Testing Common Theories on the Relationship Between Premarital Sex and Marital Stability

“Without controls, people with premarital partners are 161% more likely to dissolve their marriages compared to people who tie the knot as virgins… After including the laundry list of covariates shown in the table, the odds of divorce remain 151% higher” - IFS


Good article. There has been significant pushback to the original study so nice to see that they addressed those issues. The fact that anyone would invest real time into trying to rebut the concept that premarital sex is harmful to marriages is Rom. 1:31 in living color:

“Romans 1:32 (NASB95): and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.”

The marriage survival rates listed in the study seem to diverge after only 8 months, which sadly reflects some of what I've seen in some marriages among the "quite experienced". The scariest thing is that after only 80 months/~7 years, the divorce rate hits 25% among those with lots of partners, and the trend looks linear, while the trend-line among the "virgin-married" appears to be hitting an asymptote of about 10% divorce rate.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Bert’s comments are good. But I think the study leaves us with a correlation. We still cannot be sure of cause and effect. The paper, not using that exact terminology, still makes the point.

"The Midrash Detective"

To draw a picture of how hard it is to get to causation, I remember reading about 2000 that they'd finally proven that tobacco causes lung cancer. Given that the relative risk for lung cancer for smokers and nonsmokers is about a risk factor of 40, that's quite stunning. It's tough.

And for that reason, those who want to fornicate are going to say (and partially rightly) post hoc non est propter hoc, or "after is not necessarily because". To a degree, a bit of faith is required. More specifically, we've got to answer why those who fornicate prior to marriage are more likely to divorce, and there are a bunch of hypotheses there to entertain, from "fornicators don't take marriage as seriously in the first place" to "one's premarital sex partner can come back into your life and wreak havoc" to "some things happen, physically and mentally, when one fornicates that make married life more difficult."

I believe all of these hypotheses, but to prove it statistically takes some doing.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

I appreciate the research, and if they can make a strong cause-effect link, it’s a great ‘natural law’ argument. I’m all for natural law arguments for the general public (i.e., for those who need them).

For Christians, though, it’s secondary… or tertiary, etc. God didn’t say “Don’t do this because it has negative outcomes for marriages.” He just said, don’t do this because it’s wrong.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.