Sex and the Single Girl

It's taken three decades, but Cosmopolitan magazine is finally catching up with biblical morality. Thirty years ago, Cosmo editor-in-chief Helen Gurley Brown wrote a best-selling book called Sex and the Single Girl. But in a recent issue, the magazine sounded an entirely new note: It warned that living together could sink your chances of a good marriage. The words were emblazoned on the magazine's cover: "The Trap of Living Together." The article cited several studies showing that couples who cohabit before marriage have a higher divorce rate. One national survey found that couples who live together before marriage are one-third more likely to separate or divorce within 10 years. A Swedish study was even more disturbing. In a country where living together has even less stigma than in the U.S., women who have cohabited experience an 80-percent greater risk of divorce. Maybe those old-fashioned stigmas were protecting us from something after all—from the heartache of divorce. The Cosmo article is taken from a book by family therapist Laura Schlessinger. Why, Schlessinger asks, does living together so often lead to disaster? Her answer is that people who move in before making a marriage commitment are people who haven't learned to practice delayed gratification. They want the benefits of a solid relationship before investing the time and effort to build a solid relationship. Later, when the road gets rocky, these folks won't invest the time and effort to sustain the relationship either. As Schlessinger puts it, "Having sex too soon, moving in without commitment . . . are the behaviors of basically immature, let-me-feel-good-right-now people." The word must be getting around. At the same time the Cosmo article appeared, the Washington Post published a similar piece. A Post article by William Mattox of the Family Research Council describes a study designed to find out if moral values have any impact on sexual happiness. The study found that of people who are married and hold traditional sexual morality, 72 percent report high sexual satisfaction. By contrast, nontraditionalists—defined as people with no moral objection to sex outside marriage—report far less happiness. Non-traditionalists who are married fall 13 percentage points lower than traditionalists. Unmarried nontraditionalists fall a whopping 31 percentage points lower. The data is finally in on the sexual revolution—and what it shows is that a happy sex life is firmly linked to marriage and traditional sexual values. Of course, this is something the church could have told the readers of Cosmopolitan and the Post long ago. The empirical evidence is simply catching up with what the Bible has taught about sexual ethics for thousands of years. So if your friends are sleeping together, and you're tempted to wonder if they're having all the fun, remember that the statistics are in your favor—not theirs. We can be confident that what God commands in Scripture is always best for us. After all, it was God who invented sex and marriage in the first place. Eventually, the scientific studies always catch up with divine truth.


Chuck Colson


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