That the "hookup"—a random sexual encounter often fueled by drunkenness—is the dominant way of relating to the opposite sex on many college campuses is no longer news. Neither is the announcement that the hookup culture has negative repercussions for its participants. Its pervasiveness has gotten the attention of sociologists, feminists, parents, and even novelist Tom Wolfe.

What may be a promising twist to the story of the American university's fall from grace was covered in a recent New York Times Magazine article, "Students of Virginity." There's a growing number of brave students banding together to both resist the hookup culture and to promote sexual abstinence before marriage—and not mainly for religious reasons.

Virginity clubs like Harvard's True Love Revolution (TLR) and Princeton's Anscombe Society instead ground their arguments in philosophical ethics and scientific studies that show the harmful consequences of recreational sex. The list of things undesirable and therefore avoided is long: diseases, unplanned pregnancies, rape, feelings of regret and alienation, and in some cases, higher divorce rates and maternal poverty. Overall, argues TLR, casual sex leads to "personal unhappiness and social harm," while premarital abstinence ensures better health, better relationships, and "better sex in your future marriage."

The rise of the rebel virgins signals a move in the right direction for students' identity, and Christians should acknowledge this move as a sign of common grace. We see in their work how rational argument (guided by the voice of conscience) can help a sexually confused culture recognize that sex is much more than skin on skin. It can damage body and mind when done cavalierly. And it threatens ...

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June 2008

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