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. Candyce

    Makes me sad. I am somewhat religious, but that is not why I chose to wait, and I've definitely had my chances. I think it's pathetic how people say "it's like a car, you need to test them out" I'M NOT A FREAKING CAR, DO I LOOK LIKE A BUICK TO YOU?!

    November 2, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
    • Zamfir

      I don't know, what is your weight?

      November 2, 2011 at 9:27 pm |
  2. David

    the rest of the 98% will spend eternity in the fire. Right? Wrong. The Bible doesn't say anyone will spend eternity in the fire! It speaKS OF ETERNAL DESTRUCTION. iT WOULDN'T BE MUCH OF A FIRE THAT KEEP BURNING PEOPLE FOR ETERNITY! There are many figures used to describe eternal punishment. It's a brave man who claims the God of mercy will torture unforgiven souls – whether immoral or not – for a zillion years and more in eternity (actually timeless). That's quite a comment on the meaning of divine justice. Let's all rethink that one.

    November 2, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
    • On my knees for God's pleasure

      Jesus himself was the one who really started to fabricate the idea of hell, for example:

      Jesus said "But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell." – Matthew 5:22

      Jesus said, "If your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. " Matthew 18:8

      the 98% thing is probably true, as Jesus himself said that Not all those who say "Lord! Lord!" will go to heaven (i.e. fake Christians, the VAST majority), only those who obey him.

      November 2, 2011 at 9:22 pm |
  3. David

    Jesus said anyone who looks on a women lustfully has already committed adultery in his/her heart. Matthew 5. Therefore even most celibate-at-marriage people have already committed adultery anyway! Who can claim purity of heart? Also Matthew 5. We must all throw ourselves on Jesus for forgiveness. Paul said to avoid immorality let each man have his own wife. 1 Corinthians 7. This ought to force most to find their wife/husband at an early age. Which is worse: abstaining physically but being immoral in heart, or being immoral in both heart and body?

    November 2, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
  4. Ben

    The answer to handling this with our youth is to make disciples, don't just attract a crowd. We are not just forming norming people who say they are christians we are forming radical disciplined followers of Christ

    November 2, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  5. matt

    Go Phillies!

    November 2, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
  6. MimI

    I am Chrisitan and Iwaited so did my Husband we have only been with each other. that is something i take great pride in. We Are not perfect by any means we live how we are supposed to the best of our ability. I think waiting is best because you get to have an experience with one person that stays with you forever. Just givingyour body away to anyone because it seems like you are the only one whohas not "done it" is a sad excuse. Dont say all my friends are so i think i should to God will forgive me. Well true he will just why take the chance? Is Waiting so bad we wait for other things why not this.?

    November 2, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • Derka Derka

      That must have been an awkward honey moon.

      November 2, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • tmichelle72

      Miml it think that is great, and rare that both of you waited. What a wonderful story. I'm curious how old you both are and hold you were when you got married. Waiting is not the issue but I find that many are having difficulty in these times because people are getting married "for the first time" as late as 40. Nothing is impossible with God but remember man does not do anything on his own. God put a hedge of protection around you and your husband to be witness to others. Make sure you don't fall into judgement. Enjoy the blessing that God gave you and don't make it seem like its the easiest thing in the world because its not, you need God to help you to wait.

      November 2, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
    • Mimi

      It was GREAT HONEYMOON and I was 21 and he was 22. We waited bc we promised God and our families we would. I knew it would break my mom heart. It was easy and not we promised each other we not make the other do anything they did not want to do. I was comfortable with him DERKDERKA that our honeymoon was not awkward at all becasue i had the right choice to wait for my husband and for him only. its only awkward if you are not ready .

      November 2, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • J.W.

      My wife and I also waited. I am constantly so grateful that we both had the self control, self respect, and love for each other to wait until after we had been legally and lawfully wed. I also have many other friends and family members who did the same, without regret.
      Neither of us has to worry about measuring up to our partner's previous experience, wonder if there are any lingering infections or dieases, or wonder if there may some child walking the earth with your DNA that you don't know about.
      Life and morality are not like Burger King – you can't just have it your way.
      No amount of money can buy the peace you will enjoy for the rest of your life from waiting.

