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. Jim Rousch

    Have you not read 1 Corinthians 7:9?

    Here, I'll read it for you:

    "But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion."

    This means that your little abstinence movement has proven to been both ineffective and pathetic. People should get married right out of high school so that they aren't tempted by pleasures of the flesh.

    October 19, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
    • Samsword

      Or you could just teach the HS kids self-control.. *GASP* I know... what a concept 😉 Seriously societies have done it for centuries, why can't we?

      I think we focus way too much on "self-expression" in this country, and not at all on "self-control." Balance in all things.

      October 19, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • Marconi Darwin

      Yes Sammy. It worked so well in Texas that they now have the fourth highest rates in teen pregnancy.

      And the highest in repeat teen pregnancy.

      Perry says that they may not be teaching it correctly. What do you think?

      October 19, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
    • Samsword

      That's because current Christian theology says: "It's okay, Jesus paid for you." That's not self-control... so Christian, Atheist, or Zoroastrian, doesn't really matter to me. To me it's a matter of being wise. I'll say it again, there is wisdom in self-control. Clearly Texas lacks it.

      And young marriages wouldn't be so bad either if people could just learn maturity. We have everything given to us so easily, that people don't reach maturity in thinking until they're 30. (Even that's debatable.) It's not the marrying young that's bad, it's that the "young" are growing increasingly immature and incapable of handling adult responsibilities. If we taught our youth to be mature, responsible, and self-sufficient... that would solve a whole slew of problems. Of course, in order to teach them such things, we have to be those things ourselves...

      October 20, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
  2. JEN


    October 19, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
  3. Bri

    There are so many more negative consequences for not waiting, than their are for waiting, not only physical ones, but most of all emotional ones. Consider everything before you make such a weighty decision.

    Unfortunately, a lot of men have the thinking that "why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?". You might want to consider that before you become physically intimate with someone you are not married to.

    I waited, and it was a great decision. It's hard to have that committment though unless you truly beleive in it, beleive it is what God wants, and know that he always knows what you are up to. You will have to answer to him when you leave this earth, will you be proud of breaking his commandments?

    Also, if "people are getting married later", why not just get married earlier? Either dump the guy if he is not the One, or marry him if he is... Don't waste your time. It IS that simple. Don't complicate it. : )

    October 19, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    So when I first read this my reaction was something like:
    "OH THANK GOD. Someone understands".
    But after reading all the comments, I'm completely convinced I'm going to burn... Awesome. >_>

    October 19, 2011 at 8:48 am |
  5. Josh

    What the hell?

    October 19, 2011 at 8:22 am |
  6. brooksjk

    My new book, The Four Pillars of the Kingdom, is set to be released soon. It is, not only a response to some of the metaphysical arguments of the so-called New Atheists, but also a call to believers to take their faith serious in a very real way. You can find a few excerpts from the work at my website, The Immaculate Conservative, here:


    Please read and let me know what you think!

    Joe Brooks

    October 19, 2011 at 8:22 am |
  7. Anon

    Christians are very screwed up in the head.

    October 18, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
    • Douglas

      GLBTQ youth say, "Yes We Can, remain celib@te!
      Join a rally coming to a church near you soon!
      Stand up for celib@te GLBTQ youth on the move!
      Best, Douglas

      October 19, 2011 at 12:30 am |
  8. If I had a penny for every stupid Republican I'd be rich!

    A man has two heads and the little one usually gets the best of him.

    October 18, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
  9. If I had a penny for every stupid Republican I'd be rich!

    Because they are so h orny from the abstinence trip or so they want you to believe.

    October 18, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
  10. Vernix

    Religion, of all kinds, is such a joke...

    October 18, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
    • DWarren

      Why do you say religion is a joke? Are you saying that a organized body of people for some purpose is wrong? Or that you are not associated and that those who are are following in blindly? If blind, blind from what? Do you ensue that God doesn't exist? Can you prove either way? If he doesn't exist what purpose is there for everything? I'm just curious. I have a friend who changed his beliefs because the church couldn't prove everything he sees in science.

