Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

What you do before you marry affects your marital happiness and stability

A recent article from The Federalist explains why chastity matters when choosing a mate.

Excerpt:

[A] new study shows that the more relationships you’ve had prior to marriage, the less likely you’ll have a good marriage. This seems somewhat obvious, but it’s so contrary to popular culture and practice these days that even the study’s authors say the finding is “counterintuitive.”

“In most areas, more experience is better. You’re a better job candidate with more experience, not less. When it comes to relationship experience, though, we found that having more experience before getting married was associated with lower marital quality,” said Galena K. Rhoades, research associate professor of psychology at the University of Denver. She’s a co-author of the study “Before ‘I Do’: What Do Premarital Experiences Have To Do With Marital Quality Among Today’s Young Adults?,” from the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia. The report has all sorts of interesting findings, including that large weddings and conscious decision-making in relationships are also factors in happy marriages.

Previous marriages and previously having lived with a partner were both identified as risk factors for less-happy marriages, the authors said. We know so much about how living together is a risk factor for all sorts of unhappiness that I seriously have to restrain myself from shouting at my female friends who tell me they’re moving in or have moved in with their boyfriends. I mean, even if there were no moral problem with it, it’s just bad strategy if you want a happy life.

[...][T]he nearly one-quarter of people in the study who had sex solely with the person they married reported high marital quality, higher than those who had sex with other partners prior to marriage. And the more sexual partners a woman had before marriage, the less happy she reported her marriage to be. Well that’s not what we’ve been told by the Cosmo-Jezebel alliance. The study’s authors speculate on why this might be.

One reason that more experience could lead to lower marital quality is that more experience may increase one’s awareness of alternative partners. A strong sense of alternatives is believed to make it harder to maintain commitment to, and satisfaction with, what one already has. People who have had many relationships prior to their current one can compare a present partner to their prior partners in many areas—like conflict management, dating style, physical attractiveness, sexual skills, communication ability, and so on. Marriage involves leaving behind other options, which may be harder to do with a lot of experience.

I have to say that this factor is the biggest factor that gives me pause when considering marriage with a woman with a sexual past. Will I be compared to these other men? Will I be trusted? Will she be vulnerable to me? Usually when a woman has had past experiences with bad men, then she tends to be more guarded with me, regardless of how I would perform sexually after we were married. I am interested in a woman being trusting and vulnerable, yet a sexual past usually doesn’t make a woman more trusting and vulnerable.

However, there is a way to work on the problem, I think – and that way is taking a structured approach to courting that involves open communication and deliberate planning:

[T]he hook-up thing, which was a factor in lower marital quality, also matches with other less formalized arrangements that are becoming common among younger generations. If you can make out with someone thanks to the lowered inhibitions you guzzled down at the bar, you don’t have to make a formal request to ask her out or to plan a date. Similarly, many respondents reported shacking prior to marriage. And those who lived with their eventual spouse before making a commitment to marry reported lower marital quality than those who waited to move in together until they were engaged or married.

The study actually had people rate how much of living together was a conscious decision vs. something that just sort of happened. And the more it was a decision, the happier the eventual marriage was. This might be because of higher levels of commitment present at the time of moving in or because it reflects better communication skills, a key to marital contentment, the authors said.

The same sort of conscious decision making effect could be seen in differences in pre-marital counseling. While only 32 percent of those who did not have premarital preparation reported high marital quality, that jumped to 57 percent of those who did take part in premarital preparation. Less sliding, more deciding might not be a Millennial motto but it should be.

What you want to avoid is someone who cannot communicate and is not good at making decisions and then sticking with her decisions over the long haul. And that can be developed – it can be worked on and improved. But it takes time to do.

Here’s the author’s conclusion:

All the options make it hard to man-up or woman-up and make some decisions because we’re so terrified of missing out on the next best thing. But the whole truly counterintuitive point of a happy marriage is that you’re not supposed to be thinking about what your spouse can do for you so much as what you can do for your spouse. That’s why this whole commercialized approach to spouse-picking is wrong. When you’re trying to figure out which yogurt to buy, you’re doing a lot of comparison shopping, but you’re not thinking of what you can do for the yogurt, you know?

We all want marriage, more or less, but we couldn’t be doing a worse job of trying to attain it. We want to find the perfect spouse, even though he or she doesn’t exist and finding a perfect spouse isn’t what marriage is about. What’s worse, we demand that someone forgive us our many faults even while we’re mentally comparing our potential spouse with other people or figments of our imagination. We should stop with that and really work at doing what it takes to get married and stay happily married.

