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. truthslinger

    some of them still are. do a piece on IHOP KC and you'll see for yourself. come check these kids out. they're actually reading and praying and fasting & worshipping Jesus. *GASP* can you imagine a Christian doing those things!?!

    November 6, 2011 at 10:25 pm |
  2. Gadadhoon

    Wow, the trend here appears to be lots of angry atheists and a few relatively subdued Christians. I wonder what the angry atheists are angry about.

    November 6, 2011 at 9:35 pm |
    • Rick

      Atheists are amused by Christians

      November 7, 2011 at 1:36 am |
  3. Church of the Mongolian Beef

    Everyone should just go a humpin fer CheezUS.

    November 6, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
  4. tsan

    Its called obidience and respect for the Lords commands..

    November 6, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • jules

      lol, dude, you have NO IDEA what the lord's commands are, how funny you are.

      November 6, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
    • Rick

      it's called living your life by the words of bronze age sheep buggerers

      November 7, 2011 at 1:35 am |
  5. zip

    Why aren't young Christians waiting?? Have you ever had good p-ssy??

    November 6, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
  6. Apotropoxy

    Headline: Why young Christians aren't waiting anymore

    They're not waiting any less, either. Biology will always trump ideology.

    November 6, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
  7. pfft

    lol the mentally ill aren't waiting to be mentally ill anymore. good stuff CNN, great news.

    November 6, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
  8. Scott

    Christian leaders seem outright cruel expecting people to give up the best s*x of their lives while their hormones are at their highest levels and their bodies are in the best condition they'll ever be. I lost my virginity at 18 and wish it had been a couple years earlier. I can't imagine going until 30 years old and missing 12 full years of good s*x. Ridiculous.

    November 6, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
  9. Jennifer

    Young Christians aren't waiting anymore, because they want a potential spouse to get to them before a priest does.

    November 6, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
    • pfft

      Zing! LOL

      November 6, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • I am Jacks broken faith


      November 6, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
  10. Hank

    Frankly, you're all nuts. Not believing in your Christian god doesn't make any one evil. It makes them capable of standing on their own morals and beliefs, instead of buying into a mass marketing ploy. There is nothing religion provides you beyond a strict code of conduct and a false sense of security that you couldn't have without it. I mean, I get it... you were either raised into a family that told you it was the thing to do, or you needed to feel a sense of belonging and joined later in life. It's all fine, but keep it to your self. Atheists don't make a point of going around saying there is no God unprovoked. It's only the Christians that go around spouting God is Great and then the Atheists chime in. Seems everyone could be pretty happy if they didn't talk about religion and kept their beliefs to themselves.

    November 6, 2011 at 10:36 am |
    • Marinella

      No ofense at all Hank. but seems to me you do the same thing as you say "us christian" do. You don't keep your opinon for you but you exprese it.Expresing your opinion is no different then expresing our opinion.You may agree with or not, as same as we "christian" agree with you or not. It's not only who say's what, it's much more if there is a merit in the affirmation we do or not.Christians as non Christians can do what they want, but the autority of the Bible message makes the diffrence. It's not a question of preferences it's a question of right or wrong, and the Bible has the holle autority on this argument. You're wellcome thou to desagree. but is intelactualy disonest to say keep it for you, your opinion when you don't do the same.All the best Hank

      November 6, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • Jacob

      While I can definitely see where you are coming from, think of it this way- to a Christian, or a member of many other faiths, evangelism is seen as a duty. It's part of the religion to go out and spread the religion. I'll not throw too much of my beliefs in here, as I'm not yet sure entirely were I stand, I think it's important to remember that Christians sincerely believe they're doing the right thing by reaching out, and that they are in fact helping both God and those to whom they are preaching.

      November 7, 2011 at 12:17 am |
  11. Jonesy

    Why must so many Christians be such hypocritical prudes? Oh yes, because even into adulthood they foster the idea of an imaginary friend named 'God.' Lose the bible, grab some condoms, and let the so-called "sin" be-gin!

    November 6, 2011 at 10:30 am |
  12. John S

    This might have been a story 30 years ago. With all that is going on in the world, this recycled drivel is news?

    November 6, 2011 at 10:07 am |
  13. lefty avenger

    We weren't waiting in 1986 either! yawn...................

    November 6, 2011 at 7:58 am |
  14. joe

    As evil is ramapant in the world, I'm not suprised at the number of people that don't believe in God. What dismays me , is their psychoscerosis, and their deep animosity towards Him. How can atheists have such strong feelings towards a supreme being that they insist does not exist?

