I'm very surprised that more progressive people like you aren't talking about this. It is a huge chink in the armor of the religious right and it's fallen into our laps with little fanfare. Let's shout it from the rooftops!
The recent article by Jonathan Rauch published in the National Journal magazine ("The Leading Weekly on Politics and Policy") highlights research in the new book, "Red Families v. Blue Families: Legal Polarization and the Creation of Culture," written by two family law professors from George Washington University and the University of Missouri. What they have discovered is a monumental leap in the argument against the right's hold on the that thorn in our non-religious sides, family values.
The paradox is this: Cultural conservatives revel in condemning the loose moral values and louche lifestyles of "San Francisco liberals." But if you want to find two-parent families with stable marriages and coddled kids, your best bet is to bypass Sarah Palin country and go to Nancy Pelosi territory: the liberal, bicoastal, predominantly Democratic places that cultural conservatives love to hate.Isn't this an important piece of amunition against the junk that the "family values" crowd spreads whenever they want to silence someone about improving sex education, teaching evolution in the public schools or recognizing diversity in the community? What would they do if they learned that their side is failing the very tests they hold up to belittle the progressive crowd?
Parenthood and sexual activity are extremely important in our human development and it's unreasonable that we are allowed to forget how hard it is to resist the one that leads to the other. And if you recognize that we can physically engage in sexual activity long before we realize how important the consequence is, then you have a leg up on helping to keep parenthood from derailing adulthood. This is where Red America fails, doesn't see the folly of their dogma and hurts young people in the process.
Older parents make better parents....wiser, smarter and with better finances....everything you need to have a more stable parenting where children are involved. And Red America makes it a rule to put as many obstacles in the way of delaying parenthood. They would prefer no sex education while preventing access to abortion, which contributes to early marriages for people who lack emotional maturity and who are likely to fail under the pressures of taking care of a newborn. Not to mention the young people who miss going to college for more advanced education which could make their lives more stable and successful. It's almost as if the Religious Right is designing an outcome so their children will fail. (And perpetuate the dependency on an outmoded religious doctrine.)
Cahn and Carbone find an asymmetry. Blue norms are well adapted to the Information Age. They encourage late family formation and advanced education. They produce prosperous parents with graduate degrees, low divorce rates, and one or two over-protected children.
Red norms, on the other hand, create a quandary. They shun abortion (which is blue America's ultimate weapon against premature parenthood) and emphasize abstinence over contraception. But deferring sex in today's cultural environment, with its wide acceptance of premarital sex, is hard. Deferring sex and marriage until you get a college or graduate degree -- until age 23 or 25 or beyond -- is harder still. "Even the most devout overwhelmingly do not abstain until marriage," Cahn and Carbone write.So why isn't the mainstream and even the not-so-mainstream media talking about this? Why aren't we all hammering this point home everytime we encounter the neanderthal-like arguments that teenagers (especially the females) must be "punished" for engaging in behavior that their religion detests....while offering nothing practical to improve their chances of avoiding pregnancy?
Our society has suffered enough from this nonsense and we must stand up against these cruel and backward arguments. Let us all step into the 21st century and demand that we stop adhering to dangerous religious practices that no longer have a place in a modern society. Buy the book or better yet, send a copy to the political leaders where you live.