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. Abberly

    I would not buy a pair of shoes without trying them on. I think that is one reason why people aren't waiting. Imagine getting married and then not being compatible in that department.

    November 3, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
  2. Yeahright

    I'm a Christian.
    Raised in a Southern Baptist church. In "Youth Group."
    They drove it into our heads.
    Got married at 22.
    To a girl I had been with for 5 years.
    Lost my virginity on my honeymoon. "It" only took 3 seconds the first time.
    Wish I hadn't waited.

    November 3, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
  3. Mythology101

    I would much rather have my children make their decisions based upon self-respect and real-world information than trying to please a mythological being or abide by a standard set out in an ancient (and quite corrupted) text.

    November 3, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
  4. HOPE

    Young Christians are still waiting. We're ALL not totally influenced by the media and giving it up quickly. That's because we're CHRISTians, so why would I let my friends or the Kardashians who don't even look to God direct my steps? It's not hard to hold out when you're single, it's called self-control. For those in relationships, the pressure can be greater unless BOTH people boldly commit from the jump that they're going to keep it locked up until marriage and then don't put themselves in after-hours tempting situations or even think to live together before marriage.

    Single folks living for God need to be on that 1 Corinthians 7 stuff Paul talks about in the Bible. Keep praying for that awesome wife/husband God will send you, Speak positively and don't say things like, "I'll never get married" or "Everybody else is doing it, so how bad could it be?" TRICKS OF THE DEVIL. He wants you to fall into the trap, and according to this article, looks like many Christians are.

    Don't do it to yourself. Waiting is not punishment but preparation. If you want to be fast and an explorer of all things as society deems cool, then you're not a peculiar people. You become average and easy and risk getting STDs and baby-mama drama. Don't be a ho, just say NO until God says so 🙂

    November 3, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
    • J.W

      That is good, but what bothers me about this is that you imply that someone who perhaps did not wait, whether by choice or just making a mistake, is now not really a Christian.

      November 3, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • NorCaNative

      Very well said...

      November 3, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • Chad

      They aren't a *practicing* Christian if they don't wait. Anyone can claim to have the beliefs of a Christian, but actions can be verified and many won't take stock in your conviction if you don't practice what your faith preaches.

      November 3, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • J.W

      Ok so why does being a moral person only relate to se.xual behavior. If someone told a lie would you say they aren't a practicing Christian? What about people who speed? People who have ever skipped church?

      November 3, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • John

      I hope you don't think a slogan, like the one you closed with, helps you make your point. Word games are just that, a sort of name-calling that is more offensive than effective. And by the way, God never said so; your pastor or parents may have, but He didn't. Believe what you like and act on it, but get the story straight.

      November 3, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
  5. Jess

    I wonder how many people truly regret about the decisions before marriage?

    November 3, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
    • Chad

      Usually just the ones who had a baby at a time they didn't intend, or contract an STD. It's like when a robber only regrets stealing when he gets caught.

      November 3, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
    • Rick

      Chad is right. No one ever had an unintended baby or contracted an STD while being married

      November 5, 2011 at 10:09 am |
  6. Mormon Rules

    Actually "not waiting" is a deadly sin that , aside of eternal damnation and burning in hell, requires an execution by stoning here on Earth, according to Bible. And you don't have to be a Christian to be stoned, the rules apply to everyone regardless of their beliefs or ability to read.
    However Mormons handle it differently. Google : "Mormon rules LDS"

    November 3, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • Ruler

      "the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death." [Leviticus 20:10]

      May be you were referring to this.

      November 3, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
    • Mormon Rules

      That is one of the MANY references. For example a girl who got pregnant somehow without a husband had to burn along with its fetus. My question is how one can be a Christian without following the word of the Bible?

      November 3, 2011 at 9:49 pm |
  7. pathetic

    I got STD not because I didn't wait. It's because he didn't. I feel pretty shameful when I have to acknowledge this even though it was not my fault. Apparently, it hurts people either yourself or somebody innocent. If we all waited patiently, we wouldn't even need to worry and there would be less heartache.

    November 3, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
    • Trojen

      It's called a CONDOM. Use it, everytime...and you wouldn't have gotten an STD.

      November 3, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
    • pathetic

      It was NOT me. It was my husband. Condom doesn't guarantee you 100% safe because you still have skin contact. That's why people should wait because that's real safe.

