sexuality

sexuality

The Most Important Chart (Phenomenon) in all of the Social Sciences

divorce, pre-marital sex, sexuality, social science No comments

By now, regular readers of Faith and Family Findings are familiar with the data on family structure and its impact on everything important to a functioning society.  On every outcome measured, for adults and children, those in an intact family do best on all the positive outcomes we desire for ourselves and our children (education, income, savings, health, longevity, happiness, sexual enjoyment, intergenerational support) and have the least incidence of all the negatives we hope never afflict our children (crime, addictions, abuse both physical and sexual, poverty, illiteracy, exclusion, ill health, unhappiness, mental illness, lack of sexual fulfillment).

Thus family structure is exceedingly important to society and a return to intact marriage is a sine qua non for a nation or for families set on rebuilding themselves.

Given that, consider the implications of the following chart on the intactness of marriage at the end of the first five years of marriage:

What this chart shows is the probability of intactness of family after the first five years of marriage– given the number of sexual partners of the spouses have had in their lifetime. Using rounded numbers:  95% of those who are monogamous, that is only one sexual partner in their life time —i.e. only their spouse–95% are still in an intact marriage after the first five years. But for the woman (national average) who has had one extra sexual partner other than her husband (almost always prior to marriage) the percent drops to 62% and with two extra partners it drops almost to 50%.  Thereafter it plateaus.  For men it takes five sexual partners to reach the same level of breakup.

When I first saw this phenomenon in the 1995 data (the above is 2006-2010 data) my immediate reaction was “Those Mediterranean cultures that had chaperoning during courtship knew something about human nature, family life and intergenerational stability.” They ensured Mediterranean family was on the three-love diet.

Chastity and monogamy are foundational to the intact married family, and thus to the prosperity and success of a nation.  Hence my conclusion that this chart is the most important chart in all of the social sciences.

A culture of monogamy is critical to a thriving nation or a thriving culture.

A culture of chastity is foundational to a culture of monogamy.

Thus the cultivation of chastity is central to a robust nation and a robust culture.  Chastity is an old term but now out of favor even among Christians, given the impact of political correctness i.e. cultural Marxism. However it is the accurate label for the virtue or strength behind the data.

For the impact of monogamy at a more causative level check out the work of JD Teachman on Google Scholar  or his CV and you will be able to thread the impact of monogamy in an admirable corpus of cumulative scholarship that is one of the great contributions to research on the family.

Though the above chart is purely correlational – it is demographically descriptive of America, of what is happening between our couples who get married.  One chart cannot prove chastity is causative (go to Teachman and others to tease that out) but it sure indicates where causal strength (or weakness) can be found.

The Different Sexual Signals of Different Baby-Making Cultures

rights of children, sexuality No comments

All children have the right to the marriage of their biological parents because without it they will not become the persons they could have become.  This however is more honored in the breach than the observance.  There are exceptions but they are few; and that paucity proves the rule.

Many today disagree with this statement of this universal natural right of the child. Not because it is not true, but because they claim their own adult rights trump the rights of their biological children.   Such ‘rights claims’ make for different communities–communities that differ in their “baby-making life scripts”–and the induction of their children into these scripts.  That induction, though it starts in infancy, becomes very serious at puberty.  It is then that sexual signals and what they convey regarding “baby-making” life scripts becomes an intense topic of discussion for all: for the teenagers, their parents, their pastors and their teachers.

Different cultures have different life-script sexual signals but all have signals.  And different sexual signals indicate different cultures and the need for boundary marking and honoring of those borders.  The response to such signals is one of two:  “I am part of your community” or “I am of a differing baby-making life script community”.  When the response indicates a difference then the respondent in turn expects “OK, and I respect the difference.”  Should that happen there is comity, should it not we have the beginning of tyranny at an interpersonal level.

Today more flash points between modern communities or subcultures are arising. Radical individualism is not only forming its own very different culture and baby-making communities, but increasingly is adopting a non-accepting attitude to differing life script communities.

