Although we live in a culture that is dominated by the thoughts and opinions of secular leftists, science provides useful information for those who want defend Biblical morality. Consider the issue of sexuality and marriage. Secular leftists claim that sex outside of marriage is natural, and produces happiness. Bible believing Christians and Jews say chastity is best. Who is right?
Here is the latest study authored by Dr. Nicholas Wolfinger, a sociologist at the University of Utah. His previous book on relationships was published by Oxford University Press. In his analysis of the data, Wolfinger controlled for divorce rates, religiosity, and socioeconomic status.
Here’s the most important graph:
Other factors that increased marital happiness: having a 4-year college degree (5%), having a salary > 78K (5%), regular church attendance (6%). Notice that women are more dissatisfied with marriage (in general) than men are, and they tend to blame the spouse they freely chose for that unhappiness.
The Federalist also reported on previous research relevant to this study:
Psychologists Galena K. Rhoades and Scott M. Stanley found that women who have had sex with someone other than their husband report statistically significant drops in marital quality over those who don’t. A 2004 study by sociologist Jay Teachman showed that intimate premarital activities such as cohabitation and intercourse increased the rate of marital dissolution by anywhere between 28 and 109 percent, depending on the activity.
Wolfinger also noted in a previous study that only 5% of women were virgins when they married.
Wolfinger noted that a possible explanation for the link between promiscuity and unhappiness is that people look back on their past partners and compare their spouse unfavorably to them. This is especially the case with women. My concern about this is that feminism has taught women to try to increase their social standing by having hook-up sex with attractive bad boys. If those women ever marry, they do it when they are older, less fertile, and less attractive. The husband they eventually “settle” for will (in their minds) always compare unfavorably to the hot bad boys they had sex with when they were younger and prettier. This, I believe, is what leads to their unhappiness with the man they chose to marry.
More partners also means more marital instability
In a previous post, I blogged about several studies linking virginity to marital stability. Couples who don’t have sex before marriage, or even who delayed it, reported better communication, higher satisfaction, better quality sex, and a lower chance of divorce.
Men ought to be aware of this research when they are choosing a spouse. Obviously, you want a virgin, for the increased happiness and increased stability. For marriage-friendly character, you want to avoid women who are promiscuous thrill-seekers. You want to avoid women who run up debt doing easy non-STEM degrees and traveling. You want to avoid women who hook up with hot bad boys aren’t serious about commitment. Women who choose fun and thrills in their teens and 20s are setting a pattern of using sex as a way to get happiness in the moment. Later on, they’ll continue that pattern of seeing relationships as commodities that are designed to make them feel good, moment by moment. They’ll look at marriage as a way to fulfill their needs. They’ll have internalized the view that relationships are not commitments to invest in self-sacrificially. The pattern will be: “if it doesn’t make me feel happy right now, then it should be ended”. Men who aren’t serious about evaluating the character of the women for the marriage enterprise are running the risk of divorce, it’s that simple.
The best way to make sure that you have a clear head when evaluating a woman is to stay sober, and keep her hands off of you. When a man refuses to let a woman cloud his judgment with sex, then she is forced to learn how to love him, help him, and submit to his leadership. Male chastity encourages women who have been influenced by feminism to abandon selfishness, fun-seeking, and thrill-seeking, so that they learn to care for others. Male chastity also helps a man to resist older women who chose bad boys in their teens and 20s and want to get married to a good provider in their 30s. The studies discussed above clearly show that such women are more likely to be unhappy, and their future marriages are more likely to be unstable. Avoid them.
the hook-up culture and its effects on men and women
cohabitation and its effect on marriage stability
balancing marriage, family and career
single motherhood by choice and IVF
modern sex: a sterile, recreation activity
the real purposes of sex: procreation and spousal unity
the hormone oxytocin: when it is secreted and what it does
the hormone vassopressin: when it is secreted and what it does
the sexual revolution and the commoditization of sex
the consumer view of sex vs the organic view of sex
fatherlessness and multi-partner fertility
how the “sex-without-relationship” view harms children
52 minutes of lecture, 33 minutes of Q&A from the Harvard students. The Q&A is worth listening to – the first question is from a gay student, and Dr. Morse pulls a William Lane Craig to defeat her objection. It was awesome! I never get tired of listening to her talk, and especially on the topics of marriage and family.
