Christian beliefs have historically played a major part in how young people choose to live out their sexuality. But how are Christian beliefs related to sexual behavior nowadays? In the Young in Norway Study, we asked participants several questions about whether or not they believed in God and if they attend service. We split the people into four groups: About half of all had no involvement in Christian religious life. The other half were to more or less strong degree involved, and 7% fell into the category of “active Christians”.
The figure shows the number of participants who had made out with someone at age 15, who had had intercourse before age 16, and who had not yet had intercourse by the time they turned 21. Differences are considerable: Four times as many active Christians had not had intercourse by age 21 than those who had no involvement in Christian life. Also, more young people without involvement in Christian religious life engaged early in making out and having intercourse before age 16.
The findings therefore point to the involvement in Christian religious life as being an important factor for the participants in this study. Most of the young people participating in our study were born in the 1970s, when the number of Muslim adolescents in Norway was still low. Today the number is much higher, and we know from other studies that Muslim adolescents are highly influenced by their religious beliefs. The findings tell us that Christian norms are an important part in the lives of study participants.