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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. cory

    Hey, CNN, when can we expect to see you guys post web-articles called "Why Muslims Aren't Waiting Anymore" and "Why Jews Aren't Waiting Anymore"?

    December 12, 2011 at 11:23 am |
    • rick

      the article is commenting on a survey from a CHRISTIAN magazine. when Muslim magazines or Jewish magazines put out the same survey, perhaps CNN will respond. feeling a little put upon, cory?

      December 12, 2011 at 11:51 am |
  2. Seth A.

    Hello

    December 12, 2011 at 11:10 am |
  3. Seth

    Hey

    December 12, 2011 at 11:05 am |
  4. George

    This is what happens when you take prayer out of school and God out of government. Our country just sinks farther and farther down into the moral sewer. I hope that people have the good sense to elect conservative Christians in the next election to try to stem the tide of immorality. You just got to shake your head at people on here who actually defend immorality.

    December 12, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • nonbeliever

      @George-

      I hope for your rapture more and more, every day. I would like for this world to be repopulated by people who are sane.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • nonbeliever

      Do not put forth the effort to argue with george. He is a troll simply trying to stir up the majority of nonbelievers on this message board. He trolls, refuses to answer questions, spouts nonsense, and obviously laughs at us in the process.

      He either is mentally disturbed or just doing it for fun.

      Either way, it gets old quick.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:58 am |
  5. Believer

    There are people who say they are Christians but are hypocrites and don't follow God's way. Each and every person is a child of God. But some believe and earnestly seek Him and follow him. Some consider themselves the same group but do not seek Him or even really care. Do not mix these very different Christians.

    People make mistakes. But God will forgive them. You can follow your blind and evil ways rejecting the one true God and the faith upon whom it is built upon. But we will pray and hope more and more will actually see and seek. People have strayed from the right path and need to return. God has plans for each and every one of us. And he also gave us the freedom of choice. You have chosen to reject and therefore have been mislead. But there is still a chance.

    December 12, 2011 at 9:39 am |
    • rick

      "You can follow your blind and evil ways rejecting the one true God and the faith upon whom it is built upon."

      You can follow your myopia and think that you have the "correct" god.

      "People have strayed from the right path and need to return."

      Based on what, your belief?

      "You have chosen to reject"

      What people see as god depends in large part to where they are born. What authority do YOU

      December 12, 2011 at 10:25 am |
    • rick

      "You can follow your blind and evil ways rejecting the one true God and the faith upon whom it is built upon."

      You can follow your myopia and think that you have the "correct" god.

      "People have strayed from the right path and need to return."

      Based on what, your belief?

      "You have chosen to reject"

      What people see as god depends in large part to where they are born. You are as likely to be able to change their beliefs as vice versa. Try being a bit less full of yourself

      December 12, 2011 at 10:27 am |
    • nonbeliever

      @Believer-

      Here we go again.

      If you were to go back through here and read the conversation that has been going on for a while (and I understand why you don't, there is a lot) you would see many responses to why your comment is off base.

      First of all, who are you claiming is pushing their beliefs on people? The people who don't believe in your christian religion are defending their right to not to. They are defending their freedom to not believe in a religion. The christians on here are telling us that we are going to 'he.ll' that we are 'evil' and 'immoral' people for not believing in jesus. As someone who was a devout follower of christ for over 30 years, who went to seminary, and was a preacher, I understand why you feel this way. But using fear to convert, doesn't work. Unless of course you are six years old and you making a decision based on the fear that was pressed upon you. Don't be a mindless fool in your statements. I've heard them a million times before and know I'll hear them again.

      You speak of religious freedom that this country was founded upon. This is true. But they were escaping a country that was controlled by the church. It dictated law, abused scripture, and oppressed the people in the country. They left to escape that. Yet, there are still christians who feel that christian law should be American law. They want to force the beliefs of their religion onto everyone else, who may not feel that way. We are not the land of christians, we are the land of the free, and it should remain that way.

      And lastly, can my life hold no purpose since I don't believe in your god? I know plenty of people who don't follow a religion who serve in homeless shelters. They take care of those in need. They fight for the rights of those oppressed. We don't need a religion to tell us how to live or be good moral people. I have a wonderful life with my wife and our family. That is my purpose in life. I don't need a god to be my purpose and to be happy.