[T]wo recently published studies call into question the validity of testing sexual chemistry early in dating.
My colleagues and I published the first study a few years ago in the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Family Psychology. This study involved a national sample of 2,035 married individuals who participated in the popular online couple assessment survey called “RELATE.” We found that the longer a dating couple waits to have sex, the better their relationship is after marriage. In fact, couples who wait until marriage to have sex report higher relationship satisfaction (20% higher), better communication patterns (12% better), less consideration of divorce (22% lower), and better sexual quality (15% better) than those who started having sex early in their dating (see Figure 2). For couples in between—those that became sexually involved later in their dating, but prior to marriage—the benefits were about half as strong.
[…]These patterns were statistically significant even when controlling for a variety of other variables such as respondents’ number of prior sexual partners, education levels, religiosity, and relationship length.
The second study, by Sharon Sassler and her colleagues at Cornell University, also found that rapid sexual involvement has adverse long-term implications for relationship quality. Using data from the Marital and Relationship Survey, which provides information on nearly 600 low- to moderate-income couples living with minor children, their study examined the tempo of sexual intimacy and subsequent relationship quality in a sample of married and cohabiting men and women. Their analyses also suggest that delaying sexual involvement is associated with higher relationship quality across several dimensions.
They discovered that the negative association between sexual timing and relationship quality is largely driven by a link between early sex and cohabitation. Specifically, sexual involvement early in a romantic relationship is associated with an increased likelihood of moving more quickly into living together, which in turn is associated with lower relationship quality. This finding supports Norval Glenn’s hypothesis that sexual involvement may lead to unhealthy emotional entanglements that make ending a bad relationship difficult. As Sassler and her colleagues concluded, “Adequate time is required for romantic relationships to develop in a healthy way. In contrast, relationships that move too quickly, without adequate discussion of the goals and long-term desires of each partner, may be insufficiently committed and therefore result in relationship distress, especially if one partner is more committed than the other” (p. 710).
The rest of the post talks about two reasons why this works: improved partner selection and prioritizing communication and commitment. Improved partner selection occurs because you haven’t committed too much too soon (sexually) and you have time to let things play out to see if you really fit with the other person. And if you take sex off the table, then you have to use other means in order to build emotional intimacy – communication, service, support, etc.
That’s two studies, and there’s a third. Dina sent me this article from the UK Daily Mail about a new study showing the importance of chastity for relationship quality and stability.
New couples who jump into bed together on the first date do not last as long in relationships as those who wait a new study has revealed.
Using a sample of almost 11,000 unmarried people, Brigham Young University discovered a direct correlation between the length and strength of a partnership and the amount of time they took to have first have sex.
The study showed that those who waited to initiate sexual intimacy were found to have longer and more positive outcomes in their relationships while those who couldn’t help themselves reported that their dalliances struggled to last more than two years.
‘Results suggested that waiting to initiate sexual intimacy in unmarried relationships was generally associated with positive outcomes,’ said the report authored published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.
‘This effect was strongly moderated by relationship length, with individuals who reported early sexual initiation reporting increasingly lower outcomes in relationships of longer than two years.’
The study examined four sexual-timing patterns: Having sex prior to dating, initiating sex on the first date or shortly after, having sex after a few weeks of dating, and sexual abstinence.
Each one of these fields yielded different results in relationship satisfaction, stability and communication in dating situations.
Here’s another recent study that shows that if a woman has more than her husband as a premarital sex partner, her risk of divorce increases.
