Religiosity and Sexual Activity Among Older Adolescents

Richard Fehring, Marquette University
Kerry H. Cheever, Marquette University
Karyn German, Manor Care Health Services
Connie Philpot, Marquette University

Originally published in Journal of Religion and Health, Volume 37, No. 3 (Fall, December 1998), DOI: 10.1023/A:1022985922445.


This study investigates religiosity, sexual activity, and sexual permissiveness among older adolescents. Eighty-two college students completed a survey that measured religiosity, sexual permissiveness, self-esteem, frequency of recent sexual encounters, and motivators for sexual activity or abstinence. Guilt, prayer, organized religious activity, and religious well-being predicted fewer sexual encounters. Orthodox beliefs, participation in organized religious activities, and highly-rated importance of faith predicted less permissive sexual attitudes. We conclude that guilt and religious activity can be good motivators for decreasing sexual encounters. We recommend that health practitioners encourage participation in religious activity among adolescents.