(NY Times) Ross Douthat–Why Monogamy Matters

Among the young people Regnerus and Uecker studied, the happiest women were those with a current sexual partner and only one or two partners in their lifetime. Virgins were almost as happy, though not quite, and then a young woman’s likelihood of depression rose steadily as her number of partners climbed and the present stability of her sex life diminished.

When social conservatives talk about restoring the link between sex, monogamy and marriage, they often have these kinds of realities in mind. The point isn’t that we should aspire to some Arcadia of perfect chastity. Rather, it’s that a high sexual ideal can shape how quickly and casually people pair off, even when they aren’t living up to its exacting demands. The ultimate goal is a sexual culture that makes it easier for young people to achieve romantic happiness ”” by encouraging them to wait a little longer, choose more carefully and judge their sex lives against a strong moral standard.

This is what’s at stake, for instance, in debates over abstinence-based sex education.

Read it all.


Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Men, Psychology, Sexuality, Theology, Women

12 comments on “(NY Times) Ross Douthat–Why Monogamy Matters

  1. Larry Morse says:

    Son of a gun. ANOTHER epiphany of the utterly and perfectly obvious. Boy, it is lucky we have scientists whose studies show us what any nitwit knew 70 years ago. The failure of our knowledge of human values and behavior to carry past one generation will keep researchers in clover for years. Larry

  2. C. Wingate says:

    Well, it is helpful to have scientists to distinguish the things that those nitwits knew that are true from those they knew they aren’t. Just my opinion, though.

    Best factoid from the study, reported here:

    A female college student who hasn’t had a relationship in college has an 85% chance of being a virgin if 30% of the student body is female. The same woman on a campus that is 70% female has only a 36% chance of being a virgin.

    Not surprisingly, all of the usual suspects are ridiculing Douthat, though Salon has a surprisingly respectful interview with the researchers. You might hope that Andrew Sullivan would hold himself, um, congenitally indisposed to offer an informed opinion on the matter, but apparently nothing sexual escapes his magisterial gaze (and why is he practically the only person at The Atlantic who has is comments locked out?).

  3. C. Wingate says:

    I should add that I also found a favorable review of the study at The New Republic.

  4. Jim the Puritan says:

    I would like to hope Christian young people are not approaching relationships this way (referring primarily to the articles linked to by commenters). It’s all very sad.

  5. Teatime2 says:

    More work and attention has to focus on males, in this regard. Note that he announces sexual stability is more important for women. We still live in a culture that gives a wink and a nod to the men and blames women for not keeping their knees together. (Hell’s bells, I’ve even seen that attitude on display on religious blogs!) That has to change.

  6. Sidney says:

    [i]young woman’s likelihood of depression rose steadily as her number of partners climbed and the present stability of her sex life diminished.[/i]

    Of course, as usual, correlation is not necessarily causation. The depression might be causing the multiple sexual partners, sort of like it can cause smoking, alcohol abuse and drug dependence.

  7. Larry Morse says:

    It blames women from not keeping their legs together precisely because that is where the problem lies. Women OWN the lock, and no one puts in the key without the owners’ permission. Now, obviously, I am leaving rape out of this issue because in this context it is not relevant. So, Teatime, I will venture to repeat a relatively recent epiphany: Men and women are uindamentally different, and the consequences of not keeping your pants own and raadically different for men and women. This is not an excuse for the whoremonger, but rather a simple assertion that in the real world, evolution has created a set of differences that cannot be blurred or scouted because the current culture pretends that men and women are essentially the same by pretending that they are equal. There can be parity, but evolution has made it clear tht there can be no equality.

  8. Teatime2 says:

    Really, Larry? So, rape doesn’t happen? Plying women with alcohol or slipping them drugs to soften their “defenses” is still the women’s problem? And when males dupe women by telling them what they want to hear — that they love them, want to marry them, etc. — when their only intention is to have sex is OK, too?

    I’m not saying that women are blameless but you’ve made my point. There doesn’t seem to be much concern about the “boys will be boys” attitude. Women are socially conditioned to be nurturing, not hurt people’s feelings, and to be attractive to men. Men are socially conditioned to be the aggressors in relationships and sexually active, yet you place all of the responsibility on women.