Using nationally representative data from the 1995 National Survey of Family Growth, I estimate the association between intimate premarital relationships (premarital sex and premarital cohabitation) and subsequent marital dissolution. I extend previous research by considering relationship histories pertaining to both premarital sex and premarital cohabitation. I find that premarital sex or premarital cohabitation that is limited to a woman’s husband is not associated with an elevated risk of marital disruption.However, women who have more than one intimate premarital relationship have an increased risk of marital dissolution.
Data from the 1988 US National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) were utilized to assess the impact of premarital sexual activity on subsequent marital stability. Among white NSFG subjects first married in 1965-85, virgin brides were significantly less to have become separated or divorced (25%) than women who had not been virgins at marriage (35%).
[…]The lower risk of divorce on the part of white women with no premarital sexual experience persisted even after numerous intervening and background variables were controlled.
If you’re going to talk to a young person about sex, it’s a good idea to use these studies to explain what you lose by having sex too early in the relationship. Although they may respond with anecdotes to refute studies, studies are important because they represent LOTS of data points, not just one or two cherry-picked cases. My view on all this is the Bible’s view – no sex before marriage. But when talking to people about this issue, I find it useful to have evidence ready in order to be convincing in every way possible.
Here is a striking essay from the Public Discourse. It talks about how we, as a society, have generally taken on an anything-goes approach with respect to sex. The one exception (for now) is pedophilia, which is the sexual abuse of children by adults. The essay points out that there is no moral reason for having this one exception, on secularism. The exception exists because of a sort of “ick” factor – not because we have a moral framework that makes anything right or wrong objectively. The essay argues that we are not shy about harming children in a million other ways, and lists some examples. I just want to quote a few and then I’ll comment about my own moral views around sexuality.
Quick summary of his argument:
The moral structure of pedophilia is simply this: the welfare of children is subordinate to the sexual gratification of adults.
[…]We should be thankful that the Sanduskys and Laheys are still considered monstrous. But in contemporary America that condemnation rests on sentiment and not on moral reasoning. No one can simultaneously explain why their actions were so vile and uphold the first commandment of the sexual revolution: fulfill thy desires.
[…]No, it isn’t how Sandusky and Lahey did what they did, or under what circumstances, that explains the disgust. It’s what they did—but nobody wants to acknowledge that.
The reason for that reluctance becomes clear, if we keep in mind the moral structure of pedophilia. Sexual gratification trumps. Thank goodness that for now, there aren’t many men who are sexually attracted to youngsters. In that single case, we raise the banner for the children. But in no other case.
That’s his argument.
Now, a quick excerpt:
If we altered the question, and asked not how many people have done sexually abusive things with children, but how many people have done sexual things that redounded to the suffering of children, then we might confess that the only thing that separates millions of people from Jerry Sandusky is inclination. Everything that was once considered a sexual evil and that is now winked at or cheered, everything without exception, has served to hurt children, and badly.
We might point here to divorce. Unless it is necessary to remove oneself and one’s children from physical danger and moral corruption, the old wisdom regarding divorce should hold, if children themselves have anything to say about it. Parents will say, “My children can never be happy unless I am happy,” but they should not lay that narcissistic unction to their souls. Children need parents who love them, not parents who are happy; they are too young to be asked to lay down their lives for someone else. It is not the job of the child to suffer for the parent, but the job of the parent to endure, to make the best of a poor situation, to swallow his pride, to bend her knees, for the sake of the child.
We might point to births out of wedlock. The child has a right to enter more than a little nursery decorated with presents from a baby shower. He should enter a human world, a story, a people. He should be born of a mother and a father among uncles and aunts and cousins and grandparents, stretching into the distant past, with all their interrelated histories, with his very being reflected in all those mirrors of relation, not to mention his eyes and his hair, the talents in his fingers and the cleverness in his mind. This belonging to a big and dependable world can be secured only in the context of the permanent love of his mother and father, declared by a vow before the community and before the One in whom there is no shadow of alteration.
