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Undoubtedly, that is a difficult code to live by, and lew try to. But living by a lesser code can be difficult too, as is shown by tne almost frantic attempt of sociologists and psychologists to give people something to hold on to without falling back on traditional rules. Typical of many is the effort of Lester A. Kirkendall of Oregon State University, in his recent book, Premarital Intercourse and Interpersonal Relationships: "The moral decision will be the one which works toward the creation of trust, confidence and integrity in relationships." What such well-intentioned but tautologous and empty advice may mean in practice is suggested by one earnest teacher who praises the Kirkendall code: "Now I have an answer. I just tell the girls and boys that they have to consider both sides of the questionwill sexual intercourse strengthen or weaken their relationship?"
The "relationship" ethic is well expressed by Miami Psychologist Granville Fisher, who speaks for countless colleagues when he says: "Sex is not a moral question. For answers you don't turn to a body of absolutes. The criterion should not be, 'Is it morally right or wrong,' but, 'Is it socially feasible, is it personally healthy and rewarding, will it enrich human life?' " Dr. Fisher adds, correctly, that many Protestant churchmen are beginning to feel the same way. "They are no longer shaking their finger because the boys and girls give in to natural biological urges and experiment a bit. They don't say, 'Stop, you're wrong,' but, 'Is it meaningful?' "
Methodist Bishop Kennedy condemns premarital sex "in general" but adds, "I wouldn't stand in judgment. There would be exceptions." Recently, Wally Toevs, Presbyterian pastor at the University of Colorado, more or less condoned premarital sex when there is a "covenant of intimacy." A distinguished Protestant theologian privately recommendshe doesn't believe the U.S. is ready for him to say it publiclythe idea of a trial affair for some people, a "little marriage" in preparation for the "great marriage" which is to last.
Too Much, Too Soon. From current reports on youth, "meaningful relationships" and "covenants of intimacy" are rampant. Teen-agers put great stock in staying cool. But even discounting the blasé talk, the notion is widely accepted today, on the basis of Kinsey and a few smaller, more recent studies, that the vast majority of American men and at least half the women now have sexual intercourse before marriage. Dr. Graham B. Blaine Jr., psychiatrist to the Harvard and Radcliffe Health Service, estimates that within the past 15 years the number of college boys who had intercourse before graduation rose from 50% to 60%, the number of college girls from 25% to 40%. A Purdue sociologist estimates that one out of six .brides is pregnant.
These figures may be flawed, and they certainly do not apply to all parts of the U.S. or to all schools. But there is almost universal agreement that youngsters are pushed toward adult behavior too soon, often by ambitious mothers who want them to be "well adjusted" and popular; hence champagne parties for teenagers, padded brassieres for