I’ve written before about the differences between same-sex unions and opposite sex married couples.
Here’s a post from Canon and Culture on the same topic by social scientist Glenn Stanton.
He finds two differences.
[T]he research is strong and numerous enough that a recent and very provocative Atlantic cover story on what straights could learn from gay marriage couldn’t ignore it. Liza Mundy, the article’s author, doesn’t appear to have a conservative bone in her body, yet she is fair and straight-up honest with the research on the nature of committed same-sex relationships.
[…]Mundy explains that studies have found “higher dissolution rates among same-sex couples” in Scandinavia – one of the world’s most gay-friendly cultures — than married heterosexual couples. This study, published in Demography, found that even though same-sex couples enter their legal unions at older ages — a marker related to greater relational stability – male same-sex marriages break up at twice the rate of heterosexual marriages. And the break-up rate for lesbians? A stunning 77% higher than the same-sex male unions! When controlling for possible confounding factors, the “risk of divorce for female partnerships actually is more than twice than that for male unions.”
[…]A study of two generations of British couples (one born 1958, the other 1970) in same-sex cohabiting, opposite-sex cohabiting and opposite-sex marriage relationships found the same-sex relationships dramatically more likely to break up than the opposite-sex cohabiting and married relationships.
According to that British study, only 25% of same-sex co-habitating couples are intact after 8 years. The stability number for married couples after 8 years is 82%. That’s a big difference.
But there’s more:
Other studies – conducted by celebrated lesbian scholars – find notable instability in lesbian homes, even those with children. The current National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study (NLLFS) found “a significant difference” in family dissolution rates when comparing lesbian with mother/father headed families, 56% and 36% respectively. (p. 1201)
Another research study by two celebrated gay-friendly scholars, highlights a major comparative study between hetero and lesbian homes where, in the 5-year period of the study, 6 of the 14 lesbian mother-headed homes had broken up compared to only 5 of the 38 mom/dad headed homes. (p. 11) These scholars creatively explains that this stability imbalance is likely due to the “high standards lesbians bring to their intimate unions…” (p.12)
Ever heard of lesbian bed death?
And Mundy points something else predictable in lesbian relationships. In fact, its consistency has earned it a name in the LGBT community: lesbian bed death. Seriously. This is the truth that sexual interest and frequency in many long-term lesbian relationships tends to decline considerably and even die over the years.
Usually, in relationships, men tend to be the ones who want more frequent sex. What happens when you have no aggressors and two gatekeepers? Lesbian bed death.
Next up, something common in male homosexual relationships: infidelity.
A noted 2010 study on non-monogamy in long-term gay relationships by two gay-affirming scholars — the Couples Study — observes in their report’s first sentence: “…non-monogamous relationships are very common in the gay community…” Their data showed that of the non-monogamous, long-term couples in their study, 42 percent made an arrangement for outside-sexual relationships within the first three months of the relationship’s beginning and by the end of the first year, that number increased to 49 percent. At the seventh anniversary mark, an additional 24 percent of gay couples adopted such agreements. So such agreements are increasingly made as these relationships grow longer.
The Atlantic piece is notes this as well; explaining that after the AIDS crisis, “gay male couples are more monogamous than they used to be, but not nearly to the same degree as other kinds of couples.” One study Mundy cites asked those in various relationships whether they had any agreed-upon rules permitting extra-curricular activities. The differences were astonishing. Only 4% of male/female couples had them compared to 40% of gay men in legally recognized unions and 49% in long-term cohabiting unions.
Another widely respected investigation, found that only a third of gay couples had monogamous agreements and truly honored them with no outside sex. In fact, it found that in the openly nonmonogamous gay relationships, the frequency of extra-dyadic sex from its start ranged from 2 to a whopping 2,500 separate incidents. The median was a remarkable 41.5 extracurricular incidents since the relationship’s beginning. Frequency in the last year was startling was well, ranging from 0 to 350 occurrences of outside sex, with a median of 8 incidences in the last twelve months. Even those who pledged true monogamy, the range was from 1 to 63 “slip-ups” with a median of 5. Five “slip-ups” are not slip-ups. The corresponding numbers for men in heterosexual marriages are microscopic in comparison.
