Sexual Sin: Premarital Sex

10 Sep

I have only read about half of the book Religion Saves: And Nine Other Misconceptions by Mark Driscoll, but it is already a favorite. This is just a little excerpt from the book on premarital sex.

When talking with a number of young teens in their junior high years, it has become painfully obvious that the sexual landscape of our culture has rapidly changed even in one generation. Girls, some of whom even claim to be Christian, sign pledges to their parents vowing to remain virgins until their marriage yet engage in oral and anal sex with boys, because, for them, those acts do not count as sinful acts that violate their virginity. I have met more than a few young boys who have naked photos of their girlfriends on their phones, because it is now widely expected that if, say, a thirteen-year-old couple is dating, naked photos of their boyfriend or girlfriend will be made available.

Anyone who is surprised to hear these things would be well served to spend some time surfing online social networking sites, such as Facebook and MySpace. You will see that these sites are the new confession booths where young people share their deepest secrets and post pictures of themselves that would have been considered porn when their grandparents were the same age.

Many parents, in general, and Christian parents, in particular, have had their children commit to sexual abstinence. However, the Journal of Adolescent Health reports that, of course, adolescents who commit to abstinence do not always honor that commitment. Research shows that “most teenagers who take a pledge to abstain from sex before marriage ultimately go on to have sex before marriage, and are somewhat less likely to use contraception at first intercourse than adolescents who did not pledge.”

There is some benefit to abstinence pledges, however, according to the Center for Data Analysis Report, which says that “because they typically experience first sex 18 months later than teens who do not pledge, teenage girls who pledge are less likely to become pregnant as teenagers.

Indeed, most adolescents and adults end up having sex before marriage. The mean age of first intercourse in the United States is now 16.4. The implications of premarital sex by adolescents and adults alike are enormous. The National Vital Statistics Reports reveal that from 1960 to 1998, birth rates more than doubled for unmarried teens ages fifteen to nineteen (from 15.3 to 41.5 percent), as well as for unmarried women aged fifteen to forty-four (from 21.6 to 44.3 percent).

Simply put, many children are conceived by teenage girls and unmarried women every year, with many being aborted and others being born into the world. The National Center for Health Statistics reports that in 2005, 420,000 girls under the age of twenty in the United States gave birth—83 percent out of wedlock. Therefore, with increasing numbers of adolescents and adults engaging in premarital sex, “millions of children are being born ever year into family contexts that do not bode well for their future financial, emotional, and social welfare.”

A number of social scientific studies also find that adolescent premarital sex, particularly casual sex (where there is no romantic relationship), is linked to psychological pathologies such as depression, suicidal thoughts, and suicide attempts. The evidence for this correlation is so overwhelming that anyone who loves adolescents has to take it seriously.

This association between adolescent sex and psychological problems is also markedly stronger for girls than it is for boys. One study found that the association between sex and depression was almost twice as powerful among teenage girls. A study of twelve- through sixteen-year-old students found that sexually active girls were 6.3 times more likely to report having attempted suicide than were virgin girls.

Adolescents who abstain from sex are less likely to be involved in antisocial or risky behaviors such as drinking, drug use, and delinquency. A study of 1,052 urban adolescents found that abstinence was associated with significantly lower levels of tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, and other illegal drug use. A study of 3,054 Massachusetts high school students found that students “with more [sexual] partners are more likely to have greater frequency and severity of lifetime and recent drug use.”

Studies indicate that the academic consequence of teenage sex are stronger for boys. A longitudinal study of 1,120 Florida adolescents found that boys who experienced sex between waves of the study were significantly more likely to suffer a decline in their academic performance relative to peers who remained virgins. The authors concluded: “To the extent that adolescent premarital coitus has long-term effects on academic performance, and to the extent that school performance is a good indicator of success in later life, premarital coitus may have far-reaching negative consequences for a white male’s future well-being.”

Religion Saves: And Nine Other Misconceptions, pg. 130-132

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