And now my comments about this article.
So pretty much all my regular readers know that I take extremely conservative views on social issues, since I am an evangelical Protestant Christian. But I don’t just have conservative views – I am also chaste at a personal level. I am not one of these re-virgins – I have never had sex. Not once. And I don’t mean I have never had sexual intercourse only, I mean that I have never even kissed a woman on the lips. I am a radical on the issue of chastity. I don’t view chastity as depriving oneself of something good, I view it is as a thing that serious Christian men do when we want to enable and develop other capabilities. It’s my conviction that chastity enables the capability to see women as God sees them, which is a precursor to growing them up to serve him. That’s what women are for, on my view – exactly like men are for knowing and serving God. It’s my belief that once a man has premarital sex, it becomes much harder for him to view women that way.
So, I am really really really against any kind of sexual activity of any kind prior to marriage. I think that if a man wants to show affection to a woman, then sex before marriage is not the way to do that. There are other ways, and men ought to know how to speak the language of love to a woman in many different ways apart from sex, assuming that this is his goal for her. A man needs to create a context for sex before he can have it. Marriage is how a man provides a context for sex. Not just by giving a woman safety, but by specifying a shared vision which the woman agrees to support when she agrees to marriage. Men shouldn’t have intimate experiences with women who are not committed to a constructive partnership with specific goals, e.g. – birthing or adopting children in order to give them a stable, loving sane environment to grow up in. That is so rare nowadays, especially on college campuses which are inundated with sexual liberalism, thanks to radical feminism. My conviction that sex is not something that should be done before marriage emerges partly from a concern that children should have the best opportunity for that stable environment. And that’s what I want to focus on – sexual restraint as a means of providing for children and protecting children.
First, premarital sex creates a situations where abortion happens. Men and women should not engage in activities for recreational reasons that could possibility lead to the death of another human being, period. I am not one of these people who thinks “oh, poor woman who is pregnant, what a beastly man who did that to her – but she can do the right thing and keep the baby”. I think that women are equally to blame with men for even having sex before marriage – the mistake was having sex in the first place. So getting pregnant and keeping the baby is good, but preventing fatherlessness and not putting burdens on taxpayers is much, much better. People who engage in premarital sex are not only selfish, immature and irresponsible, but they are actually acting in a negligent fashion towards the child that may result from their choices. We should not make choices that put innocent children at risk. Premarital sex can be compared with driving while drunk in that regard. You might think it’s fun, but it’s not a good, moral thing to do because of the harm that may result. Saying “but I didn’t mean to” after the fact doesn’t change the harm.
Second, I’ve blogged before about many studies (like this one) that show that premarital sex reduces relationship stability, duration, and quality. Another study I blogged about showed that the number of sexual partners that a man or woman has before marriage directly affects the probability that the relationship will provide a stable environment for raising children. So one of my reasons for being chaste is to maximize the probability of giving my future children that stable environment. Another reason to be chaste is to give my future wife that gift of fidelity. When a man has proven that he has the ability to restrain himself with his wife during the courtship, that is a signal to her that he is good at self-control. The ability to court without premarital sex shows her that he is able to think about her as a person, and that he is able to evaluate her objectively for the purpose of filling the roles of wife and mother. And that this is, in fact, his whole purpose for her. A purpose that will survive the decline of her appearance and youth. Security is another gift that a chaste man gives his wife, so that she can age confidently.
Thirdly, I have in the past blogged about research on gay unions showing how various factors that are more probable in gay relationships, (e.g. – elevated rates of domestic violence, low relationship stability, drug abuse, high rates of promiscuity, etc.), undermine the stability of the environment in which children grow up. More here. Dr. Ryan Anderson has argued that the norms present in gay relationships will undermine the norms of traditional marriage, (permanence, sexual exclusivity, etc.), if marriage is redefined to eliminate the gender requirement. I think we need to keep the traditional definition of marriage because it’s better for children if we do (and there are other reasons to prefer natural marriage, as I’ve written about before).