      November 2, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
    • Jill

      I truly respect you. I also waited until I got married, however my husband didn't. This truly hurt me deeply. I probably will never understand how amazing it could be when you both waited for each other. This is your amazing will power and self control. Those negative posters will never understand how beautiful it is.

      November 2, 2011 at 9:12 pm |
    • Daner

      My husband and I too waited. I was 22 and he was 28. It was extremely difficult, I cannot lie. It was so worth it! We've been married for 19 years and it does come up in conversation that we are grateful that we did wait and we have the knowledge that the other one had never been with anyone else. We now have 2 daughters and our expectation is that they will also follow God's expectation and keep themselves pure for their possible future husbands. God makes the rules for a reason – not to be a mean God and want to see us miserable, but to keep us mentally and physically protected.

      November 4, 2011 at 1:32 pm |

    see facebook job.Bradshaw@live.com see his notes or H20churchnet.com guest list and what people have posted

    November 2, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
  8. laughter

    its people like this that made me lose my "christianity", among other things. it's my body ill do what i want with it. what is the benefit of being a "virgin" anyway....it sucks

    November 2, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • Lisa

      You're the reason why you lost your christianity not anyone else. Just because you sub cam to temtaion and didnt feel like beleiving is no one else's fault but your own buddy. Take resposibility for your own actions.

      November 2, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
    • DD

      No diease? No heartbreak? The 'thou shalt nots"are there to keep us from many types of harm.There are a huge amount of 'Thou shalt's'

      November 2, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
    • Smarter than you

      You don't get STDs when you're a virgin...

      November 2, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
    • Rick

      Smarterthanyou: Depends on your definition of "virgin". People can get STD's from oral, too

      November 3, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
  9. Consider Him

    Unfortunately, surveys do not know the difference between those that call themselves Christian and those that actually are Christian. That is why the Lord gave the parable of the wheat and the tares and why He will be separating the sheep from the goats.

    November 2, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • Jill

      This is exactly true. If people go to Asia and ask those who called themselves Christians, they will understand what are REAL followers of Christ.

      November 2, 2011 at 9:17 pm |
  10. Stephen

    I wasn't a virgin by the time I gave my life to Christ. But once I knew what God commanded I remained pure until I met my wife who was a virgin at 30. There are followers of Christ who WILL do what He says.

    November 2, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • Stephen

      Or I should say, I remained pure until I got married to my wife who was a virgin at 30.

      November 2, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • Derka Derka

      You must be really cool.

      November 2, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
  11. Jill

    Respect the people with self-respect and self-control!!!

    November 2, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
  12. Jill

    They are not true Christians. True Christians put Jesus #1, not human. So FAKE Christians should stop giving bad names to real God's children.

    November 2, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • On my knees for God's pleasure

      Will "fake Christians" inherit the kingdom of God?

      If not then we have narrowed it down to just a fraction of the entire worlds population will go to heaven, the rest of the 98% will spend eternity in the fire. Right?

      November 2, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
  13. Han

    On the other side me and my husband did wait – we were both 21 (he was about to turn 22) when we got married back in 2007.

    I'm in the UK – do the figures vary at all between the UK and US?

    November 2, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
  14. On my knees for God's pleasure

    I wasn't a virgin before I met my wife and got married, Why would I expect my wife to be one?

    Who would want to marry a virgin anyway?

    November 2, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • Candyce

      Me and millions of others. Looks like you're outnumbered on that one.

      November 2, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
    • On my knees for God's pleasure

      Candace, Most of the people who get married in America are not virgins. I think it isn't that big of a deal for most people.

      Looks like you are outnumbered on that one.

      November 2, 2011 at 9:27 pm |
    • Rick

      I think that the vast majority of the people who get married in the United States are not virgins.

