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.


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. Phillips

    They might call them self Christians...Maybe they weren't Christians to began with.

    September 27, 2011 at 7:51 pm |

      no one cares if they are christians

      christians arent relevant to the future of mankind

      if anything theyll hold it back unless religion is banned like it should be

      September 27, 2011 at 7:52 pm |

    ive never met an intelligent christian anywhere

    September 27, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
    • Scott

      I'll mention that to Dr. Ben Carson. Since he is a Christian, that must mean he is a terrible neurosurgeon.

      September 27, 2011 at 8:17 pm |
    • John

      sorry, I was trying to respond to your comment above. Try reading Proverbs and you'll find some very interesting things written about yourself. Intelligent?

      September 27, 2011 at 8:18 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I have, brown. Broad generalization like this only makes you look like a fool.

      September 27, 2011 at 8:46 pm |
    • iWaited

      Either you have led a very sheltered life, or you are very ignorant. There are plent of well learned and smart Christians. I will certainly pray for you..

      September 27, 2011 at 8:53 pm |
    • Joe Clark

      Then I guess you've never met a Christian. You should get off the couch, put on some pants, and go outside your protected little world that the governent has built for you and meet some people. Might even try to read a Bible so you can know what you're talking about. Of course, all this computer auto-correct may have rendered you illiiterate. You really do not understand any of this. You'd rather take a back seat to responsibility and let soemone else worry about while the country spirals into chaos. It won't be long until we end up like Rome. "The only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history." – Friedrich Hegel

      September 27, 2011 at 9:02 pm |
  3. bao

    Thank the almighty Flying Spaghetti Monster, who tells us not to suppress natural instincts to procreate, and instead tells us to go out and intimately fraternize with every living creature in this wondrous world he has created for us. Christians are 1.9 billion and dwindling, while non religious numbers are 1.2 billion and growing. The Flying Spaghetti Monster will lead us to a new day of enlightenment, and all that reject him will be CRUSHED beneath his noodly appendage. Can I get a hallelujah?

    September 27, 2011 at 7:49 pm |
    • Acromyrmex-versicolor


      September 27, 2011 at 7:52 pm |
    • wrussia

      It is so much easier to be a non christian. Who is killing you? There are millions of Christians in Asia ,China ,who are willing to die for their faith. What re you willing to die for ? A laugh about the Spaghetti monster, a joint, getting laid? Maybe your country? Nay probably not you do not sound like an intelligent well informed dude me. As amatter of fact you sounfd more like an urban redneck kindaa guy. Someone who is ignorant like country folk used to be but has grown up in the city and has learned nothing. Oh and by the way seems the world is so much better off with out that spaghetti guy now does it not?

      October 11, 2011 at 12:54 am |
  4. Corey

    Religion is no match for human nature.

    September 27, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
    • Richard S Kaiser

      The desires of the flesh are strong in this one Luke,,,,,,,,,,,,, Use the Force Luke,,,,,,,,,,Use the Force,,,,,,,,,,,,

      September 27, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
  5. u rule

    What else can one expect from a morally bankrupt society that feeds into the se*xual frenzy of young minds?

    September 27, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
    • Lucy Fur

      What else do you expect abstinence???? that is so passe.

      There is one life to live, enjoy and live for the moment.Corrupt the minds and spread the malady!

      September 27, 2011 at 7:52 pm |
    • u rule

      You follow the scriptures and have an abundant life, or walk away from it and face the consequences!!

      The choice is yours!

      September 27, 2011 at 8:00 pm |
    • Rick

      morally bankrupt society? wow, aren't you a pompous ass....

      September 27, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
    • oh wait

      So 'truth' has now become 'pompous'? that kinda explains it...

      September 27, 2011 at 8:07 pm |
    • Rick

      oh wait: u rule's comment implies that he knows the correct morality. and, that is pompous.

      "You follow the scriptures and have an abundant life, or walk away from it and face the consequences!!

      The choice is yours!"

      I guess when you have no rational argument, proxy threats are the way to go. Believe what I do, or my god's gonna get you. It is childish claptrap

      September 27, 2011 at 8:23 pm |
  6. llib

    No they are not waiting and never did
    But they are the first to tell you that you are a sinner if you don't
    Yes that is the classical definition of a hypocrite

    September 27, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
    • wrussia

      Personally in 61 years I have never met someone who did not lie,cheat or act the fool . Faithful or faithless

      October 11, 2011 at 12:57 am |
  7. JPFord

    Thie major differences of today than earlier Christian history is the development of media and the fading idea of family.

