Many Conservative Christians consider porn to be “always immoral” and yet they watch it anyway.

Conservative Christians like to make a lot of noise about morality despite the fact that they’re often not capable of adhering to the morals they insist the rest of us follow. Whether it’s the deeply religious fundamentalist who protests at the local abortion clinic that ends up getting an abortion the moment they have an inconvenient pregnancy only to go back to protesting abortion the next day or the Christian who rails against the evils of homosexuality only to be caught engaging in the very thing they decry.

So too it seems is this true about pornography. According to a study by Samuel L. Perry of the University of Oklahoma recently published in the Journal of Sex Researchthere is no shortage of Christians who consider porn to bad yet still watch it just the same:

Conservative Christians are more likely to think porn is immoral but view it anyway, study finds – PsyPost

“Having studied what conservative Christians think about pornography as well as their consumption habits, I started to notice a bit of a discrepancy. In every study of which I’m aware, conservative Christians are far more likely than other Americans to reject pornography on moral grounds. There is basically no justification for it whatsoever in their minds. However, I also started to notice that, despite their unequivocal rejection of pornography, conservative Christians aren’t considerably less likely than other Americans to report viewing it.

“Sure, a number of studies show that, say, conservative Protestants and frequent churchgoers view porn somewhat less often than other Americans,” Perry told PsyPost. “But that’s not the case in every study. In some studies, for example, being a conservative Protestant or frequent churchgoer didn’t make much of a difference at all in terms of porn use.

He sat down and went through data from a 2006 Portraits of American Life Study (PALS) which tracks religion, morality, politics and other social issues and found that 10% of Americans who viewed porn as morally wrong still reported having watched it within the previous year.

“In fact, evangelical Protestants and other sectarian Protestant groups were the most likely of all religious groups to report the experience of ‘incongruence,’ saying porn is always immoral, but viewing it anyway. To put that in perspective, less than 6% of religiously unaffiliated persons reported believing porn is immoral but watch it anyway, compared to over 13% of evangelical Protestants or other sectarian Christian groups.”

Interestingly, this incongruence was only amongst the men as he found little evidence that religious women who held porn as morally wrong still viewed it anyway. Ironically for men, the more they attended church the more likely they were to view porn in spite of their belief it was bad:

“When I looked at measures of religiosity, I found there was an important gender dynamic at play. The connection between church attendance and prayer frequency and experiencing an incongruence between one’s porn beliefs and usage only applied to men. But as men’s church attendance or prayer frequency increased, their likelihood of experiencing that incongruence (believing porn is wrong, but watching it anyway) increased in a linear fashion,” the researcher explained.

“For example, among those Americans who ‘never’ attend church, only about 7% of men report experiencing an incongruence between porn beliefs and usage. But at the highest frequencies of church attendance, over 25% of men report experiencing an incongruence. That means that for those men who attend church services several times a week, roughly 1/4 of them say porn is always immoral, but they watch it anyway. The results were similar for prayer frequency as well. ”

All of that said, the data was limited enough that questions about frequency of viewing porn or why these men watched something they considered morally wrong couldn’t be answered. In the end it would seem “the power of your dick compels you” is the best explanation we’re likely to get.

On five-year-olds and gender roles.

Say you’ve got a five-year-old son who isn’t conforming to traditional gender roles. Specifically, he likes to wear skirts and dresses instead of the customary pants most little boys wear. Do you try to convince him to dress traditionally or do you allow him to cross gender lines in his clothing choices?

That’s the choice Nils Pickert of Germany faced with his own son:

Nils Pickert and his son.

The pair used to live in the well-to-do borough of Kreuzberg in cosmopolitan Berlin, where there was little or no reaction to Mr Pickert’s son wearing dresses.

The issue would simply spark debate among parents, he said, over whether allowing it was ‘wise or ridiculous’. For open-minded Mr Pickert, it was never even a question.

He would sometimes dress in a skirt or dress himself, during mild weather.

When they moved to a ‘very traditional, very religious’ little town, however, Mr Pickert’s son became too embarrassed to wear women’s clothing to nursery school – and asked his father if he would dress up again.