      October 18, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
  11. Dave Matthews

    As usaual another dumb survey. 18 -29 and talking abut pervent teen knockups.
    Nobody expects people to wait past 24...God the lady would be an old bag by then no pun intended but she would be sagging all over. If you havne't scored by 25 put a bag on ur face or be in a bar at closing time...nobodys ugly at last call for drinks or the night roll in car seat

    October 18, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
  12. Tariq

    I believe most Muslim youth are in-fact virgins. They are instructed by Islam to lower their gaze and the girls are instructed to hide their modesty by covering their beauty and hence they safeguard the desires for their wives or husbands respectively. I thought I'll just chime in and let you know that the #1 reason is because of the modesty. In today's American society, modesty is looked down upon and hence the dilemma. Here's the argument from the Muslim girl herself – http://bit.ly/nhYSeK

    October 18, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
  13. Praise of God, not the praise of man

    Doing the work of the Lord Jesus gives not glory to you, (a temple of God), but also as Jesus did, gives all the glory to the Father because those who do righteousness give a great witness to those who are currently not doing as to what true love for God is. When you abstain until Marriage, you are giving glory to God because that shows you truly love Him and are grateful for what He did for you. You are thanking Him every single moment with this act. Jesus was undoubtedly tempted, but He endured, why? Because He loved God and loved you! He remained pure in order to become the sacrifice for us because He loved you so much. He ran race of life set before us which He could only have completed if He was pure. Because He did this, He saved us from death and gained victory over sin like this. And because of this, He earned the right to be the Captain of our Salvation.

    So today, let's follow Him our Captain, not the world, not what man thinks, not outward lusts which war against the Holy Spirit. Let's fight for Him, because we love Him dear brothers and sisters. Think about it, by remaining pure, He cleansed us and allowed us to live in Him and He dwells in all of us if and when we do!! That's right, if we stay pure, God, the Father, Holy Spirit and Jesus will make a dwelling in us. Right NOW! That is possible because that was the great mystery from the beginning of the world that Christ (God) can live in us! But only if we love Him enough to obey Him and we obey Him not because of being burdened, but because we WANT Jesus to live in us and that in fact is what He wants us to do! I love Him because He gave His life for me and ran this race and endured so many tribulations, trials and temptations so we could see Him. Doesn't that make you want to be pure just so we can see Him? He calls us friends and we are adopted into Him. Because He wants to see us live and not die, He gave His life for His friends. It is written, "He who endures to the end will be saved" so let us comfort ourselves today if we are struggling with this sin or others to endure! Endure for JESUS! "You are a Royal Priesthood a Holy Nation". Let us remind ourselves today we are an "heir of God's Kingdom". But we need trials and temptations to build strong Christian Character.

    You are "to offer yourselves as a living sacrifice, Holy and pleasing to God". So when you are staying pure by not sinning, you are being that sacrifice every single day! For it is written, "if you die with Him, you will live with Him, if you suffer with Him (in temptation) you will reign with Him!" "God cannot lie!" Jesus said, "If you love me you will obey my commandments (refrain from fornication). He who does My commandments is the one who loves Me and he who loves Me will be loved by my Father and I too will love him and show Myself to Him". Today, the media and all religions try to taint this. This comment may be removed even from a so called religious forum, but I encourage you to copy and paste this to preserve it, for almost every Word in this comes from the Word of God. I did not include the references, you can find them for youself because things that are given free are usually not appreciated, but when you work through it, like abstaining, you will cherish it.