This totalitarian attitude is even more dangerous because the social science data repeatedly demonstrate that the intact (monogamous) family that worships weekly is the most socially productive on all measures, and the further one moves away from that “best model” the weaker the children produced.  Thus the radical individualism turned totalitarian is in danger of destroying the best, that which is most deserving of protection.   And the first duty of government is to protect the good and the innocent, which clearly includes the intact married family that worships weekly — in community. It has very clear and different sexual signals.

America protects the radical individualist communities and cultures. The issue of the day is whether it can it protect its older communities and cultures as well as the new immigrant communities who have many of the same “baby-making scripts”.

Sex, Robots, and the Future of the Family

economy, family, pornography, robots, sexuality 2 comments
The dystopia in Huxley’s Brave New World is quickly morphing into a terrifying reality.  According to the Wall Street Journal, within the next 10-15 years people will have the ability to customize lifelike robots to fulfill their sexual demands. Far from sexual liberation, intercourse with robots will inevitably yield a hedonistic cult of emotionless humans enslaved to their lustful passions and devoid of love or reason. Emotionally and economically, it will radically expedite the crumble of western civilization.
Sexual intercourse with customizable robots is akin to pornography on steroids—it will emotionally destroy human-human relationships and consequently eliminate the very basis of society: marriage. As “The Effects of Pornography on Individuals, Family, and Community” shows, social scientists, clinical psychologists, biologists, and neurologists have all found that pornography distorts sexual relations. Men who habitually look at porn have a higher tolerance for sexual aggression and rape, tend to view women as “sex objects,” and generally experience sexual dissatisfaction. Because pornography is highly addictive, many users fall into sexually compulsive behaviors that render them unable to carry out a meaningful social and work life. Actually having sexual intercourse with a robot will exacerbate the consequences of pornography. Fewer human-human relationships will form because humans are not customizable like robots, and will simply be sexually unfulfilling. At the same time robots will not be sufficient because they lack any emotional connections. The human-human relationships that do form will be unstable because they do not provide the “perfect” physical sexual satisfaction that the robot once provided. Fewer children will be born since a robot cannot beget a child. And children who are artificially conceived will only have one parent (or perhaps one human parent one robotic stepparent?). The days of intellectual and spiritual conversations with your loved one, laughing to the point of tears, or cuddling while watching a movie will be over. Humans will be reduced to an animalistic state of solely fulfilling their appetitive soul. Nay, humans will fare worse—even animals cuddle.
Although it’s not too difficult to understand the emotional deprivations of having sexual intercourse with a robot, the negative economic implications are less apparent. But they are there, and they are extreme. First and foremost, intercourse with robots will deplete stable intact families because it will distort the basis of the family unit: a healthy sexual relationship between a married man and woman. MARRI research repeatedly proves that the intact married family (with a human mother and a human father) is the basis of economic security. “Marriage and Economic Well-Being: The Economy of the Family Rises or Falls with Marriage” shows that the intact married family produces the best economic outcomes of all family structures. On average, married-couple families generate the most income and have the greatest net worth. Poverty rates are significantly higher among cohabiting families and single-parent families than among married families. “The Divorce Revolution Perpetually Reduces U.S. Economic Growth” shows that marriage is a causal agent of economic growth. Specifically, it constitutes one third to one fourth of the human capital that household heads contribute to macroeconomic growth. “Non-Marriage Reduces U.S. Labor Participation: The Abandonment of Marriage Puts America at Risk of a Depression” and “Our Fiscal Crisis: We Cannot Tax, Spend, and Borrow Enough to Substitute for Marriage” explain how marriage protects the economy. Married men have a higher employment rate than unmarried men, and married families produce more children who are equipped with the essential skills to compete in the modern economy. The population shift towards non-marriage causally determines a large share of the decline of the adult male labor participation. Less Labor force participation plus less human capital equals a slowdown of economic growth. A slowdown of economic growth plus an increasing dependency on welfare equals an increasing budget deficit. As sexual intercourse with robots intended for lust replaces sexual relationships with humans intended for building families, economic decline will accelerate. 
Simply put, sexual intercourse with robots will emotionally destroy stable human-human relationships that produce intact families; a shortage of intact families will divest the economy of its greatest contributors. Sexual intercourse with robots will corrupt because it will violate the laws of nature and nature’s God; it will dehumanize because it will defy the rational and intellectual capacities of man; it will pervert because it will eliminate love from relationships. Ultimately, sexual intercourse with robots will be fatal because it will destroy the emotional and economic functioning of civilization.  

