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.

CNN's Belief Blog – all the faith angles to the day's top stories

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)
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  3. kam75

    Dont wonder why a lot of Christians are called Hippocrates
    That one gal said that her friends were doing it , very lame excuse
    You wait because God expects it !
    You don't do it coz ur friends didnt wait , One will not answer to their friends on judgement day !!!

    April 19, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
  4. Lakeesha

    Hi! I know this is kind of off-topic but I needed to ask. Does dbliuing a well-established website such as yours take a lot of work? I'm brand new to operating a blog but I do write in my diary on a daily basis. I'd like to start a blog so I will be able to share my experience and feelings online. Please let me know if you have any suggestions or tips for new aspiring bloggers. Thankyou!

    April 3, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
  5. Haluk

    Thank you for this site, its so scary to see that quite often it is the step parents csiuang the abuse . i know i will be severely screening my partners from now on cos my 2yr old son comes 1st and if anyone was to mess with him they would have to get through me 1st i won't let anyone hurt my baby!!! and i would never sit back and let it happen as if unnoticed!!!! My son needs to feel loved and if his own mummy can't be there for him then what has he got!! love you my wee man!!! mummy will protect you

    April 3, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
    • senditback

      I understand that you have a 2 year old son, and we should want to protect our children with all of our might, but you definitely could have expressed it without all the mushy baby talk from hell !!!

      June 23, 2012 at 8:20 am |
  6. Shamol

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  11. Dan

    The book of revelations and all through the Bible states that towards the end of times temptation will be everywhere. Christians should endure if they have any faith.
    Revelations 2
    1 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:
    These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. 2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.
    4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. 5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. 6 But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
    7 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

    March 25, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
  12. Mad Chemist

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    March 16, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
  13. Rose

    I didn't wait, and I don't regret it. I am in my late 20s and I've been dating for over two years. We deff are going to get married.I'm glad I have stability and love in my life. Many people my age hop from partner to partner.. I'm glad I have someone who loves me and we are going to have a good life together.

    March 7, 2012 at 12:27 am |
    • tallulah13

      Good for you, Rose.

      March 7, 2012 at 12:32 am |
    • kam75

      Are u Christian ? Because quit justifying this if you are or quit calling yourself a Christian ! Um hello !

      April 19, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • Chrissie

      No it hasn't Rob. vjtorley did not atpmett any answer at all. (And if you thought he had you would have repeated his answer wouldn't you?). He simply made assertions and then claimed that one could not answer them without a god belief no justification.When actually those two assertions are easily asnwered without any need to drag in gods.( god did it is never a correct answer).By the way, draggin the bottom of the barrel to rely on creationist uncommon descent aren't you?

      October 8, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  14. 4commonsensenow

    I remember being young and in love with the urge to spawn. Oh the ideals of the perfect life before the work even gets started. It truly is a dream, so to speak. Personally seen very few make it through dating long term, having respect, all around, get married , have beautiful intelligent well behaved children, without basic needs worries. But I have seen it, trust me, wish I would have went that path, but I did ok in the end , I guess. Which is a miracle in of itself. Have esteem, but dont be arrogant., Be kind, but not blind and foolish. Just be real I guess what Im saying.

    February 9, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
  15. olive

    Why arent they waiting to do what? Eat one another hotBrown buttFudge?

    February 7, 2012 at 10:13 am |
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    Sad that CNN put this one on the backburner. It was enjoyable while it lasted!

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    January 12, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • Miguel

      I saw this a few weeks ago. A powerful masesge for sure! For years I didn't go to church, because I wasn't sure how to pick a church or religion. I talked to and spent some time with people from different religions and various churches, it was all really confusing at first. And each person tried to tell me why their church or religion was best. Finally, one day, I drove out to a little church near where I grew up. The people were friendly and welcoming and laid back. They spend a lot of time helping other people in need. They sang lots of songs and shared bible readings. That's all I needed. It was so simple once I took the obsessive thinking out of the equation. It really is about your relationship with Jesus, not where you go to church, or the name of your religion.

