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The Cardinal Newman Society spoke to Dr. Patrick Fagan, senior director and fellow of MARRI at the Family Research Council, about the importance of cultivating the virtue of chastity on college campuses.
The study, “Mapping America 131: ‘Current Sexual Partner Has Other Sexual Partners’ by Current Religious Attendance and Marital Status,’” was conducted by Fagan along with Althea Nagai, a visiting fellow at the Family Research Council. It reported:
Those in intact marriages who worship weekly are the least likely to have a current sexual partner who has other sexual partners (.2 percent), followed by those in intact marriages who never worship (.7 percent), those in non-intact family structures or who are single who worship weekly (1.9 percent), and those in non-intact family structures or who are single who never worship (4 percent).
Ina culture that sees nothing wrong with sex outside of marriage, having multiple sexual partners and contraception, Catholic colleges should be an exception to the norm, Fagan said.
“A good culture can help couples stay chaste,” Fagan stated. “How do you relate to those who are not your spouse? And how do you relate to your spouse? Becoming an expert at those questions is a key for Christians, because our culture has lost it.”
“In the past, cultures embodied the wisdom of the generations before them,” Fagan continued. “But that culture has been destroyed, so we’re swimming in chaos. As a result, we have to rebuild the intellect. We’ve got to understand, so that the will can follow.”
Fagan suggested that Catholic colleges should teach Pope Saint John Paul II’s theology of the body, perhaps using a simplified version.
When asked about single-sex dorms on Catholic campuses, Fagan responded, “Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx are delighted with co-ed dorms… It just speeds up the coming of the communist state. It leads to a breakdown of the family; it’s a breakdown of the sexual life.”
He also believes that “presidents of Catholic colleges should be tracking and promoting the good marriages that come out of their colleges as a reason to attend that college—that’s what life’s about!” But at the same time, he said the presidents “better be taking darn good care of the sexual education [at the college].”
College is “that time of life when you’re primed for the sexual. Everything beckons—the body beckons, the mind beckons, the heart beckons.” The way that a student will choose to use his or her sexuality will have tremendous implications, Fagan said.
Fagan cited an upcoming study MARRI will publish from federal survey data that shows that if a woman has sexual relations with someone who is not her husband—prior to marriage—the rates of stability of her first marriage drops from over 90 percent to 60 percent.
“Man and woman were made to be monogamous,” Fagan stated, citing the Bible and Christian tradition.
“Some people might look at the data and think that it’s hopeless if they’ve had one or two or three sexual partners, and could give up,” Fagan related. But he said it’s important to remember the story of Our Lord’s meeting with the woman at the well who had five husbands.
“People who have tried the false god of sex are thirsting for real truth and real love like the woman at the well,” Fagan said, emphasizing the endless mercy and love of God.