      I have chosen to reject, because your religion is fallible. It is a story of lies created by man to control people. You have no proof your god is any more real than a mythical unicorn. So please, don't proclaim truth in ideas that cannot be backed up.

      December 12, 2011 at 10:52 am |
    • Garrett

      Wrong, the Bible does not say that anywhere. Every person is not a child of God. The human beings that are children of God are those who have been saved by faith in Jesus Christ. In the Bible people who are not saved are called enemies of God and children of Satan; they are only creations of God, and not his children. You see how easy it is to put out false information because you dont read your Bible. It would sound a little ridiculous to say that God sends some of his children to Hell, which he would never do. People he sends to hell are those creations of his who have chosen not to be adopted by him as his children but to rebel against him and reject him. This is why people talk down on Christianity because of people speaking on behalf of Christianity that dont even speak rightly about it.

      December 12, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • rick

      Garrett: The god you describe appears to be a petty punk, unworthy of worship.

      December 12, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • Miclovin

      "God" is a lie how can you not see that "God" wouldnt let wars happen, people die, dictators appear, WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, AIDS, HIV, STDS, Cancer "God" wouldnt let it happen so i refuse to believe there is a "God" at all grow up and stop being scared of whatever the hell is scaring you into believing there is a "God"

      December 12, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
  6. Believer

    How are people in this world so ignorant? Can no one see what's right anymore?
    There is no Greek god at all. There are demonic spirits in this world that some people encounter but there are no real gods, except for the one Father. People have taken these spirits and idolized them and worshiped them but just to follow their blinded ways.
    There are different opinions in this world. It doesn't mean you have to be all snotty about it and think that you're always right. Respect other opinions and watch your words. Do you only care for yourselves? How vain and selfish most Americans have become. Were not the founders of this nation come here to have the freedom of religion. Think about it. Why criticize other beliefs. How about your very own.
    What religion are you nonbelievers? Do you not believe in anything? Have you ever asked the question of what your purpose in life is?

    December 12, 2011 at 9:29 am |
    • rick

      "there are no real gods, except for the one Father"

      "There are different opinions in this world. It doesn't mean you have to be all snotty about it and think that you're always right."

      Do you see the connection?

      December 12, 2011 at 9:57 am |
    • rick

      Why must nonbelievers have a religion? Doesn't that defeat the whole "nonbeliever" label?

      Why do you feel that there is a purpose? Vanity?

      December 12, 2011 at 10:09 am |
  7. Rebecca

    I have been a single woman for most of 40 years. I will tell you right now that Christian men have NEVER been willing to "wait" but have always been after premarital whatever they could get. That also includes married Christian men who cheat on their wives, ministers, all of them. Always after the main chance. There has never been any believe in abstinence on the part of Christian men... that is the party line for WOMEN. Here's the big laugh. That same man who will be after you like a dog will eventually offer to marry you if you say no. What a bunch of hypocrites. After all these years of seeing the lies, I finally dumped the whole church thing. Put not your faith in men.

    December 12, 2011 at 9:05 am |
  8. D

    Yeah this pretty much explains how important I think waiting is... check it out, might make you think http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYA9DaSIddo

    December 12, 2011 at 12:40 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      Sorry, too busy watching christmas videos on youtube to waste my time listening to bogus crap!! Waiting is another delusion and an unfair expectation...instead of preaching that young people should wait, we should be educating them about how to prevent unwanted pregnancies and disease. Preaching is turning a blind eye to the issue...kinda like plugging your ears to what a person is saying...no wonder the USA has the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the world.

      December 12, 2011 at 6:01 am |
  9. Deb

    I also think waiting would strengthen families as a whole. And stronger families would mean a stronger nation. On the flip side, the break down of family, really does break down sociey. Following God's commandments is the only way for our counry to thrive and be a blessed nation!

    December 11, 2011 at 9:06 pm |
    • Mike

      You are delusional.