      April 1, 2012 at 1:54 am |
  19. Chris

    Rick, if you're clarifying what I personally believe, then, yes, I believe the Bible's teaching is superior. However, my belief means nothing to you and it has no bearing on the truth of God's Word. The fact that I believe in God's Word doesn't make it true. God's Word is true simply because it's true. You and I can choose to follow God's commands or we can choose to dismiss Him. However, His truth isn't something debatable. That would be like debating the color of an orange or the temperature of ice.

    But, yes, I believe my morals to be superior to others' because they are founded on God's Word. That's not to say I am successful at living up to it 100% of the time, but His Word is my guide. What I find offensive are these people who come out of the woodwork to criticize a Christian for having standards beyond a "do what feels right" culture.

    January 12, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • nonbeliever


      You had me up until "God's Word is true simply because it's true." The problem with this statement is the unfortunate hindrance of every religion, faith. Claiming that the bible is in fact true is impossible to measure. You want me to believe that your religion or your god is more real than every other religion, why? They all have a 'book of laws', a belief system, a structure of their faith, ect. Christianity is a religion, not a historical basis of fact that dictates our lives. You said that your god's truth isn't debatable, but it absolutely is. When you believe in something that cannot be proven as fact, then there is absolutely room for debate and the idea that what you believe is not true. I think the greatest weakness of christians is the idea that just because they believe in it, it must be absolutely true, when in reality most christians have very little understanding of the religion as a whole.

      I believe I am more of a moral person than many christians I've known in my life. I do not follow a dogmatic system of beliefs, but I focus on doing what is better for me and my wife and society in general. That makes me believe that my moral system is better, becase I do not look myself to be a hypocrite when I fail to meet standards that could never be reached.

      January 12, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • Chris


      Thanks for the level-headed reply. All too often I find that I can't post too long on these subjects before the whole discussion derails into someone saying Christians are idiots and then Christians taking an overly high-handed response of "well, have fun in hell, buddy".

      You said, "Christianity is a religion, not a historical basis of fact that dictates our lives." I disagree. While I may not be able to prove all the details of Genesis, I can point to the fact that Jesus believed in everything in the Old Testament. Since I believe that Jesus proved that He was who He said He was/is, that's good enough for me. Our discussion would then turn to Jesus and a veracity of the gospels. Such a discussion tends to fall on the side where you start, so I'm not sure there's a point in trying to evangelize you in a blog (although I've attempted such in the past). The evidence is so overwhelming that there's not much of a debate to be had on the history of Jesus. Sort of like talking about whether or not Napolean existed or not. Scholars uncomfortable with Jesus will be big on textual criticism and attack the gospels themselves, but it's difficult to deny the explosion of Christianity at the time of Jesus' Resurrection in the face of an extremely hostile culture.

      So when I say the truth of God's Word isn't debatable, I say that after believing the historical evidence of Jesus and believing in the promises He made for salvation and a way of life He commands. I don't consider my faith to be blind faith, but informed faith founded in the confidence of historical evidence. Jesus died on the cross and rose on the third day. I believe Him and I believe what He believes. Jesus spoke of the Old Testament as historical fact.

      January 12, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • nonbeliever


      I too thank you for a civil reply!

      For me, and my belief in the divine, I do believe there is a god(s) however I do not believe that any religion run by man can truly break down who or what that is. I'm not scientific enough to say that there couldn't be some sort of superior guidance that has a hand in the universe, but I feel I'm educated enough in philosophy and even theology, to feel that man has had more of a hand in religion than god. What I can say, for someone who does believe in god for us to be able to not only explain it, but believe it wants a relationship with us, is a little naive.

      While I do not doubt there was a man who lived named Jesus, I do not believe he was what so many claim that he was. When you look at the history and structure of scripture, the scribes passing down year after year after year in word of mouth form what we have today as the gospel. Who knows what actually happened when the scribes decided to put down on paper what was being said. And I don't know about you, but I have played the telephone game and I can't imagine how much it would change after years and not just minutes. There is no real accountability for what was put down all those years ago. Then looking at the educational level of those scribes, did they possess enough understanding of language written and spoken to be truly accurate? More than likely not. The idea that the mystical nature of Jesus was not included in the beginning of the gospels and was added in later. Why? Even when you look at the letters from paul, knowing we have no original transcript, and what authority do those authors have to be writing truth? This then moves into the forming of what we have as the new testament. Many letters that painted a picture of Jesus as less than god were not included. Many gospels and letters were not put into the new testament, because they needed a clear message that carried as little contradiction as possible. There is a rich theme, in my opinion, that religion is far more made by man than god. I know I'm only scratching the surface of this idea, and not doing it true justice in my mind, but to speak on this in true depth would take many pages worth of writing.