Marital Intentions in Decline

cohabitation, family, intentions, MARRI, marriage, sexuality No comments

By: Patrick Fagan, MARRI Senior Fellow
      Avery Pettway, MARRI Intern

Jonathan Vespa’s study, “Historical Trends in the Marital Intentions of One-Time and Serial Cohabitors,” just published in February’s Journal of Marriage and Family, confirms what many sense: that among current child-bearing aged women attitudes towards marriage have shifted downwards, mainly through the influence of cohabitation, which is increasingly serial.

Vespa finds two compounding associations within present cohabitation trends.

  1. The downward trend in marital intentions holds steady and is significant even when controlling for serial cohabitation.
  2. There is an additional negative association between serial cohabitation and decreased marital intentions. Serial cohabitants (a rising percentage of ever-cohabited women) are less likely to enter a cohabiting relationship with plans to marry (to varying degrees, dependent on whether it is the first, second, or third union) than are one-time cohabitants. 

In short, a woman in today’s world entering a cohabiting relationship is less likely to have marital intent, and she is even still more less-likely to have marital intent if she is a serial cohabitant.

Cohabitation used to be an intentional (though relatively uncommon) stepping stone to marriage for women who engaged in it but that switched with women who were born between 1963 and 1967, and the pattern has continued unwaveringly since then.

Bottom line:  There is more of a disconnect between sexual intercourse, cohabitation and marriage.  Cohabitation is increasingly accepted as an independent entity, and choosing it has nothing to do with expecting marriage or choosing marriage.

Vespa’s study reveals that compared to women in the youngest cohort (born between 1978 and 1982), women in the oldest cohort (born between 1958 and 1962) had odds of having marital intentions that were 1.40 times higher. Such data suggests that America’s cultural assumption that marriage is sexuality’s end goal is dwindling more and more.

This obviously threatens the health (and rate) of marriage and the institution of the family’s person-forming power. As serial cohabitation rises, marital intentions decrease, and the two compound to push marriage even further into the recesses of the American mind, the stable familial space in which children have been consistently and healthily formed for generations will continue to weaken and with it the future America will be similarly weakened.  As we are seeing (and as, I predict, we will continue to see), what plagues the family plagues the other foundational social institutions of Church, School, Marketplace, and Government. As marriage becomes more of a mental side note to our sexual practices, relational instability will continue to increase first in the family, followed later by relational instability in the other institutions (as the child grows into them as an adult).

Vespa isolated the increasing disconnect between sexual union and marriage.  The country has yet to feel anxious about its effects on the children, their education, the economy and the capacity of our country to govern itself.

MARRI, Farmers, Fertility and Society’s Foundations

economics, intact family, MARRI, marriage, religion, sexuality 2 comments

By: Pat Fagan, MARRI Senior Fellow
     Avery Pettway, MARRI Intern

It is natural to measure the success of agriculture as an industry by its harvest, but a farmer’s harvest is more of the result of good farming, rather than the source of it. In order to understand the cycle of growth and health upon which a farm’s prosperity relies, we must look first to how the farmer sows and even how he prepares to sow.

Just like the farmer, society must invest in its own future by ‘sowing seed.’  At MARRI we attempt to diligently demonstrate the need for people to take care of their future harvest—the health and even the very existence of the coming generations—by sowing and cultivating good seed in the present time.

