Sex, Opinions and Norms

Sex, Opinions and Norms

by Rubel Shelly

Published in LoveLines (Oct. 19, 1994)

The Latest Sex Survey

There seems to be a new sex survey about every three days in America. Sex has become something of a national preoccupation, and some of us have suspected that the survey technique has become a method with an agenda for some reporting groups.

Support for the "agenda" theory traces back to Margaret Meadís documented misuse of social science data from her research among tribes in Samoa. She set aside facts in favor of using her platform to argue for promiscuity without guilt. Might other researchers have been guilty of similar things? It is possible that the Kinsey Report was flawed by its anecdotal nature? Could Masters and Johnson have promoted as well as reported some deviant behaviors?

Now comes a new, rigorously scientific, and carefully monitored survey from the University of Chicagoís National Opinion Research Center. Based on a 210-page questionnaire that was answered by 3,432 people from a wide spectrum of American society, it says some pretty conservative things about sex in our culture.

94% of married people were faithful to their mates during the past year. (So much for the myth of infidelity as the "norm" for married people.)

Married persons report the greatest "pleasure" and "emotional satisfaction" in their sex lives. (So much for the myth of sex without commitment as a satisfying lifestyle.)

Just 2.8% of males and 1.4% of females consider themselves to be homosexual or bisexual. (So much for the widely claimed figure of 10% of the population being gay.)

To be sure, the survey does not reveal a culture that embraces a biblical ethic of sexual conduct. And there are some very disturbing facts that have emerged from it.

22% of women have been forced to have sex with someone. (Abuse of and disrespect for women is still widespread.)

Only about 30% of Americans say their religious beliefs guide their sexual behavior. (If religious beliefs donít affect oneís life, of what value are they?)

Only about 30% believe that premarital and extramarital sex are always wrong. (It likely isnít accidental that this percentage corresponds to the one immediately above.)

It is important for Christians to remember this in reflecting on samplings of public attitudes and surveys of behavior in any area of life: Right and wrong are defined for us in the Word of God, not by polls of public opinion. Regardless of shifting cultural attitudes, Godís will on premarital chastity, marital fidelity, homosexuality, and related subjects remains fixed.

The surveys are only interesting. The Word of God is still correct.

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