‘I didn’t want to talk my son into not wearing dresses and skirts,’ said Mr Pickert. ‘I had only one option left: To broaden my shoulders for my little buddy and dress in a skirt myself.

‘After all, you can’t expect a child at pre-school age to have the same ability to assert themselves as an adult completely without role model. And so I became that role model.’

Personally, I think Mr. Pickert is a great Dad for encouraging his son to be who he wants to be, but it appears I may be in the minority judging from the reaction in the comments around the web.

From the Daily Mail comment section itself we get the following:

What?? This is sick! They both need to see a doctor and the child to see a psychologist.

– Rob, England, 30/8/2012 13:51

what .hes a little boy not a girl he should not wear girls clothes hes 5 for gods sake why is the father encouraging this its sick.

– bee, plymouth england, 30/8/2012 16:24

OMG what is the world coming to with these people who seek to feminize their male children? Seriously, the child should be removed from the home.

– Action Bob, The Universe, 30/8/2012 16:01

And then from the comments on the FARK for this article which had a HERO tag associated with it:

Hero tag? Try Dumbass tag.

A good father wouldn’t let his five year old son dress like a girl at school or anywhere else.

– DmGdDawg

Sigh, what a failure of a parent. Your not helping your making it worse. Do you fix a leaking sink by saying, it isn’t the sink’s fault but it should be the kitchen that needs to accept the water better.

– Thisbymaster

Hero tag?

HERO?

How about a farking ZERO.

Part of being a parent is to keep kids from doing stupid shiat like, say, wearing a g’damn dress to school when you’re a 5 year old boy.

– Hagenhatesyouall

I was bit odd as a kid myself and I took a fair amount of shit for it. No, I didn’t run around in dresses, but I was the 80 pound weakling who got beat up on a regular basis and my biological father died when I was 5 so I tended to be a little off-kilter from those two things just to start with. I was also ADHD and didn’t know it and that alone is enough to make you feel like an outsider who doesn’t really fit in and I eventually got to the point where I embraced my weirdness and just accepted that I wasn’t quite normal. I suppose that’s why my initial reaction to this story was to cheer the dad for supporting his kid instead of trying to force him to be “normal.”

I honestly don’t understand what the big deal is. The kid is five years old. It’s not clear he even has a concept of gender roles let alone why some folks would expect him to conform to them. It’s similar to the uproar over the J. Crew catalog that had a VP painting her son’s toenails in it. Holy fuck, the Far Right had a fit over that with FOX’s own Dr. Keith Asshole Ablow declaring the kid would need therapy in a few years to deal with the horror of his own mother forcing him to paint his toenails a bright pink color.

I’ve said before, including in that entry about the J. Crew catalog, that I’ve been known to paint my own toenails from time to time despite being an adult heterosexual male. It gets worse than that though. Back when I was a teenager I had a Unicorn phase that would rival any teen girl’s obsession with the fantasy creatures. I collected statues, had posters, the whole shebang. As an adult I’m not as into them anymore (though my obsession over all things otter is still as strong as ever), but the years that I was into them doesn’t seem to have affected my manliness all that much. Of course you could argue that I’m not exactly a man’s man to begin with, but it’s not like macho men have never worn dresses. Again in that J. Crew entry I mention the fact that at one point it was common for kids of both genders to wear dresses up until age 7 including such notable examples as Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Pic of Franklin Roosevelt as a child in a dress.

Roosevelt before he went on to become President of the United States

Seriously, what’s the worst that could happen? He turns out to be gay? That could happen regardless of whether he conforms to gender roles. Just look at the number of gay-hating Republicans putting on a manly front only to turn out to be gayer than the Village People when people aren’t looking. He could end up a transvestite? A number of men have managed to be quite successful while wearing women’s clothing. Perhaps he’ll grow up and want a sex-change operation. Again, that’s just a likely to happen regardless of what clothes he starts off in.

He might be more comfortable during hot summer days? Oh the horror! If only people would put so much energy into worrying about things that actually matter like whether he’s getting a decent education or whether the planet will be habitable by the time he grows up.

So the kid is a little different. Let him be different. We don’t all need to be the same.

It turns out that premature orgasm is a problem for some women.