When the families in our nation delay marriage and reduce the frequency of childbirth, and when communities and leaders are encouraging such behavior, we fail to lay the proper foundations for a successful harvest and a continuation of a healthy, robust society.

We see this happening in other nations—Greece, Italy, Spain, and Japan come to mind—where the decline of demographic health is linked to lessened fertility and marriage. These countries have seen their average family size shrink and their economies sputter for want of young families … the growers of the next crop, the next generation. As the family goes, so goes the economy. Unfortunately, we see evidence that our own nation is headed the same direction:

But the economy is not the only institution that suffers when the sowing (sexuality) goes wrong.

It is the task of MARRI to show the United States how intrinsically interconnected are our fundamental institutions of government, marketplace, education, and religion with what is the most fundamental institution of all—the family.  We believe (and the data illustrates) that the thriving of the three “person-forming institutions”—the family, church and school—is key if the other two (marketplace and government) are to thrive and hold a sustainable and competitive role in the global arena.

So what is the ‘good seed’ we ought to sow? Philosophers through the ages have dealt with this question, most foundationally Plato and Aristotle.  How are we to rightly prepare for a harvest of health and societal growth?  The focus of this blog from here on will be to present the evidence from the social sciences that cast light on the road to strengths and weaknesses.  In particular we will examine the sexual trends, for that is where it all starts (where people start and are brought into existence).  Are they helping or hurting our families, thereby helping or hurting our basic institutions?

We will explore what has become our basic thesis—as all the data of the social sciences mount over the decades—that the main task of society, of individuals, of families, and of communities is to grow the young, intact, married family that worships God weekly.  If that is done, all the problems of society diminish in size and intensity and all its strengths grow.  It is a thesis that the social science data—but not too many social scientists—seem to uphold.  Therein lies the future excitement of this blog: a good public discourse on the fundamentals, and on the predictions and cautions to which the data point.

The State of a Woman’s Union

abstinence, Christianity, cohabitation, feminism, intact family, marriage, religion, sexuality, teen pregnancy, women's health No comments

By Lindsay Smith, Intern
 

Dear Florida,

I heard that you are spending $45,000to research women’s sexuality within your borders.  Apparently, this information is quite valuable to you.  I know you are offering gift cards if women will complete surveys on this topic.  Good news, I think I can provide you with some answers to your search – no gift card necessary. 

Abundant research has shown that disruption within a family structure increases the likelihood of sexual debut for children. “Women whose parents separated during childhood are more likely to have an out-of-wedlock teenage pregnancy, and men with divorced or separated parents are more likely to father a child with a teenage mother.”  As expected, women from intact-married families have the lowest risk of teenage sexual debut, and fewer partners.  Marriage positively affects not only the children, but also the man and woman in the union.  Since your survey touches on a woman’s emotional well-being in relation to sex, you really should know that married couples find their sexual relationship more satisfying than cohabiters do.”

Based on your survey’s questions, I see you are curious about religious affiliation.  You were wise to ask.  According to MARRI’s publication “The Benefits of Religious Worship,” females who attend religious worship weekly are less likely than their peers to sexually debut as a teen, have a premarital pregnancy, or abort their first pregnancy. The Christian abstinence program “True Love Waits” produces similar effects for its participants.  The American Journal of Sociology’s article “Promising the Future: Virginity Pledges and First Intercourse” reports that, on average, pledging decreases the risk of sexual debut even for those in a dating relationship. 

Combining regular worship attendance with an always-intact family bolsters these effects.  As seen in diagrams here, hereand here, MARRI research verifies that teens attending weekly worship with an always-intact family are least likely to sexually debut as a teen or have a premarital pregnancy. 

Florida, you mentioned your hope “to design the state’s service offerings, including pamphlets and counseling,” based on the survey’s findings. How about offering marriage counseling to strengthen families?  What if your pamphlets included the benefits of an abstinence pledge? 

Well, I hope this letter has helped.  In case you find the survey a bit superfluous now, it is almost Christmas, and gift cards make great gifts.

