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Intergenerational Links to Viewing X-Rated Movies: Religious Attendance

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This chart is taken from a study conducted by Visiting Fellow Althea Nagai, Ph.D. for Family Research Council.

Adults who frequently attended religious services as adolescents are less likely to have viewed an X-rated movie in the last year.

According to the General Social Survey (GSS), 21.9 percent of adults who attended religious services at least monthly as adolescents had viewed an X-rated movie in the last year, compared to 26.6 percent of adults who attended worship less than monthly as adolescents.[1]

Other Studies

Several other studies corroborate the direction of these findings. Stephen Tibbetts and Michael Blankenship of East Tennessee State University found that those with no religious affiliation were more tolerant of X-rated video stores, even more so when these stores were present in their own neighborhood.[2]

In an examination of Australian adolescents, Joan Abbott-Chapman and Carey Denholm of the University of Tasmania also reported a correlation between high levels of religiosity and avoidance of X-rated films. They found that religious beliefs, in and of themselves, are only weakly associated with avoiding X-rated films. “The positive, normative reinforcement of belonging to a church, school and/or community group of shared values is also needed.”[3]

Frequent religious attendance during adolescence, and the reinforcement of strong positive moral values that comes with it, decreases the likelihood of X-rated movie viewing in adulthood.

Patrick F. Fagan, Ph.D. & Althea Nagai, Ph.D.

Dr. Fagan is senior fellow and director of the Center for Family and Religion at Family Research Council. Dr. Nagai is a visiting fellow at Family Research Council.

[1] This chart draws on data collected by the General Social Survey, 1972-2006. From 1972 to 1993, the sample size averaged 1,500 each year. No GSS was conducted in 1979, 1981, or 1992. Since 1994, the GSS has been conducted only in even-numbered years and uses two samples per GSS that total approximately 3,000. In 2006, a third sample was added for a total sample size of 4,510.

[2] Stephen G. Tibbetts and Michael B. Blankenship, “Explaining Citizens’ Attitudes Toward Pornography: Differential Effects of Predictors Across Levels of Geographic Proximity to Other Sources,” Justice Quarterly, vol. 16 (1999): 735-763.

[3] Joan Abbott-Chapman and Carey Denholm, “Adolescents’ Risk Activities, Risk Hierarchies and the Influence of Religiosity,” Journal of Youth Studies, vol. 4 (2001): 279-297.

Intergenerational Links to Viewing X-Rated Movies: Family Structure

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This chart is taken from a study conducted by Visiting Fellow Althea Nagai, Ph.D. for Family Research Council.

Adults who grew up living with both biological parents are less likely to have viewed an X-rated movie in the last year.

According to the General Social Survey (GSS), 21 percent of adults who lived in an intact family as adolescents had viewed an X-rated movie in the last year, compared to 29 percent of those who lived in a non-intact family.[1]

Other Studies

Several other studies corroborate the direction of these findings. Gina Wingood of the Rollins School of Public Health and colleagues found that, among black female adolescents, “[e]xposure to X-rated movies was associated with residing in a single-parent family and being monitored by someone other than one’s mother.”[2]

Jay Grosfeld of the Indiana University School of Medicine also found that children living in “single parent and broken homes” were more likely to be exposed to pornography.[3]

Elissa Benedek of the University of Michigan and Catherine Brown, executive editor of Psychiatric News, reported that children from single-parent homes are most at risk from exposure to televised pornography.[4]

As the data indicate, growing up in an intact family proves to be an effective protector against X-rated movie viewing in adolescence and in adulthood.

Patrick F. Fagan, Ph.D. & Althea Nagai, Ph.D.

Dr. Fagan is senior fellow and director of the Center for Family and Religion at Family Research Council. Dr. Nagai is a visiting fellow at Family Research Council.

[1] This chart draws on data collected by the General Social Survey, 1972-2006. From 1972 to 1993, the sample size averaged 1,500 each year. No GSS was conducted in 1979, 1981, or 1992. Since 1994, the GSS has been conducted only in even-numbered years and uses two samples per GSS that total approximately 3,000. In 2006, a third sample was added for a total sample size of 4,510.

