Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Problem of Coed Dorms

The social experiment of Coed dorms took off in the radical 1960s and now has overtaken over 90 percent of American college campuses. However, growth in numbers doesn’t always equate with growth in the quality of our lives.

• Catholic University of America president John Garvey announced in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal Monday that he would be changing the school’s dormitories back to segregate the sleeping quarters of men and women in separate buildings.

Why has he taken this counter-cultural direction?

• A 2009 study published in the Journal of American College Health found students living in coed dorms 2.5 times more likely to binge drink than their segregated counterparts. Only 44 percent of coed dorm students said they had been chaste in the past year, compared to 63 percent in same-sex dorms, and they were more than twice as likely to have had more than three sexual partners within the same time frame.

• Garvey noted that students who engage in binge drinking were 25 times more likely to fall behind in school, and also affected negatively the lives of their sober colleagues. The effects of sexual promiscuity are also burdensome, he notes, with promiscuous women twice as likely to suffer from depression, and promiscuous men performing more poorly in their schoolwork.

Same-sex dorms send a message – “Sex should be as normal and casual as eating a Big Mac.” They also provide a convenient context for experimentation by thrusting the sexes together.

We can’t put a fox in a hen house and not expect the feathers to fly. Sociologists Anne Hendershott and Nicholas Dunn warn of serious “psychological, spiritual and physical damages” associated with sexual behavior in college.

• “Sexually transmitted diseases, unintended pregnancies and abortions—as well as a long list of psychological costs including poor self-esteem, depression and sadness—have been correlated with the emergence of the hook-up culture on campus,” the authors report in their study, “The Hook-Up Culture on Catholic Campuses.”

Sexual intercourse, as pleasurable and fulfilling as it is, should have contributed to a less stressful environment. Consequently, the findings of Hendershott and Dunn seem to be counter-intuitive. Perhaps intercourse is far more value and meaning-laden than downing a Big Mac? Perhaps it is like a new car, coming with its set of instructions for proper use and maintenance? Scripture asserts that there are dangers inherent in the misuse of sex:

Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. (1 Cor. 6:18)

The Apostle Paul explained that sexual intercourse is infused with these consequences and privileges because it was designed to reflect our ultimate and intimate relationship with our Savior:

"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." This is a profound mystery--but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (Ephes. 5:31-33)

The Biblical design for sex has a long and proven track-record. It has produced good results for two millennium, arguably producing the most advanced and stable civilization that the world has seen. It wasn’t broken, and it shouldn’t have been fixed.

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