From the Never-Thought-This-Was-A-Problem department:

Premature Orgasm Affects Women Too, Study Suggests – LiveScience

“At one extreme are women who have a complete control over their orgasm,” he and his colleagues write in a report to be published in the journal Sexologies. “[At] the other extreme is a group of women who report having a lack of control over the moment of orgasm, which occurs very early during intercourse, leading to personal or couple discomfort.”

You’d think premature orgasms for women would be a blessing considering that too many men concern themselves with only their own satisfaction and the fact that many women can experience multiple orgasms, but it turns out it doesn’t work that way:

One woman described her discomfort with her quick orgasms to the researchers as similar to what a man might feel in the case of premature ejaculation.

“I feel the same way men must feel about premature ejaculation and don’t completely see the difference — I finish very quickly, whereas my boyfriend doesn’t get a chance to, and it’s really starting to bother me,” she said. “Once I orgasm, I find it uncomfortable to continue, the mood changes and he ends up missing out, which I feel bad about.”

It’s a preliminary study and the authors want to see a larger one with more women done to see how widespread the problem is, but in the meantime they suggest women suffering from this issue talk with their doctors about it.

Seems young Christians can’t keep it in their pants any better than anyone else.

Over the years there’s been a lot of press over the various Christian movements to promote chastity until marriage. From “True Love Waits” to purity rings and pledges, the goal is the same: Keep young Christians from bumping uglies until their honeymoons.

Philosophically I don’t really have a problem with these movements. If you want to promise that you won’t have sex until you’re married, for whatever reason, then more power to you. It’s not that it’s a bad plan — you avoid STDs and unplanned pregnancies by waiting — it’s just that the number of people with the willpower to actually accomplish that goal is pretty small. A fact borne out from many recent studies:

The article in Relevant magazine, entitled “(Almost) Everyone’s Doing It,” cited several studies examining the sexual activity of single Christians. One of the biggest surprises was a December 2009 study, conducted by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, which included information on sexual activity.

While the study’s primary report did not explore religion, some additional analysis focusing on sexual activity and religious identification yielded this result: 80 percent of unmarried evangelical young adults (18 to 29) said that they have had sex – slightly less than 88 percent of unmarried adults, according to the teen pregnancy prevention organization.

The desire to fuck is a strong one and can be hard to resist, which is probably pretty obvious to most people. It doesn’t help that age at which people are getting married is much older than in the past:

Relevant notes that in biblical times, people married earlier. The average age for marriage has been increasing in the U.S for the last 40 years.

Today, it’s not unusual to meet a Christian who is single at 30 – or 40 or 50, for that matter. So what do you tell them? Keep waiting?

The article doesn’t have any answers to that question. I do:

Recognize that most people are going to have sex regardless of any promise they might have made not to and stop pushing abstinence as the only thing they need to have knowledge of. By all means, encourage abstinence as the best choice if you must, but then say “If you’re going to have sex then make sure you are protected.” And then follow that up with some comprehensive sex education so that if they do find that they can’t wait they’re armed with the knowledge they need to minimize the risks.

And for Christ’s sake, stop trying to make everyone feel guilty about sex. You can encourage abstinence without using guilt as a motivating factor. People — even good Christian ones — are gonna fuck from time to time. Best to deal with it honestly and openly because the shit you’ve been trying for so long obviously isn’t working.

J. Crew catalog has pic of boy wearing toenail polish and FOX News freaks the fuck out.

Scan of the J. Crews ad.

The offending advertisement. Click to embiggen.

You’d think it was one of the seven signs what with the way “Dr.” Keith Ablow reacts to a picture in a J. Crews catalog in which a mom talks about how fun it is to paint her son’s toenails:

A recent feature in J. Crew’s online catalogue portrays designer Jenna Lyons painting her son Beckett’s toe nails hot pink. The quote accompanying the image reads, “Lucky for me, I ended up with a boy whose favorite color is pink. Toenail painting is way more fun in neon.”

Yeah, well, it may be fun and games now, Jenna, but at least put some money aside for psychotherapy for the kid—and maybe a little for others who’ll be affected by your “innocent” pleasure.

