Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Are you ready for marriage? 10 questions to find out how prepared you are

Marriage and family

Marriage and family

Would you like your marriage to be long-lasting and fulfilling? Well, check out the questions below and see if you are ready for life-long wedded bliss.

1. Are you opposed to no-fault divorce laws?

No-fault divorce laws allow one spouse to leave the marriage at any time, for any reason, or for no reason at all. If you support no-fault divorce, then your view of marriage is that it’s something to be entered into lightly, because it can be exited easily. You’ll be walking down the aisle thinking “oh well, if it doesn’t work out, I can always get a divorce”. If you oppose no-fault divorce laws, then your view of marriage is that there is no escape hatch. You’ll probably be a lot more careful about getting married. Since you are convinced that marriage is built to last forever, you’ll have a courtship of at least 6 months, and involve both sets of parents in the process. If you put commitment above happiness, you’re ready for marriage.

2. Are you opposed to abortion laws?

Abortion laws basically make it easy for two people to have recreational sex, and then get rid of any complications that result quickly and easily. This way, both the people that created the effect can escape the responsibility for what they did, and keep right on pursuing their goals and dreams. If you support abortion laws, you’re really saying that you can engage in recreational sex with people who are unwilling to accept responsibility for any children that result. If you are pro-life, then you’re saying that people should be careful about having sex, and be ready to take responsibility for a child, should one appear. Being responsible is good preparation for marriage.

3. Are you supportive of daycare for young kids?

Daycare services are essential for couples who need both the father and the mother to be working. The advantage of both parents working is that you can afford lots of shiny new stuff – like vacations, boats, shoes and handbags. Studies show that children don’t die during daycare, although if you put a child in daycare, there will be effects on the child’s behavior, such as higher anxiety and aggression. If you oppose daycare, you’re putting the needs of your children above your need for shiny stuff. Putting the needs of children first is a sign that you are ready for the self-sacrifice that marriage requires.

4. Are you in favor of smaller government?

If you’re in favor of smaller government, then you would rather keep taxes low so that more money stays in the family. If you support bigger government, then you think that government knows how to spend your money better than you and your spouse do. Additionally, government usually likes to spend more money than they take in. For example, in the last 8 years, we’ve added $10 trillion dollars to the debt, which is now $18.5 trillion. If you oppose higher taxes and bigger government, then you want government to pass on less debt to your children. Putting your kids’ financial well-being over your own is pro-marriage.

5. Are you in favor of school choice?

If you’re opposed to school choice, then you think that government should decide which schools your children will attend. School choice laws allow parents to give money to the schools they think are best for the children. If a school has excellent teachers and teaches students skills that they can use in their professional lives, then parents can choose that school. Schools have to compete to provide higher quality to parents, for lower cost. If you support giving parents more choice, then you put the needs of children – especially poor, minority children – above the needs of education administrators and teacher unions. Putting kids fist is pro-marriage.

6. Are you in favor of premarital sex?

Premarital sex is really fun (so I’m told). You can have sex with people who are just really attractive, even if these people have lousy character. Your friends will be impressed, and you’ll feel more attractive – like you were climbing a ladder of attractiveness with each new partner. If you combine sex with being drunk, then you can’t remember anything after. And you can’t feel guilty if the booze made you do it, right? On the other hand, if you present yourself to your spouse as a virgin, you are telling them that you have self-control, that you take sex as communication rather than recreation, and that they can trust you to be faithful by keeping sex inside the marriage. Trust is important for a good marriage.

7. Are you in favor of welfare for single mothers?

Sometimes, women find themselves pregnant before they are married. If you think that giving taxpayer money to women who have babies before they have husbands is a good idea, then you are rewarding behavior that creates fatherless children. Raising a child without a father causes serious behavioral problems. Boys tend to become more violent, and are more likely to commit crimes. Girls tend to engage in sex at earlier ages. If you oppose encouraging fatherlessness with welfare, you want women to get married before they have kids. Taking the needs of children seriously is pro-marriage.

8. Are you in favor of same-sex marriage?

When a man and a man get married and acquire children, those children will not be raised with their birth mother. Similarly with lesbians, the children will not grow up with their birth father. Studies show that children suffer from not being raised by their biological parents. For example, children of same-sex parents have lower graduation rates than children raised by heterosexual couples. If you think that children have a right to a stable relationship with their biological mother and father, then you place a higher value on the needs of children as opposed to the needs of adults. That’s a good sign you’re ready for marriage.

