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Marriage and Religious Faithfulness

The well-being of the United States is strongly related to marriage,1) which is a choice about how individuals channel their sexuality. The implications of sexual choices are apparent when comparing family structures across societal measures, such as education and employment, as well as personal measures, like sexual satisfaction. Frequency of religious worship is pivotal in shaping these sexual choices. In all cases, federal government data show that the intact married family that worships God weekly produces the most profitable and sexually satisfied citizens.

Simply put:

Decisions about sexual conduct—and how this plays out in marriage and family life—shape or misshape the ability of American society to function in its major tasks.

1. Marriage Impacts the Economy

1.1 Shaping Citizens

One significant way by which marriage impacts the economy is its influence on the future workforce—its children.

According to the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth,2) American children raised in intact, married families have higher GPA’s3) than those born into non-intact families. These children are more likely to get further in their education, and to perform more diligently in school.

Average English/ Math Combined

When religion is factored in, children perform even better. This is especially true for children raised in low-income communities. According to Dr. Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas at Austin, weekly religious worship delivers educational benefits that are equivalent to moving the poorer children into middle class neighborhoods.4) Nothing in public policy yields returns like these in education.

Neighborhood Poverty and Academic On-Track Performance

Therefore, it is no surprise that children raised in intact married families that attend religious services weekly are most likely to receive A’s in school.5)

Mostly A Grades at School

Common sense and myriad social science studies indicate that the better an individual does in school, the more that individual will earn later when he/ she joins the workforce.

1.2 Contributions of Married Couples

In addition to forming productive workforce participants, married couples also play an important role in sustaining the economy. Controlling for all relevant factors, men’s productivity increases about 26 percent when they marry.6) Similarly, the most productive segment of the workforce is married men with three or more children.

Marriage Premium in Male Income

Marriage is especially necessary to fund the government. The below chart of preliminary, unpublished data by Dr. Henry Potrykus should catch the eye of every politician: Married couples contribute at least 20 percent more to the tax pool than do their non-married male and female counterparts, controlling for related factors.

Tax Contributions

1.3 Retreat from Marriage

Despite the inherent value in marriage, adults have steadily retreated from marriage over the last several decades (see red trendline in graph below).7) This decline in marriages, combined with the impact of marriage on tax contributions, means that the government has lost significant revenues from marriageable adults that remain single.

Retreat from Marriage

The role of marriage in shaping personal and societal outcomes clarifies the plight of the Black Family. Black males who forego marriage are less likely to hold a steady job, are more likely to engage in risky behavior, and are less likely to contribute society. The retreat from marriage across all four different levels of education (high school dropout; high school graduation; college education; and even professional graduate education) among black men has undermined many of the gains made by the civil rights movement under Dr. Martin Luther King.

Retreat from Marriage by Black Males

2. Chastity Impacts Marriage

Marriage trends are driven by sexual decisions—chastity and monogamy, or their opposite, polyamory. The below chart, perhaps one of the most important in the social sciences, informs all other data in research related to marriage and the family.

Men and Women in First Marriage by Number of Sexual Partners

This chart shows the status of American marriages five years into the marriage. Among both men and women who have never had any sexual partner other than their spouse (ie. they were totally monogamous), 97 percent of women and 99 percent of men were still married. For women who had one extra sexual partner (for most, before marriage) only 64 percent were still married—a drop of 33 percent, which is twice the rate of men. For those women who had two sexual partners outside of marriage, only 55 percent were still married five years down the road.

Clearly, the more sexual partners an individual has, the less he/ she is capable to sustain marriage. This is especially true for women, who experience a steeper and more significant reduction in marital security with each additional non-marital or extra-marital partner.

Given the negative impact of divorce on income, productivity, and savings, and especially on the education of children, it is clear that chastity is the foundation of an industrious society and flourishing economy.

3. Religion Impacts Chastity

Chastity is best preserved by religious worship. As shown below, frequency of religious attendance is positively correlated with the percentage of individuals who had sexual intercourse with a “pick up” in the previous year.8) Individuals who attended religious service weekly or more were far less likely to have had a pick-up sexual partner. More than seven times as many people who never attend religious worship had a one night stand than weekly church-goers.

Percentage Who Had Intercourse with a "Pick-Up" in Previous Year

Religious worship also protects American teenagers from initiating sexual intercourse at a young age. The more teens worship, the more likely they are to abstain from sex during their adolescent years. At age 17, nineteen percent fewer youth who attend church weekly are having sexual intercourse than adolescent who never attend.

Percentage of Teens Who Have Had Intercourse at Specific Age

Age at first intercourse sets the foundation for a lifetime of sexual mores. According to the National Survey of Family Growth, the earlier an adolescent initiates intercourse, the more sexual partners the adolescent will have. Children who engage in sexual intercourse at age 12 have seven times more partners that young adults who initiate intercourse at ages 21-22.

