Any effort to solve a problem will certainly fail if it disqualifies all of the best solutions from the outset. This is why nothing ever gets solved in our country. We begin our search for answers by rejecting the answers. We seek solutions that exclude the solution. The results, with that as our starting point, are predictable.
It is true that religious people generally believe in saving sex for marriage. It is not true that you must be religious to see the wisdom in such an arrangement. If you wish to address our most serious societal problems, and you desire the extraordinary benefits that would come from solving those problems, then you, too, should advocate for abstinence before marriage. This is a practical position as well as a spiritual one, and the two do not necessarily have to be linked. I believe in outlawing homicide because the Ten Commandments forbid it. But, for a variety of obvious reasons, I would still believe in outlawing homicide even if the Ten Commandments didn’t exist. The same is true of saving sex for marriage.
Now, let’s take a look at the six societal crises that could be solved, or greatly reduced, by keeping sex within the framework of a monogamous and lifelong union:
There are three ways for a child to end up without a father in the home. One is divorce, which we’ll address in a minute. Another is death. Both of these categories are in the minority. The number of never-married single mothers is greater than the number of divorced and widowed single mothers combined. Fatherlessness — and all of the vast and terrible consequences that come with it — could be cut in half through abstinence.
But what about those divorced mothers? Studies show that “virgin marriages” are less likely to lead to divorce than marriages between previously sexually active people.
Here we can tie together the first two items on the list. The simple fact is that children are four times as likely to be impoverished if they live in single-parent homes. Only about 8 percent of children in married households are poor. Over 40 percent in single-parent (usually single-mother) households are poor. Considering that most of those children were born to unwed mothers, the connection between poverty and sex before marriage is evident.
We are currently experiencing an STD epidemic in our country. Sexually transmitted diseases are at record highs across the country, with more reported cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis than ever before. Two people who save sex for marriage and keep sex within marriage need not worry about this problem.
According to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, only 14 percent of the women who procured an abortion last year were married. That means the abortion rate could be cut by as much as 86 percent if sex were saved for marriage.
6) Sexual assault.
Obviously marriage won’t absolutely protect a woman from getting raped. But this strategy would greatly reduce the problem in college and other environments where assaults often occur within the context of a booze-fueled hook-up culture. A woman could significantly (though not perfectly) insulate herself from the risk by withdrawing from that scene completely. And if the hook-up culture were entirely abolished, the problem of sexual assault on college campuses would all but disappear.
Now, we are told that we can negate most of these issues simply by encouraging “safe sex.” But contraception is readily available everywhere. Anyone can obtain some form of birth control for low cost or no cost. Yet STD rates are still skyrocketing. Fatherlessness is still a huge problem. Out-of-wedlock birth is still endemic. Abortion is still commonplace. Maybe that is because there is no such thing as “safe sex” outside of the bonds of a committed marriage. Maybe safely having sex with a stranger you met at a party is about as possible as safely driving drunk. Yes, you can mitigate some of the risk to some extent by wearing a seatbelt, just as you can mitigate some of the risk to some extent by wearing a condom, but the act itself, in both cases, is fundamentally reckless and dangerous.
It seems there is no real substitute for a little bit of self-control and discipline. And there is no good argument against self-control and discipline, other than the fact that it requires effort. But that is more of a whine than a counterargument. Perhaps it is time we stop whining and start exploring real solutions.