      November 3, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • clay

      "Who would want to marry a virgin anyway?"
      Is there a particular reason not to?

      November 3, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • On my knees for God's pleasure

      Experience helps.

      November 3, 2011 at 8:57 pm |
  15. lioness7777

    Waiting has nothing to do with religion. It has everything to do with self respect. there are Women who refused to be someone else play thing and valued themselves as being much more then a parking for someone else trailer not only have respect for themselves first of all but are not weak in fact they are rather strong in a world where most give it a way like candy.

    November 2, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • tallulah13

      I agree that it's about self-respect, but females aren't necessarily always victims. And waiting for marriage can be construed as a woman needing to be someone's "property" before she allows herself to enjoy her body. I say teach your children how to protect themselves and give them access to contraceptives. There is nothing to be gained by pretending the people don't have s.ex, and everything to lose.

      November 2, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • On my knees for God's pleasure

      Isn't it self-respectful to achieve some physical pleasure?

      November 2, 2011 at 11:39 am |
  16. No GOD

    Mr. TJ.. there's nothing is special abt Islam... It's waste of time. The only advantage I see is polygamy...multiple wifes.

    November 2, 2011 at 11:22 am |
  17. No GOD

    it's all good... know ur body...do christians really wait?

    November 2, 2011 at 11:16 am |
  18. keese

    with approximately 20 religions of a million or more and probably thousands of other world religions, maybe modern "Christians" are subconsciously realizing that it's awfully risky to spend an entire life obeying the scripture of something that might be wrong. I can't claim I know one way is better than another, but either can anyone else. I guess that's why we have the quote, "you only live once."

    November 2, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • TJ

      This is ONE reason to study the religion of Islam. Don't look at what less than one percent of one percent do (wrong things), but if you want to be "honest" with yourself, study it. It does no harm to read with an open mind.

      November 2, 2011 at 11:12 am |
  19. Shattered World

    I've followed the rules laid down in the Bible to the best of my ability, and have kept most of them, including this one. For those that I cannot keep, the Lord knows that I am but human, and therefore fallible. People try to make excuses such as the fact that we marry at a later age these days, but thats just what they are, excuses. If you cannot avoid the temptation, then you show weakness, another human trait, but if you do not put the effort into being what your religion asks, then that is more than human error. In the end, it all boils down to what amends you must make with the Lord, not what you must do to prove something to others of this world.

    For those of you who do not have the Faith, why do you come to religion based blogs/stories and then make fun at or sneer at those of us who have Faith? People who do this show me that the quality of the average human has dropped over the years as the importance of religion fades from everyday life. Want proof that religion is faiding? Look to see who bows their head before they eat. I do, do you?

    November 2, 2011 at 8:49 am |
    • Rick

      i do not come here to sneer and make fun of those who have faith. i come here to sneer and make fun of those who claim it is KNOWLEDGE

      November 2, 2011 at 10:48 am |
    • Rick

      Do you equate faith with religion?

      November 2, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • Matthew

      I come here to get a different opinion about how others see the world and follow religion. I refuse to just settle for one explanation like most religious people do. I like questioning for myself, reading how other people feel, and then coming to my own conclusion about everything. Seems like a much better approach then just drooling over every little thing the church/bible tells you to do. I live a good life, free of religion. I know right from wrong, to treat others equally, etc. Guess what, I don't need it preached to me everyday for me to know I'm lifing my life to the best of my ability. Religious people need to start thinking for themselves, and stop following. Or just keep doing what you are doing, just don't let it effect me.

      November 2, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
  20. I Paul

    It is well to note that as soon as our Lord was baptized He went into the wilderness and was tempted by Satan. Early on in ones Christian walk and life Satan will bring temptation because we are weak. Jesus responded to Satan only with scripture that is why we should hide His Word in our hearts so that we may not sin against Him. Answer se xual temptation with God's Word and Sataan will flee from you. Praise the Triune God for giving us His Word and the Holy Spirit. Amen

    November 2, 2011 at 8:36 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.