9. Are you in favor of radical feminism?

This one comes to us from Lindsay, who blogs at Lindsay’s Logic. She says that opposing radical feminism “shows that you do not think the purpose of marriage is to make women happy, but to work as a team to serve God and raise good children.” Indeed. Marriage doesn’t work if the woman approaches it as an accessory. Marriage is about a man and a woman sacrificing their own interests and compromising in order to work together as a team. Husbands and children have needs that women should care about. Feminism teaches women that husbands and children are less important than their careers, hobbies and interests. Feminism is anti-marriage.

10. Are you responsible with earning, budgeting and saving money?

This one comes to us from Bob P. He says that marriages work better when both spouses are “committed to financial planning, budgeting and a renunciation of debt to support a lifestyle. Disagreement about financial issues is one of the greatest causes of marital stress.” If you’re able to choose a college major or a trade that you don’t like, but that pays well, that’s a positive. If you’re able to string together jobs so that your resume is gap-less, that’s a positive. If you’re able to save money even though it means you’re having less fun, that’s a positive. If you’re able to give away money to others to support them, that means you’re able to sacrifice your interests for the benefit of others. That’s pro-marriage.

Well, how did you do? Leave your ideas for more policies and points of view that are marriage-friendly in the comments.

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Is marriage boring? Why are some women bored by marriage?

In this post, when I refer to women, I am referring to young, unmarried women under the age of 35 who have been influenced by feminism to reject goal-directed marriage.

My pastor gave a sermon recently where he talked about 2 Tim 2:3, and he emphasized that in order to be useful for God, you have to be willing to “flee from youthful lusts”.

2 Tim 2:20-23:

20 Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor.

21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.

22 Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

23 But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels.

The pastor asked everyone to consider what they were like when they were young, but not to yell it out for everyone to hear. Then he listed out some of the characteristics of youth. They are impractical. They are thrill-seekers. They are self-centered. They want to pursue selfish pleasures. They want to be the center of attention.

My marriage plan is boring

As I was listening to the sermon, it reminded me of my experiences dealing with Christian women in campus clubs and churches. My approach with Christian women was always to lay out my plans, and then explain what I had already done to prepare for those plans, and then ask them to build skills in a mentoring relationship with me, while deciding whether we were compatible for marriage. It’s understood that I am presenting a complementarian plan here, that I would be the leader of the marriage and family. The customer of the marriage would of course be God, and not my wife or I, nor the children.

Let’s just quickly review what I would tell them and see if it’s boring or not.

So here’s the plan:

  1. Influence the church with apologetics (teach apologetics classes, bring in speakers, organize conferences, etc.)
  2. Influence the university with apologetics (support campus clubs, bring in speakers, organize conferences, open house to students, etc.)
  3. Influence the public square (advocate for pro-family policies, lower taxes, smaller government, religious liberty, peace through strength, etc.)
  4. Raise effective and influential children who are excellent students and who are motivated to enter fields that matter and earn PhDs.

And here are some things I learned over the years from presenting this plan to marriage candidates.

Red flags when choosing a candidate

I really recommend that if you are looking for a wife, you should prefer to interview women who did not have a “wild” period of drinking, hooking up and cohabitation with atheists. Chastity really does matter – even if the woman became unchaste as a non-Christian before returning to Christianity, it will affect her ability to trust you, be vulnerable to you, let you lead her, be content with marriage and family, and in some cases to even remain faithful to you. In my experience the damage done from recreational premarital sex is still detectable after the conversion, and the women involved are unable to articulate why what they did was wrong, and what has been lost. In short, they are not remorseful.

Make sure she has done hard things in her life that have taught her that objective reality trumps her feelings and intuitions. You should prefer a woman with a STEM degree or a trade certification, no student loans, a job related to her degree, savings of her own – and someone who is not still living at home at age 30. If you want to put God first in the marriage, then you want to avoid someone who wants to redirect your time and money to fun and thrill-seeking.

You need to find a woman who is not “bored” by the duties and challenges of being a wife and mother. And you need to make sure to stress her with challenges during the courtship to make sure that she understands that marriage is about serving God, not about serving herself. When a woman has made all of her decisions using her emotions, and has achieved nothing, it does not bode well for her ability to make plans, stick to plans and achieve goals. It also does not help her to respect your plans and achievements. She will look at all your strengths (education, profession, savings, Christian influence) and think it is nothing impressive unless she has experienced sacrifice to achieve goals herself.

The main point is that a woman who has never had to do anything hard and achieve goals over the long-term has NO RESPECT for men who have done these things. Respect is what you need in order to lead. And you need to be in the lead in order for the marriage to work.