[...]Even if you have not made the healthiest or most prudential sexual choices prior to now, don’t flip out or despair. Just because some factors are related to marital happiness doesn’t mean you can’t have a happy marriage. Just focus on making better decisions from this point forward. Be conscious and deliberate about them. Stop letting life happen to you and start thinking about what you want and how to get there. And, finally, remember that your big extended family is a blessing and that rituals occur throughout the world for very good reason.

I think having a string of past relationships does lead a person to want to delay marriage and hold out for “the next best thing”. That’s why so many women are delaying marriage and getting into fertility problems. They want to have fun and them jump off the carousel into the respectability of marriage at the last possible instant. Which is not fun for a man who is seeking the kind of intimacy that grows slowly over time. I have always been impressed by couples who have been married for decades, but you get that by marrying for the benefit of that other person, instead of holding out for the best deal for you. If you find someone you want to care for for the rest of your life, just marry them – that’s my advice. Try to make relationships more about planning and obligations, and less about fun and excitement.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , ,

Should women who get pregnant after premarital sex expect the men to marry them?

Mike Adams on abortion: click for larger image.

Mike Adams on abortion: click for larger image.

Professor Mike S. Adams is pro-life, but he posted something on Facebook that I must disagree with.

He posted this:

Over 80% of post-abortive women said they would have had the baby if the guy had been supportive. Five guys find out their girl is pregnant: The first two pressure abortion, the third walks away or was never present, the fourth sticks around for 80 to 120 days, and the fifth steps up totally. This not a woman’s problem. It is a lack-of-manhood problem.

Mike has about 5000 friends, and 44 of them liked it. I would think that most of these people would call themselves pro-life conservatives. But I don’t think what he posted promotes the pro-life cause.

I replied to him with this:

Mike I could not disagree more. It’s a woman’s problem unless it is rape, since the woman consents to sex with a man she is not married to. In fact, the cause of abortion is YOUR opinion – namely, the opinion that women should not be obligated to be chaste or to think rationally about who they are having sex with. There is a path to marriage that goes through courtship, and that path has a name: self-control. Stop enabling the poor choices of women, because we have to stop the murder of unborn children.

Many of Mike’s friends supported him. So I wrote this:

Wow. I had no idea that so many of Mike’s friends think that the Bible is a pack of lies when it says that fornication is morally wrong. I guess you guys aren’t Christians then, since you feel so free and easy about revising the Bible when you feel like it.

If fornication is wrong, it’s wrong for women AND men. And you don’t fornicate and then expect happy outcomes from it. There is a word for a person who sins and then expects a good outcome. A FOOL.

Then Mike replied to me:

Sorry Wintery. Where I come from the man leads and is, therefore, responsible.

I replied to that with this:

Mike, I agree with male leading – IF the man is a Christian. But the men that these women chose are not Christians. And you can’t expect men to act morally unless they have a theistic framework that grounds morality.

Women should not be told, by you and others, that they can choose to have sex with immoral men and then expect the immoral men to act morally. That is just enabling abortion by justifying a lack of prudence and wisdom. Instead, we should be holding women accountable to choose men who WILL control themselves.

We should not be supporting the fantasy view of love that says  that recreational sex magically leads men to commit to protect, provide and lead women for life. That view is neither wise nor Biblical. On the contrary, recreational sex leads men to NOT commit. Women have to learn how to select men, to evaluate them for marriage, and to make them prove themselves. We need to tell men AND women that sex before marriage is morally wrong. And we need to be convincing by showing them how recreational sex does not lead to stable marriages, and puts children, unborn and born, in harm’s way. Telling the truth about the danger of premarital sex is the best way to stop the killing of unborn children.

Here’s an example to make the point. We do not blame bears for mauling campers. Bears are bears, and they were bears before the campers showed up in their cave. We ought to blame the camper for choosing to wander off the trail and into the bear’s den in order to PET THE BEAR. Wild bears may eat free food that is offered to them, but they are not going to let you pet them and hug them. Women, like campers, need to be responsible. They need to choose the right man for marriage. They need to exercise self control. They need to make the man prove his ability to commit and support a family BEFORE they have sex with him. No one hires an employee without understanding what job they need done and then making sure that the candidate they choose can do the job. And that’s what we need to tell women.

Obviously, I was a little upset when I wrote that, but I hope it wasn’t too bad.