Number of Sexual Partners by Age of First Intercourse

This, in turn, impacts the proportion of out-of-wedlock births in an area. The same survey showed that girls who initiate sexual intercourse at age 12 have over three times the probability of an out-of-wedlock pregnancy as girls who first have intercourse at ages 21-22.

Age of Coitarche and Probability of Out-of-Wedlock Pregnancy

Religious worship also helps establish sexual control. Testosterone levels influence the age of first sexual intercourse for most boys; however, frequency of worship of God also significantly influences sexual initiation. As shown below, religious practice lessens the influence of high testosterone and lack of worship unleashes the influence of high testosterone. Worship of God and sexual conduct work in tandem.

Adolescent Boys Loss of Virginity

When marriage is factored in, the religious benefits are further intensified. As shown below, adolescents who were raised in intact married families that worshipped God weekly were almost six times as likely to have had only one sexual partner during their lifetime as those who were raised in a non-intact family that did not worship.9)

Percentage Who Have Had One Sexual Partner During a Lifetime

The extent to which an individual has remained chaste—the number of sexual partners he/ she has had—sets the pattern for future sexual conduct.

4. Marriage, Religion, and Chastity Impact Sexual Enjoyment

These data taken together show that adolescents raised in intact married families that worship God weekly have the most sexually fulfilling lives. As shown below, 65 percent of adults who were raised in such families report that they are “very happily married”—the highest percent compared to those in non-intact families that did not worship, intact families that did not worship, and non-intact families that did worship.10)

Percent of Married People Very Happily Married

This helps explain one of the great counterfactuals of the sexual revolution: those in intact families that worship God weekly have the most frequent sexual relations.

Frequency of Sexual Relations

Not only do people in intact marriages who attend religious services engage in frequent sexual relations, but they also enjoy the most gratifying sexual experiences. As shown below, this is the group most likely to feel satisfied,11) loved,12) wanted/ needed,13) taken care of,14) and thrilled/ excited15) during intercourse.

Positive Feelings During Intercourse

Given that marriage impacts society, chastity impacts marriage, and religion impacts chastity, it is no surprise that the intact married family that worships God weekly produces the most numerous and significant benefits. A thriving society needs a culture of chastity—joyful chastity if it is to be a happy society, repressive chastity if it is to be a repressive society, and no chastity if it is to be a dysfunctional society. Religious faithfulness is the foundation of this all. Those who worship God frequently are more likely to lead chaste lives; those who lead chaste lives are more likely to have secure and sexually satisfying marriages; and stable marriages are more likely to shape a strong, flourishing nation.

1) Henry Potrykus and Patrick Fagan, “U.S. Social Policy Dependence on the Family,” Marriage and Religion Research Institute (2013) available at
2) Patrick F. Fagan, “Religious Attendance and School Performance of U.S. High School Students,” Mapping America Project available at
3) Patrick Fagan, Kirk A. Johnson and Jonathan Butcher, “A Portrait of Family and Religion in America,” The Heritage Foundation, 2006, chart 20, based on data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.
4) Mark D. Regnerus, “Making the Grade: The Influence of Religion Upon the Academic Performance of Youth in Disadvantaged Communities,” Center for Research on Religion and Urban Civil SOciety, Report no. 3 (2001).
5) Patrick F. Fagan and Scott Talkington, “'Likely to Receive Mostly A’s' by Structure of Family of Origin and by Current Religious Attendance,” Mapping America Project available at
6) Kate Antonovics and Robert Town, “Are All the Good Men Married? Uncovering Sources of the Marital Wage Premium,” American Economic Review 9 (May 2004): 317–21.
7) Patrick F. Fagan, “The Family: Agent of Economic Development & the Fundamental Safety Net.” (Paper addressed at the United Nations Conference May 14, 2015).
8) Patrick F. Fagan and Althea Nagai, “'Had Intercourse with a “Pick-Up” in Previous Years' by Marital Status and Religious Attendance.” Available at
9) Patrick F. Fagan and Althea Nagai, “’Number of Sexual Partners in Lifetime’ by Marital Status and Religious Attendance.” Available at
10) Patrick F. Fagan and Althea Nagai, “Intergenerational Links to Marital Happiness: Religious Attendance and Family Structure.” Available at
11) Patrick F. Fagan and Althea Nagai, “‘Feels Satisfied During Intercourse with Current Sexual Partner’ by Current Religious Attendance and Marital Status.” Available at
12) Patrick F. Fagan and Althea Nagai, “’Feels Loved During Intercourse’ with Current Sexual Partner by Marital Status and Religious Attendance.” Available at
13) Patrick F. Fagan and Althea Nagai, “'Feels Wanted, Needed During Intercourse' with Current Sexual Partner by Marital Status and Religious Attendance.” Available at
14) Patrick F. Fagan and Althea Nagai, “’Feels “Taken Care of” During Intercourse with Current Sexual Partner’ by Marital Status and Religious Attendance.” Available at
15) Patrick F. Fagan and Althea Nagai, “Feels Thrilled, Excited During Intercourse with Current Partner.”