Unification News for August 1996


Absolute Sex, Not Free Sex

by Richard Panzer-Westwood, NJ

More than 20 years ago, Redbook magazine conducted a nationwide survey of 100,000 women concerning their sexual habits. The results were shocking. Women who were strictly monogamous reported rates of sexual fulfillment twice as high as women who had had several partners. Women who were sexually active as teenagers expressed more dissatisfaction with their sex lives as adults.

Since the survey was voluntary and therefore not strictly scientific, some might discount its findings. After all, Redbook magazine is not exactly the National Academy of Science.

But more scientific studies show the same trend. The most scientific study ever conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, released in Oct. 1994, found that married people had sex more often and enjoyed it more than singles, that nine out of ten married people were "very" satisfied with their sex lives, and that those (usually single) people with more than one sex partner were the least emotionally satisfied.

Also, in contrast to movies and TV shows suggesting high rates of marital infidelity, the survey found that four out of five married people had never cheated on their spouse. An earlier Washington Post/ABC News poll found that 89% had never been unfaithful.

It is sadly ironic and counter to popular wisdom that those people who pursue sexual fulfillment in a sexually "free" lifestyle end up with lower rates of sexual fulfillment than those who save it for marriage.

Another popular misconception among many college students is that living together with your partner is a good way to determine marital compatibility. Sort of like taking a car out for a test drive before you decide whether or not to buy it.

But, on average, those who live together before getting married have less happy marriages and higher risks of divorce. They also have much higher rates of domestic violence than traditionally married partners. It seems that finding a lifelong partner is a little different from buying a car.

For these and other reasons too numerous to mention in a short article, I propose that readers consider adopting the model of what I call "absolute sex," as opposed to the increasingly discredited notion of "free sex" or its alternate euphemisms ( a "meaningful" love relationship). The concept of "absolute sex" is based on the realization that the most complete, fulfilling sex occurs between two people who aren't just sharing sexual intimacy with each other on a temporary basis, but who have made a clear, absolute commitment to each other.

Such commitments are made with the awareness that the act of love implies exactly that: love. Love cares not only about the present, but also about the future, your own future, the future of your partner. Love cares about the consequences of one's acts, including the possibility that you and your partner may be creating a new life, and not just a new life, but even an entire lineage which may last not just for decades but for hundreds, even thousands of years! Perhaps: forevermore!

I recently interviewed a young woman from Sweden, a country which has a reputation for being "sexually liberated"(!) The woman told me how much she struggled to deal with the fact that her birth was the result of a one-night stand, that there was no deep love between her parents, who subsequently broke up and never married. She also told of a young man she knew who committed suicide after his parents' divorce. Such acts are not isolated incidents. Sweden has one of the highest suicide rates in the world (higher in fact than that of the United States). Could the high suicide rate in Sweden be related to its permissive sexual ethic?

Studies in the U.S.A. show that teenage girls who are sexually active have a six-times higher risk to attempt suicide. Those who view sex as a form of recreation ignore that it is much, much more than that.

Is it wise to treat something as powerful as sex as if it were something which can be given away to someone whose commitment to you is not clear (or vice versa)? Something that is "free" is also something that is, by definition, "cheap". Those who delay sex until an absolute marital commitment is made are most likely to enjoy a physically and emotionally fulfilling love life.

Richard A. Panzer is the president of the Center for Educational Media, Westwood, N.J. and author of After the Sexual Revolution: the role of marriage in society, and other publications on human sexuality. For more information, call 1-800-221-6116 or fax 1-201-358-9013.


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