So what’s the point I was trying to make by being critical of Mike? I think the problem we have today is that men who are pro-life are unwilling to hold women accountable for their own poor decisions about sex and marriage. Basically, conservative and/or Christian men think that women don’t need to think through what choices are most likely to avoid abortion and most likely to achieve marriage. These men give tacit approval to the popular trend of trying to achieve marriage through premarital sex (or cohabitation), when the research shows that these behaviors do not result in long-lasting stable marriages. In fact, sex out of wedlock is a good way to get into a situation where an abortion will occur.

In my view, Mike is inadvertently encouraging women to get into the situations where they will be pressured to abort by reinforcing the idea that there is nothing wrong with their plan to achieve marriage by having premarital sex (or cohabitating), and then expecting men to respond to their pregnancy by MARRYING them. Mike seems to be telling women that it is normal for them to expect that marriage will follow from premarital sex with men who have not been vetted for the roles of provider, protector and leader As if marriage is natural for men who don’t even have jobs and who are surrounded by women willing to have sex with them on the first date. Any man who will have recreational premarital sex with a woman is exactly the kind of person who will not commit to lifelong providing and fidelity – he is having sex before marriage because he wants recreation, without the commitment and self-sacrifice that marriage requires. Rationally speaking, it makes no sense for men to buy the cow, and to keep buying the cow with 40 years of labor, when they can get the milk for free. And that’s what we need to tell women – think with your minds, not with your emotions.

Here is an interesting statistic from Relevant Magazine:

[A] recent study reveals that 88 percent of unmarried young adults (ages 18-29) are having sex. The same study, conducted by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, reveals the number doesnʼt drop much among Christians. Of those surveyed who self-identify as “evangelical,” 80 percent say they have had sex.

[...]In addition to having premarital sex, an alarming number of unmarried Christians are getting pregnant. Among unmarried evangelical women between the ages of 18 and 29, 30 percent have experienced a pregnancy (a number thatʼs actually 1 percent higher than among those who donʼt claim to be evangelical).

According to the Guttmacher Institute, nearly half of all pregnancies in America are unintended. And of those, 40 percent end in abortion. More than 1 million abortions occur in the United States each year. But perhaps the most disturbing statistic for the Church: 65 percent of the women obtaining abortions identify themselves as either Protestant or Catholic (37 percent Protestant and 28 percent Catholic). Thatʼs 650,000 abortions obtained by Christians every year.

Christian women are not told that premarital sex is wrong by many Christians and conservatives – and out of that refusal by “Christians” and “conservatives” to take a stand, we get 650,000 abortions per year. We need to have more courage to tell women to be more self-controlled and responsible when they choose who to have sex with, and when to have sex. We need to tell women to make good decisions that lead to stable marriages. We need to tell women to study these issues and to support policies that produce strong, moral men who are willing to marry – for example, by reforming education so that our schools produce men who can find jobs, perhaps by having more male teachers in the classroom. We need to tell women to support policies that make marriage more friendly for men, like abolishing no-fault divorce, and promoting shared parenting. Christians in particular need to counteract the views of love and romance that are prevalent in popular culture with a view of relationships built around chastity and love. Although many people today are uncomfortable with moral absolutes and moral judgments, it would be a good be a good idea for women to promote these things, so that the men they are choosing from are more moral.

In the end, I agree with Mike S. Adams in one respect. Abortion may be caused by a lack of manhood problem. Only the lack of manhood doesn’t come from the men that women choose to have premarital sex with. The lack of manhood comes from men who refuse to hold women accountable for their own free foolish decisions that put unborn children in harm’s way. In addition to the abortion problem that results from those foolish decisions, there is also the explosion in out-of-wedlock births to weigh in the balance. Again, the more people tell women that they should expect men who engage in recreational sex to commit to marriage after premarital sex (or cohabitation), the more fatherlessness we get.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

New study: relationships where babies are born before the marriage happens are more unstable

From Family Studies.

Excerpt:

New research on the marital prospects of single mothers published in the August issue of the journal Demography has good and bad news… The good news is that biological father marriages are more enduring than stepfather marriages. In other words, saying yes to her daughter’s father means that she is more likely to stay married than if she had said yes to someone else. The bad news is that even though she opted for the better bet, the odds are still stacked against her marriage lasting.

[...]“Among marriages that involved a black mother and a biological father,” she found, “20% had dissolved within five years, and 47% had dissolved within 10 years.”

Age and education of the mother did not do much to improve those odds.

More:

[...][V]ery few personal characteristics affected the divorce risk of women of any race in the study. Their husbands’ characteristics didn’t matter, either. Even though factors like age and education have been shown to matter quite a bit for ten-year divorce rates overall, they didn’t make a difference among the women that Gibson-Davis studied: those who gave birth outside of marriage.