So what does all this mean?
It means that if you are interested in a definition of marriage that involves stability and marital fidelity, then you shouldn’t be in favor of legalizing gay marriage. When you open up the term marriage to include relationships that seem to be very unstable and/or very unfaithful, you change the definition of marriage. Marriage means life-long married love. If we just turn around and call any association of adults “marriage”, then we are losing the distinctiveness of marriage in the process. Think about it. We did the same thing in the previous redefinition of marriage (no-fault divorce) which attacked the permanence of marriage. Marriage has a specific meaning and we should not be redefining it every few years for the benefit of selfish adults.
Disclaimer: I have reservations about Tim Keller. I consider him to be too liberal for my tastes, especially on scientific (intelligent design) and political/economic issues. However, I think he did a good job explaining marriage in the lecture below.
Here’s the the video:
Timothy Keller visits Google’s New York, NY office to discuss his book “The Meaning of Marriage.” This event took place on November 14, 2011, as part of the Authors@Google series.
Timothy J. Keller is an American author, speaker, preacher, and the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. He is the author of several books, including “The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism.”
“The Meaning of Marriage” touches on topics that all readers can relate to, starting with the role of marriage in our culture, its history and the pessimism that is often associated with it. The Kellers also discuss the feelings of and acts of love, romantic relationships, gender roles, singleness, and the role of sex in a marriage.
I saw a lot of things in his lecture that echo my own views. One point where we agree is on not just looking for traits and virtues in the other person, but in seeing how they handle conflict and solve problems with you. You have to give the other person things to do and see if they make progress and work cooperatively with you. The most important thing to look for is someone who sees potential in you and is committed to helping you realize it. You want someone who won’t give up on you, no matter how hard things get. There are fun and happy times in a marriage, but those come naturally – the real question is how well two people stick together to get things done when it’s hard. I definitely recommend Keller’s book on marriage, it’s such a good vision of what marriage could be.
In generations past, there was far less talk about “compatibility” and finding the ideal soul-mate. Today we are looking for someone who accepts us as we are and fulfills our desires, and this creates an unrealistic set of expectations that frustrates both the searchers and the searched for.
[…]The Bible explains why the quest for compatibility seems to be so impossible. As a pastor I have spoken to thousands of couples, some working on marriage-seeking, some working on marriage-sustaining and some working on marriage-saving. I’ve heard them say over and over, “Love shouldn’t be this hard, it should come naturally.” In response I always say something like: “Why believe that? Would someone who wants to play professional baseball say, ‘It shouldn’t be so hard to hit a fastball’? Would someone who wants to write the greatest American novel of her generation say, ‘It shouldn’t be hard to create believable characters and compelling narrative’?” The understandable retort is: “But this is not baseball or literature. This is love. Love should just come naturally if two people are compatible, if they are truly soul-mates. “
The Christian answer to this is that no two people are compatible. Duke University Ethics professor Stanley Hauerwas has famously made this point:
Destructive to marriage is the self-fulfillment ethic that assumes marriage and the family are primarily institutions of personal fulfillment, necessary for us to become “whole” and happy. The assumption is that there is someone just right for us to marry and that if we look closely enough we will find the right person. This moral assumption overlooks a crucial aspect to marriage. It fails to appreciate the fact that we always marry the wrong person.We never know whom we marry; we just think we do. Or even if we first marry the right person, just give it a while and he or she will change. For marriage, being [the enormous thing it is] means we are not the same person after we have entered it. The primary challenge of marriage is learning how to love and care for the stranger to whom you find yourself married.
