John Piper observes that “More evidence from surveys [confirms] what the Bible makes so plain: superficial, non-doctrinal, non-serious Christians sin pretty much like the world; but more serious, more doctrinally oriented Christians lead lives that are morally distinct.”
With respect to teenagers, Piper highlights what looks like a very interesting new book by Oxford Press: Forbidden Fruit: Sex & Religion in the Lives of American Teenagers. From the Publisher’s description:
Religion can and does matter, Regnerus finds, but religious claims are often swamped by other compelling sexual scripts. Particularly interesting is the emergence of what Regnerus calls a new middle class sexual morality which has little to do with a desire for virginity but nevertheless shuns intercourse in order to avoid risks associated with pregnancy and STDs. And strikingly, evangelical teens aren’t less sexually active than their non-evangelical counterparts, they just tend to feel guiltier about it. In fact, Regnerus finds that few religious teens have internalized or are even able to articulate the sexual ethic taught by their denominations. The only-and largely ineffective-sexual message most religious teens are getting is, “Don’t do it until you’re married.” Ultimately, Regnerus concludes, religion may influence adolescent sexual behavior, but it rarely motivates sexual decision making.