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Forbidden Fruit: Sex & Religion in the Lives of American Teenagers [Hardcover]

By Mark Regnerus (Author)
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Item description for Forbidden Fruit: Sex & Religion in the Lives of American Teenagers by Mark Regnerus...

Americans remain deeply ambivalent about teenage sexuality. Many presume that such uneasiness is rooted in religion. But how exactly does religion contribute to the formation of teenagers' sexual values and actions? What difference, if any, does religion make in adolescents' sexual attitudes and behaviors? Are abstinence pledges effective? What does it mean to be "emotionally ready" for sex? Who expresses regrets about their sexual activity and why?
Tackling these and other questions, Forbidden Fruit tells the definitive story of the sexual values and practices of American teenagers, paying particular attention to how participating in organized religion shapes sexual decision-making. Merging analyses of three national surveys with stories drawn from interviews with over 250 teenagers across America, Mark Regnerus reviews how young people learn-and what they know-about sex from their parents, schools, peers and other sources. He examines what experiences teens profess to have had, and how they make sense of these experiences in light of their own identities as religious, moral, and responsible persons.
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.

Citations And Professional Reviews
Forbidden Fruit: Sex & Religion in the Lives of American Teenagers by Mark Regnerus has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Library Journal - 03/15/2007 page 76

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Oxford University Press, USA
Pages   304
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.24" Width: 6.48" Height: 1.06"
Weight:   1.26 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Apr 1, 2007
Publisher   Oxford University Press
ISBN  0195320948  
ISBN13  9780195320947  

Availability  0 units.

More About Mark Regnerus

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

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Sociology > General
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Religious Studies > Religion
4Books > Subjects > Teens > Health, Mind & Body > General
5Books > Subjects > Teens > Health, Mind & Body > Sexuality
6Books > Subjects > Teens > Social Issues > General
7Books > Subjects > Teens > Social Issues

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Reviews - What do customers think about Forbidden Fruit: Sex & Religion in the Lives of American Teenagers?

A Little Obvious  May 31, 2007
This book is for those people who have never been teenagers themselves or are so out of touch with the world that it really will not help them. Alternatively this book could be used by teenagers as a "how to guide" but as such it should be classified in the same section as "the idiot's guide to sex."
While Regnerus puts out some interesting points most of it is well known or obvious. Of course the people who claim to be strongly religious are more likely to do the wrong thing, anyone can see that (this is especially well illustrated in Dante's Inferno).
Regnerus does satisfactorily put forth the notion that the religious parents and priests have failed at their mission of teens not having sex. He does not, however, assess the impact of sexual education in conjunction with religious beliefs as well as he should. Some things are just not satisfactorily explained, though perhaps with the degredation of morality now-a-days those things cannot be explained other than by peer pressure.
Crucial Reading for those Concerned w/Teenagers  Feb 20, 2007
Regnerus makes a huge contribution in this book to our understanding of religion and sex in the lives of American youth. Forbidden Fruit is built on solid social science research and is highly informative and challenging. I recommend it to anyone who has, works with, or cares about teenagers.
This book is a must-read for religious leaders, educators, and parents  Feb 20, 2007
Forbidden Fruit asks questions about the connection between religion and sex among American teenagers, and the answers Regnerus finds are neither simple nor straightforward. In fact, the author concludes that simple and straightforward answers to questions about sex (like, avoid sex before you're married) have largely fallen flat among American teens, Christians included. There's new material on emerging sexual norms, masturbation, homosexuality, virginity loss, post-virginity sexual decision-making, etc. For these reasons, I think the book could be considered as a standard in the study of adolescent sexual behavior, independent of its illustrative emphasis on religion.

Forbidden Fruit is broad in its analyses of nationally representative survey data and rich in its conversations with real people. The writing is clear, crisp, and engaging, and should appeal to parents and educators alike. It's also fun to read but avoids a frivolous or overly playful tenor. There are many refreshing turns of phrase in the presentation of arguments that make this book enjoyable. In sum, the author talks about serious matters in a disarming way, one that is respectful to religious traditions, and doesn't lend itself to easy politicization or demonizing. The stories about evangelical youth (who seem sexually "traditional" in word more than in deed) and the emergence of a "conservative" middle class sexual morality that has little to do with religion are fascinating. I think the author is right: most religious groups in America don't know how to address adolescent sexuality; in turn they hold out no compelling vision for their teens in how to be both devout and sexual. In sum, it's an outstanding contribution.

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