Hauerwas gives us the first reason that no two people are compatible for marriage, namely, that marriage profoundly changes us. But there is another reason. Any two people who enter into marriage are spiritually broken by sin, which among other things means to be self-centered—living lifeincurvatus in se. As author Denis de Rougemont said, “Why should neurotic, selfish, immature people suddenly become angels when they fall in love … ?” That is why a good marriage is more painfully hard to achieve than athletic or artistic prowess. Raw, natural talent does not enable you to play baseball as a pro or write great literature without enduring discipline and enormous work. Why would it be easy to live lovingly and well with another human being in light of what is profoundly wrong within our human nature? Indeed, many people who have mastered athletics and art have failed miserably at marriage. So the biblical doctrine of sin explains why marriage—more than anything else that is good and important in this fallen world—is so painful and hard.
When you are courting, don’t worry about appearances and feelings and passion so much, because that is all subject to change over time, and those things won’t help you with the real challenges you’ll face in a marriage. Worry about whether they are the kind of person who can make commitments and love other people self-sacrificially – even if they are unlovable. In the long run, their ability to read and understand issues, to care for others and serve them, to keep promises, to be respectful and supportive, to argue respectfully and reasonably, and to solve problems constructively, will all be far more important than appearances and feelings and passion.
During the courtship, give the other person things to do that challenge them and see how they handle being given responsibilities – giving a person hard things to do is a much better way to test a person than recreational nights out with recreational drinking, recreational dancing and recreational sex. Marriage means commitment and hard work, not recreation. And that’s what you should test for – the ability to work hard at the relationship and to keep promises and commitments and to communicate reasonably and to work through difficulties fairly. The most dangerous thing you want to avoid is self-centeredness. You don’t want someone who is primarily interested in minimizing your feelings, and then getting her friends to agree with her that this is legitimate for whatever reasons. You want a person who has had a hard enough life that responsibilities and obligations are natural to her, and who doesn’t try to wiggle out of self-sacrificial acts of love when she doesn’t feel like doing it. Each person needs to invest in the other, so that both can have fuel to do their job in the relationship.
A long, long time ago when I was in my “read one or two books about everything important” phase, I remember coming to marriage and picking out two books to read on that. The first was the Judith Wallerstein study on “The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce”, which talked about children’s experience of divorce over the 25-year period following their parent’s decision to divorce. The second was F. Carolyn Graglia’s book “Domestic Tranquility”.
I found an essay about the latter book that seems to be either the introduction or chapter one. I just thought I would share it here to clear up why people are not getting married as much as they used to.
Let’s see how it happened:
Since the late 1960s, feminists have very successfully waged war against the traditional family, in which husbands are the principal breadwinners and wives are primarily homemakers. This war’s immediate purpose has been to undermine the homemaker’s position within both her family and society in order to drive her into the work force. Its long-term goal is to create a society in which women behave as much like men as possible, devoting as much time and energy to the pursuit of a career as men do, so that women will eventually hold equal political and economic power with men. This book examines feminism’s successful onslaught against the traditional family, considers the possible ramifications of that success, and defends a woman’s choice to be a homemaker. Feminists have used a variety of methods to achieve their goal. They have promoted a sexual revolution that encouraged women to mimic male sexual promiscuity. They have supported the enactment of no-fault divorce laws that have undermined housewives’ social and economic security. And they obtained the application of affirmative action requirements to women as a class, gaining educational and job preferences for women and undermining the ability of men who are victimized by this discrimination to function as family breadwinners.
Sexual promiscuity, no-fault divorce laws and affirmative action laws that discriminate against male providers, were the goals of radicalfeminists. There may have been some men who went along with these things, but the main force behind it was radical feminism.
