Ross Douthat has a long and eloquent blog post regarding sexual and family moralism. Essentially his assertion is one that I made years ago in my columns for teenagers: promiscuous sexuality may be harmless for cultural elites in Hollywood and elsewhere, but it is devastating to the lives of the poor and the less-educated. Ironically, divorce and single parenting are rare among the well educated and rich–ironically because as a class they are shocked, shocked that anybody still holds to old-fashioned moralisms. But divorce and single parenting have utterly devastated the poor and lower-middle classes. And surely those well-insulated cultural elites bear some responsibility.
Of course, it’s more than sexuality and marriage. There are other important causes of devastation: the imprisoning of young men in huge numbers, the loss of industrial jobs, the failure of schools, the insane cost of health care, the epidemic of drug use. But since all the data I’ve seen show a very tight linkage between marriage and success, and an even tighter linkage between divorce and single parenting and disaster, there’s plenty of reason for people who genuinely care about the poor to take seriously divorce and single parenting and all the sexual scripts that lead up to them.