Pastor Kevin Sanders

"He must increase, but I must decrease." -John 3:30

In Defense of Virginity Pledges

A response to the Rosenbaum study.

“Many Teens Don’t Keep Virginity Pledges”

This is one of the latest articles I’ve seen on Yahoo.  It comes from a recent study by Janet Elise Rosenbaum, published in Pediactrics (the study is entitled Patient Teenagers? A Comparison of the Sexual Behavior of Virginity Pledgers and Matched Nonpledgers).

But Yahoo’s interpretation of the study is very misleading.  Here’s the first paragraph of the yahoo article:

“Teens who take virginity pledges are just as likely to have sex as teens who don’t make such promises. . .”

Wrong!  This is not an accurate interpretation of Rosenbaum’s study.   I’ve taken the time to read the abstract and analyze her study.

Previous studies compared those who took virginity pledges with the general population.  Such studies showed those who take pledges were less likely to have premarital sex and more likely to delay sex.

But Rosenbaum’s study was different: it compared “virginity pledgers” with “matched nonpledgers.”

If I understand this correctly, the “matched nonpledgers” were virgin teens that 1) anticipated feeling guilty about premarital sex, and 2) attended a church/religious youth group meeting once a week.  This is the group she compared with those who made formal virginity pledges.

Allow me to summarize: a group of teens with religious convictions against premarital sex were compared with a group of teens that made some type of formal virginity pledge.  Their behavior was similar.  Is this supposed to be a surprise?

Here are some of my thoughts:

Teens that embrace the message of purity behave differently than those who don’t.  This doesn’t mean all of them remain chaste until marriage (which is the Biblical standard).  But they are more likely to delay sex (some until marriage) and have fewer sexual partners.  Let’s not forget the positive impact of committing to biblical principles.

 A virginity pledge is simply a formal way for a teenager to express his/her commitment to purity—it is not a “magic bullet.”  None of us would argue that a formal pledge guarantees chaste behavior.  Many of the pledgers in Rosenbaum’s studied actually denied ever making a pledge.  If such was the case, they lacked some much-needed foundation for living a pure life.

Teen sexuality is not just a medical/biological issue.  STD’s, pregnancy rates, and the incidence of sexual behaviors are easily measured and quantified.  But there are other dimensions to human sexuality that cannot be measured: the spiritual and emotional consequences of premarital sex.

Regardless of statistics and studies, God’s mind hasn’t changed on this issue.  His plan for sexuality is clearly stated in the Scriptures: One man and one woman in a covenant of marriage.


  1. Good points. Its also important to recognize that for virginity pledgers, controlling intense sexual desires by their own will is an broken way to pursue a chaste lifestyle. Submitting to God’s grace first is the best way to achieve purity.


  2. I actually agree with you on this one. Lol! God definitely created sex to be done within the context of marriage. From my understanding, most teens may break their vow, but the vow does encourage many teens to wait until their older. I think it’s somewhat positive that many choose to wait until they are older, more mature, and (hopefully) better able to understand the dangerous consequences on premarital sex before they do the deed. Of course I’m not saying it’s a good thing for them to break the pledge at all. But hopefully an older person who is breaking his/her virginity vow would have put more thought into the seriousness of that decision and would not be taking it as lightly as a younger teenager.

    Thankfully, by the grace of God, I have been able to keep my pledge and my boyfriend who actually has a child from another relationship has been able to start over again. I’m so thankful for the healing and changing power of Christ’s love…and I know my boyfriend is too!

    God bless!

  3. Its true that when engaging into a premarital sex there will be lots of emotional and spiritual consequences that a person may encounter in his/her life. It was not easy, b’coz I’ve also gone through it. It made me feel so guilty but there is nothing I can do about it, I’ve already made a mistake. I just do hope and pray that the youth and my siblings won’t follow the mistakes I’ve made.

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