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. RichieP

    They forgot to mention peer pressure. In biblical days, if a boy didn't wait for marriage, he sure didn't want anybody to know about it. Today, if a boy is a v-word (don't know if we're allowed to type it here, but you know what I mean) he's a laughing stock.

    September 28, 2011 at 7:50 am |
  2. Charles Gannon

    Can Christians have non-Christian "peers"?

    September 28, 2011 at 7:42 am |
    • Squire L

      Well, they certainly have us squinting at them in disgust. Will that do?

      September 28, 2011 at 7:45 am |
    • Chara

      Oh we can find them guilty of quite a few things, if you're looking for a jury. We also treat them better than they treat us.
      Christians are bigots. They can't help it. Bigotry has been ground into their brains by their religion. Every religion does this.

      September 28, 2011 at 8:00 am |
    • claybigsby

      I beg to differ, Chara. Not every religion is like this. Take Buddhism for example.

      September 28, 2011 at 8:19 am |
    • Chara

      Buddhism has bigotry in it. I'm guessing you've never read up on all the details, amirite?

      September 28, 2011 at 8:29 am |
  3. Alex in NJ

    Let the Christian bashing begin from all those civil, tolerant people on the left

    September 28, 2011 at 7:40 am |
    • Squire L

      Thank you for giving us permission, Alex. That is really quite nice of you. Thanks. 😀

      September 28, 2011 at 7:47 am |
  4. nokoolaidcowboy

    It's human nature. Come on Pope, allow priest to marryZ,

    September 28, 2011 at 7:32 am |
    • Friend of JC

      The first popes were, but the church didnt want to be berdened supporting there families when they die'ed, which lead them to the abuse's of today, all people have "disire's"...even the pope

      September 28, 2011 at 7:42 am |
    • Chara

      This is about young Christians, not old pedo-priests who would only want to marry young boys anyway. Stay on topic!

      September 28, 2011 at 8:01 am |
  5. Joe

    Shocker! Especially considering the compelling message behind Christian rock bands like Faith Plus One.

    September 28, 2011 at 7:21 am |
  6. George

    There's nothing better than a hot christian girl.

    September 28, 2011 at 7:19 am |
  7. John

    Continuing evidence that religious zealots cannot control mother nature. Christians exist on the ladder rung directly below ignorance and their world is one of make-believe. Anyone who comes under the influence of religion is not following the path of that belief system but rather the earth-bound mortals who preach it. Young people need to find themselves in this world first and make decisions about their religious beliefs only after they've developed skills to know the difference between one lifestyle and another. It's their choice and their life. They deserve the right and freedom to make such a choice.

    September 28, 2011 at 7:15 am |
    • Patrick


      September 28, 2011 at 7:28 am |
    • Z

      I agree, religion is man made. but the Bible is a historical book teaching us a way to live our life by numerous examples and consequences. If you truly believe the creator is false, proof it by reading the Bible in context and compare it to all the evidence available. Not by your opinion or feeling, but by all the analyst you have done. You will realize that science and archaelogist will favor the Bible. Jesus existed in history, found out and compare His way of life to everyone else in history and around you. Can someone actually live a perfect life? And if not, then how He did it? He did not come to start a religion but to show how much He loves you and me.

      September 28, 2011 at 7:32 am |
    • JohnM

      ALL THIS PROVES IS THERE ARE A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO THINK THEY ARE CHRISTIAN WHO ARE NOT. As the old saying goes, "Just because you walk into McDonalds it don't make you a hamburger." This should not surprise us, Jesus told us there will be many on the day of judgement who thought they did all the "Christian" things, but He will tell them, "I never knew you." They are professors, but not possessors.

      September 28, 2011 at 7:34 am |
    • Bobs your uncle

      A. the bible is not a historical book. Its a collection of stories and memories written by various people after the fact.
      B. Theres no evidence jesus was a real person.

      If you believe the creator is real, prove to me that he is by providing real evidence that can be tested.

      September 28, 2011 at 7:38 am |
    • Squire L

      You admit religion is man-made yet you refuse to draw the simplest conclusions from that. What a pathetic excuse for a poster.

      September 28, 2011 at 7:50 am |
    • Marcus

      @JohnM – could you give a bigger non-sequitur please? Walking into (place X) doesn't make you (inanimate object in place X) doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Walking into church doesn't make you a communion wafer or a pew either.

      September 28, 2011 at 7:55 am |
    • B.S. Gnarly

      reply to John. "Young people need to" What belief system did that conclusion come from?

      September 28, 2011 at 8:03 am |
  8. William

    Note to all young Christian girls: If you are impatient, I am here to help.

    September 28, 2011 at 7:15 am |
  9. Katie

    Of course they don't wait – look at the soaring teenage pregnancy rates in the Bible belt. Self-promoting Christians only stand true to one doctrine they constantly teach – they are sinners.

    September 28, 2011 at 7:12 am |
    • Cackle


      September 28, 2011 at 7:18 am |
  10. jzaks

    Lets see, young and hormones running wild. Not waiting. Surprise, surprise.

    September 28, 2011 at 7:11 am |
  11. Dr Bill Toth

    For a young person – exposed to the "Book of Revelations" on Sundays, numerous "Mayan-calender-end-of-world-2012" movies, books, stories and combined with daily exposure to CNN = "Constantly Negative News" – is it any wonder why they go for it before it's too late. Live With Intention, DrBillTothCom/blog

    September 28, 2011 at 6:59 am |
  12. John

    Society force them to wait to get married, because it's "responsible", but their bodies tell them something entirely different. Doesn't make it right, but we're not listening to nature here.