Got that? You’re not just setting your own kid up for mental illness by engaging in girly activities, but you’re putting everyone else at risk as well!

What could be so dangerous about putting a little hot pink on your son’s toenails?

This is a dramatic example of the way that our culture is being encouraged to abandon all trappings of gender identity—homogenizing males and females when the outcome of such “psychological sterilization” [my word choice] is not known.

A dramatic example? Really? I’m not sure how you see it as encouraging our culture to abandon all trappings of gender identity. So the boy likes a little nail polish. So did Eddie Izzard and he has been fairly successful in spite of it. Now he’s a dramatic example of abandoning of traditional gender roles.

I speak from experience. I’ve been known to have my toenails painted on occasion as well (though I tend to prefer a more macho blue metal flake color). Granted I did this as an adult, but I don’t think it would’ve been any more damaging had I done it as a kid. Last I checked I was still in a stable marriage, still heterosexual, and overall of sound mind and body. My wife started it. She wanted to paint some toenails and mine were within easy reach so she did. I had so much fun with the reactions I got while walking around in sandals that every summer I usually paint them at least once just because it bothers the fuck out of some people.

People like “Dr.” Keith Asshole Ablow:

In our technology-driven world—fueled by Facebook, split-second Prozac prescriptions and lots of other assaults on genuine emotion and genuine relationships and actual consequences for behavior—almost nothing is now honored as real and true.

The irony of someone at FOX News whining about nothing being honored as real and true is pretty hard to bear given their propensity to make shit up to fit their needs.

Increasingly, this includes the truth that it is unwise to dress little girls like miniature adults (in halter tops and shorts emblazoned with PINK across the bottoms) and that it is unwise to encourage little boys to playact like little girls.

OK, I’ll agree that the tendency of some people to dress their young daughters up like strippers is in bad taste (though I’m not sure halter tops and shorts are the worst offenses in that regard) but little boys playacting like little girls? Don’t see a problem with that. In addition to all the macho boy toys I grew up with, I also wanted an Easy Bake Oven. My sister eventually got one and I spent some time playing with it until my curiosity was satisfied. Later in my teenage years I had a period where I took a home correspondence course in cake decorating which may have been inspired by my time with the Easy Bake Oven. What a horrible outcome that ended up being! I learned how to bake and decorate cakes!

If you have no problem with the J. Crew ad, how about one in which a little boy models a sundress? What could possibly be the problem with that?

That’s a good question. I don’t see a problem with it. In point of fact at one time it wasn’t uncommon for little boys to wear dresses. Some of them you may have even heard of. Such as Franklin D. Roosevelt:

Pic of Franklin Roosevelt as a child in a dress.

Yeah, that's probably what gave him polio*.

That picture comes from an interesting article over at Smithsonian.com that talks about why boys wear blue and girls wear pink:

Little Franklin Delano Roosevelt sits primly on a stool, his white skirt spread smoothly over his lap, his hands clasping a hat trimmed with a marabou feather. Shoulder-length hair and patent leather party shoes complete the ensemble.

We find the look unsettling today, yet social convention of 1884, when FDR was photographed at age 2 1/2, dictated that boys wore dresses until age 6 or 7, also the time of their first haircut. Franklin’s outfit was considered gender-neutral.

[…] “It’s really a story of what happened to neutral clothing,” says Paoletti, who has explored the meaning of children’s clothing for 30 years. For centuries, she says, children wore dainty white dresses up to age 6. “What was once a matter of practicality—you dress your baby in white dresses and diapers; white cotton can be bleached—became a matter of ‘Oh my God, if I dress my baby in the wrong thing, they’ll grow up perverted,’ ” Paoletti says.

Which is pretty much what our good “Dr.” is trying to claim. What’s really interesting, though, is that originally pink was for boys:

For example, a Ladies’ Home Journal article in June 1918 said, “The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.” Other sources said blue was flattering for blonds, pink for brunettes; or blue was for blue-eyed babies, pink for brown-eyed babies, according to Paoletti.

