Op-Ed of the Day: The moral case for premarital sex

Jill Filipovic in The Guardian says that we should stop spending so much time and money promoting abstinence and that “having sex before marriage is the best choice for nearly everyone.”

Here’s the main part of her argument:

Sex is good whether you’re married or not, and certainly folks who wait until marriage can have a lot of sex once they tie the knot. But waiting until marriage often means both early marriage and conservative views on marriage and gender – and people who marry early and/or hold traditional views on marriage and gender tend to have higher divorce rates and unhappier marriages. We know that, on the other hand, there are lots of benefits to marrying later and to gender-egalitarian marriages. Couples who both work outside the home and also share housework duties have more sex. Financially independent, college-educated women who marry later in life have extremely low divorce rates.

It turns out that feminist values – not “traditional” ones – lead to the most stable marriages. And feminist views plus later marriage typically equals premarital sex.

Jill Filipovic will join us on Monday to talk about why premarital sex is a good thing.

–Stephanie Curtis, social media host

  • Katie

    I find one-size-fits-all answers problematic. Late marriage may also push back childbearing, and that’s not necessarily the best idea either. Better to promote healthy relationships without prescribing when that “should” or “should not” happen. I worry that promoting tha idea that sex before marriage is “better” than waiting will put at least some women under more pressure to have sex with a partner thay are not yet feeling committed to because now they are being told they “need” to have sexual intimacy.

  • eric

    It seems to me that, if marriage is the gateway to sex, then sex will motivate bad marriages.

  • Tim

    I don’t see any factual backing for the article by Jill Filipovic on which you are basing your Monday discussion.

    I disagree with her view that “people who marry early and/or hold traditional views on marriage and gender tend to have higher divorce rates and unhappier marriages.”

    I hope you have a balanced discussion on the topic, as I for one, strongly disagree that pre-marital sex is healthy and good.

  • http://jackhudson.wordpress.com/ Jack in Ramsey

    The author seems to be self-contradictory. She claims sex should be approached ‘fundamentally responsible way’ and that it’s wrong when we view sex in a ‘consumptive way’, then suggests that we decouple sex from the very institution which keeps sex from being a mere satisfaction of one’s sexual appetites – marriage.

    As a result, one is left with a consumptive pursuit of sex primarily as a source of pleasure and a culture which objectifies women as a good to be utilized rather than as a person with whom one can develop a relationship and begin a family.

  • http://jackhudson.wordpress.com/ Jack

    The author seems to be self-contradictory. She claims sex should be approached ‘fundamentally responsible way’ and that it’s wrong when we view sex in a ‘consumptive way’, then suggests that we decouple sex from the very institution which keeps sex from being a mere satisfaction of one’s sexual appetites – marriage.

    As a result, one is left with a consumptive pursuit of sex primarily as a source of pleasure and a culture which objectifies women as a good to be utilized rather than as a person with whom one can develop a relationship and begin a family.

  • Dan

    I think that it is time for a more progressive and enlightened understanding of sexuality – that it is good, healthy, very pleasurable and incredibly important to lots of people, as Filipovic wrote. Better sex education would help our culture grow in that direction. Many other cultures (Scandinavia, for example) have a more mature and sophisticated perspective on sex than Americans do. I think that a lot of the “sexualizing” that was discussed on the show comes from the sense that sex is dirty, scary and dangerous. Repression often leads to weird and unhealthy expressions of sexuality.

  • Katie

    I found this guest’s characterization of the saving sex for marriage movement was incredibly scewed and was just a reiteration of misunderstood stereotypes. Listing several celebrities who don’t have normal lives and who’s mistakes were on public display is not an accurate example that should be used to reinforce her opinions. As one who did save sex for marriage, it was a very personal choice. It wasn’t because anyone forced or pressured me into it. My sexuality is very much my own. I married in my late twenties and am a normal well adjusted sexually active happily married adult. My husband and I are college educated, and both work outside the home.

    Based on my experience and those I know, I find the opinion expressed by the Op-Ed to be very antiquated and inacurate. I don’t appreciate my life choice being so misrepresented by someone who has not done thorough research to understand the perspective she’s insulting as a base for her opinion. If anything this op-ed and discussion has only helped to perpetuate stereotypes of those who have made different life choices than herself.

  • Lynn

    Ms. Filipovic mis-represented the “purity only” side of the argument. I found her arguments frustrating, as she presented herself as part of the progressive/enlightened group, while those who hold to traditional views are antiquated and oppressive to women.

    As a young woman who waited until she was married to have sex, I am grossly offended by the assertions presented by your guest. Please have a balanced discussion on this topic.

  • Anne

    As the daughter of a women’s healthcare provider, I chose to wait to have sex until I was 21 because of ALL the information I had been giving about being sexually active. My first partner (before marriage) was/is my husband. No regrets.

