce. Save the wedding and just bone...God will forgive you for it anyway

    November 16, 2011 at 12:25 am |
    • Andrey

      God will forgive you but will you forgive yourself?

      November 16, 2011 at 8:44 am |
  16. Ryan

    It's quite interesting that non-Christians often say that Christians are forcing their beliefs on them and are insulting them but if you look at this comment board here, I see more non-Christians forcing their beliefs and being insulting towards Christians. Let us believe what we want to believe okay? It's also perfectly okay to voice your opinions in a respectful and rational way. Christians are going to face the same peer pressure and challenges that any other person is going to face.

    November 15, 2011 at 10:40 pm |
  17. Atheist

    Your god is in wrath. He knows everything, he knew human would sin, but he still created human. And now he made himself angry, didn't he? Now he wants us to worship him days and nights. Is that logic or not? No wonder why y'all have no logic.

    November 15, 2011 at 9:56 pm |
    • Deist

      Possibly. But at least we have proper sentence structure and a full grasp of the wonders of the dictionary. Hee heee.

      November 15, 2011 at 10:30 pm |
    • Alex

      How many languages do u speak deist?

      November 16, 2011 at 6:18 am |
    • SW

      Dumb.

      November 16, 2011 at 9:22 am |
    • Mike

      How is that illogical, yet secular laws not? At a certain age in this country you are held responsible for your own actions. You choose to obey the laws or break them. A relationship with God is the same way. Once you reach the age of knowledge and understanding, you make your own choice. You've obviously made yours, and I've made mine. God created free people, just as the founders of this country established a free society. Did the founders know people would disobey the law? Yes, that why we have jails. Did God know people would disobey his law? Yes, that why there's a hell. Believe what you will, but there is a right and wrong as much as the world wants to tell you there isn't

      November 16, 2011 at 10:02 am |
    • Atheist

      @Mike

      Yes founders knew people would disobey the laws, but they don't necessarily get mad (or so called in wrath) like your god. We basically just put people into the jails... that's it.

      November 16, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • Atheist

      @Mike

      So god will put people in hell if they disobey the law. So christian never breaks the law? Like the article mentioned.

      November 16, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
    • dr.someday

      I think a lot of people need to fully research what true Christianity is. Having missconceptions about anything and then talking about it is just not a good idea

      November 16, 2011 at 9:23 pm |
  18. Atheist

    Christians don't even wait, I, an atheist, am still waiting... how ironic?

    November 15, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • Christian

      I am a Christian, and I plus ALL of my Christian friends are waiting. So just remember, this does not apply to all Christians

      November 15, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
    • Doug

      Religion doesn't matter in this case. You can take it complete out of the picture and when two people wait, statistically they have a stronger bond.

      "The single greatest cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable." –Brennan Manning

      November 16, 2011 at 9:53 am |
    • Alex Povolotski

      Maybe just nobody wants you because you're socially inept and low in the food chain?

      November 16, 2011 at 10:26 pm |
    • waiting

      "christian's don't even wait" is entirely too broad of a generalization to make. i am a christian, still waiting...also ironic?

      November 16, 2011 at 10:34 pm |
    • Irony

      @waiting, No. It is not ironic for you to wait, as you believe. It is ironic that Atheist is waiting, because well... he's atheist.

      November 17, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
  19. Barby1

    Kay, are you speaking as a Christian? –because Christian parents and ministers, teachers and youth leaders have no business condoning fornication. The problem with premarital intimacy is ALL the risks –the risk that they will enter into serial monogamy –one partner after another –one broken relationship after another –the risk of pregnancy with or without prophylaxis –the risk of STD's even with condoms.

    Physical intimacy is supposed to be bonding –and proper bonding starts gradually –voice to voice,e .g. –or even email to email –getting acquainted gradually. When the time-table is right, we are to help our youth "get [me] to the church on time" whether or not they are financially set and can foolishly afford a wedding that costs the price of a down-payment on a house. Keep it simple and timely. We gave our kids license to marry when the time-table was such that they felt they could wait no longer for full intimacy. Chaperonage is important –and sound Christian teaching for our Christian youth.

    Even non-Christians run a big risk of ruining their "perma-bond-ability." If intimacy is a bonding glue in marriage, and we have many partners before the marriage, we drop trousers way too easily and lose our stick-a-bility –perma-bond-ability. They will lose something precious that virginity and fidelity protect –true life-time intimacy with one's beloved.

    November 15, 2011 at 9:46 am |
    • Petter

      What risks of STD's are there if you're wearing a condom? I have not heard of these.

      November 15, 2011 at 9:35 pm |
    • serious

      @Petter

      What she said is true, because I had a friend who got herpes even he had it on because there was still skin contact.

      November 15, 2011 at 9:52 pm |
    • Atheist

      @Petter

      I'm sorry but it's true. As an atheist, I also believe in waiting.

      November 15, 2011 at 10:00 pm |
    • Chip

      HPV also transmits even if you wear a condom.

      November 15, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
    • LaMartian

      I -like the -part where you -used -twelve hyph-ens.

      November 16, 2011 at 4:46 am |
  20. Kay

    Frankly, I don't think the emphasis should be on trying to get teens to refrain from intimate relations, but in teaching them how to proceed safely and resonsably if/when they choose to do so. They need to know about all the potential repurcussions in their own lives and why it may be preferable to wait until they are older and better able to take care of themselves and deal with whatever consequences that arise.

    November 15, 2011 at 2:44 am |
    • Kay

      They also need to be taught about the potential consequences in the lives of their partners, their families, and society at large.

      November 15, 2011 at 2:45 am |
    • anon

      You are probably right. maybe that IS the more sensible approach. The same should be with guns. Kids are going to use them ANYWAY, and bring them to school whether we like it or not, so we should teach them gun safety and how to properly handle a firearm. Gun safety locks should also be offered in schools for kids before they can come into the school. For safety, of course.

      November 16, 2011 at 8:46 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.