It seems like America survived for quite some time with boys wearing dresses for nearly a decade of their lives. And when gender specific colors started to come along the boys started out in pink. But this is a FOX News columnist we’re talking about. He’s not going to let reality get in the way of his argument:

Well, how about the fact that encouraging the choosing of gender identity, rather than suggesting our children become comfortable with the ones that they got at birth, can throw our species into real psychological turmoil—not to mention crowding operating rooms with procedures to grotesquely amputate body parts? Why not make race the next frontier? What would be so wrong with people deciding to tattoo themselves dark brown and claim African-American heritage? Why not bleach the skin of others so they can playact as Caucasians?

I don’t think anyone is suggesting that their children “choose” their gender identity. I think some folks just aren’t freaking out if their kid doesn’t conform to expected gender norms and there really isn’t a problem with that. As for operating rooms suddenly being jammed up with people seeking to change their gender to the opposite team, I seriously doubt that’s going to be a huge problem. At least nothing you’ve presented here suggests that it will be.

Also there’s quite a big difference between allowing your kid to wear hot pink nail polish or a dress and someone tattooing or bleaching themselves in order to become a different race. Though it’s not like some folks haven’t experimented with that concept as an adult with some rather enlightening experiences to show for it. As I recall there was also a show on FX called Black. White. back in 2006 that had a white family and black family switch roles through the use of makeup. It’s something that several people have undertaken without culture crashing down around us.

So we’re left to wonder what the harm is. Finally, the “Dr.” gets around to telling us:

The fallout is already being seen. Increasingly, girls show none of the reticence they once did to engage in early sexual relationships with boys. That may be a good thing from the standpoint of gender equality, but it could be a bad thing since there is no longer the same typically “feminine” brake on such behavior. Girls beat up other girls on YouTube. Young men primp and preen until their abdomens are washboards and their hair is perfect. And while that may seem like no big deal, it will be a very big deal if it turns out that neither gender is very comfortable anymore nurturing children above all else, and neither gender is motivated to rank creating a family above having great sex forever and neither gender is motivated to protect the nation by marching into combat against other men and risking their lives.

He says all of this as though this is something new. It isn’t. There have always been girls who were happy to engage in sex at an early age. There has always been fights between girls. There have always been young men who go out of their way to groom themselves. I can remember all of those things from my own childhood growing up. I’ve seen nothing to suggest it’s more prevalent now than it was back then. If anything, we’re just more aware of it due to the advance of technology.

The argument that this will all lead to the elimination of people who want families and to raise children and to go off to war is, frankly, silly. We’ve managed to conduct two wars for the better part of the last decade without a draft. The wedding and baby industries don’t show any signs of impending collapse. This is nothing but a bunch of hand-waving hysteria mongering from someone who’s supposedly a mental health professional.

But that’s just because I can’t see the conspiracy that’s right before my eyes:

Jenna Lyons and J. Crew seem to know exactly what they’re up to. That’s why the photograph of Jenna’s son so prominently displays his hot pink, neon toe nails. These folks are hostile to the gender distinctions that actually are part of the magnificent synergy that creates and sustains the human race. They respect their own creative notions a whole lot more than any creative Force in the universe.

Yes, they’re out to destroy gender distinctions because it’ll make them rich by being able to sell both men’s and women’s clothing to the same person doubling their profits! It’s BRILLIANT!

Here’s what I want to know: Why can’t we let kids grow up to be who and what they want to be? So your son wants to be a hair dresser. If it makes him happy then what’s the problem? Your daughter wants to be a NASCAR racer. You can make a decent living doing that. Your son wants to dress like a girl? It worked for the aforementioned Eddie Izzard and actor Tim Curry’s best known role involved him looking more feminine than masculine.

The real harm comes from trying to force your kids to be something that they aren’t. If your son ends up being gay it’s because he was born that way, not because he liked playing with Barbies as a child. If your daughter ends up a lesbian it’s because she was born that way, not because she liked playing Cowboys and Indians as a kid. I didn’t care much for watching sports as a kid and I still don’t as an adult. I put my energy into video games and, eventually, computers and it’s served me fairly well. You should encourage your kids to be who they are and not what everyone else expects them to be and it’s going to take them awhile to figure that out. They may bend or break a few cultural norms along the way, but not everyone who paints his toenails is going to end up a childless misanthrope who wouldn’t lift a finger to save his country. If anything they may gain a greater insight into how others are perceived.