    I’m by no means a hard line advocate of abstinence before marriage, but I think the “purity industry” has some merit in this society. If you’re lucky enough to have a father (or father-figure) who loves you and only wants the best for you, including an adolescence/early adulthood free of the complications sex can bring, what’s so wrong with that? And what’s wrong with a father and daughter agreeing that when she loses her virginity, he hopes it’s to someone who loves her as much as he does?

    I have two daughters six and under. Our culture is NOT protecting their innocence. It’s my job to do that. Part of my job is to educate them about sex (how it affects their health, fertility, and psyche) and the other part is to communicate my hopes for their decisions about their bodies.

  • Dan

    I suspect that the abstinence-obsessed are not that much different from more permissive or simply less controlling parents who also hope their kids will act responsibly and with character as they become independent. Everyone hopes to see their young adult kids pursuing healthy, mature, well-rounded relationships that are not merely or primarily sexual. Nobody wants their kids to follow a predictable path to unhappiness nor be forced to deal with the ways troubled couples distress larger family and community relationships. Just because some parents think non-married but monogamous relationships aren’t a terrible thing, that doesn’t mean they’re blind to the challenges such a relationship (just like an unstable marriage) can represent for larger family relationships and how an unexpected pregnancy would be handled. The less controlling parents just may not feel it’s possible or their place to try to control young adults after a certain point. Obviously others disagree and take a different approach, which is their right. In fact, the more conservative position tends to be more popular and beneficial in poorer or working class contexts, so it shouldn’t be dismissed as foolish.

  • Wally

    The elephant in the room so adroitly ignored by this radical feminist, Filipovic, and naively(?) neglected by her sycophant hostette, Kerri Miller, is SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES, and all the accompanying problems–chlamydia, HPV, syphilis, gonorrhea, herpes. (Notice I’m not even mentioning HIV/AIDS, the only one most of the “experts” ever talk about.)

    Can you spell C-A-N-C-E-R and E-A-R-L-Y D-E-A-T-H, often for very young women??? Oh yes, and remember sterility. And abortion, but that goes without saying as a sacramental rite to this foolish feminista.

    Beg week is coming, and I WILL NOT BE CONTRIBUTING to MPR, not because they broach controversial topics or voice opinions I disagree with–for as a friend says, “I want to know what the other side is up to”–but because the discussion is so often so &#$*!(@#&@(!!! ONE-SIDED.

  • Stephanie

    Wally,

    Kerri didn’t mention it, but we are actually going to have a guest who argues with Jill Filipovic’s points and supports abstinence until marriage.

    Thanks for your comments

  • Michael

    I simply do not see how premarital sex is immoral. Wally’s point does not stab or reference morality. If these young people desire to expose themselves to additional risk that is there business and I do not see how such a choice would constitute a breach of morality or enforcement of morality.

    As I side note Wally. If you would please refrain from swearing with symbols or otherwise it would be appreciated.

  • Crystal

    Katie, I don’t necessarily disagree with your comments, except I have a big problem with this one: “Late marriage may also push back childbearing, and that’s not necessarily the best idea either.” You seem to imply (and correct me if I’m wrong), that having children later in life–if at all–is a bad thing. There is NOTHING wrong with having children later in life. Women (and men) are more mature and probably able to handle the act of parenting a lot better if they have their first kid in their 30s rather than in their 20s. They are often more financially stable, as well. And, if a couple chooses not to have children at all, that’s their decision and who are you to say that that’s not ‘the best idea?’ It bothers me that we live in a culture that gets to judge others for the personal decisions that each make.

  • Wally

    Sorry, Michael, if you consider &#$*!(@#&@(!!! to be offensive. Even Mort Walker (originator of Beetle Bailey) uses such a convention. Don’t visit Monday’s “Today’s Question”–one contributor was tossing around the F (substituted for the entire word) quite freely, and I tossed it back at him.

    We are talking about life and death matters here.

    Stephanie C. Thanks for the heads up that you will offer the other side, so I would soften my final paragraph. Nevertheless, Filopovic and Miller still ignored the vital topic of sexual diseases, which do kill.

    Some well-reasoned comments by Katie, Tim, Jack, Lynn. And even to those I disagree with, the discussion is far more intelligent than the mud-slinging and name-calling that is going on over at Today’s Q.

  • http://www.LarryShort.com/ Larry Short

    Citation needed … lots of huge assumptions in this article. Would be interested to see her proof that “traditional views on marriage and gender tend to have higher divorce rates and unhappier marriages.” I’ve seen lots of documentation that says the opposite.

    Of course, much also swings on how you define the phrase “traditional view of marriage.” If you’re strictly talking about early marriage, I highly disagree that that’s a “traditional” view of marriage, in the cultural sense. Most supporters of the “traditional view of marriage” (in the context of this article, those who believe sex should wait until marriage) that I am aware of are not necessarily in favor of early marriage. Many, quite the contrary.

    I know many who are in the same boat as my wife and I. As much as we would have wanted to have sex before marriage (we dated/courted for 7 years), we held off because we both believed it was the right thing (morally speaking) to do. We married at 22 years of age. We have now been married for 33 years and both consider ourselves very happily married.