Slate Magazine has a discussion of a new book by Mark Regnerus. The book, Forbidden Fruit: Sex & Religion in the Lives of American Teenagers, is a sociological study of the ways that personal faith influences young people's choices regarding their choices to be sexually active or not.
The effect of faith is not nearly what parents hope it would be:
Teenagers who identify as 'evangelical' or 'born again' are highly likely to sound like the girl at the bar; 80 percent think sex should be saved for marriage. But thinking is not the same as doing. Evangelical teens are actually more likely to have lost their virginity than either mainline Protestants or Catholics. They tend to lose their virginity at a slightly younger age—16.3, compared with 16.7 for the other two faiths. And they are much more likely to have had three or more sexual partners by age 17: Regnerus reports that 13.7 percent of evangelicals have, compared with 8.9 percent for mainline Protestants.
The complex reasons behind this are discussed in the article. The good news is that the situation is not true for young people who are really committed to their faith rather than just self-identifying themselves as faithful.
Read the rest here.