Certainly, feminism is not alone responsible for our families’ sufferings. As Charles Murray details in Losing Ground, President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programs, for example, have often hurt families, particularly black families, and these programs were supported by a large constituency beyond the women’s movement. What distinguishes the women’s movement, however, is the fact that, despite the pro-family motives it sometimes ascribes to itself, it has actively sought the traditional family’s destruction. In its avowed aims and the programs it promotes, the movement has adopted Kate Millett’s goal, set forth in her Sexual Politics, in which she endorses Friedrich Engels’s conclusion that “the family, as that term is presently understood, must go”; “a kind fate,” she remarks, in “view of the institution’s history. This goal has never changed: feminists view traditional nuclear families as inconsistent with feminism’s commitment to women’s independence and sexual freedom.
To counter radical feminism, women should be reading books that offer a serious, scholarly defense to feminism (e.g. – Christina Hoff Sommers, Carrie Lukas, F. Carolyn Graglia, etc.). You can tell whether a woman is a feminist based on how brittle she is with the idea that women have certain roles like wife and mother. Another good indicator is whether she is comfortable with the idea that relationships require each person to have certain responsibilities and obligations to the other that override their desire for happiness. Everyone in a relationship has responsibilities and obligations to the other person. For example, with few exceptions, a man ought to get up and go to work to support his family, just as the woman, with few exceptions, should try to keep fit and be available for her husband sexually. Feelings and desires should not override responsibilities and obligations in a relationship.
Emerging as a revitalized movement in the 1960s, feminism reflected women’s social discontent, which had arisen in response to the decline of the male breadwinner ethic and to the perception — heralded in Philip Wylie’s 1940s castigation of the evil “mom” — that Western society does not value highly the roles of wife and mother. Women’s dissatisfactions, nevertheless, have often been aggravated rather than alleviated by the feminist reaction. To mitigate their discontent, feminists argued, women should pattern their lives after men’s, engaging in casual sexual intercourse on the same terms as sexually predatory males and making the same career commitments as men. In pursuit of these objectives, feminists have fought unceasingly for the ready availability of legal abortion and consistently derogated both motherhood and the worth of fulltime homemakers.
[…]Contemporary feminism has been remarkably successful in bringing about the institutionalization in our society of the two beliefs underlying its offensive: denial of the social worth of traditional homemakers and rejection of traditional sexual morality. The consequences have been pernicious and enduring. General societal assent to these beliefs has profoundly distorted men’s perceptions of their relationships with and obligations to women, women’s perceptions of their own needs, and the way in which women make decisions about their lives.
Read the rest, it’s a good introduction to the book.
So how have men responded to the sexual revolution and no-fault divorce? Well, most non-Christian men are going to take the free sex that’s being offered to them, and back away from a life-long commitment to protect and provide. Even a number of “Christian” men are now finding it easy to work premarital sex into their relationships, something that would have been unthinkable to Bible-believers of earlier generations. Also, a woman who has a lot of premarital sexual experience is a red flag to most men – they worry that she will not be able to be faithful to them since she is already accustomed to recreational sex rather than married sex within a covenant. Premarital sex generally makes women less trusting, less vulnerable and less capable at being feminine in order to love a man. Research shows that the more premarital sex partners a woman has, the more unstable her marriage becomes. This is also true for men, but the effect is slightly less for men. It’s definitely something that has to be worked through, because it’s a risk factor for relationship instability.
If you ask any man today about what is holding him up from getting married, the first thing he will tell you is no-fault divorce laws. Whereas women may shy away from marriage because they are worried about being unhappy or losing their freedom, men have a much, much more pressing danger in mind – the danger of having your entire life savings wiped out in an instant. And that’s not to mention the prospect of only being able to see your kids for a few hours every month if you don’t get joint custody – which is the vast majority of cases (about 90%).
I met [a guy] at summer camp in the Poconos at 14, playing pickup basketball by day and talking in the mess hall late into the night. Back home we lived only 30 minutes apart, but I didn’t see him again until 11th grade, when we ran into each other at a Halloween party in a Lower Manhattan warehouse.
[…]Under the muted flashes of a strobe light, we shared our first kiss.
