Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Does Virginity Work?

I just read an article by Mark Driscoll on Dating, Relating, and Fornicating. Because I don't always agree with his word choices and in my opinion, mishandling of some "hot button" issues, I was surprised to find some interesting study results within his post that, at least scientifically, solidified my opinions on dating and marriage (For said opinions, see posts "How To Land a Wife," "Head vs. Heart - Marriage and Cynicism," and maybe "Surprised by Love" for some background).

Mr. Driscoll can be blunt and offensive, sometimes lacking the grace required to deliver the type of loving correction that people are naturally more receptive to. I don't want to get into a debate about who's team I'm on, or whether I'm a Neo-Calvinist or a Neo-Puritan, because I think we're all on the same team. Mark means well and I have grace for him, because I too have the propensity to pop off at the mouth when I think I'm right. I just wanted to share some statistics from his post that may or may not guide your actions and better your life. Here is the excerpt I'm talking about:

Culture and Dating

Sex outside of marriage is now the norm, a huge change from just a century ago. Today, over 5 million couples cohabitate. This is up from 1 million in 1978. And this number doesn’t take into account the number of couples who don’t live together but who still stay over at each other’s places enough to be classified as cohabitators.
Here are some shocking statistics taken from my book, Religion Saves:
  • An estimated quarter of unmarried women between the ages of 25 and 39 currently live with a partner.
  • Half of unmarried women in the same age group have lived with a partner at some time.
  • Over half of all first marriages are now preceded by cohabitation.
  • The most likely people to cohabit are those aged 20 to 24.
This is problematic first because it is sin and against God’s design for sex, which is to be enjoyed in the context of marriage, but also for a number of practical reasons.
  • Studies almost always find that cohabitation is associated with a higher divorce risk, with estimates ranging from 33 percent to 151 percent increased risk of divorce.
  • Annual rates of depression among cohabitators are more than three times higher than married couples,
  • Women in cohabitating relationships are twice as likely as married women to suffer physical abuse.
  • Two studies found that women in cohabitating relationships are about nine times more likely to be killed by their partner than married women.
  • Couples who cohabitate before marriage report less marital happiness and more conflict when married.
This is in contrast to couples who marry as virgins:
  • Men who marry as virgins are 37 percent less likely to divorce.
  • Women who marry as virgins are 24 percent less likely to divorce,
  • Those who wait to have sex until marriage and remain faithful in marriage report higher levels of life satisfaction compared to adults who engage in premarital or adulterous sex.
  • Those who wait to have sex and are faithful to their spouse also report notably higher happiness scores.

What do you think of these statistics?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Why We Need Jealousy

I'm in my car yesterday and there's this doctor on the radio talking about a series of research studies he did on relationships. The host asks him about studies on open-relationships of straight people (for those of you who don't know, an open-relationship is one where you get to sow your seed all over town as long as you come home to your main-squeeze), and the doc replies, 

"Well, we actually haven't been able to do any studies on them. When we made appointments with open couples it was often the case that they had broken up by the time they were scheduled to come in. So I assume, from that data, that these types of relationships lack stability."

Of course, this is no surprise to us. Anyone who has listened to good 'ol Dr. Drew Lapinsky knows that the best way to get divorced/break-up is to 'de-exclusify' your sex life. That's not morals or religious doctrine talking, that's scientific fact. When people do this, trust is replaced with it's antithesis; jealousy, and jealousy quickly corrodes any healthy relationship.

When the doctor on this program was asked what it would take to have successful, long term open-relationships between a man and a woman he said, 

"It would take two very amazing people. It is an amazing person who can resist jealousy for a long period of time."

He went on to say that 100% of gay couples that last 35+ years are open, because they get less jealous and are more honest with each other, and straight couples have a lot to learn from gay couples.

At this point I choked on my Diet Coke.

I'm a pretty liberal guy, and I have close friends who are gay and I love them and they know it. So let me preface this by saying I have no qualms with the stats the good doctor quoted, I'm assuming they're quite true. But I have something to learn from people who don't feel jealousy? Really?

What I have a problem with is the crackpot idea that an exclusive relationship is an antiquated institution, and that in order to be truly enlightened we should be able to do whatever we want and not have jealousy enter into the picture. 

Is it really AMAZING when someone's spouse messes around on them and they don't feel jealous? Or is it inhuman?... In my opinion if your spouse is a philanderer and you're not jealous, you need some serious counseling and perhaps a professional to test you for a heartbeat and a spine.

The problem with this post-modern thinking is that the purveyors of it believe they are taking on traditional social structures that are out-dated, like we all should take cues from folks who feel nothing in order to have their cake and eat it too. What people like this doctor are implying is that these folks get to follow every sexual impulse, and thats a good thing because those are natural, where as feeling jealousy is bad because jealousy is primitive. They think they're progressing out of mindless tradition, but I believe they're actually messing with nature. 

And when you mess with nature it always ends badly.

The reason we feel jealousy is because it fills the void that trust leaves. Without trust, jealousy enters. We need trust because trust breeds intimacy, and we all long to be intimate, to have our true selves known completely and loved anyways. 

We all want to be known and loved despite our faults. This is a primary need for a human to survive, it's the heart of community. This is completely natural and has been for thousands of years. Without jealousy there is no true intimacy because there is no true trust. So why do some think in our modern age that we can rise above it? And more importantly, what are our motives for "rising above" jealousy? I'd argue that they are purely selfish and immoral and damaging to all things pure and good, but that's just me.

Jealousy is natural. You can't breed or train or counsel this out of the human psyche. So contrary to what the doctor said I don't believe I have anything to learn in the way of jealousy, other than perhaps what not to do. It doesn't matter to me that 100% of gay relationships that are 35 years and counting are open. 

All that tells me is that they've sacrificed the potential of true intimacy with one person to have plastic intimacy with dozens. 

That lack of jealousy comes at too high of a cost. The motives behind such thinking are selfish, and selfishness will quickly make shallow the depth in any relationship. I pity these folks (straight or gay), because they've traded the kind of beauty and depth of true intimacy (that I've personally experienced) for something fast and cheap. 

Without jealousy there is no trust, and without trust there is no intimacy, and without intimacy you're just rubbing skin together.

That doesn't seem enlightened to me, it seems entitled. Progressing doesn't happen when you invest in the temporary gratification of impulse. Any Grandpa still married to Grandma with loving kids and grandkids will tell you that progress is the lasting, unspeakable peace that comes from fortitude and integrity. 

There is nothing richer. /Rant