[2] Gina M. Wingood, et al., “Exposure to X-rated Movies and Adolescents’ Sexual and Contraceptive-Related Attitudes and Behaviors,” Pediatrics, vol. 107 (2001): 1116-1119.

[3] Jay Grosfeld, “The Plight of Children,” Annals of Surgery, vol. 246 (2007): 343-350.

[4] Elissa P. Benedek and Catherine F. Brown, “No Excuses: Televised Pornography Harms Children,” Harvard Review of Psychiatry, vol. 7 (1999): 236-240.

Intergenerational Links to Viewing X-Rated Movies: Religious Attendance and Family Structure

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This chart is taken from a study conducted by Visiting Fellow Althea Nagai, Ph.D. for Family Research Council.

Adults who frequently attended religious services as adolescents and grew up living with both biological parents are less likely to have viewed an X-rated film in the past year.

According to the General Social Survey (GSS), 21 percent of adults who attended religious services at least monthly and lived in an intact family as adolescents had viewed an X-rated film in the last year, compared to 34 percent of adults who attended religious services less than monthly and lived in a non-intact family as adolescents. In between were those who lived in an intact family but attended religious services less than monthly (25 percent) and those who had attended religious services at least monthly but lived in a non-intact family (28 percent).[1]

Other Studies

Though no corresponding studies have been conducted, there are several studies in related areas which indicate that high religiosity and parental involvement during adolescence encourage the development of a healthy sexuality. Carolyn Halpern of the University of North Carolina and colleagues found that religiosity and parental disapproval of sex during adolescence significantly contributed to young adults’ adoption of traditional values regarding extramarital and premarital sex.[2]

Cristina Lammers of the University of Uruguay and colleagues also reported that adolescents with greater religiosity who live in two-parent homes and believe that those parents care about them are more likely to postpone sexual intercourse.[3]

Though further research would be instructive, the available evidence suggests that intact families and religious observance during adolescence are strong indicators of a healthy and moral sexuality.

Patrick F. Fagan, Ph.D. & Althea Nagai, Ph.D.

Dr. Fagan is senior fellow and director of the Center for Family and Religion at Family Research Council. Dr. Nagai is a visiting fellow at Family Research Council.

[1] This chart draws on data collected by the General Social Survey, 1972-2006. From 1972 to 1993, the sample size averaged 1,500 each year. No GSS was conducted in 1979, 1981, or 1992. Since 1994, the GSS has been conducted only in even-numbered years and uses two samples per GSS that total approximately 3,000. In 2006, a third sample was added for a total sample size of 4,510.

[2] Carolyn Tucker Halpern, et al., “Adolescent Predictors of Emerging Adult Sexual Patterns,” Journal of Adolescent Health, vol. 39 (2006): 926.e.1-926.e.10.

[3] Cristina Lammers, et al., “Influences on Adolescents’ Decision to Postpone Onset of Sexual Intercourse; A Survival Analysis of Virginity among Youths Aged 13 to 18 Years,” Journal of Adolescent Health, vol. 26 (2000): 42-48.

Adultery by Religious Attendance

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Of adults currently or previously married, those who attend religious services once a week or more are the least likely to have committed adultery.

Description: According to the General Social Surveys (GSS), among adults currently or previously married, 12.4 percent who worship once a week or more had had sexual relations with someone other than their spouse, followed by 17.1 percent of those who worship between one and three times a month, 20.6 percent of those who worship less than once a month, and 24.8 percent of those who never attend religious services.[1]

Related Insights from Other Studies

Several other studies corroborate the direction of these findings. Amy Burdette of the University of North Carolina and colleagues reported that “frequency of religious attendance is inversely associated with the likelihood of having engaged in infidelity.”[2]

Vaughn Call and Tim Heaton of Brigham Young University found that “of the dimensions of religious experience, attendance has the greatest impact on marital stability.”[3]

Judith Treas of the University of California and Irvine and Deirdre Giesen of Utrecht University also reported that “those who often attended religious services were less likely to have had multiple sex partners in the previous year.”[4]

As the data indicate, the more frequently married adults attend religious services, the less likely they are to be unfaithful to their spouses.

Patrick F. Fagan, Ph.D. & Althea Nagai, Ph.D.

