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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. Kilgore Trout

    Brudnoy and Rock Hudson and Liberace all got bad loads.

    January 11, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  2. Hahahahahahahahahaha

    Because it's natural and it feels AWESOME!!!!! Life is short......DO IT!!!!! Hahahahahahahaha

    January 11, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • Klaus

      I couldn't agree more. Stick your d-ick into any orifice big enough to fit.

      Pff...silly Christ-worshippers always tryin' to tell us what to do!

      January 11, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
  3. Yvette

    Live and let live, your choice to wait is yours. NOT MINE! Your reason for waiting is NOT MINE! I don't care that you are waiting!

    January 11, 2012 at 10:27 am |
  4. FedUpwithLA

    How long has this blog been on CNN?

    January 11, 2012 at 5:27 am |
  5. Smako

    Not waiting is fornicating, plain and simple. Most people who call themselves christian do so because they think if they go to church after a couple nights of drinking and fornicating all is forgiven. Just because you say "Lord, Lord" you aren't going to get into heaven.
    Going to church thinking it will make you a christian is like sitting in a garage thinking you will be a car.

    January 11, 2012 at 1:13 am |
    • Klaus

      Can we please feed the fornicators to the lions?

      January 11, 2012 at 1:27 am |
    • Chris

      There may be some truth to your post, but I think people could have nitpicked my life like this on occasion before I really understood what it means to trust and believe in Jesus. Sometimes, I still regrettably fail in certain areas. I guess what I'm getting at is a desire to meet people were they are and encourage them to follow Jesus' commands while reminding them that it's grace that saves, not works.

      January 11, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • Olaf Big

      So, what's wrong with fornicating, other than the archaic word used to describe the most natural and pleasurable thing in the world?

      January 11, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • Klaus

      Olaf,

      'Fornicating' isn't synonymous with the word 's-ex' despite what most 'Christ-followers' do nowadays.

      January 11, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
  6. Jesus

    Biology and natural urges will always win out over stupid pledges to an imaginary zombie from 2,000 years ago who can hear everyone's thoughts simultaneously.

    January 10, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
    • Chris

      Yeah, it's easier to flame when you're uncomfortable with morals.

      January 11, 2012 at 8:58 am |
    • rick

      "Yeah, it's easier to flame when you're uncomfortable with morals."

      So, Chris, you feel your morals are better than others? If so, why do you feel so?

      January 12, 2012 at 4:40 am |
  7. Mike

    They are not waiting because it feels soooooo good! What positions are banned in christianity,doesnt specify at all in the bible?

    January 10, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
  8. ian

    correction, Scot McKnight's book is One.Life, not One.Faith. good read.

    January 10, 2012 at 8:24 am |
  9. Lotte

    Why? I think cause Martin Luther says be a sinner and sin boldly/ let your sins be strong.

    January 10, 2012 at 4:02 am |
    • Meds

      Correction – Luther said "Sin boldly, but believe even more strongly in God's grace and mercy." So, don't be paralyzed by fear of sin, but make your best effort and trust that God will forgive if you go wrong.

      January 11, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  10. Klaus

    What kind of loser would want someone's leftovers?

    Yum. Sloppy seconds.

    You've really gotta be so depressed you'll take about anything.

    January 10, 2012 at 3:38 am |
    • Commenter

      Klaus,

      Bitter vetch like you is better left on the plate.

      January 10, 2012 at 3:52 am |
    • rick

      Klaus: You are a bitter F word. Now, go home and get your shinebox, boy

      January 10, 2012 at 9:45 am |
    • Get Real

      Klaus,

      Yep. Throw a burka on those girls at age 10 - oh wait, and the boys too. Anyone who has shared a look, a touch, a conversation or a giggle with the opposite gender is used goods - sloppy seconds.

      January 10, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • Klaus

      Testing.

      January 10, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • Klaus

      Get Real,

      The traditional western view (that is the prevalent morality which founded western society to begin with and has been prevalent for more than 2,000 years) would have ruled, prior to the 60s, that you were 'used goods' had you engaged in pre-marital s-ex and were a woman.

      That's a view I'm very comfortable with.

      If you can't see that western society apexed before the s-exual revolution, then you ought to be put inside.

      January 10, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      Many things improve with use. As long as they are taken care of.