Student Debate: Taxing Conscience

conscience, contraception, sexuality No comments
By Alex Schrider, Intern
September’s Values Voters Summit included a “Student Mixer” that featured a debate between Blake Meadows, a student at Patrick Henry College, and John W. McCarthy, Chairman of Catholic University of America’s (CUA) College Democrats.  The debate focused on the HHS contraceptive mandate, against which numerous Christian institutions (including CUA), and even states, have filed suit, arguing that it infringes on the “free exercise” clause. 
Mr. McCarthy claimed two major things: 1) the Catholic Church’s teaching on contraception is something with which good Catholics can disagree, and 2) the fact that the pope made his decision contrary to the recommendation of his council of advisors somehow cheapens the contraception teaching of the Catholic Church.
The primary argument against the HHS mandate is that it compels individuals and organizations to act against the established teachings of their religion, a point that Catholic institutions have emphasized. But if the Catholic contraception position is optional, as McCarthy suggests, then on what basis can an institution “force” that position on its employees? Even a church couldn’t be exempt if that were true, as the matter becomes a question of personal choice, not religious doctrine.
Of course, this might have been a moot point if the robust conscience provisions left in place at the end of the Bush administration had remained in place. Instead, those provisions have been attacked (and, for the most part, gutted) by the same administration which is now mandating contraception coverage. Without an appeal to religious doctrine there is little left to protect the interests of objecting individuals, and nothing left to protect objecting institutions…even places of worship.
Except for one thing: Mr. McCarthy is wrong in his representation of Catholic teaching. The teaching of the Catholic Church (fecundity) is clearly laid out in its catechism, and is beyond contestation by the faithful (sec. 891 and 892). To compel a person or organization to be an accessory to an act contrary to deeply held religious belief goes against the core of American tradition. This trespass of government shouldn’t energize only Catholics, but every individual who believes in moral truth, particularly when the “benefit” from such a measure is undetectable.
As numerous individuals, including FRC’s Jeanne Monahan, have pointed out, the “need” for increased access to contraception is non-existent: there is already substantial government funding, many insurance companies already cover it, and it is readily available and affordable. So why the zealous push for an intrusive mandate?
MARRI has documented the effects of widespread contraceptive use: when birthrate decreases, the average age of a population increases, eventually leading to population decline. An aging and declining population is associated with economic problems, not the least of which is the substantial burden placed on the shoulders of the smaller, younger generation, which must provide for the disproportionately large elderly generation. There is no long-term economic benefit to be derived from coercing contraceptive use.
Beyond the cost-benefit analysis, however, it boils down to a question of principle and tradition. Until now, American government has generally erred on the side of religious freedom, and never has moral and religious conscience been taxed…until this administration. A fundamental shift in regulation of conscience has occurred: the traditional freedom of individuals to “practice what they preach” should be curbed to facilitate sweeping partisan policies.
I don’t know about you, but I would rather have the option to conscientiously disagree with the ruling party – without being fined for it.

Tolerance vs. Love

Christianity, divorce, marriage, prejudice, sexuality No comments
Sarah Robinson, Intern
 
“Some say tolerance but we say love. That is a much higher standard. Love does not accept anything that is disruptive in a person’s life. We love them too much to leave them that way.”

So said Congressman James Lankford at the Values Voters Summit last week. However, little did the attendants of the Values Voters Summit realize that when we took our break for lunch that afternoon we would be face to face with living out this phrase from Congressman Lankford. Protestors lined the sidewalk chanting, “Homophobe,” amongst other untrue and judgmental names towards those attending the Summit. We were being deemed intolerant by these protestors.
 
Homophobe by definition is a person who fears or hates homosexuals and homosexuality. Personally, I do not hate homosexuals nor do I fear homosexuality. There are individuals in my family whom I love dearly that live this lifestyle. But that does not mean I condone or seek to advance their lifestyle choices. I love them enough to not tolerate things in their life that are disruptive to their well-being. The side effects of a homosexual lifestyle trouble me deeply and I do not want my loved ones to have to face the consequences. The CDC has discovered the average homosexual man has hundreds of sexual partners in his lifetime, and the number of STDs that are acquired due to promiscuity is troubling.
 