Dr. Fagan is senior fellow and director of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI) at Family Research Council. Dr. Nagai is a visiting fellow at Family Research Council.

[1] This chart draws on data collected by the General Social Surveys, 1972-2006. From 1972 to 1993, the sample size averaged 1,500 each year. No GSS was conducted in 1979, 1981, or 1992. Since 1994, the GSS has been conducted only in even-numbered years and uses two samples per GSS that total approximately 3,000. In 2006, a third sample was added for a total sample size of 4,510.

[2] Amy M. Burdette, Christopher G. Ellison, Darren E. Sherkat, and Kurt A. Gore, “Are There Religious Variations in Marital Infidelity?” Journal of Family Issues 28 (2007): 1553-81.

[3] Vaughn R. A. Call and Tim B. Heaton, “Religious Influence on Marital Stability,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 36 (1997): 382-92.

[4] Judith Treas and Deirdre Giesen, “Sexual Infidelity among Married and Cohabiting Americans,” Journal of Marriage and Family 62 (2000): 48-60.

Adultery by Marital Status

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Adults who are currently married are less likely to have committed adultery than adults who are divorced or separated.

Description: According to the General Social Surveys (GSS), adults in always-intact marriages have the lowest adultery rate (10.4 percent), compared to 22.9 percent of married, previously-divorced adults and 32.5 percent of divorced or separated adults.[1]

Related Insights from Other Studies

Paul Amato and Denise Previti of Pennsylvania State University reported that infidelity was “the most commonly reported cause of divorce.”[2] This finding follows up a previous study by Paul Amato and Stacy Rogers of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln that infidelity was one of the “most consistent predictors of divorce,” along with jealousy, drug use, drinking, and spending money foolishly.[3]

As the evidence indicates, adults in always-intact marriages are less likely to have committed adultery than adults who have divorced.

Patrick F. Fagan, Ph.D. & Althea Nagai, Ph.D.

Dr. Fagan is senior fellow and director of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI) at Family Research Council. Dr. Nagai is a visiting fellow at Family Research Council.

[1] This chart draws on data collected by the General Social Surveys, 1972-2006. From 1972 to 1993, the sample size averaged 1,500 each year. No GSS was conducted in 1979, 1981, or 1992. Since 1994, the GSS has been conducted only in even-numbered years and uses two samples per GSS that total approximately 3,000. In 2006, a third sample was added for a total sample size of 4,510.

[2] Paul R. Amato and Denise Previti, “People’s Reasons for Divorcing: Gender, Social Class, the Life Course, and Adjustment,” Journal of Family Issues 24 (2003): 602-26.

[3] Paul R. Amato and Stacy J. Rogers, “A Longitudinal Study of Marital Problems and Subsequent Divorce,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 59 (1997): 612-24.

Adultery by Religious Attendance and Marital Status

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Adults in always-intact marriages who worship at least weekly are the least likely of all to have had adulterous sexual relations.

Description: According to the General Social Surveys (GSS), adults in always-intact marriages who attend religious services at least weekly are the most likely to be faithful to their spouses, with an adultery rate of 7.7 percent. Adults in always-intact marriages who never attend worship have a 15.3 percent rate of adultery, while among divorced or separated adults and married, previously-divorced adults, the rate is 23.3 percent for those who worship weekly and 33.8 percent for those who never worship.[1]

Related Insights from Other Studies

Several other studies corroborate the direction of these findings. Mark Whisman of the University of Colorado at Boulder and colleagues reported that infidelity was “negatively associated with” religiosity and “was predicted by greater marital dissatisfaction.”[2]

Paul Amato and Stacy Rogers of the Pennsylvania State University also found that “frequent church attendance appears to lower the likelihood of divorce” and that infidelity was one of the “most consistent predictors of divorce,” along with jealousy, drug use, drinking, and spending money foolishly.[3]

As the data indicate, always-intact married adults who attend religious services at least weekly are the least likely to have committed adultery.

Patrick F. Fagan, Ph.D. & Althea Nagai, Ph.D.

Dr. Fagan is senior fellow and director of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI) at Family Research Council. Dr. Nagai is a visiting fellow at Family Research Council.