      January 10, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • HellBent

      So Western Society when anyone that wasn't white and male had fewer priviledges? Hmm ... lemme see if I can guess your race and gender.

      You obviously have a lot of se.xual hangups. Freud would've had a blast with you.

      January 10, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • Klaus

      Hellbent,

      I hope you realise the behaviour the vast majority of this country is engaging in wasn't even medically possible without modern western medicine, otherwise most would literally be walking around blind, covered in lesions or badly deformed as a result of their behaviour in 2011. I mean, the US went from what? Two known STDs in the 60s to over fifty known today?
      Connect the dots if you're at all able to.

      January 10, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      dot dot dot. Medical science has improved our life dramatically....

      January 10, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      And what do you mean by "two known STDs". The only "new" STD is HIV and maybe a couple of variants of old ones.

      January 10, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • Klaus

      MarkinFL,

      You seem to be able to read and write coherently. A rarity in this country.

      Look it up.

      January 10, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      Klaus, STD's have been prevalent throughout history. Many more than just two.

      January 10, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • Klaus

      Don't doubt it. The problem is in the US they weren't that prevalent due to the conservative Christian culture and its teachings of abstinence, regardless how many followed it because they weren't promiscuous.

      Now the country is up to Hep. G.

      And you think something as deadly as AIDs was around since the beginning of time?

      January 10, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • Get Real

      Klaus, "Two known STDs in the 60s to over fifty known today?"

      - Incorrect. Even as a Catholic school kid in the 60s, I knew about way more than 2.

      STDs are nasty and I'm all for preventing and avoiding them, but your original contention that just because someone has had a physical relationship - perhaps a very loving and intense one - is therefore "sloppy seconds" stinks.

      January 10, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      "The only "new" STD is HIV and maybe a couple of variants of old ones."

      Clearly I'm quite aware of that.

      Also, STD's may not have been AS prevalent, but there sure were a heckuvalot more than 2 and they were not uncommon.

      January 10, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • Smako

      Why is it that fornication is all fine and good, then your daughter gets pregnant and suddenly she did something stupid?

      January 11, 2012 at 1:17 am |
    • Klaus

      MarkInFl and also GetReal,

      My mistake - you're right that there were more than two, but numerous sources indicate that only two were common in the 60s: syph. and gonor-rhea.

      PubMed and the JAMA also don't lie when they write things like this: 'there was a sharp rise in both classic (i.e. the basic veneral ones) and second generation STDs (i.e most of the ones you see widespread today) in the 60s and 70s (paraphrased to an extent).'

      January 11, 2012 at 1:25 am |
    • John of Indiana

      "Sloppy seconds"? Klaus, is it HER fault that the clown who threw her away for a younger model before I found her couldn't appreciate what a wonderful partner she could be?

      You should get out more, it's too dark down there in mom's basement.

      January 11, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • Klaus

      John,

      We'll see if you say the same about her if/when she goes back to one of her 20 or 30 former boyfriends.

      January 12, 2012 at 6:36 am |
  11. tc

    mostly i dont judge, cause i am not god and dont have all the answers

    January 9, 2012 at 1:29 am |
    • Leigh

      You're awesome! Great response!

      January 9, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • Keith

      Luk 12:57 ¶ Yea, and why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right?
      1Cr 6:2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?

      1Cr 6:3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?

      1Cr 6:4 If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.

      1Cr 6:5 I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?
      1Cr 11:31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.

      January 10, 2012 at 12:04 am |
    • rick

      wow, keith, you can cut and paste. that is the sign of a truly holy person.

      January 10, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • rick

      truly, keith...i am sure when people know you that the c-word is the first thing in their minds

      January 10, 2012 at 9:51 am |
    • why

      Seriously? Did you even read what Keith posted? People are so quick to become angered by God's word. It's about not judging, stop being so bitter.

      January 10, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • Rick

      why: god's word? more like the word of iron age sheep lovers

      January 10, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • DVan

      Wow, Rick, you're truly ignorant!

      January 11, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  12. ??

    and lastly

    January 8, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
  13. michelle

    why should you do something just because everyone else is doing, seems like a sorry excuse.

    January 8, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • Rick

      why should anyone not do it based on the translated, edited writings of Iron Age sheepherders

      January 8, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      Well, do you go to restaurants that receive lots of good reviews? Why?