Why do you think that she kissed a guy she barely knew? It makes no sense to me.
This is how they talked:
We stayed in touch for the rest of high school, mostly by text message.
Oh my goodness. What can you find out about a person in 140-character messages? It makes no sense to me.
Every time his name popped up on my phone, my heart raced.
Still, we were never more than semiaffiliated, two people who spoke and loved to speak and kissed and loved to kiss and connected and were scared of connecting. I told myself it was because we went to different schools, because teenage boys don’t want relationships, because it was all in my head.
Two years after our first kiss, we were exchanging “I’ve missed you” messages again. It was a brisk Friday evening in our first semesters of college when I stepped off a train and into his comfortable arms.
He had texted weeks earlier on Halloween (technically our anniversary) to ask if I would visit. We had not talked since summer, and I was trying to forget him. We had graduated from high school into the same inexpressive void we first entered in costume, where an “I’ve missed you” was as emotive as one got. I decided to leave him behind when I left for college.
But he wouldn’t let me. Whenever I believed he was out of my life, I’d get a text or Facebook comment that would reel me back in.
And I wouldn’t let me, either. His affection, however sporadic, always loomed like a promise. So I accepted his invitation, asking myself what I had to lose.
She had sex with him, losing her virginity, and then:
Naïvely, I had expected to gain clarity, to finally admit my feelings and ask if he felt the same. But I couldn’t confess, couldn’t probe. Periodically I opened my mouth to ask: “What are we doing? Who am I to you?” He stopped me with a smile, a wink or a handhold, gestures that persuaded me to shut my mouth or risk jeopardizing what we already had.
On the Saturday-night train back to Manhattan, I cried. Back in my dorm room, buried under the covers so my roommates wouldn’t hear, I fell asleep with a wet pillow and puffy eyes.
The next morning I awoke to a string of texts from him: “You get back OK?” “Let’s do it again soon :)”
Yes. She had sex with him because of text messages, Facebook comments and because he “missed her”. Not because he had presented his resume and balance sheet to her father, then bought her an engagement ring, then a wedding ring, then walked down the aisle with her. And of course that opened her up for hurt. Sex binds people together. It’s supposed to be for people who first commit to each other, self-sacrificially, for life – through all trials and hardships.
They had a lot more sex, but never talked about why or to what end:
I’m told my generation will be remembered for our callous commitments and rudimentary romances. We hook up. We sext. We swipe right.
All the while, we avoid labels and try to bury our emotions. We aren’t supposed to want anything serious; not now, anyway.
“Swipe right” refers to a hooking-up app called Tinder. Who would use that? It makes no sense to me.
She praises the “control” that the Sexual Revolution gave her:
To this day, if I ever let a guy’s name slip out to my father, his response is always, “Are you two going steady?”
He means to ask if we’re dating exclusively, if I have a boyfriend. I used to hate it.
“People don’t go steady nowadays,” I explain. “No one says that anymore. And almost no one does it. Women today have more power. We don’t crave attachment to just one man. We keep our options open. We’re in control.”
I wouldn’t have understood the full scope of what this young woman is saying in her essay without the interview, which is short. In the segment, Narin says that men and women in her generation don’t have actual romantic relationships anymore. It’s all casual, non-committal sex. “Nobody knows whether their own feelings are real,” she says.
Our generation doesn’t have relationships anymore. Nobody to call their own. Just casual. Nobody knows whether their own feelings are real.
She tells the interviewer that there’s lots of making out and sex, but nobody wants to be emotionally vulnerable to anybody else.
[…]“Everyone in college uses Tinder,” she said, referring to the wildly popular dating and hook-up app. “You can literally swipe right and find someone just to hang out for the night. There’s no commitments required, and I think that makes committing to someone even harder, because it’s so normal, and so expected even, to not want to commit.”
