It does not take pregnancy or disease to harm unmarried young people who are sexually active. Sexual immorality itself tends to bring easily measured evidences of psychological or emotional damage to the participants. In 2003, the Heritage Foundation released a study entitled, " The Harmful Effects of Early Sexual Activity and Multiple Sexual Partners Among Women: A Book of Charts," by Robert E. Rector, Kirk A. Johnson, Ph.D., Lauren R. Noyes, and Shannan Martin (WebMemo #303, June 26, 2003, available at http://www.heritage.org/Research/Family/wm303.cfm. According to the authors' findings,
Early initiation of sexual activity and higher numbers of non-marital sex partners are linked in turn to a wide variety of negative life outcomes, including increased rates of infection with sexually transmitted diseases, increased rates of out-of-wedlock pregnancy and birth, increased single parenthood, decreased marital stability, increased maternal and child poverty, increased abortion, increased depression, and decreased happiness. This report examines the linkages between early initiation of sexual activity, number of nonmarital sex partners, and human well-being. In general, the earlier a woman begins sexual activity, the greater the number of non-marital sex partners she is likely to have over the course of her life.Young women involved in sexual immorality bear heavy burdens, with significantly higher depression, poverty, and other problems, but the women are not the only ones harmed. The men also degrade the quality of their lives, and one easily measured correlation is that men involved in immorality tend to have a significantly increased risk of suicide. This finding is documented in a related study from the Heritage Foundation, "Sexually Active Teenagers Are More Likely to Be Depressed," by Robert E. Rector, Kirk A. Johnson, Ph.D., and Lauren R. Noyes, June 3, 2002, (Center for Data Analysis Report #03-04, available at http://www.heritage.org/Research/Family/cda0304.cfm, a study that draws upon data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health, 1996, from a nationwide survey designed to examine the health-related behaviors of 6,500 representative adolescents in middle school and high school across the nation, funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and 17 other federal agencies.
The data show that sexually active teenage boys were over 8 times more likely to attempt suicide that those who were not sexually active. (Sexually active young women were nearly 3 times as likely to attempt suicide.) The study also highlights the increased depression of those who were engaged in immorality, and documents that the majority of sexually active teens wish they had waited longer. Immorality, regret, and depression are linked. And this is in addition to the tragedy of sexually transmitted disease (affecting about one-fourth of America's sexually active teens) and teenage pregnancy.
But there are others who suffer from our lax standards on marriage and sexuality. Children of parents who are lax about moral standards often pay a heavy price. First, there the specter of child abuse that is more likely to occur in such families. Second, there is a near certainty that these children will not be given the moral teachings they need to escape the ravages of disease and broken relationships that come from immoral sexual behavior when they are older. The bad examples of the parents (or single parent) is likely to be propagated by the children. And third, it is an empirically measurable fact that children born and raised outside of wedlock are disadvantaged in many ways. We all know how difficult it is for a single parent to raise a child, but what is often missed is that children raised by two parents living together outside of marriage are not given the same level of care as when the parents are married.
A new study from the University of Chicago by Thomas DeLeire and Ariel Kalil of the Harris School of Public Policy is summarized in the report, "How Do Cohabiting Couples With Children Spend Their Money?" (Working Paper Series 02.04). According to the online abstract (the full paper is available as a PDF file):
Cohabitation is an increasingly prevalent living arrangement in the United States. Although the effects of living in a cohabiting arrangement on child well-being are not fully understood, the literature on children growing up in cohabiting families suggests that they have poorer developmental outcomes than do those growing up in married-parent families or in single-parent families. We use the Consumer Expenditure Survey to see if cohabiting couples with children spend their income on a different set of goods (i.e., have a different distribution of expenditure) than either married parents or single parents. Using a variety of analytical methods, we find that cohabiting couples spend a substantially larger share of their total expenditure on alcohol and tobacco than do either married-parent families or single parents. Cohabiting couples with children also spend less on health care and less on education than do married parents.It appears that parents who live together are generally less responsible than married parents, and do less for their kids. While there are those who will protest that they do a great job as cohabiting parents, it should come as no surprise that in general, those unwilling to make the commitment of marriage are less likely to make the financial and other sacrifices needed to give children what they really need. In the study mentioned above, the cohabiting adults turn out to spend a lot more on alcohol and tobacco than those who are married, and in turn spend less on what their kids need - and while these factors are only indirectly associated with morality, they are symptomatic of people who lack control over their bodies and lives.
Lack of self-control, especially in the area of morality, is so often at the heart of broken families and wretched relationships.
It's time we cast of the burden of illicit sexual behavior that has destroyed so many lives, wrecked so many families, and left so many children with a poorer quality of life. The vile influence of Hollywood, Planned Parenthood, and many in the educational establishment needs to be shaken off and replaced with healthy attitudes about the sacred gift of sexuality, which is reserved for the bonds of marriage alone.
Jeff Lindsay, July 31, 2003
Copyright © 2003. This snippet was written by Jeff Lindsay for JeffLindsay.com.