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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 (5,770 Responses)
  1. Samsword

    I can't speak for everyone... But my wife and I waited for each other, and it's been a beautiful expression of love within our marriage. It's kind of fun to think that she and I have never been with anyone else. I'm not saying that it couldn't have still worked out otherwise, but I'm grateful that it has never been a cause for stress in our marriage. I personally don't buy into that whole, "You should feel everything out first" either. I can guarantee you that my wife and I are both very satisfied physically and emotionally. But then again, both of us are die-hard romantics too. =)

    September 27, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
    • cleareye1

      You were lucky to find one another. Congratulations.

      September 27, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  2. freakey toney

    I tried for the longest, and then she bent over. and the rest was history.

    September 27, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
  3. Sally

    Scot McKnight, co-author of “The Jesus Creed,” .......tells Relevant: ....."If you get married when you’re 13, you don’t have 15 years of temptation."

    Um, while this is true, I hope his next line was, "and getting married at 13 is a outdated, irrelevant, and completely bad idea."

    September 27, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • Sean

      Tell that to the Muslims.

      September 27, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
  4. itsreal

    I also wish i had waited. I'm now married for over 20 years and beautiful kids but i know in my heart my marriage would have been even more special than it is had i waited. Pressure from friends and society in general led to my loss of virginity and it was down hill from there with only temporary satisfaction over and over. Getting better with more partners is a fallacy. two people who've waited will teach each other and learn together what pleases their partner without being compared to others.

    September 27, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
    • Sean

      In other words you are not 100% satisfied in your marriage and somehow have linked the two. Pressure from friends and society is just an excuse to do what you WANTed to do. Practice does make ‘perfect’ in most cases. This only works of course if you learn from it. The bit about being compared to others is so full of insecurity I haven’t the time or will to break that one down for you.

      September 27, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
    • Righton

      I, for one, am glad that I didn't wait. I love my wife, but if I had waited for her, and she for I, how would we know what we WEREN'T missing? From having been with other women, I know that there is nothing that another woman can do for me that my wife can't/won't do for me.

      Do you only choose one restaurant to eat at for life? Probably not. I'm not advocating for polygamy by any means, but just sample around (safely) a little before paying for the main course.

      September 27, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
  5. Brad

    Young "Christians" are not waiting to copulate . Real Christians are waiting to consumate their love and commitment as a visible symbol of God's fidelity to us.
    By the way, CNN. This was old news way back in the year 0 CE.

    September 27, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • Observer

      - I Corinthians 7:8-9 “Here is my advice for people who have never been married and for widows. You should stay single, just as I am. But if you don't have enough self-control, then go ahead and get married. After all, it is better to marry than to burn with desire”

      September 27, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
    • Sean

      Brad you’re a faux Christian… ha.. see I can do it too! Weeee.

      September 27, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  6. ReligiousFanatic

    People wake up, Long long ago during the time when Noah was building tha ark ppl said the same stuff like you ignorant fools who are talking BS abt God now. but we all know at the end wt happened so please refrain from saying BS abt God and dont have God's wrath on you and your families. hindus,muslims,buddist,atheists shall go down thats the bottom line.......

    September 27, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • Observer

      Yep. A 600-year-old man built a ship big enough to hold hundreds of thousands of animals and months of food from all over the world to feed them. Then, to celebrate the end of this torture for the animals, he killed and ate some. Yep.

      September 27, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      "god's wrath" now THAT'S hilarious! hahaha

      September 27, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
    • Sean

      Actually we don’t know how that ended. There is no proof the event ever happened or the man ever existed. You’d think a worldwide flood would have left a mark.

      September 27, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
  7. Barry G.

    Doc Vestibule,

    Thank you for your comments.

    Well said!

    September 27, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
  8. Will

    This article states EXACTLY why the Biblical teachings are not applicable in this era. People are waiting to get married until they are 30 years old or older. There's no way they're going to stay virgins until age 30. It's completely unrealistic to expect that, and don't mention to me some aberration you know who made it. They are very very rare, and it's not normal.

    September 27, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • Brad

      If you will read the Old Testament, you will recognize the same human antics 5000 yesrs ago as today. This should tell you that human nature has not changed at all. You will even find yourself in the Bible somewhere, sometimes bad, sometimes good. But because human nature will never change, the Bible will always be relevant.