“In a different time, my grandparents, my great grandparents, they might have thought they were missing out on casual sex,” she says. “But since my generation has been saddled down with that, we kind of look to the past and say well, wasn’t that nice. I think both are optimal. I’m a huge feminist, and I think women should be able to do whatever they want to do. If a woman wants to have tons of casual sex, she totally should. But I think that there should be the option. And they shouldn’t be gendered, women and men. But there should be the option of being in a relationship.”
Right. Young women like her who have swallowed radical feminism hook, line and sinker don’t want to miss out on casual sex right now, but they want to get married “some day”.
But what do they think marriage is? I think this popular song sheds some light on it.
I heard this popular song by Meghan Trainor being deconstructed on the Ben Shapiro show last week – look at the lyrics:
You got that 9 to 5
But, baby, so do I
So don’t be thinking I’ll be home and baking apple pies
I never learned to cook
After every fight
And maybe then I’ll let you try and rock my body right
Even if I was wrong
You know I’m never wrong
Make time for me
Don’t leave me lonely
And know we’ll never see your family more than mine
Even when I’m acting crazy
Tell me everything’s alright
This is what women today understand marriage to be. They expect to be pursuing their own careers, not supporting their husbands and raising children. An independent flow of money is important to feminists, because it allows them to insulate themselves from the husband’s vision of stewardship, which is important to his primary goal of making the marriage serve God above all. I have also heard that women want to work because they view the roles of wife and mother as demeaning, and they don’t trust men to provide. Well, that’s why they ought to be choosing men who 1) have a resume with long-term commitments, 2) are used to sharing with others and donating to causes. But I personally know two women who chose men 5 years younger than they were, students who had never earned a dime – presumably because they were easier to manipulate and control. (One of the women has chosen younger, unemployed, penniless men three times in a row, and then she complains that men are not financially prepared for marriage!) The lyrics also say that wives don’t do cooking, and probably implies not being domestic at all.
And in marriage, women expect to win every disagreement. One woman told me that her opinions about financial matters were as good as mine. I have a BS, MS and a very high net worth. She is in debt 25K in her 30s, is living at home with her parents and working an easy minimum wage job. She expects to win any disagreements about career and money, because, like the song says, she is never wrong. The lyrics also say that sex is conditional on whether the woman feels validated and happy. But men are expected to go to work regardless of whether their needs are met. When it comes to visiting family and holidays – two frequent disagreements even in complementarian couples – she lets us know that her family is more important than his. And she is allowed to act crazy, which could involve a whole host of selfish, wasteful, narcissistic behaviors, (e.g. – skydving, ziplining, surfing), and he is just supposed to accept it – and pay for it. For the rest of his life. How does any of this craziness help him in his plan to build a marriage that serves God? But even Christian women often think that relationships and marriage are about their needs, not serving God. It’s very important to understand that women today are only able to sustain relationships with men by giving them sex and then shutting up about what it means and where the relationship is headed – they have nothing that a man wants with respect to the role of wife, so there will be no marriage.
So is it worth it for a man to make a lifelong commitment to provide for a woman like this?
Let me explain to you why men are not interested in committing to, or discussing commitment with, radical feminists. Men will have sex with a radical feminist, but they will never commit to them. Why not? If a man’s role is just to please the “huge feminist”, then there is no reason to commit to her. Because of no-fault divorce laws, a man loses all leverage in negotiations the minute he marries a radical feminist. The only leverage he has with her is before the marriage. Radical feminists believe that relationships are about their plans and their needs. They are not interested in responsibilities, expectations or obligations to men or to children. But men, even secular men, understand that they must not marry a woman who thinks that relationships should impose no obligations on her. Men play dumb with women to keep the sex coming, but there is no way they would commit to such women.
