Heh. As a sometime blog writer I always try to imagine the reaction of my readers when they first start reading something I’ve written. This topic is one that most people have an opinion on long before they’ve even seen the title of this article, and what are the chances that something I write will actually have an impact? Definitely I am trying to persuade, but more than that, this has been on my mind for the last little while and really the benefits are so obvious there’s not much of an excuse for living any other way. Having said that, most people don’t live the law of chastity, and while it doesn’t mystify me, it’s such a shame.
What is the law of chastity? To paraphrase from the Lord, it’s simply that we are to have sexual relations only with our spouse to whom we are legally married (please note that legal separation is a distinction that applies only to married couples–one is still considered married in the law’s eyes [and the Lord’s] until divorce is final). Whether or not you agree with that on the face of it, let’s look at some of the societal implications, hypothetically, if everyone lived this law.
First of all, teen pregnancy would all but disappear. In fact the only teens that would be pregnant would be those few who married at, say, 18 or 19, or those who become pregnant as a result of rape or incest. Teens have several health risks from pregnancy, including low birth weight, higher infant mortality rates, preeclampsia and anemia. In the fullest ideal sense there would be no rape or sexual abuse because of the law of chastity, but the implications of a world like that go far beyond the scope of this article. Even assuming sexual abuse continues at exactly the rate it does now (which it wouldn’t, I believe) the teen pregnancy rate would drop by what, at least 90%?
Second, abortions would plummet. Whether one is pro-life or pro-choice, no prominent advocate that I know of wants abortions to be high, and there is general agreement that abortions are not a desirable goal in general. Other than pregnancies in which the mother’s life is in danger (such as ectopic pregnancies) or as the result of rape or incest, the great majority of abortions are the result of unwanted pregnancy due to consensual sex and the prospect of a negative impact on her life, financial instability, or an unwillingness to be a single mother. The proportion of women who seek abortions that are single outnumber by a vast margin those that are married seeking abortions, whatever the reason. When the only real possibility of becoming pregnant is within marriage–where financial stability is much more likely, where a negative impact on her life is much reduced, and by definition one would not be a single mother–abortions would be reduced by, what, 75 – 85%?
Poverty would markedly decrease, particularly among women and children. There is a large body of research on the juvenilization and feminization of poverty, and in fact entire classes at universities are taught on this very topic. The most common circumstance appears to be a single mother raising her child alone. How does this often occur? A woman becoming pregnant and then her boyfriend (or one night stand) leaves, for whatever reason. This does not explain all occurrences, of course, but when children are born in a marriage, the odds of financial stability are higher. Even in the worst case scenario–if they later divorce–a woman has a claim of income from her ex to defray the cost of raising a child, and in those cases where the ex does pay on a regular basis this also reduces the financial burden on the state to cover the cost as well. I am personally also convinced the divorce rate would drop significantly, as if premarital sex (and its consequences) is taken out of the equation the reasons for marrying for good and right reasons increases.
Crime in general would decrease markedly as well. Imagine the impact if virtually all children were raised by both their biological parents. There is a large body of high quality research supporting the assertion that children have the best chance of growing up to be well-adjusted, upstanding and contributing members of society if they are raised by both of their biological parents, as I cited as part of an eight-part article I wrote on the institution of marriage. Now there are all kinds of parents, and also all kinds of children, and nobody is asserting that crime would disappear or families would be perfect, but given the best possible environment, less juveniles would grow up and engage in delinquent behavior such as drug use and gang activity. In fact gang activity in general would sharply decline as well, as gangs are simply substitutes for the absence of an intact family.
What about STD’s? Would you like a world with no HIV, for example? The first AIDS epidemic began in Africa, in the Congo in the 70’s. “It is speculated that HIV was brought to the city by an infected individual who traveled from Cameroon by river down into the Congo. On arrival in Kinshasa, the virus entered a wide urban sexual network and spread quickly.” As far as I can determine the history of AIDS in the US began in 1981, in a CDC report from Los Angeles among the gay community. This isn’t an indictment of homosexuality, and certainly AIDS is spread in ways other than sexual contact, but if most or all of us lived the law of chastity STD’s in general would largely be a thing of the past within a generation or two.
How about things that are less measurable, such as regret and heartbreak? Who isn’t aware of the cliche of a girl having sex because her boyfriend wants to, and not long after he doesn’t see her again and spreads the tale of his conquest all over school? How about the cliche of two people who begin dating and rush into the physical part of their relationship, often sabotaging the relationship for good, or two friends who sleep together once and permanently damage the friendship? The latter examples happen well into the 20’s, 30’s and even 40’s for a lot of folks. I’ve counseled many clients who don’t trust men or who don’t trust themselves, and how quickly people become jaded as a result. Then there’s the double standard of women being pressured into sex, but the more they have sex the more they have a reputation for being “easy” or “slutty”, while men suffer no particular stigma for sex with multiple partners. The amount of sorrow and regret in relationships would decrease–by how much, who knows, but what a relief it would be for everyone affected.
The seventh reason is entirely faith-based, so feel free to accept or reject it, but this blog entry would be incomplete without mentioning it. When we live the commandments, the Lord blesses us. He cannot bless us for living a commandment that we are not living, that wouldn’t make any sense. This does not imply that if you’ve had sex once in your life you are ineligible, but rather should you make a determination to start living by this law, and repent for having sinned in the past, the blessings will start to come and you will receive strength to be able to live it. It’s happened in my life and it’s pretty amazing.
I’ve outlined seven likely positive outcomes from living the law of chastity. You may think I have overstated them, but it seems doubtful that any of them could be discounted entirely. What are the reasons for not living it? They all seem to boil down to one reason: I want to do it, and I shouldn’t have to wait! There are a number of justifications based on this reason, but they are nothing than wanting to rationalize something a person wants to do.
The choice is ours: do we want immediate gratification, or do we want to delay it for a greater reward? And the rewards are many. Some people will say it’s too hard or it’s not realistic but this is sophistry, and simply a lie. It is tantamount to saying that people are merely animals, not having any control over ourselves so we shouldn’t be accountable for not doing so. Would that argument fly in a rape case? I personally know several people who stayed virgins until they married.
For the overwhelming majority of the history of the world the standard has been chastity until marriage, and there are an uncountable number of cases where this has occurred. Heaven knows it ain’t easy, the Lord made us as sexual beings and gave us sexual desires, but one of the purposes of this life is to learn how to master our passions, not be enslaved by them. When our desires overcome our reason then we start being driven by them, instead of the other way around. Which way would you rather live? Which is the most likely to result in lasting happiness, not just for you but all of us? Something to consider. 🙂