New research from the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) shows that the number of unmarried evangelicals ages 18-29 who have been sexually active is much lower than previously thought.[1] Fifty-six percent of unmarried evangelical Millennials claim they have never been sexually active. At the same time, one in four say they have been sexually active in the past three months, while 19 percent have been sexually active previously but not within the past three months. Sexual activity was not specifically defined for this poll.

The poll, which was conducted by Grey Matter Research,* also showed that sexual activity is more common among older Millennials. While 63 percent of unmarried 18-23 year olds have never been sexually active, only 46 percent of the 24-29 year olds could say the same thing.

This study breaks new ground in that it compares when people came to their religious beliefs with when they were sexually active. Among unmarried evangelical Millennials who had been sexually active, 92 percent said they did so after becoming a born again Christian. Four percent were sexually active around the time they were born again. Only 3 percent were sexually active only prior to being born again. The average evangelical Millennial was born again around age eight.

Additional findings include:

  • 11 percent of unmarried respondents were currently co-habiting with a romantic partner.
  • Never-married respondents who had been sexually active in the past, but not in the past three months, on average said the last time they had been sexually active was 3.3 years ago, with a median of two years.
  • The average respondent who had been sexually active previously but not within the past three months was 20 years old the last time he or she had been active.

These are among the key findings of “Sex and Unexpected Pregnancies: What Evangelical Millennials Think and Practice.”  This is the first in a planned series of five releases on the Sex and Unexpected Pregnancies study.

[1] The NAE previously used data that showed that 80 percent of self-identified unmarried evangelicals, ages 18-29, have had sex. (Special Tabulations of the National Survey of Reproductive and Contraceptive Knowledge, The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, December, 2009)

*Grey Matter Research conducted this national demographically representative online survey of 1,007 evangelical adults ages 18-29 in May 2012. Evangelicals were identified by Protestant church attendance of at least once a month, believing that they will go to heaven when they die because they have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior, and strongly agreeing that the Bible is the written word of God and is accurate in all that it teaches, that their personal commitment to Jesus Christ is still important to their lives today, that eternal salvation is possible only through Jesus Christ, and that they personally have a responsibility to tell others about their religious beliefs. The poll has an overall margin of error of ±2.9%. Figures may not add to 100% due to rounding.