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. waitedtill27

    I waited and so did many of my friends, what we truly lack is self control in todays world. A value that is taught in the first 10 years of a childs growth. We have a culture that teaches the youth that we cannot control ourselves. That the desires are natural and its normal to do it. Thats what needs to change, culture. And even that boils down to parenting....

    October 10, 2011 at 6:26 am |
  2. bbb

    They should foster environments where people can get married at around 18 to 22. That way people wouldn't have as many years of "temptation".

    October 10, 2011 at 4:32 am |
    • GEZUS

      Married 18-24....divorced by 30-35...next

      October 10, 2011 at 8:56 am |
    • sleepytime

      We already have that environment. It's called "The South". Land of the highest divorce rates in the nation too.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:11 am |
  3. Helen

    God has not lowered the bar of righteousness. He has not amended His Word just because it's the 21st Century now. In fact Jesus said "Heaven and earth will pass away but My words will by no means pass away."Mat 24:35. All the sins mentioned are nothing new.It's human kind's tolerance and acceptance levels have increased due to the lack of understanding or complete rejection of God's Word. Christianity is not a religion but a way of life conscious of good and bad choices and their consequences. Believers are "set apart" to be different.So called Christians who don't take the whole counsel of God but chose to believe in what suit them are making a mockery of Him and God cannot be mocked. So be warned!

    October 10, 2011 at 4:18 am |
    • bbb

      So in other words, almost everyone is going to hell?

      October 10, 2011 at 4:34 am |
    • Charles Spurgeon

      In reply to BBB:


      October 10, 2011 at 9:21 am |
    • bish0212

      In reply to bbb and Charles:

      Literally everyone deserves to go to hell. BUT Jesus was sent so our sins would be forgiven. God loves us so dearly He does not want to be separated from us. BUT in order to be saved we must acknowledge that we have sinned, we must ask Jesus to take up that sin and believe that He takes the punishment for it and frees us from it, AND we must try our very best to live according to His Word and life. We are all human, so we will sin, but as long as we do these things God will have mercy on us because His love is too great to fathom.

      In reply to Helen:

      Thank you for sharing God's wisdom, and doing so in a gentle manner. Continue in your faithfulness, spreading God's truth AND love. Also, I would really appreciate if you could pray for my boyfriend and I as we try to stay obedient to God. Thank you.

      To all:

      May God bless us and give us strength to walk in the footsteps of His Son, Jesus. Let God into your hearts. He has so much love to give you.

      October 10, 2011 at 9:43 am |
    • Jarod

      Helen and Bish, very well said/put. I'd also like to add that it is my honest belief that God know and knew of the perils/temptations we'd face yesterday, today and tomorrow for that fact. Todays challenge of staying true to the gospel is no less hard or easy than it was centuries ago, nor will it be more hard than the challenges people of the future will face. The common denomenator is the "Human Will". Until we do a better job of teaching about how such distractions can deter you from heeding God's call, and an even better job of explaining the joys of receiving such blessings; the dilemna continues. ...but God already knew this. The faithful will prevail. To the non-believers, there's still time for you and believe me, you will call his name. Whether you see the error in your ways and repent here on earth or when you pass and find yourself winding down towards the pitts of hell, you will call his name. Be blessed

      October 10, 2011 at 10:22 am |
    • JBHedgehog

      @bish0212 Jesus may have been sent to Earth to forgive your sins, but, as far as I can see, being born (and living life) is not a sinning thing. Therefore, do what your parents did, keep your religion to yourself. If you feel you've sinned, well, that's your life. But as for me, and my kids, life is hard enough without some jerk telling us that we're also sinners. Keep it under your hat. Or give up Christianity. You'll probably be healthier with the second option.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • TJM

      There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. Prov 14:11.

      Let me make this easy for unbelievers, God (of The Bible) gives you the span of your life to repent (change your way of thinking), and want a relationship with his divine Son – Jesus Christ, which mean obedience to his Words (aka the Bible). The battle lines have already been drawn, you are either with him right now OR you face an eternity in Hell. This is really simple to understand. I don't understand why so many struggle with this idea, unless they aren't "smart" enough to intelligently draw conclusions for themselves. Your purpose in this world isn't about what "you want", it should be about what God wants. If you are doing things that make God happy, there is an excellent chance you are changing lives and making the world a better place. Atheist and Evolutionist have still yet to disprove God or explain things like love, compassion, balance in the universe, and you know why??? because HE is REAL. When you die, you will stand in front of the Creator whether you believe in him now or not. I challenge you, that if you do not know Jesus or question whether God is real or not, you would begin to examine this God-man called Jesus Christ for yourself. Plenty of great restoration churches (doctrinal beliefs that best represent the Early church) with excellent sermon pod-casts. (http://marshill.com/, http://ccjasper.com, http://www.southeastchristian.org)

      October 10, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • dont ask

      There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. Prov 14:11.

