Forgive me my prudishness, but I tend to think the world would be a better place if people limited sexual intercourse to long term loving relationships. I’m just not terribly optimistic about the chances of that ever actually coming to pass.
The problem with preaching abstinence as a vehicle of public policy, after all, has never had to do with its desirability. The problem is that it doesn’t work, a fact a recent study puts starkly into view:
(Washington Post) Wait Until Marriage? ‘Extremely Challenging’
Everybody is doing it, and has been for quite a while.
That’s the conclusion of a study of trends in premarital intercourse over the past half-century.
A 2002 survey of about 12,500 men and women found that 97 percent of people who were no longer virgins at age 44 had sexual intercourse for the first time before they married.
By age 20, only 12 percent of people interviewed had married, but 77 percent had sex, and 75 percent had sex before marriage. By age 44, 99 percent of people were no longer virgins, 95 percent reported having had premarital intercourse, and 85 percent had married at some point.
The high prevalence of people reporting sex before marriage isn’t new but has risen in recent decades, according to the study in the January issue of Public Health Reports.
Bottom line — the megabucks the federal government spends every year encouraging abstinence until marriage are largely wasted. For better or for worse that’s simply not how people are put together.
Again, it would be wonderful if that weren’t so, if we could convince our young people, especially younger teenagers, to resist becoming sexually active until later. A whole host of social problems, ranging from teen pregnancy, STDs and childhood poverty would be substantially improved in such a world.
But to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, we have to fight our society’s social problems with the human frailties our children have, not with the iron wills we want them to have. And when we pretend otherwise we do nothing but put their futures at risk. And that really is a sin.
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