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.

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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.


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. Spirit in Christ

    I have not waited and paid the consequences. I understand how God will not give you what you want without a proper life long commitment in marriage to another believer. Yes society and culture has heavy negative influence. We should teach our teenage disciples of Christ to know what true love in a relationship focused on God means and what straying away from that means, having more problems with guilt and general relationship issues. Modern dating is a lie and invented by mankind. Courting is the truth.

    August 30, 2014 at 9:08 am |
    • igaftr

      You can't even show this "god" of yours exists, and you have nothing showing Jesus was anything other than a man.
      Religion is the embodiment of superst!tions and fears, based on ignorance.

      August 30, 2014 at 9:24 am |
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    November 27, 2013 at 9:26 pm |
  3. Mimi

    I'm a Christian. I dance, I play cards, I eat shellfish...all of those things were spoken against somewhere in the Bible. I waited for love, but I didn't wait for marriage. I will never see that person again, and the time I had with him is a gift. I've seen far too many people MAKE the choice to wait, then give up and hate themselves. Unless waiting until marriage is really your big thing, I would advise against it. God wants us to love our lives and love each other when we deserve it.

    August 23, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
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  6. Vaughn Ohlman

    I am going to go out on a limb here and say that True Love doesn’t wait. True Love can only come from Christ, and can only be exercised in obedience to Christ. And Christ, via Paul, commands True Love to marry. That is, unless it has the gift of celibacy (Hint: If you are writing blog posts about your frustration in not being married, you don’t have the gift of celibacy).

    True Love does not wait, it marries. But unfortunately the Church isn’t teaching that. And not only that but it is teaching a very particular kind of ‘waiting’. It is teaching that waiting, in and of itself, is a ‘good thing’. That it is a ‘waiting on the Lord’. And they teach that the waiting serves the purpose of helping the young man or woman grow in Godliness enough so that they qualify to get married. If you aren’t married, they teach, it is because you aren’t Godly enough. If you would only become more Godly, then God would grant you a husband (or wife). [1]

    May 21, 2013 at 11:47 am |
  7. Anonymous

    This shows how much religion is losing influence even on those who claim to be christian. Millennials are waking up and abandoning Iron Age dogma. YouTube is full of secular people while there are more novels than ever laying waste to religion and debunking the concept of a god especially a theistic god. These teens don't really believe it they need to come out and say so.

    March 16, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
  8. leslie

    The world is so modernized lets go back to those old roots!!! I recently got married to my boyfriend of 5 years both virgins throughout our relationship...yes it was hard! but our love for Jesus was greater than pleasure! and now that were married, let me tell you that waiting was so worth it! God bless you all

    December 4, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • Huebert

      It would have been just as fun five yeas ago.

      December 4, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
      • Paul

        The thing is you can never be 100 percent sure you'll marry till your married. Stuff can happen

        October 29, 2013 at 3:18 am |
    • Ik

      Praise God for your testimony, inspiring, God be with you, you really encouraged me, check out amazingfacts.org

      October 13, 2013 at 4:10 am |
  9. calvaryoakville

    One reason is that , the environment which today is not really healthy for our youth and very influential.

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    September 9, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
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    Hurrah, what a quality it is! Since mostly YouTube video lessons have no nice quality, however this is genuinely a nice quality video.

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About this blog

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.