      Let me make this easy for you TJM: WE ALL DIE

      Atheist and Evolutionist have still yet to disprove God or explain things like love, compassion, balance in the universe, and you know why???
      Because SCIENTISTS haven't proven it yet. You study God but do you also study astronomy, physics, neroscience? You hate on them for not proving he does exist, but you can not prove that he does. Balance in the universe is for the astrophysicists to study. What we "feel" like love and compassion is probably one for the neuroscientists. So the mentally challenged people who can not understand or truely feel love and compassion for medical reasons will not go to heaven huh? That seem unfair. God doesn't like them huh? I thought he loved everyone. You don't seem to. That's not very jesus like is it?

      October 10, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
  4. Peytonator

    Why wait? Because ...

    "the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and FORNICATORS, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone: which is the second death." Rev 21:8

    October 10, 2011 at 2:40 am |
    • Chanjobe1

      You've never told a lie?

      October 10, 2011 at 3:42 am |
    • Fundie

      @Chanjobe1: That's exactly why everyone is destined to go to hell by default. Technically, Jesus isn't the only way; the other way to get into heaven is to be perfect. The problem is that no one is, so practically speaking you're down to one choice.

      October 10, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
  5. Israel Jonson

    My wife and I waited. 24 hour news networks always need something to stir the pot.

    October 10, 2011 at 1:14 am |
    • Red

      Good for you. What do you want for it?

      You and your wife are representative of EVERY couple?

      For every couple that waits, there are many, many more that don't.

      October 10, 2011 at 1:35 am |
  6. asitis

    Mike - Evidently extreme cynicism and lack of respect for anyone who doesn't see the world as you do are also results of the millions of years of evolution that have formed you. It must be tough to live in a world filled with so many ignorant people with your clear vision of absolute truth.

    October 10, 2011 at 1:10 am |
  7. robert05

    But fornication is so much fun. I try to do it at least once a day. Sometimes 5 or 6 times. I guess thats just the godless liberal in me.

    October 10, 2011 at 12:52 am |
  8. mike smith

    Except fo ADAM and EVE ,everyone else DON'T fornicate. It must be in the bible somewhere, keep looking or do as the Mormons and write another book. It sure helped them on that one wife thing.

    October 9, 2011 at 11:59 pm |
    • boomer

      mike smith, if you think the mormons got the "one wife" thing from the book of mormon, you haven't read the bible. Here's a suggestion.... read it. You're going to get the surprise of your life

      October 10, 2011 at 12:19 am |
    • boomer

      The body is not for fornication, but for the Lord, 1 Cor. 6:13–18
      To avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, 1 Cor. 7:2–3
      This is the will of God, that ye should abstain from fornication, 1 Thes. 4:3

      You asked, so I'm just answering...

      Or you can do like most people and just choose to change your religious code to adapt to the lifestyle you've chosen. That's the easy way. That way you never have to have a conscience.

      October 10, 2011 at 12:28 am |
  9. Jim J

    All living things - from viruses to humans - function according to two fundamental rules: 1) survive as long as possible and 2) produce as much offspring as possible.

    Just because some prude wrote down his opinions in an old book doesn't mean mother nature won't take the upper hand.

    October 9, 2011 at 11:41 pm |
    • mike smith

      I like your comment, The reference to virus production and reproduction now explains to me the sudden and exponential increase in religious leaders. Is there a vaccine yet?

      October 9, 2011 at 11:44 pm |
  10. mike smith

    Did you really think that some stupid abstinence program would erase millions of years of evolution bent on propagating the species? Abstinence has been taught in the joke of an eduction system in texas for years and they have the highest teenage pregnancy rate in the whole country. Why is this "study" news?

    October 9, 2011 at 11:31 pm |
    • Daniel

      One day you will realize that the evolutionary lies that you have believed have turned you into the animal that you have been convinced that you came from.

      October 10, 2011 at 12:09 am |
    • Observer

      Could be, but that's still a long way from believing in talking serpents and unicorns.

      October 10, 2011 at 1:09 am |
  11. liz48

    God has given each person a free will. He wills the best for us, but we can will for ourselves our own reasoned choices. There is a spirit of deceit called the enemy and if a person submits to him, that person's god is that spirit, even though he or she calls himself or herself a Christian. This is stated clearly in the Bible in Romans chapter 6, verse 16.

    Many people who go to church dutifully every Sunday have no relationship with God and have not made Him the Lord of their lives; the essential of Christianity which is a relationship with the Living God who wants to relate to all people as a Father Who greatly loves His Children. If one studies the Bible God is ONLY Good – even when our human minds cannot fathom it...

    October 9, 2011 at 11:27 pm |
    • Question everything

      I'm not a mean-spirited person but nothing irks me more than the undertone of comments like this. The belief that religious people have a deeper sense or touch into the unexplained. When in reality, the religious simply grasped onto the first thing their local culture taught them and proclaimed its validity. No introspection or investigation of the broader world around them was ever considered.

      October 9, 2011 at 11:34 pm |
    • mike smith

      Try to resist the urge to eat. Only then can you truly be free. Let me know how that works out for ya.

      October 9, 2011 at 11:39 pm |
  12. Question everything

    Arguing the authenticity of any truth about a non-fictional god is absolutely amuzing when folks reference the bible. This is the equivalent of the GE dishwasher salesman claiming GE dishwashers lead you to the only path of clean dishes because it states it in the GE owners manual.

