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. jeff

    they're not christian's......
    they're hypocrits..thats what they are...never acting what they preach..god is on our side blah blah blah.....crock is what it is...

    September 27, 2011 at 7:02 pm |
    • Ravak

      I think it show's that Christians are human just like the rest of us. I don't believe it's hypocritical. They never claim to be perfect. They claim that one shouldn't partake in sinful actions (that's not to say they never do it, hence the reason for repentance, forgiveness, and salvation).

      September 27, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
  2. Justin

    Ric Romero would be proud. Up next, Water is Wet and they Sky found to be Blue!

    September 27, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
  3. christophorm

    Jesus came to take away sin and not just cover it up..most americans are christian in name only..which won't cut it.

    September 27, 2011 at 6:58 pm |
    • Norman

      There are no true Scotsmen.

      September 27, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
  4. samsjmail

    A pleas to Christians everywhere.....

    If you had to "choose" to be straight, please don't marry someone who didn't have to "choose'. It's really not fair to them. I understand that to certain "Christians", abstinence is very convenient (Catholic priests, for example), but innocent people get hurt when you fall off the wagon, or change your mind. The divorce rate is high enough without a lot of guilt ridden gay people "choosing" to marry straight people.

    September 27, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
  5. Alfredo

    People of all religions (well maybe not Islam) are waking up and using their own brains. Secularism is the future. People don't need preachers of so called "holy books" to function. Individualism is here...

    September 27, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
  6. Greenspam

    The article is missing an important point – why can't atheists enjoy s*x as much as Christian? Because there is no one to yell to when they are having climax.

    September 27, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
    • Alfredo

      not bad....

      September 27, 2011 at 6:58 pm |
    • Kevin

      I yell to my neighbors.... They don't like it very much.

      September 27, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
  7. Kevin

    This article raises and answers it's own question. When you base your every day activities based on a book written thousands of years ago you will find that some if not most of the tellings are no longer relevant. This has come up with many parts of the bible, such as women's rights, child abuse ... This will continue to happen indefinitely.

    September 27, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
  8. Newo

    Surely no one finds any of this surprising...

    September 27, 2011 at 6:52 pm |
  9. Will

    I held off on s*x, waited and waited, and prayed and prayed for a mate. I certainly wanted an attractive spouse, but I don't think my standards were too high. Anyway, years passed and no spouse came into my life, and my basic human need was never met. In short, I tried to do things the "right" way, and it led to nothing but frustration, repression, and yes anger and bitterness. If it worked for you, congratulations, but it by no means worked for me.

    September 27, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
    • Bummer......


      September 27, 2011 at 9:58 pm |
  10. RAY

    Rather laugh with the sinners than cry with than cry with the saints the sinners are much more fun

    September 27, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
  11. Paul Willson

    Are people holding young people to a higher standard ? I think thats a possibility. Just like many Christian familiues expect a Christian school to back moral values and then are shocked when they hear foul language so I think in parralell they expect the same effect on morall behaviour . What they forget is that their kids are human too
    and the best way to drive them crazy is to say "Thou shalt not----" Thats a garunteed hey if my folks say no I am going to do it.

    September 27, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
  12. AmazonGirl

    "Christians" don't care about values, they care about politics which is ALL the American ones have been about for many. many years. If you think this isn't true, ask yourself why they raise you-know-what about the cost of Medicare, but NEVER explain why Medicare wasn't a private Christian health program that covered as many people if not more in the FIRST place.

    September 27, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
  13. the first man


    September 27, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
    • Wahidah

      Well, I just changed temehs, ha. But my previous one was called Duster.' I'm so excited that you've found a training plan!! 12 weeks is a perfect length of time..and I hear you with dirty looks at the gym. People think I'm crazy for running longer than a half hour. Seriously people? hahahahaI miss you too! I won't be home for fall break, but maybe I'll see you over Christmas?

      October 8, 2012 at 4:53 am |
  14. Somebody

    "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?"

    I am an atheist, and I waited until I was 25. "Morals" and "teachings" have nothing to do with it. It is all about what is important to the person involved.

    September 27, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
    • samsjmail

      What was magical about 25, exactly?

      September 27, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
  15. samsjmail

    "Signs young Christians not serious about their beliefs."

    You mean like cheering "uninsured man left to die on the street" ?

    Jesus was going to give fish to the poor, but that would make them dependent on charity, and destroy their incentive to work, so he let them starve.....for their own good of course. He's Supply Side Jesus and he tough loves you.

    September 27, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
  16. Maddy

    I do not believe this should not be in the news. It seems as if this story is pegging all Christians in a negative way and showing flaws that some people my have. yet, all humans have flaws...why bring this up in a way that may set others on edge? Although, this may be a useful statistic...why bring it up in worldly news? There should be biblical proofing inside of this story, if not that, then put it in a study and write a story about that study and what it says.

    September 27, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Your first sentence is confusing – do you or do you not believe this story should have been published? I assume from your later sentences that you do not. If the story was "Christian Abstinence Program Works!" would you believe that story should not be published? I suspect you only want "nice-nice" stories about christians to be published and ones based on reality, but not so nice, to be buried.

      September 27, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
    • Maddy

      I just think that society judges Christianity in alot of ways. I do not believe that things shold be burried because the world is the world and that is how it is supposed to be. We are supposed to deal what what is brought out . (for the record i also did not mean to report your post as abuse. that was an accident.)

      September 27, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      So society should not judge christianity – a cult that has done good *and* evil, and for which there is no objectiive factual evidence for their basic tribal mythological beliefs?

      September 27, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
    • Rick

      maddy: and christianity judge society in lots of ways/

      September 27, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
  17. Maxon Xavier

    David... May God Bless you and i know that the job that you are doing right now is not easy. God will find a way for you another to deal with these kind of people. There is only one God who created everything, and He loves everyone who forgives one sins to him.

    September 27, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
    • Observer

      "God will find a way for you another to deal with these kind of people."

      Can you be more specific?

      September 27, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
    • Somebody

      I have heard that God works in misterious ways. The fact is, he does not work at all. Random chance and desire are the only forces at work here.

      September 27, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
    • CoffeeClue

      How do you know there is only one God? Because the bible said so?

      September 27, 2011 at 6:46 pm |
    • sybaris

      Your god is dead. Zeus kicked his azz.

      September 27, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
    • Norman

      Maxon, he loves them, but lets them get sick. And he needs money. God always needs money.


      September 27, 2011 at 7:32 pm |
    • DrTune

      Lol! Yes – god ALWAYS needs your money.

      Funny that

      September 27, 2011 at 9:44 pm |
  18. *frank*

    Xtians remind me of the movie Carrie...

    September 27, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
    • Anon

      Nah, "The Mist" is more like it.

      September 27, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
  19. samsjmail

    "It's my opinion that some of the greatest liars, conmen, buffoons and hypocrites find a cozy place within organized religion...

    Pat Robertons, The O'Steens, The Whites (what exactly is in those hankies they're crying into? Pepper Spray? Tear Gas?
    Jimmy Swaggert. How do I tell the real nuts from the fake nuts?

    September 27, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
    • Somebody

      Liars realize that they can make a HUGE amount of money by preaching.

      September 27, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
    • DrTune

      How to tell the nuts?
      Simple litmus test...
      Do they
      a) try tell you how to live your life
      b) tell you that you're doing it wrong and you must try harder or face eternal damnation
      c) ask for your money

      September 27, 2011 at 6:46 pm |
  20. Newo

    hopefully no one is surprised by this....

    September 27, 2011 at 6:22 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.