A woman who has sex with multiple partners (maybe hooking up a lot if she’s at a more elite college), contracepting throughout and having at least one abortion, then cohabits, then marries in her early 30s if at all, might be a hedonist or a relativist. In my experience she’s much more likely to be trying to do everything right, finish her education and start climbing the economic ladder and make good rather than hasty choices in her men. Her mother usually supports or even pressures her in her decision to abort, and many of the decisions I’ve described are made not in the service of personal sexual liberation but as a means to preserve her relationships. A lot of the time it doesn’t work–the marriage or cohabitation she really hoped would be “the one” still breaks up–but she sees all the alternative choices as even riskier, and therefore irresponsible.

I don’t know that I have “solutions” really. You can’t solve somebody’s heart. I would suggest that explicitly naming the new rules and explaining how and why they fail may help. We need to offer a broader array of vocations, rather than capitulating to a culture which upholds marriage and motherhood as the only two paths to adulthood. (Motherhood, not fatherhood–a man can stay a boy as long as he wants, and often much, much longer than that.) Perhaps both Christians and social conservatives should focus more on beauty (here’s a suggestion directed to Christians on college campuses) and much, much less on mere statistical stability. And we need to stop acting like hedonism is our biggest problem. If only!