      January 10, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • rick

      mark: was that directed at michelle or myself?

      January 10, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      Michelle, who doesn't understand why someone might make a behavioral decision in part based upon what others are doing. Frankly if I see (or know of, this case, since since I'm not a voy.eur) a bunch of people having fun and there is a safe way to participate in the activity, I'm likely to give it a try. ;)

      January 10, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • rick

      on second reading, that was certainly directed at michelle.

      michelle: no one is saying to do it because others are. the statement that others are is just reflective of a survey from a Christian magazine, perhaps you should do what you want to your own body. s-e-x is a great deal of fun

      January 10, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
  14. BR

    Out dated first century literature. Your asking people to deny one of the most beautiful and natural acts of our species.

    January 8, 2012 at 8:50 am |
  15. Khalil

    Its the television. Its the internet. Its the un-undestanding of the freedom of choice.

    January 8, 2012 at 8:05 am |
    • Rick

      no, it is an expanding global village that does not need ancient mythology

      January 8, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • nonbeliever

      Your statement is contradicting. You say it's an un-understanding of choice, but in reality it's offering 'believers' the opportunity to see that they do have a choice in enjoying a se.xual relationship with someone and it be a positive and safe experience. Not a fire and brimstone experience. So truly, truly I say to you, it is the christians of this nation not offering up the path of choice.

      January 9, 2012 at 7:17 am |
  16. Me

    Don't believe the hype! REAL Christians DO wait. Lets just say the CNN community has a diff – spin on what they THINK Christianity really is. http://www.lordspromise.blogspot.com

    January 8, 2012 at 7:23 am |
    • Rick

      It was reporting a survey from a Christian magazine. Read much?

      January 8, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
    • Chris

      Me, I wouldn't say that failing in the Christian walk is a definitive test between a real and fake Christian. I know a handful of Christian teens who have made poor decisions. While I would certainly attribute their failures to poor personal choices, I can't ignore the fact that they have poor parental role models and very little discipleship from the church. I'm not denying personal responsibility, but I do think there is a lack of involvement of parents and peers to hold many young Christians accountable to a Christian walk.

      January 10, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • John of Indiana

      Oooooh1 Let's invoke the "Not a RealChristian(tm)" charge. "Not a RealChristian(tm)" translates to "Anybody who doesn't go to *MY* church, because all other churches teach false doctrine. Pastor said so."

      35,000 flavors of Christianity, all claiming to be the One True Church.
      What a laugh!

      January 11, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  17. bluemax77

    People of religion have always been hypocritical cherry pickers (no pun intended) – so nothing new there...

    January 8, 2012 at 6:43 am |
    • Mike Dywat

      Best response so far! Funny too!

      January 10, 2012 at 12:15 am |
  18. bluemax77

    Nothing like getting your draws off in the name of the Lord...Hallelujah..!!

    January 8, 2012 at 6:40 am |
  19. Regan

    for a great Christian Dating site that is 100% free please visit http://www.christiandatingforfree.com

    January 7, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
  20. C

    Why does everyone complicate the issue. It is quite simple. If you love Jesus above all else you will follow Him first. "But why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord" and not do the things which I say". Luke 6:46. So then turn to Galatians 5 and you find..."I say then: Walk in the Spirit and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies,outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkeness, revelries and the like, of which I told you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kinddom of God."

    January 7, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • Shane Ramos

      AMEN BROTHER!!! Because if we read the bible and understand it, it tells us that when we put god first in our lives, our hearts are right with him and we act accordingly so. Which is why ask and you shall receive is true, even though if i pray for a Lamborghini to just park itself in my driveway, it's not going to happen.

      January 7, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
    • Rick

      Perhaps the words you speak do not resonate with as many people as it used to

      January 8, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
    • Chris

      Rick, I'm not sure I understand what you're trying to say. Whether or not people (including Christians) successfully follow 100% of God's Word has no bearing on its relevance and correctness (I possibly just invented a word). C is correct that we must have a relationship with Jesus if we are to successfully follow His commands.

      The problem I see is two-fold. 1. Christians aren't perfect and often are poorly disciplined to follow Christ. 2. Many of the "Christians" in these types of articles aren't Christians at all. Just because you go to church doesn't make a person a Christian.

      January 10, 2012 at 12:42 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.