      December 12, 2011 at 1:24 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      Deb=christard
      not one bit of education in the real world to back her...she's probably a FOX viewer who believes her buybull word for word and would rather see people living oppressed lives than living in the 21st century (where her book of delusions has no pertinence except to the closed minded freaks who think they have all the answers...religion/belief makes a working brain stop)

      December 12, 2011 at 5:23 am |
    • Mirosal

      Remember, philosophy is all about life's questions that you may never find an answer to. Religion is all about their answers that you may NEVER question, under penalty of death in some countries, or eternal "hell" as the deluded thum'pers will tell you in their loudest voice. Aren't scare tactics a wonderful thing? lol

      December 12, 2011 at 5:38 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      They think if they spew their delusions enough, we'll eventually cower...just proves the stupidity of their way of thinking. I don't fear god, I fear her followers.

      December 12, 2011 at 5:56 am |
    • Rick

      Mirosal: It's because scare tactics are all they have

      December 12, 2011 at 6:06 am |
    • nonbeliever

      I don't always blame the individual that posts on here for spouting nonsense. They were fed the same lines from the man behind the curtain...I mean, pulpit. They just gave into the fear tactics instead of taking the time to educate themselves.

      December 12, 2011 at 7:57 am |
    • Rebecca

      Deb, you are delusional if you think Christian men will EVER include themselves in the celibacy commitment. Not happening now, and has never happened in my 40 years of dating. In talking to my mother and grandmother, ditto for their entire lifetimes. Not only do Christian men do not include themselves in the celibacy commitment, not more than a couple percent include themselves in the fidelity commitment. The only thing that ever kept marriages together was the level of willingness of women to stay marriage in the face of infidelity. Now that women can make a living, it is harder to get them to do that. You cannot have your "perfect" vision without trapping women with no income. It's been done for centuries, but I hope it never comes back.

      December 12, 2011 at 9:12 am |
    • nonbeliever

      @Rebecca-

      Be careful when speaking in absolutes, because more often than not, you make yourself look foolish. I have known many of men who have waited till they were married. And I have known women who have not remained faithful in their marriage. Saying that all men 'can't' and that all women 'don't' is a very dangerous path to follow. You let the facts when out over your argument and you lose the purpose that you had when your argument is not educated.

      December 12, 2011 at 9:38 am |
    • Miclovin

      You nutcase

      December 12, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  10. blake

    Why is CNN and the rest of the leftist media aggressively promoting promiscuity? Is it an effort by the leadership of these media organizations to feel a little better about the destructive and immoral personal lifestyle choices they have made?

    December 11, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
    • Mike

      The article is in a blog. Get a grip moron and keep to your normal source, Fox.

      December 12, 2011 at 1:28 am |
    • Rick

      blake: they are reporting a survey from a Christian magazine

      December 12, 2011 at 5:05 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      @Blake: so you're saying s.e.x is not normal??? You're delusional and rather uneducated!! Hormones can't always be controlled and thus the reason for birth control methods...all one can hope for is that parents properly educate their children about the risks involved in unprotected s.e.x...any parent preaching that it is wrong is a hypocrite and is only lying to their children.

      December 12, 2011 at 5:20 am |
    • Rick

      Also, Blake, what do you know of the personal lifestyles of these people? Perhaps it is time to tone down the pompousness

      December 12, 2011 at 6:08 am |
    • Rick

      they did not "promote anything.

      December 12, 2011 at 6:10 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      @Rick: I suspect blake lives in a buybull belt and is not an adult or maybe he's the 40 year old virgin.

      December 12, 2011 at 6:29 am |
    • nonbeliever

      @blake-

      Why are conservative christians trying to make me believe in a religion that is easily debunked and controlling my life telling me I will go to he.ll if I don't wait till marriage?

      It goes both ways, sir.

      December 12, 2011 at 7:53 am |
  11. nytw

    Just what we need, another group of liberals trying to tell us how to live our lives.

    December 11, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
    • jb

      are you a christian?is that why youre offended?

      December 11, 2011 at 8:51 pm |
    • Mike

      SFS.

      December 12, 2011 at 1:30 am |
    • Rick

      They are reporting the results of a survey. They are not telling anyone what to do. Read much?

      December 12, 2011 at 6:11 am |
    • nonbeliever

      Since nytw is trolling, I'll just start copying and pasting what I've written in response to him earlier.