    October 9, 2011 at 11:17 pm |
    • mike

      The problem with your argument is that the GE dishwasher – if it breaks down and has problems – what do you consult? The GE dishwasher manual. Hence, if you are having serious problems in life – what do you consult? You consult the thing that works; and the principles outlined in the Bible work when followed. How can you argue against treating others as you wish to be treated? Not stealing? Not being violent? Not cheating on your wife? working hard to provide for your family? Raising respectful and obedient children? The problem is not the Bible; the problem is the hypocritical religious leaders who do not practice what they claim to teach.

      October 9, 2011 at 11:32 pm |
    • mike smith

      What if we are not handy and don't use the manual. What if I lost it? What if they don't make that model anymore, I know, I will pray my washer into a repaired mode.

      October 9, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
    • Question everything

      The point of the statement has nothing to do with a broken down dishwasher but the mere fact that people validate their beliefs from the same owners manual being sold as the product. I agree that the message is mostly good, however, if the only thing that is preventing, in this context, christians from becoming the reincarnation of ted bundy is the bible, this is incredibly scary.

      October 9, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
  13. Bill Mosby

    I have a friend who had a rental management business in Keystone, CO up until she sold it about 12 years ago. Her company managed the rental of rooms at the big resorts there. She said that after church youth groups had rented rooms there, her cleaners were instructed to make sure they looked between the mattresses to get rid of all the used condoms, and they found plenty of them most of the time.

    October 9, 2011 at 10:40 pm |
  14. Rebecca

    I have been single for most of 30 years... I have never gone out with a Christian man who wants to wait. Just sayin.

    October 9, 2011 at 10:25 pm |
    • mike smith

      And you won't unless he is gay

      October 9, 2011 at 11:33 pm |
    • Daniel

      I respected the girls I dated, but then these dates were more of a "just friendship" type of date. One of my favorite dates of all time was not even thought of as a date by me or the girl. We walked though the woods and fields, picked flowers and shared ideas. The modern concept of "going steady" is flawed and gets teens into trouble. Serious dating should be reserved for potential mates that you would and could marry within about six months.

      October 9, 2011 at 11:43 pm |
    • mike smith

      Marriage itself is flawed. Where would hold in such high esteem something that has a 50% failure rate? Not even that GE dishwasher talked about tonight.

      October 9, 2011 at 11:48 pm |
    • Daniel

      Marriage works. It just doesn't work well when God is shut out of the relationship. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is Liberty and the fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23 "love, joy, peace, longsuffering,...)

      October 10, 2011 at 12:05 am |
  15. Nguyen "Dan" Feldman

    We need to be doing more to rush kids into marriages at younger ages so that everything is nice and legal with the Lord.

    October 9, 2011 at 10:05 pm |
    • mike smith

      You could simply wear the special mormon underwear.

      October 9, 2011 at 11:34 pm |
    • mike smith

      except now that we are not sure mormons are christians , we may have to devise our own,

      October 9, 2011 at 11:35 pm |
  16. irwin

    II think waiting is still very important. It is an exercise in focus and discipline.

    That being said, I would prefer to see more emphasis on marriage and family instead of waiting. Waiting isn't the goal, it's just a necessary step until you are ready to form a family.
    If you would like to read more on this subject check out my online book:

    October 9, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
  17. frootyme

    Even Adam and Eve did not wait!

    October 9, 2011 at 8:42 pm |
    • mike smith

      Had they had satellite TV and could watch the 700 club they would have. All top evangelicals know this.

      October 9, 2011 at 11:54 pm |
  18. mrsnow

    On buying a cow: its best to check the milk before you buy, you could be getting a bad deal. Never liked the "milk for free" argument anyway, it suggests that you get married for that reason alone. That rarely goes well, since its just one of the hundreds of of things a married couple should do together. On top of it all, and with proper education, it has far fewer consequences toward life than potential emotional instability, or even long term conversational ability.
    Just do it, be smart about it, and get on with developing that and all the other maturities you will need to have a real marriage.

    October 9, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
    • cowboy

      how many cows are you gonna test before you buy 'em?

      October 9, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
    • mike smith

      I am a liberal but the cow thing is going to far. It is against the laws in most states to "test drive" the cow let alone formalize the relationship with marriage. Where would you put the ring for Gods sake , it has hooves.

      October 9, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
  19. Mirror

    Why buy the cow when the milk is free? Think!

    October 9, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
    • lee

      If you think it's all about buying live stock......do just that. It's cheaper and less compliicated.

      October 9, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
    • Scrolls

      There is a certain wisdom in choosing your mate..and it is not about testing their se_x_ual prowess.

      October 9, 2011 at 7:38 pm |
  20. hmmmmmm

    ...it is so interesting to read the different beliefs...If there is no God....are we a fluke; accident; haphazardly unexplainably entered into existence?

    October 9, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • Question everything

      .... Why stop at god to answer the unexplained. Could be an infinte reasons why we are here, right?

      October 9, 2011 at 11:26 pm |
    • mike smith

      yeah ,so?

      October 9, 2011 at 11:57 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.