      September 27, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
    • Dave Davis

      I was past 30, yes it is "normal", and very much worth the wait.

      September 27, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
    • JenLaw

      Although the word is the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow, the world is not. Our parents don't pick our spouses any more, thank the Lord. We don't get married at 13-16 years old (hopefully), and some like me, have never been married. I seriously doubt the Lord expected me to be a virgin until I'm 45!

      September 27, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
    • Sean

      Dave you just proved his point.

      September 27, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
  9. The pope

    Guilt is the opiate of the masses

    September 27, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • Brad

      on the other hand, non-remorse can be the suicide of the masses.

      September 27, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • The pope

      On the other hand, I have five fingers.....sort of.

      September 27, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
  10. Jim

    What would Jesus do? . . . . . Lets ask Mary Magdalene. I have a feeling she knows!

    September 27, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
  11. Barry G.

    Doc Vestibule,

    Your comments betray both a lack of knowledge of the Scripture and an appalling lack of understanding of literature, in general, and how it functions.

    I suggest you do your homework and refrain from speaking about matter about which you don't understand.

    September 27, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Barry
      Thanks for the kind words!
      You must bear in mind that there are a lot of people who do not consider the Bible to be literature, but rather LITERAL TRUTH.
      It is to those people that I address my postings.

      In the end, the definition of Christian is to live your life in the image of Jesus Christ.
      Faith in miracles, divinity, resurrections, and other fantastical flourishes isn't required to live a life of pacifism, charity and humility.

      September 27, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      And I'll be sure to tell my old english literature professors that they really shouldn't go handing out degrees to people who don't do their homework.

      September 27, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  12. McJesus

    Some of the most 'prolific' gals in my area when I was in high school were from the local Catholic/religious schools. Probably because they were jealous that all the boys were getting it on with the priests...

    September 27, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • Barry G.

      No one is without sin, and that includes you.

      The Scriptures state: That Christ died to save the ungodly. It also says that Jesus came to call sinners to righteous, he did not come to call the righteous.

      The Scripture also teaches that those who would follow God and Christ must depart from sin.

      God will judge everyone, including those in the church. It is not your place to do this.

      September 27, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
    • Ben

      The bible also says that you should kill and burn an animal today, for the fine reason that the smell makes god happy.

      Barry, take your sicko scriptures and shove them up your aft end.

      September 27, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      I suffer from the sin of being AWWWWESOOOOME!

      September 27, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
    • Khido

      Posted on I was totally tninkihg volcano too!!! OMG I was laughing so hard at your story very familiar. :) I swear, my son's bd is coming up next week and I'm very tempted to BUY (what?!?!?!?) treats this year. Last year I went for the cute cake baked into an ice cream cone and it was a huge disaster

      October 7, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
  13. Solvend

    Coming from the evangelical state of Oklahoma I can tell you that abstinence only programs are comple utter failure. The state has allowed one groups religous views to overtake education of ALL students. And the teen pregnancy rate in OK reflects that. How about Christians quit trying to jam their morality and beliefs down everyone elses throats? Many students attend public schools of other faiths or no faiths at all and are subjected to lack of education because the christians have overtaken legislation and feel their morals should be forced upon everyone else. its a shame

    September 27, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
  14. Barry G.

    Steve,

    Thank you for your kind, wise and conciliatory words.

    Jesus said: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God".

    September 27, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • Ben

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xLUEMj6cwA&w=640&h=390]

      September 27, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
  15. Reality

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

    Read carefully, as this may save your life or that of someone else.

    : 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 4:02 pm |
    • yeahright

      It's been a long time since I've seen so many lies in one post. But you did it !

      September 27, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • Observer

      yeahright,

      To find out who is telling "lies", let's see you supply any FACTS this time.

      September 27, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • Ash

      Really? Since when is the failure rate of oral contracetives 8%? Its less then 1% when taken properly. Learn your facts. Don't spread lies.

      September 27, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
    • Reality

      "Facts on Contraceptive Use

      http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_contr_use.html
      January 2008

      "WHO NEEDS CONTRACEPTIVES?

