More frequent Bible readers are less likely to have sex outside of marriage—unmarried evangelical Millennials share their beliefs and practices

(Original release date: December 6, 2012) Bible reading correlates with a lower likelihood of sex outside of marriage among evangelicals ages 18-29 in a new report from the National Association of Evangelicals and Grey Matter Research. Among frequent Bible readers (thrice weekly or more), only 20 percent of unmarried evangelical Millennials have been sexually active in the past three months, while 60 percent have never been sexually active. But among less frequent Bible readers, 34 percent have been active recently, while 49 percent have never been sexually active.

The poll also found that those who read the Bible less frequently were more likely to agree with the statement, “I would like to remain abstinent, but I just can’t seem to do it,” with 34 percent agreeing, compared with 24 percent of more frequent readers. Along the same lines, 80 percent of frequent Bible readers said they are committed to remaining abstinent until marriage versus 66 percent who read the Bible less than three times a week.

Frequent Bible readers were more likely to attribute unmarried sexual activity among evangelical Millennials to reasons related to spiritual immaturity (e.g. the lack of a strong biblical foundation, “living for the moment,” and churches not dealing with sexual issues enough). Less frequent Bible readers were more likely to blame external factors (e.g. people marrying later in life, the human sex drive simply being too strong to resist, and especially the highly sexualized society).

Additional findings include:

  • Ninety-seven percent of the poll respondents said they read the Bible at least once in a typical month, including 26 percent who said they read the Bible on a daily basis.
  • To qualify for the study, respondents had to attend worship services once a month. Forty-two percent attend weekly, and 35 percent attend more than once a week.

These are among the key findings of “Sex and Unexpected Pregnancies: What Evangelical Millennials Think and Practice.” This is the third in a planned series of five releases on the Sex and Unexpected Pregnancies study.

The report — including a FAQ section with comparisons to previous surveys of evangelicals on these issues — is available on the NAE’s website along with more information about the polling methodology and graphs of the study’s findings.

Study Details:
Grey Matter Research (Phoenix, AZ) conducted this national demographically representative online survey of 1,007 evangelical adults ages 18—29 in May 2012. Evangelicals were identified by Protestant church attendance of at least once a month, believing that they will go to heaven when they die because they have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior, and strongly agreeing that the Bible is the written word of God and is accurate in all that it teaches, that their personal commitment to Jesus Christ is still important to their lives today, that eternal salvation is possible only through Jesus Christ, and that they personally have a responsibility to tell others about their religious beliefs. The poll has an overall margin of error of ±2.9%.

The mission of the National Association of Evangelicals is to honor God by connecting and representing evangelical Christians. The NAE includes more than 45,000 local churches from 40 different denominations and serves a constituency of millions. Founded in 1942, the Association is currently led by President Leith Anderson.

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