    September 27, 2011 at 7:39 pm |
    • Richard S Kaiser

      Media frenzy people sure can gum up the works now can they?

      September 27, 2011 at 8:18 pm |
    • Richard S Kaiser

      Me.di.a frenzied people sure can gum up the works now can they?

      September 27, 2011 at 8:20 pm |
  8. Mark

    Why is this news? This is nothing new. Being a christian doesn't suppress natural human urges.

    September 27, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
    • Phillip

      Nature is what we're put in the world to overcome!

      September 27, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
    • JD

      Your so right. I grew up in the 50's & 60's and was a preacher's kid. No we didn't wait.

      September 27, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
    • JD

      Phillip, God made nature so that doesn't even make sense.

      September 27, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
  9. Benjamin M.

    The term 'Christian' is very loose.. I suspect that if one is not 'serious' about their faith, chances are that they aren't 'serious' about living up to its standards. The majority of 'Christians' don't even go to Church, only bothering on Christmas/Easter if they remember to set the alarm clock the night before. The focus has shifted from following Christ, aka being a charitable human being, to having a religion which is 'convenient' for one's lifestyle. Sadly, as I look back at High School it wasn't uncommon for a 'wannabe' Christian to shift the discussion from how moving the Easter Sermon was to how many people they laid the previous weekend..

    September 27, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
    • Tim B

      I dunno. I grew up in the church and while I know some who waited, they were by far the exceptions. I hate to say it, but I attended very evangelical churches (Southern Baptist) in my late teens/early twenties, and it seemed like everyone was 'doing it'.

      September 27, 2011 at 7:52 pm |
    • Benjamin M.

      That's what I've seen as well..

      September 27, 2011 at 8:04 pm |
    • Dana

      I thought your choice of words was hilarious. The whole issue seems to be about "loose" Christians...

      September 27, 2011 at 8:47 pm |
  10. unowhoitsme

    If Christians would only practice what they preach, we would actually have a better world, but most of them are hypocrites. It's because religion is a cult practice, only making people feel guilty.

    September 27, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
    • Benjamin M.

      You're right on.. the world would be a much better place if everybody practiced what they preached. "Men desire to be both angels and devils", its too hard to be 'good'. By nature most people are hypocrites. However there are people who practice what they preach, but they're by far a minority.

      September 27, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
  11. All American

    This is the most ridiculous article ever. Christians have the highest divorce rate in the nation both here and In England (yes, research based) and growing up (highschool and college years) it was the Christian girls that were easiest to "bag." Catholic, Protestant, Mormon, didnt matter, it was almost as if they were reblling. My roommates and I would brag if we ever got a Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu and even atheist girl into bed.

    Really, I dont care what religion/faith you are, but this is a joke. Christians young and old sin all the time...but it is okay for Christians to sin so long as they repent – what a joke. I would sin all day and repent at the end of the day and I'd be good, right? Bunch of hypocrits.

    September 27, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
    • Benjamin M.

      It depends on one's faith. For my religion, to be 'forgiven' of one's sins in the eyes of God one must "repent of their sins and forsake them, and humble themselves before God; and ask in sincerity of heart that he would forgive them." So by just 'owning' up to the fact that I sinned, I'm not 'in the clear'. I must feel 'godly sorrow' for what I've done, aka, realize the extent of the sin and feel guilty about it and never do it again. After distancing myself from the sin, I have to ask for forgiveness..

      September 27, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
    • Matt

      Christians are not better than anyone else, we are (or should be) just more aware of our fallen nature. We are forgiven not because of repentance at the end of the day, but because we have come to accept our fallen nature and that the only way to forgiveness is through Jesus. He is the way and the truth and the life, not us or any actions we can take.

      September 27, 2011 at 8:08 pm |
  12. Dustin

    Oh they've never waited around. Things are still the same as they were before. PROCREATE! YIPPIE!

    September 27, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
  13. John Blackadder

    Why the hell do you think Christian kids won't screw around when their parents are just as promiscuous as non-Christians.
    Look at divorce rates, etc.
    Christianity has become the "Church of the Nine Commandments".

