Yolanda Jordan* remembers the moment she decided to have sex for the first time. She was 27, fresh out of grad school, in a committed relationship–and horny. She was also raised in the Baptist church and had taken a vow of abstinence. “I was curious,” says Jordan, now 34, a graphic designer in Columbus, Ohio. “My mind was telling me one thing, my body another. I was grown [and] longing to be touched. I am not perfect; I struggle with sin. I strive to live a righteous life. Just because I have a Bible on my nightstand and condoms in the drawer doesn’t mean I love God any less or that He doesn’t love me.”
Many Christian youths who signed abstinence pledges or wore purity rings reach a crossroad as young adults. They are faced with upholding Biblical principles against sex outside of marriage during an era when the average age of first marriage creeps toward 30. Celibacy may be even tougher for singles who have splashed around in the pool of fornication long before dedicating their lives to Christ. More are asking, “Am I really condemning my soul to eternal damnation by getting my freak on Saturday night and praising the Lord on Sunday morning?” As many as 80 percent of young unmarried Christians have had sex, according to Relevant, a magazine for Christians aged 18 to 30.
Even as they uphold abstinence as ideal, religious leaders can no longer ignore the elephant in the sanctuary. From a newsletter published by pastor Creflo Dollar: “There was a time when … marriage was honored and respected … and sexual relationships outside of marriage were certainly not accepted as the norm. However, times have changed … values have moved away from the standard of God’s Word because of selfishness.” Last year’s Jumping the Broom, produced by Bishop T.D. Jakes, opened with Paula Patton’s character regretting her decision to have casual sex the night before. The romcom portrays her finding true love and deciding with her fiancé to abstain until their wedding day. It was Jakes’ decision to include the morning-after scene, Patton told The Christian Post. “We make mistakes, but the goal is to become better [people].”