I think I’ve said enough here to show that very often when it comes to sexual activity what is driving my conservative views is concern for others. Concern not just for the future children, but for the future wife. And not just for them, but for society as a whole, who would have to pay the social costs of things like divorce, and the social costs of children of divorce, etc. And not just for society, but also for God, who intends sexuality for a very specific purpose – it is a form of communication for two people who have been bonded to each other for life. Marriage has to count for God and achieve his goals. One of those goals is raising up children well for his sake. And adults need to control themselves in order to provide children with what they need.
So, lately we have had a lot of scandals in the media where secular leftist men have been accused of raping, sexually assaulting, and sexually harassing women. I have been getting increasingly concerned about how radical feminism’s sexual revolution agenda has destroyed romantic love and lifelong marriage for some time, and all these accusations coming out made me want to write something about it.
First of all, we can’t count on the secular left to stop this epidemic of abusing women. Secular leftists don’t care about women who are abused. As I mentioned in my previous post on the feminist defenders of Bill Clinton, feminists always circle the wagons to defend Democrat rapists and sexual criminals when they are discovered. Here’s another link for a different Democrat sexual assault apologist. This is what secular leftists do about sexual assault and rape. They make defenses for the rapists, and attack the victims’ character.
Matt Walsh has some helpful suggestions on how we can rollback the changes brought on by the secular left with their sexual revolution.
He writes: (H/T Dina)
I’m tired of talking about this sexual harassment thing. Let the victims come forward, let justice be done, but why are we spending every day talking about it? There’s no point.
There could be a point, but there isn’t. There isn’t, because we aren’t going to do anything to prevent these issues in the future. We aren’t learning anything. We aren’t coming up with solutions. We aren’t allowed to come up with solutions. The only thing we’re allowed to say is: “This is bad! So bad! Men are bad! So much badness! Very, very bad! Bad men! Bad!”
Matt’s article comes up with 3 solutions, and I’ll leave it to you to check them out. I only care about the third one for my post:
3) Emphasize chastity.
I mentioned this on Twitter and someone, who’s apparently a professional writer, asked me what the word means. That’s our culture in a nutshell. We literally don’t know what the word “chastity” means.
For anyone else who may be confused, chastity is the virtue which moderates our sexual desires. Basically, to be chaste is to practice restraint. A chaste person refrains from more than just sexual assault. He refrains, also, from pornography, vulgarity, sex outside marriage, and sex that is not in accordance with natural law. This all sounds downright archaic nowadays, I realize, but our outrage over sexual improprieties doesn’t amount to much if it isn’t rooted in a fundamental belief in the dignity of the human person.
Notice I say we should emphasize chastity, not that we are doomed unless everyone practices it perfectly. The problem is not just that people misbehave nowadays — indeed, people have misbehaved in the same ways throughout history — but that our culture has no real message and no real idea about how we ought to be behaving. We can say, “Don’t harass and assault,” but the message is not getting through because it’s insufficient on its own. People must be taught not to see each other as sex objects, but we can only teach them that if we teach them first about the sacredness of the sexual act and the inherent worth of all human beings. If we have ruled that out and abandoned chastity, then we cannot be shocked at the pigs who surround us.
First thing to say is that I don’t think that Matt’s ideas will be very attractive to a culture that is committed to an atheistic cosmos: random universe, no objective morality, purpose of life is happiness, no free will, no accountability when you die. Matt’s solutions require that people think that there is a design for human relationships with an objective right way and wrong way to handle relationships.
This sexual abuse epidemic is exactly what I would have predicted from powerful men who believe that they are machines made out of meat, living in an accidental universe with no objective moral laws, who will never have to answer to their Creator when they die. If God does not exist, then anything is permissible – so long as you can get away with it. If you want to know how secular leftist men treat women, look at how Harvey Weinstein treated women who were less powerful than he was.