*While it’s “common knowledge” that Roosevelt had polio, the truth is it may have been a different disease.

Youth pastor says he had sex with boys to cure them of their homosexuality.

It's not sex. It's thearpy. What? God told me to do it!

Apparently taking a cue from Homeopaths, where you treat a problem with something that’s similar to the problem, 31-year-old youth pastor Brent Girouex says that he wasn’t having sex with the teenage boys. He was simply praying — while having sexual contact — in order to help the young men overcome their homosexual urges:

In February, Girouex told Council Bluffs police detectives that he had sexual contact with four young men starting in 2007 in order to help them gain “sexual purity in the eyes of God.”

[…] Court documents indicated Girouex told investigators the most sexual contact he had was with one teen over a four-year period, starting when the boy was 14 years old. Calling the contact “mutual,” he said it had occurred between “25 and 50 times” during that period.

When investigators spoke to the teen, who’s now an adult, he told them the number was between 50 and 100.

[…] “When they would ejaculate, they would be getting rid of the evil thoughts in their mind,” Girouex allegedly told detectives.

Next up, he’ll help a thief overcome his urge to steal by helping him rob banks and praying the whole time. Let’s hope he doesn’t get a serial killer looking for help with his sinful urges.

A Moral Crossroads for Conservatives

Just read a great article here: A Moral Crossroads For Conservatives – National Journal Magazine

“Here’s the key principle,” Peter Sprigg, a gay-marriage opponent with the Family Research Council, said in an April radio interview on Southern California’s KCRW. “Society gives benefits to marriage because marriage gives benefits to society. And therefore the burden of proof has to be on the advocates of same-sex marriage to demonstrate that homosexual relationships benefit society. Not just benefit the individuals who participate but benefit society in the same way and to the same degree that heterosexual marriage does. And that’s a burden that I don’t think they can meet.”

Can’t they?

* * *

Having just been told, at 3 a.m., that his partner of three decades might die within hours, Mike Brittenback was told something else: Before rushing to Bill’s side, he needed to collect and bring with him documents proving his medical power of attorney. This indignity, unheard-of in the world of heterosexual marriage, is a commonplace of American gay life.

Couple of thoughts from the article:

National Review has a cover story this month by Maggie Gallagher, a prominent anti-gay-marriage activist, subtitled: “Why Gay Marriage Isn’t Inevitable.” She is right, in a sense. Most states explicitly ban same-sex marriage, often by constitutional amendment, and the country remains deeply divided. The national argument over marriage’s meaning will go on for years to come.

In another sense, however, she is wrong. Never again will America not have gay marriage, and never again will less than a majority favor some kind of legal and social recognition for same-sex couples. The genie that gay-marriage opponents still hope to stuff back into the bottle is out and out for good.

The story that the author, Jonathan Rauch, writes about his cousin, Bill, and partner, Mike, hits like a pallet of bricks in the abdomen. Please read the whole article and see why the genie is out of the bottle.

Utah Senator Chris Buttars is an asshat.

It seems the bigoted Senator thinks that gays are a bigger threat than terrorists:

Sen. Chris Buttars: “Homosexuality will always be a sexual perversion. And you say that around here now and everybody goes nuts. But I don’t care.”

[…] “They’re mean. They want to talk about being nice. They’re the meanest buggers I have ever seen.”

And just seconds later, Buttars draws a comparison between some gays and radical Muslims.

“It’s just like the Muslims. Muslims are good people and their religion is anti-war. But it’s been taken over by the radical side.”

[…] He also talks about gay marriage being the beginning of the end.

Buttars: “What is the morals of a gay person? You can’t answer that because anything goes.”

And finally, this is how senator Buttars refers to the “radical gay movement.”

“They’re probably the greatest threat to America going down I know of.”

This was all from a documentary being filmed on the passing of Proposition 8 in California. I suppose the Senator deserves some credit for being honest enough to not try and hide his bigotry, but he’s still an asshat.

Another study shows “virginity pledges” are ineffective.