You want to avoid a woman who complains that home life is boring, that predictability and routine and safety are boring. You want to avoid a woman who disdains the humdrum of day-to-day earning money in an office building and saving money rather than blowing it on expensive things and one-shot thrills. You want to avoid women who rebels just for the sake of rebelling. You want to avoid women who resent anyone who tells them to be prudent, cautious, modest, etc. You want to avoid women who don’t get along with their fathers, who don’t see the value of benevolent authority. You want to avoid women who don’t have a track record of doing the hard work needed to achieve goals (e.g. – women who avoid STEM degrees). You want to prefer a woman who has the desire for achievement in the service of God more than the desire for pleasure or attention. You want to pick someone with a demonstrated ability to care for and nurture others in a goal-directed way, not someone whose relationships are more about getting her needs met.

The perception of “spiritual maturity”

Many Christian women who have been raised in a Christian home, who have prayed, done Bible studies, read A.W. Tozer, listened to sermons, and gone to AWANA and Sunday school have a very warped view of spiritual maturity. What the Christian home and the church teaches young women is that religion should be about their feelings. Private devotional reading and Bible study are much better (in their eyes) than preparing for public debates or sponsoring public lectures at a university. This is the feminized view of spiritual maturity that you find in the church, and this is how many Christian women judge the spiritual maturity of men.

I recommend that you find a woman who has an outward-focused practical view of Christianity and who respects action and results, not private piety and feelings. A great test for “outward-focusedness” in a woman is whether she has ability in evidential apologetics, especially science and to a lesser degree, history. Apologetics has value in Christianity because it is the thing that makes you resistant to suffering and disappointment with God. And the more evidence-based it is, the better. Reading “Signature in the Cell” is millions of times more effective than anything written by people like C.S. Lewis or G.K. Chesterton.

Is marriage primarily about the woman’s happiness?

Here is my list of courting questions that I use to detect women who will be bored by marriage. If you suspect that a woman is more focused on her own happiness than making the marriage count for God, then you just have to ask her these questions. If she gets angry and refuses to answer or learn how to answer them, then she’s self-centered and wants fun and thrills. Move on to the next one.

Understand that some young, unmarried women today who identify as Christian have these fun-seeking, thrill-seeking skeletons in their closets and that it seriously undermines their ability to perform “boring” marriage and parenting roles. Do not listen to them when they say they want to be married “some day” when all they are doing now is seeking pleasure apart from marriage and family as their fertility clock ticks away. Then they don’t really want it. Women say “some day” because they want to present themselves to others a certain way, but some women say that while really just wanting to indulge their emotions, have a good time, and never sacrifice for the future.

Many Christian women tend to draw their their standards for what will make them happy from the culture and from their peers. Whatever they claim to believe on Sunday, their actions the rest of the time are going to be inline with the culture and their peers. So pay attention to their actions, not their words. The words are designed to paint a picture for others to think well of them, but the actions show what their priorities really are.

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New study: marrying in your mid-to-late 20s confers benefits

Marriage and family

Marriage and family

This is from moderate Brad Wilcox, writing in the leftist Washington Post.

He writes:

These days, 20something marriage has gotten a reputation for being a bad idea. That’s partly because parents, peers, and the popular culture encourage young adults to treat their twenties as a decade for exploration and getting one’s ducks in a row, not for settling down. In the immortal words of Jay-Z, “Thirty’s the new twenty.”

Indeed, the median age-at-first marriage has climbed to nearly 30 for today’s young adults, up from about 22 in 1970. Of course, there’s an upside to that. As my coauthors and I report in  Knot Yet: the Benefits and Costs of Delayed Marriage in America, women who put off marriage and starting a family earn markedly more money than their peers who marry earlier.

But if you’d like to maximize your marital happiness, your odds of having a couple of kids, and of forging common memories and family traditions, you might not want to delay marriage if the right person presents his or herself  in your mid-to-late 20s. A University of Texas study found the highest-quality unions were forged by couples who married during that period.

He then goes over some of the benefits.

Here’s one that stuck out to me:

First, you are more likely to marry someone who shares your basic values and life experiences, and less likely to marry someone with a complicated romantic or family history.  Those who marry in their twenties, for instance, are more likely to marry someone who isn’t previously married and shares their level of educational attainment as well as their religious faith. Marrying at this stage in your life also allows couples to experience early adulthood together. In the words of Elizabeth Gilbert, a 31-year-old woman who married in her mid-twenties, “My husband and I got to grow up together—not apart. We learned sacrifice, selflessness, compromise, and became better people for it.”

And:

Women who marry in their 20s generally have an easier time getting pregnant, and having more than one child, than their peers who wait to marry in their thirties.  You’ll also be around to enjoy the grandchildren for longer.