    November 6, 2011 at 6:17 am |
    • Rick

      Joe: We do not have animosity toward "god", just the pompous folks who claim to speak for him/her/it

      November 6, 2011 at 7:03 am |
    • wacokid

      As an athiest, I don't have any strong feeings about god, because he doesn't exist! I do respect your belief in him. Don't put all athiests in the same light!

      November 6, 2011 at 7:08 am |
    • wacokid

      Both of my Grandmothers, along with my great grandmother, tried to help me find god. I did my 1st communion and even went to a Jesuit run high school! Did not get the point. Want to hear a funny thing, I am married with a beautiful wife and daughter! I know Jade is going to be a great person, not because of religion, but because we will show our love and morals!! You do not need god to love!

      November 6, 2011 at 7:20 am |
    • jschau

      Ding dong the wicked witch is dead.

      November 6, 2011 at 7:48 am |
    • Yes

      @wacokid: How many men has your wife and daughter slept with? How does those experience compare with yours?

      November 8, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • Hater

      @ Joe

      Because Atheist is from evil. Subcutaneously they are afraid of Him but they don't realize. They are just like satan. They are arrogant and proud, hoping that they will exceed Him. They believe they are the center and have the best morals.

      November 9, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  15. god is BS

    This begs the question... when will sheep discover that the concept of the Virgin Mary is a hoax or biological abnormality? 🙂

    November 6, 2011 at 4:40 am |
    • Yes

      People hasn't found TOE, so don't try to categorize. There are always exceptions in everything, especially in science.

      November 9, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
  16. Dan

    Strange that this is an article.

    November 6, 2011 at 3:39 am |
  17. Ferit

    if you can get laid you do, if you can't you say you're abstaining.

    November 6, 2011 at 3:27 am |
    • J

      Weak comment.

      November 6, 2011 at 9:56 am |
    • pfft

      The truth hurts doesn't it?

      November 6, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
  18. Rebekah

    I've been single for 21 years and don't regret one moment of my life. I've always prioritized God over any relationship. In fact, one of my qualifications for a datable guy is that he loves the Lord, first and foremost...and then that this gentleman pursue me relentlessly, the way the Lord has taught me to pursue Himself. People who love the Lord have a secret language that goes beyond what words can say, that only the spirit knows. By our relationships, each one of us depicts what memories and experiences we'll have. If a guy can't understand that, then there are probably(*) deeper issues going on.

    We are all of us known by Christ, deeply and fully, from the time we were conceived to the time that we take our last breath. He knows it all. And we are in this life to know him. Much of our lives is spent waiting on the Lord. Waiting for his provision, waiting for an answer, waiting, waiting on him...and in waiting we find exactly what we need: that the presence of Jesus IS the answer. Even in romantic relationships there are tough times, there are lonely times, there are seasons of dissonance. It's because a person cannot fill us near as profoundly as Christ can. It's that piece of us that is like Him, that subliminally longs to be near Him. When we learn to wait, we gain the richest treasure. And that is why romance is a favorite angle for the enemy to attack. If he can break individuals, he can destroy teams. If he can dissolve homes, he can dissipate the Body of Christ. We are ALWAYS to be aware and to be on guard, dependent on Christ, waiting on Him. We can't lose focus because so many people have desired to see an example of hope, their lives depend on it. Our love exemplifies that hope.

    November 6, 2011 at 1:23 am |
    • WakeUpCall

      Why should a guy have to pursue you "RELENTLESSLY"? You need to get a clue and wake up from your fantasy or you're going to be an old lady with a lot of cats. Come to think of it, that's probably why you have been single for 21 years. Nothing worse than a stuck up chic who has been told her entire life that she is a princess. Guess what honey, you ain't!

      November 6, 2011 at 4:37 am |
    • Ed Killer

      You're gonna be single of a lot longer than 21 years.

      November 6, 2011 at 5:42 am |
    • joe

      Good for you Rebekah. You can see by the responses to your comment that evil is in control of most of the world. People worshipping the created, instead of the creator.