On atheism, women are just animals – machines made out of meat. You can use them for your pleasure and then throw them away. There is nothing that women are “meant” to be, because there is no Designer. If you find a pretty girl who is fatherless, then by all means – take advantage of her but don’t get caught. This is rational on atheism. Atheism is the Harvey Weinstein religion. That’s what’s rational in a random, mindless universe with no free will and no accountability to an omnipotent moral lawgiver.
And if those nasty Christians disapprove of you, well you can just threaten them in court for refusing to celebrate your authentic atheist hedonism. That’s happening already – using the law to coerce Christians into approving of immorality. Weinstein himself donated millions to the Democrat party – the party that undermines sexual morality, and makes it easier for perverts to do what they want to do without being judged.
So what about Matt’s suggestion of a resurgence of chastity?
Chastity is a Judeo-Christian value that states that men and women who aren’t married to one another cannot engage in sexual activity. Chastity isn’t just abstaining from sex, though. It’s having opposite sex relationships in which you are actively seeking to set goals with a woman and help her to achieve those goals. So, let’s see what that looks like for me as a chaste man, then I’ll talk about whether this is even possible on any worldview other than orthodox Judaism or evangelical Bible-belieing Christianity.
In Christianity, women are equally made in the image of God as men, and they are made for the same purpose as men – to enter into a relationship with God through Christ. So, right away, I have a set of priorities for every woman on the planet that comes from my worldview. My goal with them is to help them to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, and then after that, I want to lead and advise them to grow their skills so that they are able to live lives of influence and effectiveness. You can read all about Christian fellowship in Philippians, by the way. Fellowship in the work of the gospel is the business of Christianity and women are meant to be equal partners with men in that business. (Although they might have different roles at different times). Every woman is a potetional partner in the fellowship of the gospel, and so they all have value,
In my case, I have always tried to help women to study and find work that would prepare them to have an influence. For those who are too old to marry, I encourage them to have an influence through speaking, teaching or organizing events, for example. I have female friends who are too old to marry who I monitor. If they need support to get things done for God, then I give them encouragement and gifts to make their operations run smoother. Just today one of them e-mailed me her answer to an atheist who was trying to justify being moral on atheism. For a chaste Christian man, women don’t have to be young and pretty and sexually permissive in order to get basic care. They get care because they play for the same team as Christian men do, and they have the desire to get things done for the team.
There are other young women I mentor who are in other states, and/or are too young for me to marry. I try to get them to change their majors to STEM, to read books on apologetics and economics, to get jobs in the summer, to go to graduate school, to save their money by not wasting it on fun, and to keep an eye out for husband candidates by looking past mere appearances. The goal is to get them to have an influence, and that’s not going to be achieved with crazy emotional life choices made without any wisdom or experience. Again – they have value without having to be pretty or give in to my sexual desires. I don’t even understand what sex means outside of marriage. Sex is what married couples do in order to balance out the challenges of marriage and re-affirm the union. It’s a thing you speak about to your spouse who has committed to you for life. I wouldn’t speak about sex to someone I wasn’t married to, what sense would that even make? It makes no sense.
Is treating women well rational on atheism?
When you keep seeing stories of powerful secular leftists using their power to take what they want from women and then throw them away, remember that on atheism this is rational. If you want to get male-female relationships right, you have to get the worldview right. Young women have a natural desire to dismiss rules and to pursue fun, without seeing the consequences of their actions in the long term. There has to be some reason for a man to tell a woman the truth about what follows from her decisions. Men have to be willing to reason with a woman about what she should be doing today so that she reaches the goals she is aiming for tomorrow. Christian men have the capacity to put their self-interest on hold and say what needs to be said to treat women well. Atheist men don’t have any such restraint. We need to remember that ideas like atheism have consequences. It’s no use complaining about the effects when you put the causes in place yourself.