Marrying earlier is also nice because you get that “honeymoon” period before you have to start having kids. If you want to have 1-2 kids, you’ll need 3-4 years. You will want to have at least 2 years of “honeymoon” time to iron out differences and just enjoy married life. Children are challenging, and they will add more stress to the marriage. You don’t want to marry at 33 and start having kids before that 2 year settling-down period is finished. If marriage really is valuable, then it doesn’t make sense to put off building it together. The sooner your start, the more you can build. The more you can learn from each other. The more kids you can have.

Related to this study is a 15-minute TED.com lecture that talks about how people should be preparing for their marriages during their 20s instead of pursuing fun and thrills. (H/T Lindsay)

The transcript says this:

Okay, now that sounds a little flip, but make no mistake, the stakes are very high. When a lot has been pushed to your 30s, there is enormous thirtysomething pressure to jump-start a career, pick a city, partner up, and have two or three kids in a much shorter period of time. Many of these things are incompatible, and as research is just starting to show, simply harder and more stressful to do all at once in our 30s.

The post-millennial midlife crisis isn’t buying a red sports car. It’s realizing you can’t have that career you now want. It’s realizing you can’t have that child you now want, or you can’t give your child a sibling. Too many thirtysomethings and fortysomethings look at themselves, and at me, sitting across the room, and say about their 20s, “What was I doing? What was I thinking?”

[…]Here’s a story about how that can go. It’s a story about a woman named Emma. At 25, Emma came to my office because she was, in her words, having an identity crisis. She said she thought she might like to work in art or entertainment, but she hadn’t decided yet, so she’d spent the last few years waiting tables instead. Because it was cheaper, she lived with a boyfriend who displayed his temper more than his ambition.

[…]First, I told Emma to forget about having an identity crisis and get some identity capital. By “get identity capital,” I mean do something that adds value to who you are. Do something that’s an investment in who you might want to be next. I didn’t know the future of Emma’s career, and no one knows the future of work, but I do know this: Identity capital begets identity capital. So now is the time for that cross-country job, that internship, that startup you want to try. I’m not discounting twentysomething exploration here, but I am discounting exploration that’s not supposed to count, which, by the way, is not exploration. That’s procrastination. I told Emma to explore work and make it count.

I think that’s good advice. Have the goal of getting married through high school and college and the early working years. Do hard things to prepare yourself to for the hard work that marriage requires. The reason why so many people are divorcing is because they are trying to pursue happiness through their 20s, then jumping off into marriage after their lives have been wrecked by drinking, promiscuity, debts, self-centeredness and painful break-ups. That’s completely the wrong way to go about getting married.

Usually, when I meet a person who has not achieved as much as he/she wants to have done, I try to encourage the person to study hard things. Update their resume. Apply for better jobs. Start saving more money. Try to serve others. Take on more responsibilities, even if they are not fun. Usually, people understand why I am asking them to do hard things. Because the only way to develop “identity capital” is by saying “NO” to the desire for happiness, and “YES” to doing hard things. No, you can’t study philosophy. Yes, you have to study computer science. No you can’t work as a waitress. Yes, you have to apply for an office job. No, you can’t delay paying off your debts. Yes, you have to start investing $100 a month.

Structure and boundaries seem difficult to young people – like they are going to lose their ability to have fun. But in the long run, building something worthwhile is more important than short-term fun and thrills.

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Christian mothers value family over their relationship with Jesus

Here is a shocking article from Church for Men blog. Please read, then read my comments below.

Excerpt:

When forced to choose their top priority in life, Christian women overwhelmingly pick family over faith, according to a survey from Barna Research. Five times more women chose “being a mother or parent” than chose “being a follower of Christ,” as their most important role in life.

These stunning survey results give us a clue as to why Christianity is so rapidly changing into a family-centered faith; why Christian culture is feminizing; and why the gender gap in many denominations continues to grow.

The researchers wrote:

[Women’s] spiritual lives are rarely their most important source of identity. That role is taken up by the strong priority Christian women place on family.

The preeminence of family was most overt for Christian women when it came to naming the highest priority in their lives. More than half (53%) says their highest priority in life is family. By contrast, only one third as many women (16%) rate faith as their top priority, which is less than the cumulative total of women who say their health (9%), career performance (5%) or comfortable lifestyle (5%) are top on their list of life objectives.

Despite the characterization of women as intricately connected to their peers, only 3% of Christian women say their friends are their top priority, equal to those who place finances (2%) and leisure (1%) at the top.

Women’s sense of identity very closely follows their priorities, with 62% of women saying their most important role in life is as a mother or parent. Jesus came next: 13% of Christian women believe their most important role in life is as a follower of Christ. In third place is their role as wife (11%).