      November 6, 2011 at 6:11 am |
    • ophelia

      I believe that "God" is a light, made up of everything good, love, energy, intelligence, kindness, etc. Each soul is a tiny bit of that light, sent out to become more pure, to grow bigger, making the light, "God", "holy spirit," bigger, brighter, more intelligent. We live many lives to become pure light, more expansive, before we go back to the source. I think overcoming lust, greed, sloth, etc. is what makes us more pure, but I don't think you have to abstain. I think you have to live, learn, and experience everything beautiful, kind, and good. Making love to someone you love is a beautiful and moving thing. The body is but a shell for the soul. Live and experience, affect others in a postive way.

      November 6, 2011 at 8:28 am |
    • Derrick

      Thanks Rebekah. Please remember that non-beleivers will never understand the language of love God speaks to those who love him and are called to his purpose.

      November 6, 2011 at 8:55 am |
    • Chuk

      I like what you said, but one line....pursue me as I do the Lord....I think yo deify yourself?

      November 6, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
    • Yes

      Be careful! Lots of evils here! Good for you girl! You make one of the wisest decision of your life. I'm sure God will prepare you such a gentleman. Wait patiently, choose carefully, decide wisely... this is definitely you! BLESS!!!

      November 8, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
  19. NutriaTravieso

    No one waits because people get married later in life. I think it's a bad idea for young Christians to wait now. If you wait, you are closing yourself off to dating just one type of person: those who are also waiting. That makes your pool of potential mates much smaller. From an economic standpoint, the smaller the pool of potential mates, the less likely you are to find the perfect match. If waiting until marriage is so important that you are willing to risk not finding someone, or marrying a person who is less than ideal, I don't think you should wait.

    November 5, 2011 at 10:30 pm |
    • Yes

      What if he/she finds out that his/her spouse if his/her true love? What if all those "experience" will hurt his/her true love? All these cannot be taken back. If it was you, would you hurt the one you truly love?

      November 8, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
  20. RAEF715

    it's so difficult today because our world has totally flipped on moral issues- now you are made fun of if you wait. It's not easy, but it's doable. my wife and i met at age 34 and both had waited- before we got married, someone said that we didnt miss a thing, and its true. We now have 2 great sons, no ex-lovers to compare one another too, no guilt or worries about the past. it's tought to see the finish line when you're in the midst of waiting, but once you get there, you find it was all worthwhile, and you really didnt do anything.
    God had a simple plan and a promise- one man, one woman and a lifetime committment...do it his way and you dont miss a thing...other than pain or heartbreak. But our world has taken the ultimate act of love and turned it too often into an act of gaining pleasure, etc for oneself. Look at all the problems this world has brought on itself by not trusting God and misuing the gift He has given us- from disease to death to abortion to abuse.
    Without God, its hopeless to survive against the pressure and temptaiton of this world..with Him, all things are possible. We're living proof.

    November 5, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
    • Elsie

      There is NO solid proof of a God. Richard Dawkins has it right.

      November 6, 2011 at 2:47 am |
    • Bill

      And don't forget that God also whispered into Bush's ears that he needed to go to war! So how many dies in the name of God?

      November 6, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • Yes

      @Elsie What is your solid proof of NO GOD?

      @Bill There are so many people doing things "in the name of GOD". Haven't you ever lied?

      November 8, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • Therese

      " What is your solid proof of NO GOD?"

      What is your solid proof of NO ZEUS?

      What is your solid proof of NO LEPRECHAUNS?


      November 8, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • Yes

      @Therese Science is awesome. They can definitely prove those questions you asked but it can't prove NO GOD!
      You'd better read more about science with evidence... ok?

      November 8, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • Yes

      @Therese Honestly, your questions made me laugh. Even though you know nothing about science, use some common sense. Which one is different from human? Which one dare to claim himself created everything? They have their desire just like human. They are human-like because we created them.

      November 8, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • Yes

      I'm so sick of the people here pretending they know everything while asking the dumbest question EVER!!! As a physicist, I see how amazing the universe is and I see how limit we human are. As an engineer, I see how much we can do comparing with other species, and I see God's favor in us. Yes I am a physicist and engineer. People just stop asking and believing in stupid things, just use whatever is in your head that God gives you, is that so difficult ? Will that kill you?

      November 8, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
    • Therese


      Please list the proven properties of your "God".