      November 3, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • pathetic

      I forgot to mention he said he did use it, but he still got it.

      November 3, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • Shame

      STD is a punishment from God. I'm sorry for those innocent people who got it. Definitely He wants to show us that if we don't listen to Him, we will get hurt or hurt others even the innocent people. Just teach your kids choose wisely, wait patiently.

      November 3, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
    • IsThisForReal

      @Shame... Are you all for real? I am a Catholic, believe in god and think that I have been blessed in many ways. But I clearly understand that the bible was written thousands of years ago and it is supposed to be interpreted and not taken literally. Believing that GOD is still sending people diseases as punishment is just terribly ignorant! People get sick because they did something stupid, because they are unfortunate of because they had a genetic predisposition. You don't get sick because GOD is trying to teach you a lesson!

      You religious Christian freaks are no different than any other religious extremists!

      November 4, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
  8. Here

    I'm here for reading all the comments!!! Interesting to see people's different views. But there are always someone sounds stereotypical just like this article.

    November 3, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  9. Guess

    I guess they don't know what it means to be Christians. Send them to Middle East and let them see how the Christians behave there, and MAYBE they will understand!

    November 3, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  10. Weirdoseverywhere

    There are so many people here who called themselves Christians while they don't act like Christians. I think it's the weirdest thing! If they love Jesus, why wouldn't they follow Him? If they don't, why would they claim they do? They are confusing people. I doubt if they have mental problems.

    November 3, 2011 at 11:58 am |
  11. Yes

    Rick here is the BIGGEST idiot!

    November 3, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • Yes

      Absolutely! He must be the son of a wh*re.

      November 3, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • Rick

      Which Rick are you talking about?

      November 3, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • Yes

      The one who said sleeping with other people's spouse was fun.

      November 3, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • Rick

      Yes: I said it was fun sleeping with other's people's FUTURE spouse. Not the current one. I have never been with a married woman that I was not married to

      November 3, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • Yes

      Time is just one dimension people made up. When there is no human, there is no such a concept. So it's the same future or current! I look at the world beyond these low levels.

      November 3, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • Rick

      "So it's the same future or current! I look at the world beyond these low levels."

      And you refer to ME as an idiot?

      November 3, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • Yes

      That's because you are close minded. You can only think of the world from three dimensions plus so called "time". To me, time is also a illusion. As a physicist, I'd like to think of everything in a multi-dimensional perspective even though people can't prove the string theory yet. I can't imagine being someone useless like you with mind of just those dirty things. I don't even bother talking to idiots like you, seriously!

      November 3, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • Rick

      "I can't imagine being someone useless like you with mind of just those dirty things. I don't even bother talking to idiots like you, seriously!"

      You know nothing about me, or what is in my mind, you pompous C word

      November 3, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • Yes

      I guess that's all you can say (besides sleeping with somebody else's FUTURE spouse is fun)! Your words proved what's in your mind.

      November 3, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
  12. Jack

    .... because we are swans? Or dogs? I prefer barking.

    November 3, 2011 at 7:30 am |
  13. Douglas

    There is power and salvation for gays and lesbians who can commit to celib@te lives. There is hope
    rising from the depths of sin. Fornication and filth have a toll taker. Satan is gleeful at the prospect of
    consuming unsuspecting gays and lesbians who fornicate and straights who fornicate and should know better.
    Support celib@te gays and lesbians and abstinent until marriage straights. Drive out fear and yours will be the
    victory over Satan and his minions!
    Best, Douglas

    November 3, 2011 at 7:17 am |
    • Rick

      Douglas: You are the one who is fear driven

      November 3, 2011 at 7:41 am |
  14. Joe

    Duh... they're all a bunch of damn hypocrites.

    November 3, 2011 at 1:33 am |
    • Holy Frijoles

      Kudos! Why complicate things when we can spout off knee-jerk rhetoric? In other words...Ug. Stereotyping easy. Thinking hurt brain.

      November 3, 2011 at 8:27 am |
  15. Hater

    Why would people even do that? Don't they find it's so nasty? What is the difference between those people and toilet tissues? Why is it so bad to wait for the right one? Is it so much fun to sleep with somebody else's future spouse?