Any other roles women identify with came in at similarly low rankings and far below that of a parent, including that of employee or executive (3%), that of church member (2%) and that of friend or neighbor (2%). American citizen, teacher and caregiver all rank with one percent each.

The researchers continue:

Perhaps not surprisingly given where they place their identity, Christian women also point to family-related objectives as their most important goal in life. Raising their children well is the highest goal for Christian women (36%). While, roughly one quarter of Christian women identify faith-oriented goals as most important (26%).

Though women consider themselves family-driven, their marriages may be suffering from a lack of intentionality: only 2% of Christian women say their most important goal in life is to enhance their relationship with their significant other. Marriage comes in below several other goals, including health (6%), career (5%), lifestyle (4%), personal growth (4%), morality (4%) and financial objectives (3%). Only goals related to personal appearance, relationships outside the home and travel come in lower than marital goals.

And I will include one paragraph from the author of the post:

While the Bible certainly endorses interpersonal harmony, Scripture is not chock-full of happy relationship advice. When Jesus spoke of relationships he usually predicted their demise (Matt. 10:34-35), or promised rewards for people who abandoned their loved ones (Luke 18:29-30). God takes no delight in dysfunctional relationships, but neither did he send his son so you could be at peace with your kids.

I have to quote that because I rebelled against both my parents in order to become an evangelical Protestant. First one in the family.

Now I have something to say about this survey data.

I get a lot of flak for my 10 courting questions that are designed to evaluate a woman’s worldview prior to any commitment being made. Men and women alike often tell me to lower my standards. The idea that the marriage is supposed to serve God is losing traction with most young evangelicals today.

The 10 courting questions are designed to help a Christian man make sure that his wife is going to support him in serving God and making the relationship count for God. They are also designed to make sure that his wife will do everything possible to guarantee that his children remain Christians throughout their lives. The simple fact of the matter is that men are away at work most of the time doing stuff to make money. The man’s wife is the one who is going to be at home doing the more important work of making sure that his children learn about God, and can resist the culture.

The danger you want to avoid is a situation where your wife is not able to explain to the children how Christianity is rooted in reason and evidence. Your wife needs to be informed and passionate about Christian apologetics, public knowledge related to the Christian worldview, and public policies that affect the execution of a Christian life plan. If she divorces Christianity from truth, then she will not be able to answer the questions of your children, or deal with their doubts, or anticipate threats to their faith (e.g. – the pluralism/relativism at the university), or help them to resist secular popular culture, or explain non-Biblical reasons for various Christian views now unpopular with the culture, e.g. – premarital sex, gay marriage, global warming socialism. And so on.

If your children are raised to think that Christianity is an arbitrary set of rules that cannot be debated or questioned, all in the name of family happiness and respectability, then as soon as they get to university, they will rebel. So the first priority can never be “family cohesion” – the first priority has to be truth. Christianity is not a tool to achieve happiness in the home, or respectability with the neighbors. Having family as a priority can cause questions and doubts about Christian truth claims to be swept under the rug. That works for a while, but as soon as the kids hit university, they will drop their Christian faith like a hot potato. A better idea is to focus more on truth and open discussion, and let all the doubts and questions and discomfort about being different come out in the open while the kids are growing up.

Christian men, choose your wife wisely. She has to be a thinker. She has to be a fighter. And you have to lead her during the courtship to take Christian worldview and apologetics seriously.

The survey above made me think of this phone call – listen carefully to the mother’s response to her son’s atheism: “How dare you embarrass the family, what will the neighbors think?”. Have a listen – does this response ring true to you? 

It’s all about family (and how the family is perceived in the community), and nothing about truth. Nothing about knowledge.

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New study: couples that delay sexual activity experience higher quality relationships

Relationship stability, quality, communication, satisfaction

Relationship stability, quality, communication, satisfaction

From Family Studies, news about TWO new studies.

Excerpt: (links removed)

[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.

Excerpt:

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.

His findings:

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.

Here’s another study that makes it even more clear.

Findings:

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.

This study supports what the Bible says about chastity and premarital sex:

1 Cor. 7:8-9:

8 To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to stay single as I am.

9 But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

The idea of “burning” here has to do with sexual desire. Here Paul tells all unmarried people that if they cannot control their sexual desires, they need to get married. Why? Because Paul assumes that one cannot fulfill this sexual desire outside of the marital bed. While Paul would love for them to remain single (1 Cor. 7:7), he believes that sex outside of marriage is a destructive sin and cannot be used as a gratifying release of our sexual passions.

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.

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