    I close with a prayer for all of you because I love every single one of you and pray to God that even if one repents to see the angels in Heaven rejoice. Lord Jesus, you ran the race set before us, now it is our turn, we want to get Praise from God, not praise from men. This prayer goes out to all those who are being tempted. I pray for us to remember, that we are all Royal Priests whom have been called by your Name, whom if we have humbled ourselves and prayed and seek your face and turn from our wicked ways, not like the heathens or gentiles, or even Catholic or even Christians who say they are but who are not, then you will hear from Heaven and will forgive our sins and heal our land (including our lives). You have said, you will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear. You have loved us and loved us enough to die a crucifixion for this sin. I know you wait for all of us but unless we are perfect and pure before your eyes with the garment of light, we cannot see you, dear Holy Lord God or be with you Almighty God for you are perfect and cannot be near sin. But we also know it is by Grace we are saved. However, faith without works is dead. And in this case, we who profess Jesus is Lord and die for our sins do this work of purity (abstain until marriage) to show we love You Lord. Lord I pray for those whom don't know You, that they will have a chance to hear your voice because you are the King of Kings and Lord of Lords yet you came down as a lowly servant, suffered poverty, endured mockings (like in this case) washed your disciplines feet and even suffered a death on the cross so we could all live by your example in YOU. I don't know anyone whom loves me more than you and I want to share this love with all those reading, not because I want anything, but because I want them to know you as I do and for them to feel the love of God in them guiding and helping their lives. Lord I pray all of this in Jesus Name, Amen.

    Do you want to know Him? Do you want to run the race set before us? Do you want Him to be proud of you? Don't you want to be with Him when He comes back? I do! 🙂 Don't you want Him to tell you, good job, well done? Because every knee will bow and every tongue will confess Jesus Christ is Lord! If you want, write to me at zepherorion5@gmail.com.

    Zepherorion stands for Zion Every Person Has Every Right Once Risen In Our New...(fill in the blank) Name. Do you know what your new name is? I do. Do you know what your new life is? Do you know what your new rights are? May the Lord Jesus bless you and keep you, it will not be easy as we have all been called to suffering and affliction, but when we are complete, we will be made complete without defect. Pure. Amen.

    I Love You All in Jesus,


    October 18, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • If I had a penny for every stupid Republican I'd be rich!

      Maybe you were so pathetic and ugly which accounted for the virginity?

      October 18, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  14. Sahara

    Marriage and wedding have become two separate things. Many couples wait to marry when they can afford to throw a fancy party. It seems kind of like the cart before the horse. Also, it's beginning to look like couples pretty much consider themselves married, anyway. Most are monogamous and committed to each other. Perhaps more so than previous generations who got married and divorced so easily. Miss Manners calls it a pseudo marriage, which seems to be a good description. But that seems like an oxymoron to me. Isn't the whole point of marriage supposed to be not pseudo? "Til death do us part" is as far from pseudo as it gets. What kind of use would we have for a Savior who stopped short of the publicly proclaimed "forever" part of His commitment to us? How would we feel about His waiting until He could get together a great party before making that promise? It seems like hypocrisy in Christian marriage has just found a new, less legally messy venue.

    October 18, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
  15. sapientia

    Love waits indeed,

    Lust does not!

    October 18, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
  16. Len

    Another thing to consider is the definition of marriage. The definition of marriage varies among cultures, religions, etc. How do these definitions compare to the biblical definition of marriage?

    October 18, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  17. satch

    I think a good dose of some non-fiction is needed here. Jared Diamonds' "Collapse" or E.O. Wilson's "Biodiversity" are just a couple that present the real issues. Sorry no biblical epic playing out just plain old overpopulation and lack/misuse of resources.

    October 18, 2011 at 11:42 am |
  18. Pamelahaley

    20 is one thing but, 30, 50, 50... better to join a convent and let the priest screw you.

    October 18, 2011 at 11:33 am |
  19. TheFatherofLies

    They will burn, burn, -BURN- forever and ever, for ours is a wrathful god err God, that requires utter submission, a life of extreme poverty and harsh judgement toward those who do not obey the doctrine of oppression.

    October 18, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • sarah

      wow – religion is like a virus. the world would be better off without people like you spewing your nonsense.

      October 18, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • Hikerstud

      Satan is the Father of lies. If you believed what you wrote you would never write it because He would get you. Instead you prove the point that God(the Saxon word for perfectly good) is patient and mericiful and not wanting that any should suffer eternal separation. He wants us to all find out He is Love, Joy, peace, patience, goodness.