      This moves me into today. You can talk to christians and they will tell you why their god is real and point it out in their bible. You can talk to Muslims and they will tell you why their god is real and point it out in their Quran. You can talk to Moromn's today and they will tell you why their god is real and point it out in the book of mormon. You can talk to someone who is Hindu, Jewish, Buddhist, ect, and they can all tell you why they are right and others are wrong, pointing to their ancient text. You say that it is historical evidence that leads you to believe in Christianity, but you point to these religions, many far older than christianity, and tell them they are wrong. Not to be rude, but it's hypocritical in your explanation. This is why saying you believe in Jesus for historical reasons, is a bad example. It would mean historically, you would have to believe in every religion. The thing about religion, is it always fits the cultural relativity of it's time. Western religion differs from eastern religion mainly for cultural context of the time the religion was founded. Christianity has evolved and is far more secure in western society than any other culture.

      That then moves me to Christianity in general. You have a religion that has changed dramatically over time. It has murdered millions in the name of expansion of it's kingdom. It oppressed African Americans and was supportive of slavery. It was a main leader in the oppression of women and seeing them as lower than man. And today it continues its stronghold against ho.mo.se.xuals and keeping them from being equal. Of course many other religions have done evil, but this tends to happen when religion is following man and not god. When you look at the 30 different denominations (not including the non-denominational) churches there are that all follow different translations of scripture and all carry differing variations of truth, then how do you know which is right and which is wrong? The whole basis for denominations is because man has translated his idea of god into a different form and created a religion to surround it. How does one look at that and not feel as if this is a man created idea of who or what god is? Add that on top of the contradictions in scripture and how it is interpreted and you have yourself a true headache.

      I have no problem with people believing a religion. What I have a problem with is promoting it as truth and fact without taking the time to examine the world around them. Where is the god of the new testament today? Why was the holy spirit so active in peoples live in the NT, but yet so absent from the world today? You can point at miracles that have happend in the name of Christ, I can point at scientific anomalies that happened in the lives of Muslims and even atheist, as well as the millions of miracles that did NOT happen though christians begged for it. I can as easily tell you the universe is balancing itself out, karma if you will, just as easily as you tell me it's the divine hand of god. The bible is not listed in the historical section because it is a faith based book. You can tell me that you have faith in your god, and that's fine. But telling me that your god or religion is not fallible is impossible.

      One must be careful when they speak in absolutes. At one time the world was believed to be flat and that the earth was the center of the universe. People who didn't agree were heretics. I believe in a thousand years we will look back at this time and laugh about how we believed everything worked.

      January 13, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • vince

      so, now we have to listen the religion of the nonbeliever with the religious name Chris. So what you don't like is what you are doing. Don't you know that the question is not to stop promoting religion, but rather what religion. Every philosophy has it own ethical system as does yours. The god that you believe in is not something new. So, nothing new under the sun. You ethical system (but don't try to steal from the Man Jesus, please) has led our society to the miserable state, where we are right now.

      January 14, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Chris

      You don't read very well. I'm a Christian. :-/

      February 7, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • Eric


      Test what the Bible says is true. Find out for yourself if it is not true. But do it exactly the way it is laid out in the New Testament. Do not skip steps or anything. God tells us to test Him to see if He is telling us the truth or not. If your treat other people the way that you want to be treated your relationships will be a whole lot better than it you do not.

      February 21, 2012 at 11:08 am |
  20. Ryan

    All the kids in my abstinence classes were banging eachother lol. Maybe we should've been teaching them how to use condoms.

    January 12, 2012 at 1:11 am |
    • Jonathan

      Or maybe they should have listened. Don't call a tool broken because no one chooses to use it or they fail to use it correctly.

      January 16, 2012 at 6:27 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.