A new study is likely to surprise evangelical Christians, who are typically more-than-vocal about the necessity that adherents wait until they're married to engage in sexual intercourse. The study, from the American Sociological Review, found that Muslims and Hindus in the developing world are more likely than their Christian and Jewish counterparts to hold off on engaging in pre-marital sex.
"All major world religions discourage sex outside of marriage, but they are not all equally effective in shaping behavior," Adamczyk told Religion News Service (RNS).
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The conclusion reached in the study came from an analysis of Demographic and Health Surveys (funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development). The data included was collected from 31 developing countries between the years of 2000 and 2008. Considering the focus of the study, the data used for the purpose of this study, which was led by Amy Adamczyk and doctoral student Brittany E. Hayes at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, was based upon marital status and sexual activity.
RNS has more about the social science exploration, entitled, "Understanding the Influence of Islamic Cultures and Religious Affiliation for Explaining Sex Outside of Marriage," and its findings:
The authors hypothesized that the larger the proportion of Muslims and Hindus in a country, the lower the rates of premarital and extramarital sex.
Adamczyk and Hayes found that 94 percent of Jews in the nations they studied reported having premarital sex, compared to 79 percent of Christians, 65 percent of Buddhists, 43 percent of Muslims and 19 percent of Hindus.
As for extramarital sex, 4 percent of Jews reported having sex outside of marriage, compared to 3 percent of Christians. Less than one percent each of Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists reported having extramarital sex.
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While some might attribute these results to theology, there are actually cultural differences that may lead Muslims, in particular, to more readily avoid pre-marital intercourse. In many Islamic nations men and women have limited interaction -- something that generally leads to fewer opportunities for romantic involvement.
"The burqa really works," the Rev. Paul Sullins, a sociologist at the Catholic University of America, told RNS. "When you cover your women head to toe with cloth to keep them from being viewed by men outside their family, and you keep them strictly segregated from men throughout their growing years until they get married, you’re going to have less premarital sex."
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(H/T: Religion News Service)