    November 2, 2011 at 9:21 pm |
    • Rick

      "Is it so much fun to sleep with somebody else's future spouse?"


      November 3, 2011 at 7:46 am |
    • Hater

      To Rick: Welcome to the world of STD!

      November 3, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • Hater

      To Rick: Hopefully you future wife or girlfriend will be happy with your performance since they will compare you with others.

      November 3, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
    • Rick

      She seems pretty happy about it so far. Do you feel so insecure about your own ability that you need someone who has no one to compare you with?

      November 3, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
    • Hater

      That is not insecurity. That's self respect. Knowing that you are special, you are worth more than anybody else, you deserve somebody's sacrifice, you are not just a pleasure toy, you are cherished not just skin level because everybody is growing old. I want to be cherished and respected by someone special because of the ability I have that won't disappear when I'm older.

      November 3, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • Rick

      So, you think that a hyman is what is valuable about a woman?

      November 7, 2011 at 9:07 am |
  16. Just a thought

    My boyfriend and I are both Christians, and were virgins when we met, but gave our virginity to each other. We want to get married but are in the middle of our programs at opposite sides of the country. We have committed to each other completely, it just isn't feasible to get married at this point in time. I think it is important to make a commitment to each other before you go through with a decision like that, but I don't think it is wrong to sleep together before marriage in this situation. I can tell you that it has brought us closer together and cultivated a profound sense of intimacy; I love him with all my heart and know we will last.

    November 2, 2011 at 8:15 pm |
    • Andy

      If you are a Christian (a Christ follower), then what doe he have to say about what you are doing? Who's standard are you living by? Yours are His?

      November 2, 2011 at 11:51 pm |
    • wordofGOD

      You r just excusing with yourself and you are ignoring GOD for your pleasure and that will lead to FAILURE!
      II see you are not a born again christian, you are religious -selfish-world follower NOT A follower of JESUS!

      November 3, 2011 at 4:43 am |
    • Rick

      Just a thought: Do what is right in your heart.

      Andy: What Jesus said or what someone wrote later, edited and translated down the line?

      wordofGOD: you are a pompous ass. get back on your knees

      November 3, 2011 at 7:50 am |
    • True

      Stop giving Christians bad names!!! It's because of people like you, Christians are called hypocrites, but I've seen real Christ followers, they are real strong men and women. They don't compromise to the human standards!

      November 3, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • Yes

      I'm not religious but what Christian you are talking about. I do respect some strong Christians. I'm NOT a Christian but I know being a real Christian means even if a gun is pointing toward you, you will NOT surrender; but YOU!!! Just a small dick points toward you, you already surrender. You are so funny!

      November 3, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  17. Nate

    I agree with sterling. God's standards do not conform to our culture. But, David, although there were plenty of examples of older men marrying young girls, it was also common practice for boys/young men to marry younger than we do today (mid-teens to late teens).

    Some Christian thinkers (like those at the Veritas Network) encourage people to consider getting married younger and continue to call for abstinence until marriage. I expect that is the direction that we'll see a lot of other Christian groups moving.

    November 2, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
    • Hitchens' Bulldog

      Christian thinkers.. Quite the oxymoron, eh? Christian believers sounds about right. Thinking is what people have to do in order to see all the nonsense of religion, including abstinence.

      November 2, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
    • Rick

      'I agree with sterling. God's standards do not conform to our culture."

      No, they conform to the wishes of the Bronze Age sheepherders who wrote it, or the wants of those who edited or translated it.

      November 3, 2011 at 7:54 am |
  18. Bachman for prez!!11

    Der all goin' to straight to hell if ya ask me!! It 'aint right! Satan 'goin try temptin' you but ya got to be true! You can't know whether ur partner for life is goin' to be good in the sac until ya marry 'em. Its not fair!

    November 2, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
  19. Sterling

    I think God's laws don't bend just because of the world's standards, God says that there isn't a temptation we can't overcome and that if we do slip up we can repent. I'm 21 and I'm waiting for when I get married.

    November 2, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
    • True

      You are awesome!!! Great saying! We should NEVER compromise to human standards or whatever so called "culture". Stay strong!

      November 3, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
  20. David

    I would also add that while girls married very young, they were usually wed to men who were much older – 30s and up, I believe. So, the shift may not be quite what it seems.

    November 2, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
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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.