[1] This chart draws on data collected by the General Social Surveys, 1972-2006. From 1972 to 1993, the sample size averaged 1,500 each year. No GSS was conducted in 1979, 1981, or 1992. Since 1994, the GSS has been conducted only in even-numbered years and uses two samples per GSS that total approximately 3,000. In 2006, a third sample was added for a total sample size of 4,510.

[2] Mark A. Whisman, Kristina Koop Gordon, and Yael Chatav, “Predicting Sexual Infidelity in a Population-Based Sample of Married Individuals,” Journal of Family Psychology 21 (2007): 320-24.

[3] Paul R. Amato and Stacy J. Rogers, “A Longitudinal Study of Marital Problems and Subsequent Divorce,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 59 (1997): 612-24.

“Cumulative Number of Mothers’ (aged 35-44) Lifetime Sexual Partners” by Religious Attendance and Present Family Structure

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Mothers, aged 35-44, in always-intact marriages who worship at least weekly are more likely to have had fewer lifetime sexual partners than mothers in all other family structure and worship combinations. According to the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG), mothers in always-intact marriages who attend religious services at least weekly have had, on average, 2.42 lifetime sexual partners, followed by mothers in always-intact marriages who never worship (4.71), those in other family structures who worship at least weekly (5.51), and those in other family structures who never worship (9.07).

Examining present family structure only, mothers aged 35-44 in intact cohabiting relationships have had, on average, 2.33 lifetime sexual partners, followed by mothers in always-intact marriages (3.23), those in cohabiting stepfamilies (6.34), those in married stepfamilies (6.98), those who have always been single (7.44), and those who are divorced (8.18).

Examining religious attendance (see footnote)[1] only, women aged 35-44 who worship at least weekly have had, on average, 4.33 lifetime sexual partners, followed by those who worship between one and three times a month (6.25), those who attend religious services less than once a month (7.56), and those who never attend religious services (8.84).[2]

Related Insights from Other Studies

Several other studies corroborate the direction of these findings. Jay Teachman of Western Washington University reported that women who engaged in multiple premarital intimate relationships increased their risk of divorce.[3]

Jason Weeden of Arizona State University and colleagues also found that religious attendance correlates to a marriage-centered sexual and reproductive strategy.[4]

Wade C. Rowatt of Baylor University and David P. Schmitt of Bradley University reported that those who view religion as an end, rather than as a means to another personal or social end, show less interest in having multiple sex partners.[5]

As the evidence indicates, mothers in always-intact marriages who worship at least weekly have fewer sexual partners than those in most other family structures who worship less frequently.

Patrick F. Fagan, Ph.D. & D. Paul Sullins, Ph.D.

Dr. Fagan is senior fellow and director of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI) at Family Research Council. Dr. Sullins is an associate professor of sociology at The Catholic University of America .

[1] Whereas the present family structure sample data and combined religious attendance/family structure sample data describe only the population of mothers between the ages of 35 and 44, the religious attendance data describe the population of all women between the ages of 35 and 44. We realize these charts would have more value if all three charts drew from the same population set, but we did not realize our programming error until after the data was in. However, this data is likely indicative of a similar pattern.

[2] These charts draw on data collected by the National Survey of Family Growth, Cycle 6 (2002). The sample consists of women between the ages of 35 and 44 and numbers 2,479.

[3] Jay Teachman, “Premarital Sex, Premarital Cohabitation, and the Risk of Subsequent Marital Dissolution among Women,” Journal of Marriage and Family 65 (2003): 444-55.

[4] Jason Weeden, Adam B. Cohen, and Douglas T. Kenrick, “Religious Attendance as Reproductive Support,” Evolution and Human Behavior 29 (2008): 327-34.

[5] Wade C. Rowatt and David P. Schmitt, “Associations between Religious Orientation and Varieties of Sexual Experience,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 42 (2003): 455-65.

“Women (aged 14-44) Who Had a Homosexual Sexual Partner in the Past Year” by Current Religious Attendance and Structure of Family of Origin

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Women (aged 14-44) who have not had a homosexual sexual partner in the past year are more likely to worship at least weekly and to have grown up in intact families than those who have had a homosexual sexual partner in the past year. According to the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG), 2.1 percent of women who grew up in intact married families and attend religious services at least weekly have had a homosexual sexual partner in the year prior to being asked, followed by women who grew up in other family structures and worship at least weekly (4.6 percent), those who grew up in intact married families and never worship (7.3 percent), and those who grew up in other family structures and never worship (9.5 percent).

