Forbidden Fruit: Sex and Religion in the Lives of American Teenagers

Forbidden Fruit

Mark D. Regnerus, a research associate with the National Study of Youth and Religion (NSYR), has published a book,Forbidden Fruit, which draws extensively on the NSYR survey and interview data, as well as other sources, to describe the sexual values and practices of American teenagers today, paying particular attention to how participating in organized religion shapes sexual decision-making. The book is published by Oxford University Press. To order, please call 1-800-451-7556. The cost is $25.00. The book is also available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Description of Book
As is evident from contemporary debates about sex education, Americans remain deeply ambivalent about teenage sexuality. While many presume that such reticence is rooted in religion, how exactly religion contributes to the formation of teenagers' sexual values and behaviors has been poorly understood before now. Does religion really motivate the sexual choices of a significant segment of adolescent society? Are abstinence pledges effective? Is there evidence for a "technical virginity" phenomenon among religious teenagers? What does it mean to be "emotionally ready" for sex? Who expresses regrets about their sexual activity and why?

Merging analyses of three national surveys of teenagers with stories from interviews with over 250 of them across America,Forbidden Fruit covers a wide range of topics, including sentiment about waiting to have sex until marriage, motivation to pursue sexual relationships, proclivity for same-sex attraction and behaviors, teenagers' experience of virginity loss, and the frequency of several heterosexual practices.

Forbidden Fruit reveals the complexity of teenagers' sexual decision-making, documenting that religion affects their sexual attitudes, but that it does not often motivate their decisions to act. Instead, religion often accompanies other "secular" reasons for delaying sex, like concern for safeguarding one's educational future. Forbidden Fruitdescribes this largely religion-less "middle class sexual morality" in detail, and concludes with a new typology for documenting how religion shapes human action among adolescents and adults.

More broadly, however, Forbidden Fruit puts to rest inane fears about rampant teenage sexuality, concluding that most teenage sex is "traditional," while pointing out new evidence for disturbing trends both in particular sexual practices and how teenagers learn about human sexuality.

About the Author
Mark D. Regnerus is Assistant Professor of Sociology and a Faculty Research Associate in the Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

Book Reviews
"Regnerus does an excellent job of combining large-scale survey results with vivid interviews to provide a comprehensive portrayal of how sexuality and religion are related in the lives of American adolescents. The book shows how sexuality and religion interact in complex and sometimes surprising ways. It addresses important topics few other books on either sexuality or religion in adolescence have addressed, such as masturbation and Internet pornography. Anyone interested in the lives of today's young Americans should read this book." — Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, author ofEmerging Adulthood: The Winding Road from the Late Teens Through the Twenties

"Forbidden Fruit is an iconoclastic book that shatters the sexual pieties of the religious right and the secular left. Mark Regnerus shows that churches and Christian parents--especially evangelical ones--have failed to steer their kids clear of sex because they hold out no compelling vision of the sexual good life. But he also shows that the secular left's faith in 'healthy' teen sex is chimerical: adolescents who have had sex look worse on all the outcomes that scholars and parents care about. This important book is bound to get parents, pastors, and scholars talking." — W. Bradford Wilcox, author of Soft Patriarchs, New Men: How Christianity Shapes Fathers and Husbands

"I've waited for this book my entire ministry. It used to be that only skeptics and mystics noticed the interplay between sexuality and spirituality in young people--but Regnerus confronts the parallels head on as a sociologist, and dares the church to do the same. Forget "forbidden": Forbidden Fruitshould be required reading for anyone who loves young people." — Kenda Creasy Dean, parent, pastor, professor and author of Practicing Passion: Youth and the Quest for a Passionate Church

Product Details
320 pages; 5 line illus.; 6-1/8 x 9-1/4;
ISBN13: 978-0-19-532094-7
ISBN10: 0-19-532094-8

02-09-07

Mark D. Regnerus, a research associate with the National Study of Youth and Religion (NSYR), has published a book, Forbidden Fruit, which draws extensively on the NSYR survey and interview data, as well as other sources, to describe the sexual values and practices of American teenagers today, paying particular attention to how participating in organized religion shapes sexual decision-making. The book is published by Oxford University Press. To order, please call 1-800-451-7556. The cost is $25.00. The book is also available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Description of Book
As is evident from contemporary debates about sex education, Americans remain deeply ambivalent about teenage sexuality. While many presume that such reticence is rooted in religion, how exactly religion contributes to the formation of teenagers' sexual values and behaviors has been poorly understood before now. Does religion really motivate the sexual choices of a significant segment of adolescent society? Are abstinence pledges effective? Is there evidence for a "technical virginity" phenomenon among religious teenagers? What does it mean to be "emotionally ready" for sex? Who expresses regrets about their sexual activity and why? Merging analyses of three national surveys of teenagers with stories from interviews with over 250 of them across America, Forbidden Fruit covers a wide range of topics, including sentiment about waiting to have sex until marriage, motivation to pursue sexual relationships, proclivity for same-sex attraction and behaviors, teenagers' experience of virginity loss, and the frequency of several heterosexual practices. Forbidden Fruit reveals the complexity of teenagers' sexual decision-making, documenting that religion affects their sexual attitudes, but that it does not often motivate their decisions to act. Instead, religion often accompanies other "secular" reasons for delaying sex, like concern for safeguarding one's educational future. Forbidden Fruit describes this largely religion-less "middle class sexual morality" in detail, and concludes with a new typology for documenting how religion shapes human action among adolescents and adults. More broadly, however,Forbidden Fruit puts to rest inane fears about rampant teenage sexuality, concluding that most teenage sex is "traditional," while pointing out new evidence for disturbing trends both in particular sexual practices and how teenagers learn about human sexuality.

About the Author
Mark D. Regnerus is Assistant Professor of Sociology and a Faculty Research Associate in the Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin. 

Book Reviews
"Regnerus does an excellent job of combining large-scale survey results with vivid interviews to provide a comprehensive portrayal of how sexuality and religion are related in the lives of American adolescents. The book shows how sexuality and religion interact in complex and sometimes surprising ways. It addresses important topics few other books on either sexuality or religion in adolescence have addressed, such as masturbation and Internet pornography. Anyone interested in the lives of today's young Americans should read this book." — Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, author of Emerging Adulthood: The Winding Road from the Late Teens Through the Twenties "Forbidden Fruit is an iconoclastic book that shatters the sexual pieties of the religious right and the secular left. Mark Regnerus shows that churches and Christian parents--especially evangelical ones--have failed to steer their kids clear of sex because they hold out no compelling vision of the sexual good life. But he also shows that the secular left's faith in 'healthy' teen sex is chimerical: adolescents who have had sex look worse on all the outcomes that scholars and parents care about. This important book is bound to get parents, pastors, and scholars talking." — W. Bradford Wilcox, author of Soft Patriarchs, New Men: How Christianity Shapes Fathers and Husbands "I've waited for this book my entire ministry. It used to be that only skeptics and mystics noticed the interplay between sexuality and spirituality in young people--but Regnerus confronts the parallels head on as a sociologist, and dares the church to do the same. Forget "forbidden": Forbidden Fruit should be required reading for anyone who loves young people." — Kenda Creasy Dean, parent, pastor, professor and author of Practicing Passion: Youth and the Quest for a Passionate Church

Product Details
320 pages; 5 line illus.; 6-1/8 x 9-1/4;
ISBN13: 978-0-19-532094-7
ISBN10: 0-19-532094-8