    September 27, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
    • gayjesus

      Yeah right. Christians don't follow many of the ten commandments anyway. Keeping the Sabbath holy? Nope. Worshiping graven images? All the time. How many people have a picture of the light skinned blue eyed jesus in their house. Crucifixes abound.

      Most Christians have probably never even read most of the bible.

      September 27, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
    • Benjamin M.

      As the guy mentioned before, it'd be a 'miracle' of most Christians kept nine of the ten commandments.. which is the 'lesser law'. Jesus mentioned that the higher being that one one doesn't desire to do evil..

      September 27, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
    • iminim

      Technically, the Ten Commandments,as well as the Old Testament writings about intercourse outside marriage, are not from "Christian" sources. They are from the Old Testament which records the "covenant", or special relationship, God had with the Israelites before the birth of Christ. Through Christ, God entered into a "new covenant", or new relationship, with humanity. That relationship is outlined in the New Testament. The Old Testament is superceeded by the New Testament. While the OT is part of the Christian Bible, we Christians often forget that there is a NT in our religion because Christ changed the rules. He came to give us new guidance beyond the words of those OT scriptures.

      Many Christians cling to the Old Testament teachings. It is a lot easier to cheer for a God that "smites" enemies than for one that says to "turn the other cheek." It's human nature to seek out a powerful ally. While many Christians accept that Christ came, we often ignore His teachings and default to the OT as our guidebook of how to interact with the world. We blindly adhere (or at least give lip-service) to the OT laws instead of critically examining those laws and deciding their merit in the light of Christ's teachings. In doing so, we negate the very reason Christ came even as we profess to believe in Him. This is not a failing of Christ's message. It is the failure of we who call ourselves "Christian".

      September 27, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
    • Scott - other

      @ iminim: you are doomed to hell unless you repent!
      Jesus said to follow the law of the old testament ALL OF IT. He also said the most difficult path is the one that leads to heaven. Pretending that you are no longer bound by the law of the Old Testament is the easy path to hell

      “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven."Matthew 5:17-19

      "Heaven and earth will disappear before the smallest letter of the Law does." Luke 16:17 (CEV)

      What part of “UNTIL HEAVEN AND EARTH DISAPPEAR” don’t you understand? That doesn’t mean just until the resurrection.
      "You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it." Matthew 7:13-14

      September 27, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
  14. PBJ

    The world wants to spread its 'Cheer' around.

    Go for it, spread the STD cheer around!!!

    September 27, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
    • Stvnkrs10

      you're an idiot.

      September 27, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
    • PBJ

      Looks like there are some that have already caught the 'Cheer', one more time hear it for those suckers!

      September 27, 2011 at 7:32 pm |
  15. samsjmail

    They forgot they were supposed to "wait" because their statue started bleeding?

    September 27, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
  16. samsjmail

    "Why young Christians aren't waiting anymore"

    ummm.....because they were never "wating" in the first place?

    September 27, 2011 at 7:12 pm |
    • Larry69

      You're right. They just figured this out now?

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

      Oh, so true. But, denial ain't just a river in Egypt.

      September 27, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
  17. E Sutter

    Once that little peanut itches there goes Jesus over the window.

    September 27, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
  18. Mrmailman

    Rap music, Music videos, Television, Movies, Magazines, how can you stay a virgin with temptation around you? Instead of our society dictating our own way of life, we have few individuals who run these companies that pump out this garbage. Most loose their virginity out of pressure.

    September 27, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
    • Rick

      Yeah, and this is happening for the first time with this generation....

      September 27, 2011 at 7:12 pm |
    • sybaris

      You must have grown up in a bubble

      September 27, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
    • Mrmailman

      and you guys must be 15 years old

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

      All this time I thought it was evil rock and roll.

      September 27, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
    • Mrmailman

      its the sweet musk of women

      September 27, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
    • Rick

      i am several times 15, mrmailman....try a reasonable argument

      September 27, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
  19. PK

    Headline should read "Young Christians forced into the religion by their overbearing parents aren't waiting"

    September 27, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
    • Scott - other


      September 27, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
  20. PK

    Headline should read "Young Christians forced into the religion by their overbearing parent's aren't waiting"

    September 27, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
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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.