      November 8, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • Yes

      First, I clarify that I'm NOT a Christian, but yes, I do believe there is a Creator. I do respect the views in the Bible.
      Whatever the Bible mentioned about how proud human are, we are all the perfect examples. I haven't seen one is humble enough, admitting that human is incompetent. All the arrogance we have blocks the view of us of seeing the truth. This pride leads to all the ugly things in the world which the Bible prophesied.
      Sir. Issac Newton said even a thumb can convince him the existence of God. And he is still one of the smartest man ever lived. Well, I don't really like giving example of individuals but I do respect him. If you learn a little about biology or physics, from human bodies to the great universe, all the accuracy is something that human cannot achieve. If you know something about probability in mathematics, the probability can prove that all these can NEVER happen by chance. Beyond all these, we are just human. All we can imagine is just 3 dimentional space + one more dimension-time. If you know something about M-theory, which is in 11th dimension, you can understand that how pathetic three dimensions are. We are trying to relate general relativity and quantum mechanics through string theory hoping that we will find TOE. I can't guarantee string theory is the candidate but to me God is the root. I'm trying to realize how limit I am. Through three dimensional world, it's not easy to see a higher dimension, but I guess people love living in their fairy tale, thinking they are in the infinite dimensions looking down on the universe.

      November 8, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • Yes

      One thing I forget to mention, we don't truly need proof for God's existence. We are proving Him everyday. Our horrible ways and awesomely amazing nature are doing the best job but we are just too blind to see it.

      November 8, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • Yes

      All right! Now could you please be sweet enough to give me your evidence? Please don't tell me you can't see God, so it's not there. That would be just too elementary. If that's your evidence, then I would win because that's only one point and I'll have more to say. Use some scientific examples (i'm a science freak)... physics is the best to me. I don't care if you use classic physics or modern physics; astrophysics or atomic physics... it all sounds good to me. Thanks!

      November 8, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • Yes

      I have more to say from thermodynamics perspectives (not the 2nd law of thermodynamics, it's silly I know) if you can give me some of your evidence and if you would like to hear. I'm all ears... Good luck!

      November 8, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • Therese


      It is certainly possible that there are as-yet undiscovered dimensions, and most certainly there are as-yet unknown facts out there. Investigation and proof is necessary.

      Daydreaming and fantasizing can be useful in brainstorming to find answers, but proclaiming ideas and concepts as truth just because we can imagine them is not acceptable.

      November 8, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • Yes


      As for those who proclaiming NO GOD, aren't they saying things because they can't imagine Him? Is that acceptable? I'm not trying to force people to believe. I just think it was silly to ask for evidence to prove He is not real. Of course I never found it interesting to try to match things unreasonably, that's why I said it was silly to use 2nd law of thermodynamics to prove the evolution is unreal. I definitely don'e believe in evolution, but the entropy is not directly against evolution either. My point is we are so limit, but how can we be so sure that there is NO GOD? Even in the universe, it's made up mostly by dark matters which don't emit any forms of electromagnetic waves. All people can see things around us is just because of the visible light which is not even 5% on the spectrum. I mean most of things in this universe, we CAN'T see. I bet more than half of the population know nothing about dark matter or dark energy. They are just sitting there saying "No God" or "Give me evidence of God"... to me it's just dumb. Just get up, read some science magazines.

      November 8, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
    • Yes


      I know I had some typos and it makes everything more confusing. See? We are just so limit, at least I am.
      So I changed the errors I found...

      As for those who proclaiming NO GOD, aren't they saying things because they can't imagine Him? Is that acceptable? I'm not trying to force people to believe. I just think it was silly to ask for evidence to prove He is real. Of course I never found it interesting to try to match things unreasonably, that's why I said it was silly to use 2nd law of thermodynamics to prove the evolution is unreal. I definitely don't believe in evolution, but the entropy is not directly against evolution either. My point is we are so limit, but how can we be so sure that there is NO GOD? Even in the universe, it's made up mostly by dark matters which don't emit any forms of electromagnetic waves. All people can see things around us is just because of the visible light which is not even 5% on the spectrum. I mean most of things in this universe, we CAN'T see. I bet more than half of the population know nothing about dark matter or dark energy. They are just sitting there saying "No God" or "Give me evidence of God"... to me it's just dumb. Just get up, read some science magazines.

      November 8, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
    • Yes

      As you mentioned that as-yet undiscovered higher dimension, I'm sorry I have to tell you that they are NOT undiscovered. The truth is that they do exist, we don't need further investigation. Now physics is working in a higher dimensions. I can tell you that people can also draw four dimensions on two dimensions. We are just stuck in this three dimensional space, we can't observe higher dimensional space, so it's extremely difficult for us to visualize. I think it's better for people to read more about real science before they talk about this subject.

      November 8, 2011 at 3:49 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.