      @nytw-

      Ironic really. All the conservative christians on here telling us we are going to hell and need to repent for having se.xu.al relations before marriage. And here you are, blaming it on liberbal propaganda? Saying that liberals are trying to tell people how to live? This article is telling how people ACTUALLY live, not how to. This is the problem with conservatives, they can't even understand what it is they are really reading. This article, is done in response to an article Relevant Magazine (a christian magazine) did on the study. It wasn't even initiated by CNN. But, apparently instead of using your brain, you decided to just blame liberals. This is why nothing gets done in this country. Too many conservatives can't even take the time to reason, they just blame it all on something that isn't even factual.

      December 12, 2011 at 7:39 am |
  12. EvenKeel

    @George

    You've said before that Christian Morality is the only legitimate morality. I am a Jew. Am I, by your view, inherently immoral? Do you believe I'm going to "hell"?

    December 11, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
    • George

      Judiasm is a special case. In addition, Christianity is rooted in Judiasm.

      December 11, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
    • Pstyle

      Christians are New Testament Jews :)

      December 11, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
    • buck cameron

      Christians are not jews of any kind. Jesus was a jew, you are not.

      December 11, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
    • jb

      christians are the "New Jerusalem" according to the Bible. i am partly jewish and i must agree because youre either physically jewish or spiritually jewish

      December 11, 2011 at 9:04 pm |
    • Mike

      My dog just farted. Somehow that is more relevant than your statement.

      December 12, 2011 at 1:31 am |
    • nonbeliever

      @George-

      "Judiasm is a special case. In addition, Christianity is rooted in Judiasm."

      Why in the world is christianity a special case? And yes, christianity may have Jewish roots, but christ was the key factor in christianity that made JUDAISM (check your spelling george) a nonfactor. According to your bible, when jesus came, he did away with the old law, it was no longer applicable. Judaism is a completely different religion than Christianity. Judaism rejects the new testament, they don't believe that their messiah has come yet, and are waiting for him to come do away with evil and rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem and bring the chosen people back to Israel. They pray to no one other than God. Where christians may pray to saints (if you're catholic) and to jesus and the holy spirit.

      If you are a true christian and follow the teachings of christ, then you reject Judaism just as you reject any other religion.

      December 12, 2011 at 7:36 am |
  13. Im Right Your Wrong Get Over It.

    Oh im not playing with my immortal soul george, its more like im sodomising your immortal soul. May zeus strike you down with a phallus shaped lightning bolt, so you can roam the depths of hades for all eternity...

    December 11, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
  14. JM

    In our new book, The Solution For Marriages, we provide guidance for mentors on how to help young people deal with the temptations of a dying culture and how to prepare for a life-long marriage. It's well researched (over 150 footnotes), biblically sound (300+ references) and based on the co-authors combined 75 years of successful marriage. More info at http://TheSolutionforMarriages.com Real answers addressing real issues!!

    December 11, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
  15. Im Right Your Wrong Get Over It.

    Besides the greek gods didnt wait george. I shall live by the examples they set for me, if you wanna live by yours then go sacrafice your first son.

    December 11, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • George

      And you will ride with them right down to hell. I pleading with you not to play with your immortal soul.

      December 11, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
    • Rick

      You know, Georgie Boy, it sure says something about your god that you have to ride your argument on empty proxy threats.

      December 11, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • Rick

      georgie: your god is as flaccid and incontinent as you are.

      December 11, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • George

      @Rick

      "georgie: your god is as flaccid and incontinent as you are."

      I'm sure you meant this to be an insult, but I had to laugh out loud at it.

      December 11, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
    • Rick

      hopefully, you were wearing your Depends

      December 12, 2011 at 12:06 am |
  16. Im Right Your Wrong Get Over It.

    Because saving s.e.x till marriage makes us into crabby lonely people like you george.

    December 11, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
  17. George

    Why can't people just lead moral lives and save s.e.x for procreation?

    December 11, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
  18. Im Right Your Wrong Get Over It.

    I just made a believer out of nonbeliever, winning.

    December 11, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
  19. Dave

    Love waits, but lust is less patient.

    December 11, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
  20. Im Right Your Wrong Get Over It.

    Lets talk about the real god here.... Zeus Champion of Olympus. He took time out of his godly duties (haha doody) to come down, cheat on his wife, have a child out of wedlock, and abandoned him. He also killed his father... Even Jesus didnt have the balls to do that.. Now that my friends, is relatable!

    December 11, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • nonbeliever

      This is the most true statement I've read on here. Period.

      December 11, 2011 at 12:51 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.