It does not bring me satisfaction to report these statistics, and it is not just about “ammunition” to use in a debate on the sanctity of marriage. It breaks my heart. My heart is broken for family members, friends, and fellow Americans who have opted for this lifestyle because of the risk that goes along with it. However, I am the one deemed as being intolerant because I will not morally comply with their choices. The motives for my stance on the issue of the sanctity of marriage are not hate, but rather love. Ultimately, I wish to live my life in such a way that homosexuals and heterosexuals alike would see radical love emanating from me that would ultimately point them to the love of God. I may be accused of being intolerant, but may I never be accused of being unloving. The two are not synonymous.
 
However, “what not to do” is only one side of this cultural discussion. The bigger, more important side focuses not on what to stay away from, but rather, what to embrace! Marriage is a beneficial good to all of society. For example, according to MARRI research, 52% of girls who grew up in an married-intact family had sex before the age of 18 compared to 79% of girls engaging in their first sexual encounter who grow up in a single parent home. The effects of divorce on children can also be detrimental. Also, according to MARRI research, 12% of adolescents had sexual intercourse at 14 years of age or younger who grew up in a married intact household compared to 25% of adolescents having their first sexual encounter at 14 years of age or younger who grew up in divorced-single parent households. I can’t help but wonder how much stronger we would be as a society if we were intolerant of divorce and stood for the sanctity of marriage. Strong marriages develop strong families which in turn produce a strong and thriving society.

“I had a nice time. Let’s have sex.”

culture, marriage, sexuality, youth 2 comments

Maria Reig Teetor, Intern

“We must try before we make a commitment.” “Are you sexually compatible?” “How good is he/she in bed?” “Have you had sex yet?”These have become normal questions asked when you meet up with friends, go out to a bar or dinner party…abstinence is not in the vocabulary.

We live in a sexualized society, where life is measured by our emotions, feelings and sexual behavior. You only have to flip through the pages of Cosmopolitan or turn on your TV and watch L.A. Complex or Gossip Girl to understand that sex is what’s expected of you when you go out on a couple dates. 
When talking about abstinence or waiting for marriage to have sex, you think of your high school counselor, who talked about abstinence because as a teenager you aren’t ready to take up the consequences of what sex may entail, but once you’re in college or in the labor force, you’re immediately expected to sleep with your dates. 
This recently hit me, as I was sharing a drink with this attentive young man I met through a mutual friend. We were sitting at a bar enjoying a casual happy hour, talking about work, hobbies, siblings, aspirations…when as the evening was coming to an end he mentioned, “Where to next, your place or mine? Don’t worry, I’ll let you sleep over afterward.” As if letting me sleep at his house after we had sex was the chivalrous thing to do. The young man was stunned with my polite answer: “No thank you, I don’t do that.” At that very moment I was so thrown off I did not have a solid explanation to why I was not going to have sex with him.
 