[...]By showing that a single mother is most likely to marry her child’s biological father shortly after giving birth, and that such a marriage is less likely to end in divorce than marriage to another man, Gibson-Davis has provided some limited, encouraging evidence to those championing marriage promotion programs. Nevertheless, she correctly stresses that much work remains for those seeking to encourage single mothers to marry because enduring unions are relatively rare, even among biological parents. I have one window showing me why that is true. There are many others. The bottom line is that post-birth marriages are likely to be more difficult and less stable than others, and strengthening them is indeed an uphill battle.

If you’re like me, and you’re not having sex until you get married, now you know why. The old ways are best. Besides, when you take sex off the table, how the heck do you get a woman to like you? How does a woman get a man to like her? Oh, I have an idea. Men and women could think about how to show love for each other and how to help each other. Imagine that. That’s the way people used to have relationships. You actually had to put the work in then, and talk about things, instead of just jumping into bed after getting drunk with someone “hawt” that you just met at a party.

Filed under: News, , , , , , ,

Study finds that gay parents are more likely to raise gay kids

A peer-reviewed study about gay parents raising gay kids in AOL News.

Excerpt:

Walter Schumm knows what he’s about to do is unpopular: publish a study arguing that gay parents are more likely to raise gay children than straight parents. But the Kansas State University family studies professor has a detailed analysis that past almost aggressively ideological researchers never had.

[...]His study on sexual orientation, out next month, says that gay and lesbian parents are far more likely to have children who become gay. “I’m trying to prove that it’s not 100 percent genetic,” Schumm tells AOL News.

His study is a meta-analysis of existing work. First, Schumm extrapolated data from 10 books on gay parenting… [and] skewed his data so that only self-identified gay and lesbian children would be labeled as such.

This is important because sometimes Schumm would come across a passage of children of gay parents who said they were “adamant about not declaring their sexual orientation at all.” These people would be labeled straight, even though the passage’s implication was that they were gay.

Schumm concluded that children of lesbian parents identified themselves as gay 31 percent of the time; children of gay men had gay children 19 percent of the time, and children of a lesbian mother and gay father had at least one gay child 25 percent of the time.

Furthermore, when the study restricted the results so that they included only children in their 20s — presumably after they’d been able to work out any adolescent confusion or experimentation — 58 percent of the children of lesbians called themselves gay, and 33 percent of the children of gay men called themselves gay. (About 5 to 10 percent of the children of straight parents call themselves gay, Schumm says.)

Schumm next went macro, poring over an anthropological study of various cultures’ acceptance of homosexuality. He found that when communities welcome gays and lesbians, “89 percent feature higher rates of homosexual behavior.”

Finally, Schumm looked at the existing academic studies… In all there are 26 such studies. Schumm ran the numbers from them and concluded that, surprisingly, 20 percent of the kids of gay parents were gay themselves. When children only 17 or older were included in the analysis, 28 percent were gay.

Here’s the paper entitled “Children of homosexuals more apt to be homosexuals?“. It appeared in the Journal of Biosocial Science.

Abstract:

Ten narrative studies involving family histories of 262 children of gay fathers and lesbian mothers were evaluated statistically in response to Morrison’s (2007) concerns about Cameron’s (2006) research that had involved three narrative studies. Despite numerous attempts to bias the results in favour of the null hypothesis and allowing for up to 20 (of 63, 32%) coding errors, Cameron’s (2006) hypothesis that gay and lesbian parents would be more likely to have gay, lesbian, bisexual or unsure (of sexual orientation) sons and daughters was confirmed. Percentages of children of gay and lesbian parents who adopted non-heterosexual identities ranged between 16% and 57%, with odds ratios of 1.7 to 12.1, depending on the mix of child and parent genders. Daughters of lesbian mothers were most likely (33% to 57%; odds ratios from 4.5 to 12.1) to report non-heterosexual identities. Data from ethnographic sources and from previous studies on gay and lesbian parenting were re-examined and found to support the hypothesis that social and parental influences may influence the expression of non-heterosexual identities and/or behaviour. Thus, evidence is presented from three different sources, contrary to most previous scientific opinion, even most previous scientific consensus, that suggests intergenerational transfer of sexual orientation can occur at statistically significant and substantial rates, especially for female parents or female children. In some analyses for sons, intergenerational transfer was not significant. Further research is needed with respect to pathways by which intergenerational transfer of sexual orientation may occur. The results confirm an evolving tendency among scholars to cite the possibility of some degree of intergenerational crossover of sexual orientation.

Please exercise caution when commenting, we do not want to be Brendan Eich’d by the Obama administration.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Do atheists have a lower divorce rate than Christians?