      • 62 million U.S. women (and men?) are in their childbearing years (15–44).[1]

      • 43 million women (and men) of reproductive age, or 7 in 10, are se-xually active and do not want to become pregnant, but could become pregnant if they or their partners fail to use a con-traceptive method.[2]

      • The typical U.S. woman (man?) wants only 2 children. To achieve this goal, she (he?) must use cont-raceptives for roughly 3 decades.[3]

      WHO USES CON-TRACEPTIVES?

      • Virtually all women (98%) aged 15–44 who have ever had int-ercourse have used at least one con-traceptive method.[2](and men?)

      • Overall, 62% of the 62 million women aged 15–44 are currently using one.[2] (and men)

      • 31% of the 62 million women (and men?) do not need a method because they are infertile; are pregnant, postpartum or trying to become pregnant; have never had inte-rcourse; or are not se-xually active.[2]

      • Thus, only 7% of women aged 15–44 are at risk of unwanted pregnancy but are not using con-traceptives.[2] (and men?)

      • Among the 42 million fertile, s-exually active women who do not want to become pregnant, 89% are practicing con-traception.[2] (and men?)

      WHICH METHODS DO WOMEN (men?) USE?

      • 64% of reproductive-age women who practice con-traception use reversible methods, such as oral con-traceptives or condoms. The remaining women rely on female or male sterilization.[2]

      FIRST-YEAR CON-TRACEPTIVE FAILURE RATES

      Percentage of women (men?) experiencing an unintended pregnancy (a few examples)

      Method
      Typical

      Pill (combined) 8.7
      Tubal sterilization 0.7
      Male condom 17.4
      Vasectomy 0.2

      Periodic abstinence 25.3
      Calendar 9.0
      Ovulation Method 3.0
      Sympto-thermal 2.0
      Post-ovulation 1.0

      No method 85.0"

      (Abstinence) 0

      (Masturbation) 0

      More facts about contraceptives from

      guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_contr_use.html

      "CON-TRACEPTIVE METHOD CHOICE

      Cont-raceptive method use among U.S. women who practice con-traception, 2002

      Method No. of users (in 000s) % of users
      Pill 11,661 30.6
      Male condom 6,841 18.0 "

      i.e.
      The pill fails to protect women 8.7% during the first year of use (from the same reference previously shown).

      i.e. 0.087 (failure rate)
      x 62 million (# child bearing women)
      x 0.62 ( % of these women using contraception )
      x 0.306 ( % of these using the pill) =

      1,020,000 unplanned pregnancies
      during the first year of pill use.

      For male condoms (failure rate of 17.4 and 18% use level)

      1,200,000 unplanned pregnancies during the first year of male condom use.

      The Gut-tmacher Inst-itute (same reference) notes also that the perfect use of the pill should result in a 0.3% failure rate
      (35,000 unplanned pregnancies) and for the male condom, a 2% failure rate (138,000 unplanned pregnancies).

      o Conclusion: The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the pill and male condom 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 condoms properly and/or use other methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.

      ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

      September 27, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
  16. ProudMuslim

    Back in college, during a discussion I informed my classmates that I wanted to marry a virgin. One female classmate right away asked me if I was also a virgin and was shocked when I answered "yes" because she had expected me to say "no".

    September 27, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
    • Rich Fields

      Thats because most Muslims respect marriage and value being chaste.

      September 27, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
  17. Derek

    Why is it always christianity?? Does the world love pointing at us and laughing? I'm pretty sure that other religions are doing the same thing. Seriously CNN, find something else for your belief blog....

    September 27, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
    • claybigsby

      Why is it always Christianity? Maybe because Christians think they worship the one true god and everyone else is going to hell? With egocentric generalizations like that Christianity should be challenged the most.

      September 27, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
    • Anon

      Christianity is nothing but egocentric and narcissistic BS.

      September 27, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
    • Barry G.

      For the first three centuries the Roman world ridiculed and persecuted Christians. The pagans thought it was ridiculous that the Christians wouldn't engage in the vices, which the pagans practiced. The pagans also couldn't understand why the Christians would rather suffer (and die, in some cases), than deny their God.

      The Jews were also treated with the same disdain and contempt, and their suffering began long before the Christians began their suffering.

      Incidentally both faiths, Jewish and Christian, believe in the God of Abraham, as does Islam.

