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CDC: Teen Girls Say Their Faith Is the Top Reason They Haven’t Had Sex

December 17, 2023

A new report from the Biden administration has revealed that teenage girls who have not had sex tend to have two things in common: faith and family.

The most common reason females in their teens say they have not had sexual relations is that premarital sex violates their “religion or morals,” according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report released on Thursday. Living with two biological or adoptive parents also made teenage girls 60% less likely to have sex before the age of 17, the study finds.

“In 2015–2019, the main reason most commonly chosen by female teenagers for not having had sex, among the options provided, was ‘against religion or morals’ (32.5%),” reports the CDC report, which covers five-year increments. Faith-based abstinence is “followed by ‘haven’t found the right person yet’ (25.3%), ‘other reason’ (16.2%), and ‘don’t want to get pregnant’ (15.9%).”

More than one in four (26.2%) teenage males who have not had sex also said “the most important reason” is their religious beliefs. The most common answer for men was that they had not yet found the right person.

“These teens probably didn’t pick up this value system from Instagram or Netflix. As a group, they have adults in their lives showing them a better way,” Joseph Backholm, senior fellow for Biblical Worldview and Strategic Engagement at Family Research Council, told The Washington Stand. “Their life will be even better if they wait until they’re married and stay faithful to their spouse through their life.” Studies consistently show adults report the greatest satisfaction if they wait until marriage to have sex and do not have any other sexual partners.

“This report suggests when a biblical worldview is translated into practice, it makes your life better,” said Backholm.

The psychological well-being teens derive from premarital abstinence will have a ripple effect through their families and social circles, Backholm stated. “In the same way a broken person ends up causing additional pain to those around them, emotionally and spiritually healthy people end up making the people around them better, as well,” said Backholm. 

Having an intact family also reduces teens’ odds of engaging in sexual behavior. “The probability of having had sex by age 17 was lowest for females who lived with both biological or adoptive parents at age 14 (42%) compared with those who lived in other parental living arrangements (64%–67%). The same pattern held by parental living arrangement for males ages 15–24,” says the CDC report.

The family-related delay may be due to lower levels of yearning for male affection or in response to increased parental supervision, among other reasons. Teenagers whose parents set and enforce rules tend to initiate sexual activity later in life than teens with less engaged parents. Studies show that girls with an absent father go through puberty earlier and have an earlier age of sexual debut, on average, than their peers.

Teenage sex declined somewhat during the pre-pandemic era measured by this report. The CDC found 40.5% of all never-married teenage girls and 38.7% of teen boys had ever had sexual intercourse. The share of males having sex dropped by five points since 2002.

However, the report found a sharp uptick in the share of sexually active, unmarried teenagers who use hormonal forms of contraception, including the morning-after pill.

“A significant trend was seen in the percentage of female teenagers ever using long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs): The percentage increased across the four time points from 2002 to 2015–2019, ranging from 0.4% to 19.2%. Within this group of methods among female teenagers, the trends in increased use of both the implant (from 0.1% to 13.3%) and the IUD (from 0.2% to 6.1%) were also significant,” the report finds. “Another significant trend over the four time periods involved emergency contraception: 8.1% of teen females had ever used this method in 2002, compared with 22.3% in 2015–2019.”

The use of contraceptives have mainstreamed casual sex, meaningless hook-ups, and disposable children, an expert says.

“Society at large has accepted contraceptives as the norm without regard for the fact that these drugs and LARCs have horrific side effects, including altering a woman’s brain function, causing mood swings, weight gain, acne, future infertility, and even cancer. Contraception — no matter what kind — takes a healthy, functioning part of a woman’s body and stops it from functioning as it was intended. It does the exact opposite of what medicine is intended to do,” Mary Szoch, director of the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council, told TWS. 

“What’s more, these drugs don’t simply prevent pregnancy — but in fact, hormonal birth control can take the life of an unborn child,” Szoch told TWS.

Hormonal contraceptives may prevent fertilization but may also act as an abortifacient. The Mayo Clinic notes that even minipill contraceptive “thins the lining of the uterus,” which may “prevent sperm from reaching the egg and a fertilized egg from implanting in the womb.” The same is true of all forms of hormonal contraception, including IUDs, birth control pills, emergency contraception/the morning-after pill, injectables, and implants.

“Separating sex from having children leads to a culture that does not value women and does not value children,” Szoch emphasized. “Instead of being the natural consequence of sex, children are seen as invaders into a couple’s life — invaders who must be disposed of quickly, thus increasing the number of abortions. Planned Parenthood knows this, so they push sex outside of marriage. They push birth control pretending that it leads to fewer pregnancies, when actually, it just leads to more money in their pockets,” both from Title X “family planning” money, as well as abortions due to contraceptive failure. A majority (51%) of women who had an abortion used birth control the month they became pregnant, according to a Guttmacher Institute survey. “The push to make emergency contraception and all contraception available over-the-counter is simply a push to increase the abortion industry’s revenue while harming women.” 

“As Pope Paul VI predicted in his encyclical Humanae Vitae, the growing use of contraceptive practices has caused men to lose respect for women — to see them as objects for sexual gratification rather than equals,” Szoch told TWS.

This CDC report “helps us see the importance of teaching and training the young people in our lives,” Backholm told TWS, “because when we do, they often make choices consistent with what they’ve been taught, and their lives are better for it.”

Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.