red / blue premarital sex

Blues also suffer more often from a problem very difficult to quantify: confusion. If you believe pornography and cohabitation and premarital sex are wrong, then you will likely feel guilty when you misstep, but at least you know where you stand. Liberals have a hard time articulating what they in fact believe about sex, tending to fall back on a radical tolerance that does not always square well with the emotional weight of the matter. Lacking a well-defined ethical structure to understand sexual choices, blues seem to wish away the idea that such a structure might be worth having. (“It’s up to you to decide. Just use protection.”) But as Regnerus and Uecker show, sexual regret is a common phenomenon, arising even from mutual and safe hookups. Some 70 percent of young adults, in one study, think they should have waited longer to lose their virginity. And in a national college survey, nearly as many men as women—73 percent of them—regretted at least one hookup.

Reds who look back on sex they are sorry they had, the authors observe, often describe it as an aberration that does not alter their fundamental outlook; the broken rule remains in effect. But if you are a blue who does not believe in “moral rules” about sex, then a cringe-inducing sexual encounter leaves you to wonder why you are cringing. If God is dead and premarital abstinence is an antiquated idea, the source of such regret is mysterious and therefore tough to address. Regnerus and Uecker have not set out to construct a new sexual ethics, and anyone who does so in public tends to take a beating. But this book, which offers a wide-ranging guide to where we are now, could occasion some thinking about where we want to be.

via The New Republic.