Examining structure of family of origin only, four percent of women who grew up in intact married families have had a homosexual sexual partner in the year prior to being asked, followed by women who grew up in intact cohabiting families (4.3 percent), those from married stepfamilies (6 percent), single divorced parent families (6.6 percent), always single parent families (6.6 percent), and cohabiting stepparent families (9.6 percent).

Examining current religious attendance only, 2.8 percent of women who worship at least weekly have had a homosexual sexual partner in the year prior to being asked, followed by women who worship between one and three times a month (2.9 percent), those who worship less than once a month (6.9 percent), and those who never attend religious services (8.7 percent).[1]

Related Insights from Other Studies

Several other studies throw some light on why this might be so. Michele Dillon of Yale University reported that 44 percent of frequent Catholic church attendees “said that sexual relations between two adults of the same sex were wrong,” compared to 10 percent “of those who attended occasionally or never.”[2]

Darren Sherkat of Southern Illinois University also found that heterosexual women have much higher rates of church attendance than homosexual women.[3]

Examining the current family structure of homosexual men, Daryl Higgins of Deakin University reported that homosexual men who married women usually did so because “it seemed natural” or they “wanted children or family life.” Separation or divorce from their spouses often “led to an increase in the range of sexual behaviors engaged in with other men.”[4]

As the evidence indicates, more family brokenness in family of origin and less frequent worship correlate positively with homosexual activity.

Patrick F. Fagan, Ph.D. & D. Paul Sullins, Ph.D.

Dr. Fagan is senior fellow and director of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI) at Family Research Council. Dr. Sullins is an associate professor of sociology at The Catholic University of America.

[1] These charts draw on data collected by the National Survey of Family Growth, Cycle 6 (2002). The sample consists of women between the ages of 14 and 44 and numbers 7,643.

[2] Michele Dillon, “The Persistence of Religious Identity among College Catholics,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 35 (1996): 165-70.

[3] Darren E. Sherkat, “Sexuality and Religious Commitment in the United States : An Empirical Examination,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 41 (2002): 313-23.

[4] Daryl J. Higgins, “Gay Men from Heterosexual Marriages: Attitudes, Behaviors, Childhood Experiences, and Reasons for Marriage,” Journal of Homosexuality 42 (2002): 15-34.

“Women (aged 14-44) with Two or More Cohabitations in Lifetime” by Current Religious Attendance and Structure of Family of Origin

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Women (aged 14-44) who grew up in married intact families and who now worship weekly are the least likely to have had two or more cohabitations in their lifetime. According to the National Survey of Family Growth, 2.8 percent of women who grew up in intact married families and worship at least weekly have had two or more cohabitations in their lifetime, followed by women who grew up in other family structures and worship at least weekly (6.7 percent), those who grew up in intact married families who never worship (8.5 percent), and those who grew up in other family structures and never worship (17.1 percent).

Examining the rate of cohabitation by structure of family of origin, 5.6 percent of women who grew up in intact married families have had two or more cohabitations in their lifetime, followed by women who grew up in intact cohabiting families (11.1 percent), those from single divorced parent families (11.6 percent), married stepfamilies (12 percent), cohabiting stepfamilies (12.9 percent), and always single parent families (13.5 percent). Overall, women raised in intact married families are only half as likely to have had two or more lifetime cohabitations as those from all other structures.

Examining the rate of cohabitation by current religious attendance, 4.1 percent of women who worship at least weekly have had two or more cohabitations in their lifetime, followed by those who attend religious services between one and three times a month (6.8 percent), those who worship less than once a month (10.6 percent), and those who never attend religious services (12.3 percent).[1]

Related Insights from Other Studies

Several other studies corroborate the direction of these findings. Jeremy Uecker of the University of Texas at Austin and colleagues found that cohabiting young adults were less likely to attend religious services than their non-cohabiting peers.[2]

David Eggebeen of Pennsylvania State University and Jeffrey Dew of the University of Virginia reported that adolescents who frequently attended church services were less likely to cohabit as adults.[3]

Valerie Martin of McGill University and colleagues also found that children from divorced families were more likely to cohabit as adults than children from intact families.[4]

As the evidence indicates, women who grew up in intact married families and worship at least weekly have had fewer cohabitations than those from other family structures who never worship.