      October 18, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • Donny

      Yes, religion is like a virus, but I'm pretty sure TheFatherofLies is just trying to show the mentality of many Christians and doesn't actually believe what he/she is saying. (Check out the "god err God" part.)

      October 18, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  20. M

    We are to follow Jesus ... not "everyone else." I was 29+ and I waited and I highly recommend it. It is hard? yes. Is it possible? yes. Is it worth it? YES. There are blessings for obeying Him.

    October 18, 2011 at 11:10 am |
    • Pamelahaley

      Well, good luck to you on that. Keep it to yourself.

      October 18, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • Matt

      How do you know its worth it? You have no clue what you missed out on. Your husband could be absolutely wretched in bed.

      October 18, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • Yo

      Thanks for your encouragement!

      Telling someone to keep their accomplishment "to themselves" is like telling a gay man to stay in the closet. And we all know America would have a field day if we advocated that.

      That's one of the best parts of waiting. You don't have to worry about falling in love with someone who's "wretched in bed". You just love them and are satisfied and complete knowing that you're a match. You have nothing to compare so there's not resentment.

      October 18, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • seanmom

      BTW, the first line of this article is false. True love DOES wait. Selfishness does not. True love is patient. Lust is not. True love is kind. Lust is cruel. True love protects. Adultery destroys.

      October 18, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • sam

      Good for you. As for Matt, since you don't know her husband it is better that you keep what you don't know about him to yourself.

      October 18, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • Rob

      Much props! I didn't wait in my early non Christian days. But, after converting, when I met my wife to be, we waited. I'm not claiming any retro-virginity or any of that silliness, but waiting is highly worth it. My wife is outstanding in the sack too!

      October 18, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • DWarren


      I am also 29. I get married this weekend and I am HAPPY to say that I have waited! What a loser. I know. Can you believe it? My prize (cause there is a prize) my beautiful wife-to-be. Oh that rocks!!

      She was previously married before we met and has one lovely daughter. She waited until they got married in her first marriage and after the divorce continued what she had done before and abstained again. Wow! What was she smokin? Well she understood that even though the first guy didn't make great choices she still wanted the guy who would. Um, What? She understood that even with all their troubles promiscuity would have brought more. she wasn't going to bring herself to that level no matter what he did.

      So, statistically lets look at what happens when you wait. Marriages last longer on average. Adultery is less common. But wait you just said that your future wife's marriage didn't last? Yes, that is true the odds were against her on that one. But the best thing to do is learn and get up. That's what she did (that's how she found the totally awesome me).

      "Be free" people say and "do what you want." Ok do that, but true freedom comes from controlling yourself. Control what? I can control myself just fine. Sure you can. Right.

      So here is what I define freedom as: I don't have to worry that some woman has my child somewhere that I don't know about. I don't have to worry that I have some sort of disease from a previous partner or that I might kill someone with a disease I carry.

      My friends that is true freedom to know that I don't have to worry. I don't have to think about what I am missing, because I am gaining a whole lot more! I have a woman who has proven to me her devotion and mine has proven to her that she and I can trust one another. Trust creates charity and charity is the greatest form of love. Don't believe me? Try it. Try charity. Not in the monetary, form but in it's true form. Do something for someone that you would not normally do and that would require a true sacrifice of time and effort. OR don't try it and keep trying to define the argument.

      Call me naive that's ok. I don't judge anybody for what they have done. I only hope that one person will read this and say that they want that same freedom. I love my fiance and I love family and I am happy to know that I can make a difference in my children's lives. True "Change" begins in the home. If you grew up with a not so traditional family that's ok. You can decide today to make a difference in your future family. You can if you have a desire. I know that Christianity is getting hit from all sides these days. It is tough to see the truth. Satan is the great deceiver.... "we really loved each other and wanted to express." The greatest lie of all is that you are worth something different than you really are. You are worth everything! I hope you can see it! Thanks again M for being such a great example!

      October 18, 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.