    If you want to say this is the natural order, fine. But that view also requires that you don’t assign the blame to women. If you assert that it’s in men’s nature to do or say whatever it takes to have sex (and that this is to be expected), then you have to acknowledge it’s equally understandable that women’s nature makes acquiescence possible (or they may be duped through no fault of their own).

    Equality doesn’t mean that you’re the same; it means you have the freedom to make choices that aren’t gender-bound. Guys who have a lot of notches on their belt are lauded as studs; gals who have active sex lives are demonized as slags. Conversely, guys who aren’t ready for sexual relationships are labeled as gay; gals are good girls or prudes.

    From working with youth, I can tell you that these ridiculous stereotypes have made “late-blooming” boys think that they’re gay when they’re most likely not. Stereotypes are hurtful and distort reality.

  9. phil swain says:

    Teatime, the fact is that the sexual revolution(contraceptive mentality) and modern feminism have empowered men and disempowered women. The solution can be found in the late John Paul II’s encyclical, Mulieris Dignatatem.

  10. Larry Morse says:

    You have missed my point entirely,Teatime. You cannot make a decision that is NOT gender bound. Everything you (and I) think and do is conditioned by (but not predetermined by) our gender – all the genes and hormones and plumbing frame the building within which our lives are lived. We can nor more live outside this structure than we can rise beyond evolution. We say our wills are free, meaning to to right or wrong as we see fit, and so they are, but right and wrong themselves are gender bound which is why women are so often treated differently than men for the same crimes. And whyh should it be otherwise, given the unalterable truth that evolution has designed us for very different purposes.
    No, I haven’t ignored rape. For Heaven’s sake, see my comment thereon. Will men try to trick women into sex? Sure, this is what we are made to do. Should they continue to do so? Of course NOT, but the desire remains and cannot be eradicated. Will women believe the old lies? Sure. But SHOULD they? That’s absurd. MUST they? That’s just as absurd. Are they free not to succumb? Sure.
    The stereotypes are your own use, not mine. I have not invoked them. But the stereotype argument itself is a wornout device that takes the place of argument. It is itself a cliche.
    Finally, I haven’t assigned blame. This is another common gambit.
    Blame: Are men to be blamed for getting women in bed just for the pleasure of getting laid. Sure. Are women to be blamed for allowing it? Sure. Are the consequences for both the same? Absolutely not: Men have little to lose in the real world; women have much. There can be no equality here because women are not socially coonditioned to be nurturing (etc. etc.), they ARE meant to be nurturing, and why not? That’s what functioning breasts are for. And all the rest that you mention follows from this. Does conditioning have nothing to do with the genetic basis? Of course it does, but it does NOT alter the fiundamentals: Men and women are different from the very outset. I say, being male, “Vive la difference!!!) and you, being a Teatime, say,” humph Male chauvinist pig.” Larry

  11. Jim the Puritan says:

    For us as Christians, the issue should be whether we as men is going to treat women the way the world is, or are we treating women the way Scripture states we should. Scripture teaches we should treat younger women “as sisters, in all purity.” I Timothy 5:2. I think the lesson here is that believers, male or female, cannot be engaged in the dating/mating game the way the world is now playing it.

  12. lostdesert says:

    larry morse wrote:
    [blockquote]Women OWN the lock, and no one puts in the key without the owners’ permission.[/blockquote]

    This is exactly correct. Absent force, no one makes a baby without a woman’s consent. For her or anyone else to blame the man is patently ridiculous. Somehow this is considered and insult, not sure why. I am a woman and was taught this a long time ago. Women, however, would now like to remove the responsibility as well as blame for any of their actions. Sorry. When babies are made, it is because one of us got naked. That is entirely a woman’s fault. If she says no, it won’t happen.

    Why do women say yes and before the baby is even a few months old the same woman who got naked will tell you what a dreadful person is the father, then she will break up the “family” which is usually an unmarried mess. Why is no appalled that the child is now likely doomed to poverty and much more prone to abuse, molestation, and of course a constant stream of itinerent men running through a house where there should be peace and a happy secure child. When did this all become normal? I refused to attend a baby shower of a 40 yr old who was unmarried and I was vilified. Sorry, won’t go there. Get married and I’ll buy you a pack of diapers and bless your home. Marriage changes everything for the child and the parents.