I then understood that a lot of factors went into this assumption he made – it wasn’t that he was some abnormally forward or disrespectful young man. Rather, it is what society, peer pressure or his upbringing has taught him is the normal way of conduct.  But he was so stunned he called me for a whole week to try and go out again. He was searching for an answer to my no: Is it that you don’t like me? I am weird? Unattractive? I thought we had a good time? And we truly did. 
The only consequences of sleeping around that people dare to mention are unwanted pregnancies and sexual transmitted diseases, like HIV; but those are soon resolved with the notion of “as long as were safe we’ll be fine.” Which means that as long as one uses the pill, condoms or any other contraceptive method, we’re all free to sleep with whomever we desire.
I went on to wonder, besides these more obvious facts, have young people ever thought of our emotional vulnerability or the psychological damages that sleeping around might have? And the advantages of creating a solid long lasting relationship  when you wait for marriage?  
So today I wanted to skim through a few reasons why we shouldn’t give in to new era of “I had a nice time, let’s have sex” that we may have to deal with as soon as we’re on a date. 
First of all, this over sexualized culture backfires as it confuses the true meaning of love with lust. It induces people to marry for the wrong reasons. The emotional bonding that sex brings to the relationship creates a false impression of closeness between strangers and it can blind their judgment, inducing them to believe that this emotional and psychological bonding is caused by their love for one another when it’s mostly induced by their sexual activity.
Once you engage yourself in an active sexual relationship without a strong commitment, it tends to overtake the vast majority of the relationship, which means that you end up learning how to express  your emotions and feelings through your body and don’t strive to create a personal and intimate friendship which is the solid base of a good marriage. On the contrary, when there is no sexual activity, the couple is forced to spend quality time with one another, learning about their hobbies, desires, aspirations. They also learn how to verbally communicate and express what they are feeling or thinking. This will help them build up the base of their relation and when hard times come, they will not “fix the problem” by sleeping together, but by communicating. 
Another reason worth mentioning is that this culture of “fun and sex” reduces the value of our human sexuality, because it uses it as an exchange of products: we exchange our bodies for pleasure. This type of behavior reduces human dignity to a more animal way of acting. This is not the purpose of our sexuality, which is there to express our capacity of love and self-giving. 
And finally I wanted to note how by living out abstinence you are loving your future spouse, even if you haven’t met him or her yet, because you’re saving not only your body, which is an expression of yourself, but all that defines you as a person, your unique self being. Once you give yourself to that one special person, the fulfillment will be far greater than expected because it will not only be an act of pleasure but an act of complete surrender, self-giving and spiritual bonding. 
So when asked that question again, we could say, “No, I will not sleep with you, as my sexuality is not there to give, just out of mutual understanding, affection or desire. But to preserve for one person who is going to acknowledge it for its final purpose, the surrender and the total self-giving out of love and for love.” This type of surrender reaches its meaning within a profound commitment such as marriage.

6 months. 40 cities. Millions of free condoms.

contraception, marriage, sexuality No comments

Amanda Brennan, Intern

A little more than two weeks ago the Condom Nation truck pulled up to the city of Washington D.C. to end its tour across the United States at the XIX International Aids Conference. The aim of the campaign was to encourage increased condom use for HIV/AIDS awareness and safe-sex practices. The effort included handing out free condoms, partnering with other organizations to offer free HIV tests, and calling for lower condom prices among retailers. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation sponsored the trip, which began in Venice Beach, California, on February 13th, 2012, which is International Condom Day. My first encounter with the campaign came while riding a Metro bus. When I looked out the window, I spotted a giant, American-flagged condom on a truck across the street. Normally, I am used to seeing an ice cream truck or something of that sort, but I guess times are changing…

The shocking image caught peoples’ attention across the country, but reviews about the campaign were mixed. Some agreed with AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s president Michael Weinstein: that “condoms are an essential part of preventing HIV and STDs” and that they are vital for “disease prevention and safer sex.” Others, like 14-year-old Shannon DeLuca of New Jersey, worried that the truck would give people the wrong idea: “I understand what they’re trying to do, but it’s not the message I’d send out to people. To people my age, they would think it’s OK to have sex.”

The young teen is on to something. Although those behind the campaign have an admirable goal in mind—preventing the spread of HIV and STDs—their methods of doing so may not be effective, beneficial, or harm-free in the long run. Yes, the incidences of gonorrhea, syphilis, and AIDS have decreased over the years, but cases of out-of-wedlock pregnancy and teen condom use have increased, as shown in theMARRI Annual Report on Family Trends.

Americans cannot depend on a latex sleeve to solve our country’s sexual and health problems. Condoms may help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and reduce the rate of out-of-wedlock pregnancy, but it cannot eliminate the consequences of sex for individuals and relationships. Rather than depend on “easy” solutions, individuals must come to a greater understanding and respect of human sexuality as it was intended by our Creator.