Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Maybe Grandma Wasn’t So Dumb After All
Every generation thinks the one coming after it has lost all their morals and become just plain crude when it comes to moral behavior. But few would argue that today's generation of young adults seem to be more skilled at moral crudeness than any of previous generation. Dr. Jean Twenge, a professor at the University of Chicago, has discovered a number of interesting tidbits in her research on the sexuality of today's young adults that demonstrate this crudeness really is becoming a problem.
For example, in previous generations fewer people lived together outside of marriage than the current generation. Dr. Twenge discovered that "the rate of living together outside of marriage increased 500% from 1970 to 1990, and another 72% between 1990 and 2000. Couples who wait to live together until after the wedding are now the minority, and this trend is likely to continue." Most couples who co-habitat before marriage say they are doing this to make sure it works out before making a commitment to each other. Yet, statistic after statistic shows that those who live together before marriage have a higher chance of divorce than those who don't. Divorce is painful, just ask anyone who has experienced it. The deterioration of the sanctity of marriage is causing significant pain in the lives of many young adults. Maybe grandma's idea about not living together before marriage wasn't so dumb after all.
One might argue that if couples want to live together outside of marriage and it doesn't work out, it may cause them pain, but it's their lives, so who cares. But does this lack of morality bring pain into the lives of others? Dr. Twenge discovered that "in 2003, 34.6% of babies were born to unmarried women, the highest rate ever recorded. That's more than 1 out of 3." Numerous studies have shown that children who come from two parent families are the happiest and the healthiest. While we should applaud all the single moms out there who are raising successful kids on their own, those very moms would be the first to affirm that it is as extremely hard job and that it would be much easier if the dad would be responsible and do his part. The bottom line is that our moral choices are affecting our kids in negative ways. Again, maybe grandma's idea about purity wasn't so dumb after all.
Someone reading this right now is patting themselves on the back because they engaged in less than stellar moral behavior but it didn't result in a painful break up or in pregnancy, so they think they managed to escape the negative consequences of their immoral actions. But many negative consequences of immoral behavior do not show up until later. As painful as it is to think about, AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases may lie dormant in our bodies for months or even years before raising their ugly heads. Dr. Twenge correctly points out that today's young people "have never known a world without AIDS." When diseases like AIDS are a normal reality of life, a quick bout of fun with a friend has the potential to become something much more sinister down the road. A Christian friend told me last week that he had had 40 different sexual partners by the time he was 26 years old. Though he is now a committed Christian and no longer engages in such activities, the statistical reality of his past may one day come back to haunt him. Again, maybe grandma's quaint ideas about self control weren't so dumb after all.