We’ve already seen lots of studies showing that abstinence only sex education is a miserable failure, but what about the popular-among-the-True-Believers virginity pledges where a daughter pledges to her father that she’ll abstain from sex until marriage? As it turns out the best they do is delay how soon someone has sex for the first time from the national average of 17 years-old to 21 years-old. Beyond that they don’t stop people from having premarital sex though they do increase the likelihood that someone won’t use proper contraceptive methods increasing their chances of getting pregnant and catching a STD. Ultimately it seems the pledges themselves have no effect at all compared to a person’s religious viewpoint:

In the new study, Janet Rosenbaum, Ph.D., of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland, analyzed the large chunk of data used in all the studies that have looked at virginity pledges: the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. In this survey, middle and high school students were asked about their sexual behaviors and opinions starting in 1995-96.

In the analysis, Rosenbaum compared 289 young adults who took virginity pledges in their teens with 645 young people who did not take such a pledge. The researcher was careful to only compare teens who had similar views on religion, birth control and sex in general, regardless of whether or not they took a pledge.

Five years after the initial survey the study subjects were aged 20 to 23. Eighty-two percent of pledge takers denied (or forgot) they had ever taken such a vow. Overall pledge takers were no different from non-pledge takers in terms of their premarital sex, anal and oral sexual practices, and their probability of having a sexually transmitted disease.

Both groups lost their virginity at an average age of 21, had about three lifetime partners, and had similar rates of STDs. “And the majority were having premarital sex, over 50 percent,” says Rosenbaum. Overall, roughly 75 percent of pledgers and non-pledgers were sexually active, and about one in five was married.

So if you’re very religious you’re likely to start having sex several years after the national average, but beyond that you’re just as sinful as everyone else. Plus you’re more likely to not use protection:

Unmarried pledgers, however, were less likely than non-pledgers to use birth control (64 percent of pledge takers and 70 percent of non-pledge takers said they used it most of the time) or condoms (42 percent of pledge takers and 54 percent of non-pledge takers said they used them most of the time).

“There’s been some speculation about whether teenagers were substituting oral or anal sex for vaginal sex and I found that wasn’t so,” says Rosenbaum. “But I did uphold a previous finding that they are less likely to use birth control and drastically less likely in fact to use condoms—it’s a ten percentage point difference.”

Rosenbaum is concerned that abstinence-only sex education programs that promote virginity pledges may also promote a negative view of condoms and birth control. The result may be teens and young adults who are less likely than their peers to protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancies.

[…] “Studies find that kids in abstinence-only programs have negative, biased views about whether condoms work,” she says. Since such programs promote abstinence only they tend to give only the disadvantages of birth control, she says. Teens learn condoms don’t protect you completely from human papillomavirus (HPV) and herpes, which is true, but they may not realize that they protect against all the “fluid-based STDs,” she says. “People end up thinking you may as well not bother using birth control or condoms.”

I guess it’s arguable which is the better situation: People having safer sex at a younger age or unsafe sex at an older age. Personally I’d think the ideal would be to encourage kids to put off sex until they’re older, but to encourage them to use protection if they give in to the temptation. That’s the approach I took with my own daughter and it seems to have worked pretty well.

News item sent in by SEB reader Gary.

Teenage pregnancy on the rise for the first time in 15 years.

So how well are all those abstinence-only over funded sex education programs doing anyway? If this report is anything to go buy the answer is “not very well.”

The birth rate had been dropping since its peak in 1991, although the decline had slowed in recent years. Yesterday, government statisticians said that it rose 3 percent from 2005 to 2006.

U.S. health officials said that it was possibly a one-year statistical blip and not the beginning of an upward trend.

But several experts said that they have been expecting an increase. They attribute the rise to increased federal financing for abstinence-only health-education programs that do not teach teenagers how to use contraceptives.

Some key sexually transmitted disease rates have also been rising, including syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia. The rising teenage pregnancy rate is part of the same phenomenon, said Dr. Carol Hogue, a professor of maternal and child health at Emory University

“It’s not rocket science,” she said.

Indeed it’s not, but then we don’t have have any rocket scientists in the Bush administration.