The Relationship of Faith, Family, and Fears, and Sexual Abstinence in Emerging Adults

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Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Rodger Narloch, Psychology


Although there is much research available on the sexual behaviors of emerging adults, there has been little investigation about the reasons why approximately 20% of emerging adults (Arnett, 2004) remain sexually abstinent. This study examined some possible reasons for sexual abstinence, including faith, family, and fears. Over half of the sample reported themselves as sexual abstinent at the time of the study (52.7%), and the rest reported themselves as sexually active (47.3%). This rate of abstinence is much higher than the rates in other samples, which may be related to the location of the institutions or their religious affiliation. The results revealed that overall emerging adults who are sexually abstinent tend to be more intrinsically religiously motivated and more fundamental in their faith beliefs than sexually active emerging adults. Upon closer examination, however, results only revealed this effect for females. No overall differences appeared with feelings of family connectedness or actual family connectedness between abstinent and not abstinent students. In terms of biological sex, however, sexually abstinent female emerging adults did report feeling more connected to their family than sexually active female emerging adults. Additionally, over one quarter of all students noted fears as a reason for their sexual choices. These data suggest that to some degree emerging adults' sexual choices are influenced by their faith, their family, and their fears, though the relationship between these variables and sexual abstinence is not consistent across sex.