Let me speak about the men who are interested in commitment. A man marries a woman if she is interested in supporting his plan to change the world. For Christian men, that means making sure that the marriage and children will build up the Kingdom of God. Although you might think that every woman who claims to be a Christian would be interested in a man who has a plan to build the Kingdom of God, that is not a common view of relationships, even among Christian women. Every Christian woman needs to be evaluated to understand what they expect marriage to be like. If they don’t show evidence in their own choices that they are used to self-denial, self-sacrifice, etc. (which all Christians ought to be), then it’s not a good idea to marry her.
The problem with feminism is that it makes women think that marriage is about them getting their needs met, with no obligations to men or children. That’s what the sexual revolution and abortion taught women. Relationships should be recreational. You get a man to pay attention to you with sex, not with support or love. If a baby arrives, don’t let it impose obligations on you – just kill it. But marriage – lifelong commitment to have a home and raise kids – requires that women have a certain character. Marriage is hard work, especially with kids. Men who are interested in marriage will prefer a woman who thinks less of herself (“hugely feminist”), and more about others (husbands and children), and who accepts that the needs of others create obligations on her, which she is responsible for. That’s why I recommend women who go into STEM fields in college and have solid resumes. STEM helps to break the selfishness of women. (Jordana has a degree in creative writing) But many women will not want to be led to do hard things that prepare her for marriage, and that’s why commitment-minded men don’t talk to them. If a woman is not interested in the obligations that a life-long commitment imposes on her, then she will be stuck with men who are only interested in sex with her.
Now there is one exception to this rule, and that’s young, naive men. If a woman is a “huge feminist” then she might be able to get attention from a doormat man without having to give him sex. Typically, these men have no work experience, no savings, are much younger, and are so desperate for attention that they do what Meghan Trainor says in the song: apologize, grovel, condone craziness and selfishness, etc. Although a woman may think she wants a man like that in the short-term, in the long-term, those men prove unattractive and unsatisfactory. In order to be masculine, a man needs to be a good moral leader and a good spiritual leader. And that means that he needs to call a woman higher, away from her self-centeredness, so she can serve God and serve other people. He cannot just agree with whatever crazy, emotional thing that she thinks up that is fun, thrilling and bound to fail. A good leader has experience as a provider, protector and leader that he brings to bear on decision-making, and proven ability achieving and leading others to greatness. I think women with low self-esteem will be interested in men who are doormats, but that is not the solution to the commitment problem. The real solution is for them to let themselves be led by a good man into doing harder and harder things – graduate school, non-trivial work (if there are no young children at home), organizing Christian speakers on campus, teaching classes in apologetics, defending the unborn, defending marriage, getting herself out of debt, moving out of her parents’ house, etc. The self-esteem she needs has to come from doing hard work – that is what builds her into the kind of person who can handle responsibilities, expectations and obligations in a marriage. There is no shortcut to an effective, influential marriage that goes through a doormat man.
The American College of Pediatricians recently published a paper, Cohabitation, which cautions adolescents and young adults about the negative consequences of cohabitation for both themselves and their children, and urges parents to teach their children about the advantages of waiting until marriage.
More young people are now first cohabiting than are marrying without prior cohabitation, yet research shows that, rather than being a stepping-stone to a healthy marriage, living together before marriage (cohabitation) makes couples more likely to break-up and more likely to divorce if they do marry. It results in lower marital satisfaction and increased negative communication. Cohabiting couples spend less time together; men are more likely to spend their time on personal pleasure than do married men.
Cohabiting couples are now less likely to later marry than 40 years ago. Controlling for other factors that increase risk of divorce, marriages preceded by cohabitation are still 50 percent more likely to end in divorce. (Some recent studies challenge this, but are scientifically flawed and omit the raw data.) Also 27 percent of cohabitations dissolve without marriage in the first three years.
Cohabiters commit increased violence against their partner. Women are nine times more likely to be killed by a cohabiting partner than by their husband. Severe violence is four times as common among cohabiting couples; any violence is nearly 50 percent more common among couples cohabiting before marrying and doubled among couples continuing to cohabit after five years.
