Below, see the safe sex and abstinence ad put out by the Candie's Foundation (featuring Bristol Palin and "The Situation").
Christians are known for believing that sex is something best saved for marriage. But research over the past few years seems to indicate that young evangelicals are almost just as sexually active as their non-believing counterparts.
This subject has been studied numerous times, with the latest discussion on the matter coming in the October issue of the Relevant, an evangelical Christian magazine geared toward young people. In an article, entitled "(Almost) Everyone's Doing It," Tyler Charles examines several studies that shed light on the sexual activity of single Christians.
Among the research mentioned in the article is a December 2009 study from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. CNN has more on its findings:
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.
World Magazine also tackled this difficult issue in 2007, with Gene Edward Veith writing:
...there is evidence that evangelical teenagers on the whole may be more sexually immoral than non-Christians. Statistically, evangelical teens tend to have sex first at a younger age, 16.3, compared to liberal Protestants, who tend to lose their virginity at 16.7. And young evangelicals are far more likely to have had three or more sexual partners (13.7 percent) than non-evangelicals (8.9 percent).
Veith goes on to explain that, though the majority go against their own beliefs on the matter, eight in 10 teens who claim that they've been "born again" believe that sex outside of the realm of marriage is morally wrong. Here, an intriguing divide between personal values and actions can be seen.
These numbers and proportions are likely startling to organizations and Christians, alike, who are working fervently to try and encourage young people to hold off on sex. But with social roles changing and with Americans marrying later in life, holding off seems to be something that even Christians are struggling to do.
According to Relevant, sex in popular culture is another issue hampering Christian teens and young adults. On a daily basis, almost every medium reinforces the idea that sex is fun, pleasurable and should simply be engaged in at will. This saturation has made it easier for young Christians, like their non-believing counterparts, to fall into temptation.
Below, see a promo for LifeWay's "True Love Waits" campaign, which encourages young people to wait before having sex:
Examining this issue is important for churches and parents, alike. Considering the overwhelming presence of sexual content in media as well as the collective acceptance of pre-marital sex in mainstream society, fighting against this grind will certainly be an uphill battle.