Patrick F. Fagan, Ph.D. and D. Paul Sullins, Ph.D.

Dr. Fagan is senior fellow and director of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI) at Family Research Council. Dr. Sullins is an associate professor of sociology at The Catholic University of America .

[1] These charts draw on data collected by the National Survey of Family Growth, Cycle 6 (2002). The sample consists of 7,643 women between the ages of 14 and 44 who are statistically representative of all U.S. women.

[2] Jeremy E. Uecker, Mark D. Regnerus, and Margaret L. Vaaler, “Losing My Religion: The Social Sources of Religious Decline in Early Adulthood,” Social Forces 85 (2007): 1667-92.

[3] David Eggebeen and Jeffrey Dew, “The Role of Religion in Adolescence for Family Formation in Young Adulthood,” Journal of Marriage and Family 71 (2009): 108-21.

[4] Valerie Martin, Melinda Mills, and Celine Le Bourdais, “The Consequences of Parental Divorce on the Life Course Outcomes of Canadian Children,” Canadian Studies in Population 32 (2005): 29-51.

Religious Attendance and Number of Sexual Intercourse Partners–Adolescent Girls

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Adolescent girls who worship at least weekly have the fewest sexual intercourse partners in high school.

Female students in Grades 7-12 who worship at least weekly have an average of 0.61 sexual intercourse partners, while those who worship one to three times a month have an average of 0.92, or 50 percent higher, according to the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, Waves I and II. The average jumps significantly for students who attend a few times a year (1.41), 130 percent higher, or never (1.55), 150 percent higher.

Other Studies

Many other studies corroborate the direction of these findings.2 Lisa J. Crockett of the University of Nebraska and her colleagues report that the longer a girl keeps her virginity, the more likely she is to be attending church frequently.3

Robert H. Durant of the Medical College of Georgia and colleagues report that Hispanic girls with no religious affiliation or infrequent religious attendance are significantly more likely to be sexually active than those who are more religious. 4

Examining female and male adolescent sexual practices, Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas at Austin finds a big difference between those who attend and never attend church.5

Regnerus also finds significant differences in values: 83 percent of adolescents who attend church more than once a week support waiting until marriage to have sex. Two-thirds of adolescents who attend church weekly also support waiting, while only 49 percent of those who attend two to three times a month, and 35 percent of those who never attend, support waiting until marriage for sexual intercourse.6

A study by Karin L. Brewster of the University of North Carolina and colleagues reveals the larger significance that religious attitudes and practices of a community can have on the sexual behavior of female adolescents. She finds that the likelihood of female adolescents’ sexual activity is inversely related to their community’s percentage of religious believers. Also, concerning non-black adolescent females, the likelihood of nonmarital sexual activity goes down as the percentage of church members in the community rises.7

The more often female adolescents attend church the more likely they are to remain virgins longer. Maybe abstinence until marriage will become common again, but it seems a more frequent worship of God must precede that welcome day. Patrick F. Fagan, Ph.D.

2 The following findings are from www.familyfacts.org.

3 Lisa J. Crockett, C. Raymond Bingham, Joanne S. Chopak, and Judith R. Vicary, “Timing of First Sexual Intercourse: The Role of Social Control, Social Learning, and Problem Behavior,” Journal of Youth and Adolescence 25 (1996): 89-111.

4 Robert H. Durant, Robert Pendergast, and Carolyn Seymore, “Sexual Behavior among Hispanic Female Adolescents in the United States,” Pediatrics 85 (1990): 1051-1058.

5 Mark D. Regnerus, Forbidden Fruit: Sex and Religion in the Lives of American Teenagers (Oxford University Press, 2007): 127.

6 Ibid., 87.

7 John O. G. Billy, Karin L. Brewster, and William R. Grady, “Contextual Effects on the Sexual Behavior of Adolescent Women,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 56 (1994): 387-404.