(Post 4 in a series)
Having looked at extramarital sex in the past few posts, I now turn to its younger sibling, premarital sex. Now, this is actually a somewhat more complicated thing to make sense of, because it encompasses several different processes--if people get married, at what age they get married, and what they do before they get married. So, if religious people have premarital sex less often it could be because they get married more often or at a younger age, not necessarily because they are more chaste before marriage (net of marital age).
Given this caveat, here are some data from the National Survey of Family Growth based one a question of whether respondents have ever had premarital sex.
- 65%, All Protestants
- 74%, Non-active Protestants
- 49%, Active Protestants
- 83%, All Black Protestants
- 89%, Non-Active Black Protestants
- 76%, Active Black Protestants
- 63%, All Catholics
- 71%, Non-Active Catholics
- 48%, Active Catholics
- 58%, All Other Religion
- 68%, Non-Active Other religion
- 45%, Active Other Religion
No Religious Affiliation
- 80%, No Religious Affiliation
All Respondents: 68%
Note: The categories are coded a little differently here than in posts using GSS data. Evangelicals and mainline Protestants are combined. Black Protestant here means black and protestant rather than attending a black protestant denomination, as in the GSS data. Again "active" indicates weekly service attendance.
Again, there seems to be a religious effect, with religious people tending to be less likely to have premarital sex than those professing no religion. Also, those who attend more services are less likely to have premarital sex.
Nontheless, rates are above half for just about everyone.
Next in series: Christians and promiscious sexual behavior