      It is our duty to endure persecution for our God; and, those of us who are Christians believe we must also endure persecution for Jesus, who suffered so much for us.

      Don't lose heart.

      September 27, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      @Derek

      Interesting that your main (only?) point was to deflect attention to other cults. I would have thought that you would want to defend or explain the actions of your fellow christians, rather than merely saying, in effect, "Hey, we're not the only ones disobeying our own club's rules!"

      When religions (more corrctly their members) stop being hypocritical, their news-worthiness will diminish. Until then, thanks for all the laughs!

      September 27, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • cigarman

      Yes ...there would be a LOT to laugh at due to the Christians, if the results of their nonsense wasn't so damaging!!! I learned a long time ago what these "Jesus people" were all about and all I can say is...you can HAVE it! Just leave the rest of us alone...we don't need you or your imaginary "god"

      September 27, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      @Derek

      Interesting that your main (only?) point was to deflect attention to other cults. I would have thought that you would want to defend or explain the actions of your fellow christians, rather than merely saying, in effect, "Hey, we're not the only ones disobeying our own club's rules!"

      When religions (more correctly, their members) stop being hypocritical, their news-worthiness will diminish. Until then, thanks for all the laughs!

      September 27, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
  18. Pacific View

    They would be better off learning about birth control and disease prevention.

    September 27, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
    • Jennifer

      EXACTLY!

      September 27, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
    • Anon

      Shhh, facts are of the devil. LOL

      September 27, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
  19. Chris Veltman

    It is always amusing to me, that Christianity is the one religion that greatly bashed when it is discussed in CNN's religion blogs. Now, I'll be the first to agree that Christian's give themselves a deservedly bad name for themselves, but I cannot say the same for Jesus.
    I know that examples exist in man's written account of Jesus (i.e. Palm Sunday. A donkey in one book, and no donkey in another... just to name one discrepency), but I don't think you can read the truth about Jesus (Both in the Old Testament, and the fullfillment in the New Testament) without thinking that He may actually know what He is talking about. But, then you'd actually have to read the Bible to know what I am talking about (I am assuming that many of you haven't read it, even though you've probably read all of the Harry Potter books... which, by the way, are pretty amazing).
    But, if you have an open mind, actually try to read the Bible. Maybe read the book of John or Mark for starters. And just as it is terrifying to think that a 'CHristian' has concinved himself that he knows exaclty what this book means, I think it is just as terrifying to think that anyone can claim to understand it without actually taking the time to try and understand it. If you have questions along the way, feel free to email me at cjveltman (at) gmail.com.

    September 27, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
    • Anon

      Reading the bible was one of the things that made me an atheist and realize that Christians are screwed up in the head.

      September 27, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • HawaiiGal

      Christianity is the religon that predominates in the United States. Therefore when CNN reports on a study like this one that analyzes the actions of young Christians, CNN is not "bashing" Christianity. It is reporting. Which is the act of investigating and writing up an article based on facts. CNN is doing its job.

      September 27, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • Chris veltman

      Was it the christians that convinced you to be an atheist? Or was it what the bible says? Because if I read the bible and then thought that 'christianity' is how I am supposed to respond to the bible, then I would be an atheist too.

      September 27, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  20. chris

    more anti christian reporting thinly disguised as newsworthy.. They almost never do this when reporting on Jewish, Muslim or Hindu issues.

    September 27, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
    • doc

      Amen.

      September 27, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
    • JT

      Oh...your persecution complex is so pathetic. You Christians persecute all others and are given special privilges in all areas of American society. Give it a rest. If it were Muslims were in the majority and persecuting then Muslims would be the majority of blogs.

      September 27, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • Ran

      Crazy is what crazy does.

      September 27, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • claybigsby

      stop the egocentric thinking that your religion is "the one true religion" and maybe you wont get as much criticism.

      September 27, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Since your country was created – married, white, christian landowners between the ages of 25 and 60 have the loudest voices and the most power of any other group in America.

      If you want to talk discrimination, go find yourself an 18 year old black muslim in Texas and compare notes about how you're treated on a daily basis.

      September 27, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • Michelle

      Perhaps, but they do it all the time to Mormons.

      September 27, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • Dave Davis

      Bro., I have made the same observation. Interesting, isn't it?

      September 27, 2011 at 5:06 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.