Why do religious teens have unprotected sex? Parents, teachers, pastors, and more would love to know.
Ask the average teenager going to a conservative Christian church to name the most important messages their church gives to teens. You’re almost certain to hear, “Don’t have sex until you’re married.” It may not be the most common message, but it’s certain to be high on the list. And many of them would probably say that’s the same message they get from their parents.
Of course that’s very different from the messages they get from most media, most schools, and most peers.
I will always remember a 15 year-old girl and her very unhappy mother who came to see me a few years ago. Jasmine (not her real name) had just found out she was pregnant. It was clear from the conversation with them that getting pregnant at 15 was deeply frowned upon in their family and their church. And an abortion wasn’t even a consideration.
I pieced the story together over the following months. Jasmine wasn’t “supposed” to be having sex at all. She hadn’t told her mother when she and her boyfriend became sexually involved, and she didn’t use contraception, thinking she wouldn’t get pregnant. Jasmine felt a lot of shame about what she had done, knowing it was “against the rules.”