In the comments, an atheist was arguing that atheists have a lower divorce rate than Christians, so I thought I would re-post this USA Today article from 2011 about that.

Excerpt:

It’s been proclaimed from pulpits and blogs for years — Christians divorce as much as everyone else in America.

But some scholars and family activists are questioning the oft-cited statistics, saying Christians who attend church regularly are more likely to remain wed.

“It’s a useful myth,” said Bradley Wright, a University of Connecticut sociologist who recently wrote “Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites … and Other Lies You’ve Been Told.”

“Because if a pastor wants to preach about how Christians should take their marriages more seriously, he or she can trot out this statistic to get them to listen to him or her.”

The various findings on religion and divorce hinge on what kind of Christians are being discussed.

Wright combed through the General Social Survey, a vast demographic study conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, and found that Christians, like adherents of other religions, have a divorce rate of about 42%. The rate among religiously unaffiliated Americans is 50%.

When Wright examined the statistics on evangelicals, he found worship attendance has a big influence on the numbers. Six in 10 evangelicals who never attend had been divorced or separated, compared to just 38% of weekly attendees.

[...]Brad Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, agrees there’s been some confusion.

“You do hear, both in Christian and non-Christian circles, that Christians are no different from anyone else when it comes to divorce and that is not true if you are focusing on Christians who are regular church attendees,” he said.

Wilcox’s analysis of the National Survey of Families and Households has found that Americans who attend religious services several times a month were about 35% less likely to divorce than those with no religious affiliation.

Nominal conservative Protestants, on the other hand, were 20% more likely to divorce than the religiously unaffiliated.

“There’s something about being a nominal ‘Christian’ that is linked to a lot of negative outcomes when it comes to family life,” Wilcox said.

Here’s a quote from an Oklahoma State University study that confirms the Wright and Wilcox conclusions:

History of Divorce and Religious Involvement

Those who say they are more religious are less likely, not more, to have already experienced divorce. Likewise, those who report more frequent attendance at religious services were significantly less likely to have been divorced. This pattern of findings held using various analytic techniques that test which variables differentiate persons who have been divorced from persons who have not been divorced, while controlling for other variables that might affect the interpretation of the data, such as age, age of first marriage, income, and gender. When both the global rating of religiousness and the item assessing fiequency of attendance at religious services are entered into the same analysis, the attendance item remains significantly associated with divorce history but the global religiousness item does not. This suggests that a key aspect of how religious faith affects marital relationships may be through involvement with a community of faith.

So, please do bookmark this information for the next time you hear an atheist make this argument. Obviously, you can’t expect people who are not serious about their religion to be bound by the moral duties imposed by that religion. People who attend church regularly are probably more serious about their religion, and also probably more informed about what their holy book says. If their holy book is the Bible, then there are few options for divorce.

An article from Focus on the Family by Amy Tracy explains when divorce is allowed according to the Bible.

God is very clear, however, that He hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). He also says, “So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matthew 19:6). According to the New Testament, there are two justifications for divorce: infidelity (Matthew 5:32) and desertion (1 Corinthians 7:15).

So divorce is not something a Bible believing Christian can do for frivolous reasons, unless he wants to be in rebellion against God.

The future of marriage in the church

In my own case, I learned about chastity and sobriety and courting outside the church, and in my case that means that I am still a virgin, that I don’t drink more than a beer a year, and that when I like a girl, I court her. I do think that people in the church are generally more moral than people outside the church, but that’s more because of convention rather than conviction. I don’t think it’s going to last, in other words – it’s more like a hangover. Church is not the place where reasons and evidence are given that help people to resist peer pressure when they enter hostile environments, like the university. And often, parents are too busy working to understand the issues and communicate them to their children.

I’ve never been in a church where they explained the hormones that are released during sex that cause you to bond to the person you’re having sex with. You would have to look in books or listen to lectures in order to understand the problem with having sex with someone you are not committed to – how it causes you to hold back your emotions for fear of a break-up. The church doesn’t have much to say about the social effects of single motherhood by choice or the effects of gay parenting on children. Nor do they have any positive vision to offer men about how they can serve God by marrying carefully.

Christians who participate in a church community will adopt some of these values, especially if they stay clear of popular culture, the university, etc. Especially if they don’t work in a very secular environment, like a high-tech company or in Hollywood. But unless Christian communities get serious about grounding their values in evidence, I wouldn’t expect this situation to go on, and you can already see young people falling away from church in record numbers when they get to university as a result of this refusal to engage. We’re doing well now, but we should move to secure our gains.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , ,

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