A study by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy determined 88 percent of unmarried Christians ages 18 to 29 have had sex, despite the general push for abstinence in most Christian denominations.
But while these statistics may seem shocking, some are casting doubt on their accuracy and meaning for Christianity.
The study also found 64 percent of those surveyed have been sexually active in the last year, while 42 percent are in a current sexual relationship. The study was published in RELEVANT Magazine, a Catholic news magazine, which devoted a three-page spread to the findings in their September/October issue.
Marquette students and faculty had various reactions to the statistics and overall concept of the study.
John Haugland, a sophomore in the College of Engineering and practicing Catholic, thought the studies were drastic misconceptions.
“If you look at this campus you would find that the majority of the students will identify as Christian, but how many are actually practicing?” Haugland said. “The study may be more applicable if this was distinguished.”
Haugland said he believes the study generalized the Christian population.
“If you are true to your beliefs and are truly practicing, you will abide by what the faith says,” Haugland said. “People choose to practice their religion either fully or partially – this may be a part that some Christians dismiss.”
The Rev. Thomas Anderson, associate director of Campus Ministry, said he did not find the report surprising.
“I believe most teenagers are at that stage of life when they may begin to move from a nominal adherence to a more personal appropriation,” Anderson said in an email.
Susan Mountin, director for faculty for the Manresa Project and former campus minister at Marquette from 1978 to 2001, was responsible for the marriage preparation program and worked with pregnant students or those who had abortions while attending Marquette.
“Believe me, students were sexually active at Marquette,” Mountin said in an email. “I cannot imagine there are fewer students who are sexually active now ten years later … society has made sexual activity a very casual thing.”
Mountin said she found that students generally engaged in sexual activities for what she called “the wrong reasons.”
“I also hope we can have more free and open conversations about this topic at Marquette,” Mountin said. “Sometimes there is a lot of ‘experimenting’ that goes on with relationships in college.”