Men who cohabit without marrying in 5 to 10 years have more than double the rate of alcohol abuse as married men; women who cohabit without marrying have 4 to 7 times the rate of alcohol abuse as married women.
Cohabiters, both men and women, have rates of infidelity in the preceding year more than triple that of married spouses. Among the married, those cohabiting prior to marriage were 50 percent more likely to be unfaithful as those marrying without cohabiting.
Poverty is more common among cohabitating women and their children. Their male partners have both a higher unemployment rate (15 percent vs 8 percent), and work less hours if employed.
Cohabitating women are ten times more likely to have an abortion than married women, and suffer from its associated mortality and morbidity. In fact, 89 percent of women who have had abortions have at one time cohabited; 40 percent have lived with three or more men. Abortion also puts future children at risk, especially from extremely premature birth.
Harm to children:
Children who survive also suffer due to parental cohabitation. They have increased risk of losing a parent to divorce or separation, possibly multiple times. Children born of cohabiting parents are over four times more likely to suffer separation of their parents by their third birthdays (49 percent) than those born to married parents (11 percent).
[…]Nearly one-third of couples enter into cohabitation with a child from a previous relationship, as do half of those cohabitating for six years or longer. Children living with a parent and unmarried partner (live-in boyfriend) have 20 times the risk of sexual abuse and eight times the risk of all maltreatment compared to children living with married biological parents. Even if the couple marries, stepchildren have over eight times the risk of sexual abuse and triple the overall risk of abuse of neglect. Girls living with a stepparent had 60 percent higher risk of being raped than girls living with their biological parents.
Women in cohabiting relationships have more depression than married women, and poorer responsiveness to their children’s emotional needs. Children whose mothers are depressed have increased cortisol responses to stress (which may explain their increased hypertension in adulthood). Children with unmarried mothers are half as likely to be breastfed, leading to higher rates of asthma, pneumonia, ear and intestinal infections, diabetes, obesity, and lower intelligence.
Please believe me when I say that you should click through to the Stream and read the entire article.
So what do I want to say about this in my 500 words? Well, I want to say that the cohabitation issue is a good opportunity for us to reason about whether there should be any rules around sexuality and relationships.
Our culture is absolutely poisoned right now with a kind of feelings-oriented non-judgmentalism that prevents debate. Everything has been reduced to people feeling “offended” and using the power of government to stifle debate. Nowhere is this more evident than on the university campus, which is the source of the problem. This hyper-tolerance and emotional non-judgmentalism leaves people open to making poor decisions that cause self-destruction and harm to others. As a result, young people are blindly accepting a script for sexuality and relationships from the culture, e.g. – Hollywood, celebrities, and ideologically-driven academics. A script made by professional story-tellers insulated from the consequences of their ideas.
As Christians, we seem to have so much trouble talking to young people about rules around sexuality and relationships. So many young people think that premarital sex is benign. That cohabitation is no big deal. And that redefining marriage cannot be opposed. Christian parents and pastors are not preparing themselves to discuss these things with young people. If there is a battle of ideas, and one side shows up with a bunch of feelings and lies, that side still wins – if the other side doesn’t show up at all. Don’t be so focused on your career and your own self that you fail your children by failing to discuss and debate with them about the issues. Don’t assume that just because your children look OK on the surface that there are not serious questions underneath.
There is so much I could say about this problem of talking to young people. As I argued in a previous post, I truly believe that apologists should not neglect these social / cultural / fiscal issues. We have to study them and know how to argue for our values using secular arguments and evidence, such as you see in the study above. Once young people have decided that Christian teachings on sexuality (e.g. – chastity, courting) are primitive and irrational, or worse, then getting them to accept Christianity becomes that much harder. And that goes double for marriage. If they think that cohabitation, no-fault divorce, same-sex marriage and gay adoption are opposed for no other reason than blind prejudice or even hatred, then we’ve lost before we even begin to make our first philosophical argument. We have to use a combined arms approach.