Sexual Behavior in America

A new report just came out from the Centers for Disease Control (Report here) and once again confirms the biblical view of sexuality. Russ Douthat has a summary in his NY Times op ed here. Most important is that people who follow a biblical view of sexuality are the most happy folk. Douthat says that another study confirms this:

. . . two sociologists, Mark Regnerus and Jeremy Uecker, in their recent book, “Premarital Sex in America.” Their research, which looks at sexual behavior among contemporary young adults, finds a significant correlation between sexual restraint and emotional well-being, between monogamy and happiness — and between promiscuity and depression.

This correlation is much stronger for women than for men. Female emotional well-being seems to be tightly bound to sexual stability — which may help explain why overall female happiness has actually drifted downward since the sexual revolution.

Among the young people Regnerus and Uecker studied, the happiest women were those with a current sexual partner and only one or two partners in their lifetime. Virgins were almost as happy, though not quite, and then a young woman’s likelihood of depression rose steadily as her number of partners climbed and the present stability of her sex life diminished.

The point isn’t that we should aspire to some Arcadia of perfect chastity. Rather, it’s that a high sexual ideal can shape how quickly and casually people pair off, even when they aren’t living up to its exacting demands. The ultimate goal is a sexual culture that makes it easier for young people to achieve romantic happiness — by encouraging them to wait a little longer, choose more carefully and judge their sex lives against a strong moral standard.

The other thing from the study is that American sexual behavior is actually improving: In 2002 22 percent of Americans ages 15-24 were virgin. But in 2008 that number rose to 28%. That’s still a depressingly small number, but it is an encouraging direction.

So the church has a lot of work to do.

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