    September 28, 2011 at 6:57 am |
    • John

      To clarify, I'm talking about waiting until you're older to get married. I think people should be allowed to get married younger, not just legally, but socially allowed

      September 28, 2011 at 6:58 am |
    • B.S. Gnarly

      Maybe earlier generations had something going there with younger marriages and arranged marriages. Bodies were ready to go and so were marriages. (btw India has the largest amount of arranged marriages and lowest rate of divorce in the world.)

      September 28, 2011 at 7:27 am |
  13. TJeff1776

    In truth, believe it or not, its a little more complicated. The question of Heaven or Hell is spread over three levels; that is- Telestial, Terrestrial, and Celestial- the latter being the greater. Functionality of resurrected bodies within those three categories is based on behavior patterns over an eight thousand year period- a total and thorough testing period which segregates men from boys; AND women from girls. To those few possessing ears.

    September 28, 2011 at 6:53 am |
    • George

      Please cite your sources, oh great all knowing one.

      September 28, 2011 at 7:16 am |
    • Friend of JC

      Just curios, what religion do you belong to ?

      September 28, 2011 at 7:16 am |
    • DaveR

      Sounds like Mormon propaganda.....no matter how hard you try to convince yourself, Mormonism is NOT Christianity....

      September 28, 2011 at 7:36 am |
    • Bobs your uncle

      Using big words in intelligent looking sentences doesnt make you right.... it also doesnt make you make sense.

      September 28, 2011 at 7:40 am |
  14. Mav

    Stone the adulterers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    (Just kidding.)

    September 28, 2011 at 6:52 am |
    • William

      Everybody must get stoned...

      September 28, 2011 at 7:18 am |
  15. clarke

    come on, they never did wait. This is a silly article,,

    September 28, 2011 at 6:46 am |
  16. Kevin

    And it takes Sid .02 seconds to play the threat of going to hell card to justify his religious beliefs. Sid, it's kind of middle-ages like to follow religion that uses threats to gain followers.

    September 28, 2011 at 6:35 am |
  17. Minister Mike

    A preamble to the dereliction of duty by the world leaders...If they see it not fit to inculcate measures that tackle the growing trend of immorality amongst their citizens, why then impose laws. Seeing that the basic foundation of the Bible is the manual which we are to live by, why then try to use another manual(Laws governing a nation) to see how to operate a different apparatus not meant for it. To whose foolishness without refute does acceptance of the idiocy of certain individuals belong to?

    September 28, 2011 at 6:24 am |

      What does this mean?

      September 28, 2011 at 6:37 am |
    • Tony

      I like how you try to use big words to confuse infidels into following your book that could very well be an early work of fiction.

      September 28, 2011 at 6:44 am |
    • Abhishek

      The Bible was written by humans as well, dude.
      You sound like it's the most important thing in your life and that we should be governed by it. Well that may be true for you but not for other people. You can't just impose christian law and not have police because they enforce the laws. We have laws to keep order in society, but we have laws that respect other peoples beliefs. The kind of world you are talking about is kind of like Iran without corruption. It's hard to get rid of corruption. I know man I'm all over the place here but I just gotta keep it short.

      September 28, 2011 at 7:07 am |
    • tim

      First thing you should do is take a writing class – your message is too difficult to understand on first reading, and most readers will not give you a second chance. Secondly – ever heard of separation of church and state?

      September 28, 2011 at 7:16 am |
    • Mike

      Actually look to your history to see what the separation of Church and state actually means. As usual this premise has been warped by the government.

      September 28, 2011 at 7:38 am |
    • ironau

      Great. I'm glad to see somebody it seizing the initiative and creating a great army of Christian fundamentalist terrorists to combat the Muslim fundamentalist terrorists.

      It if fundamentalism no matter the believe structure (Islam, Christianity, Atheism, Free Markets, Socialism, Communism) that is the greatest threat for the 22nd century.

      September 28, 2011 at 7:43 am |
    • claybigsby

      "Actually look to your history to see what the separation of Church and state actually means. As usual this premise has been warped by the government."

      Really? Here is the text: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" Meaning that there is no respected established religion in the US, yet the government wont prohibit you from studying or exercising your faith. Not sure whats so hard to grasp here.

      September 28, 2011 at 8:13 am |
  18. joyce185

    And this is news?

    September 28, 2011 at 6:21 am |
  19. Dick

    People are all the same. Christians will tell you they're different – not even residents of this world (which has always amused me). It's interesting to compare their actual behavior to their unattainable standards.

    September 28, 2011 at 6:19 am |
  20. gupsphoo

    The real question is – why should anyone abide to the rules of a Bronze Age mythology?

    September 28, 2011 at 5:55 am |
    • Sid

      Because some of us would rather go to heaven than spend an eternity in Hell with you.

      September 28, 2011 at 6:22 am |
    • Dick

      Even if you don't share their beliefs, there is a wealth of common sense in many of their rules (not all, but many).

      September 28, 2011 at 6:24 am |
    • richunix

      Sid and your proof is? Oh based on the same Bronze Age Mytho's....Good call, oh did you see Elvis on your refrigerator?

      September 28, 2011 at 6:34 am |

      What's wrong with the Bronze Age?

      September 28, 2011 at 6:40 am |
    • angryersmell

      @Sid – What you do with your peepee or whowho before you are married does not matter one heap to the almighty (Unless it produces an unwanted, unloved child, or you're sicking it on someone who doesn't want to touch or see it)...and don't bother throwing any verses at me. I'm familiar with what it says in ye ol Good Book.

      September 28, 2011 at 6:53 am |
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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.