Poll: Majority of Americans Say Premarital Sex Morally Acceptable

(RNS) May 30 -- Sixty percent of Americans say premarital sex is morallyacceptable, a Gallup poll shows.

The Princeton, N.J.-based Gallup Organization has tracked Americans'views on premarital sex for decades and found that fewer have frowned onthe practice over the years. In 1969, two-thirds of Americans saidpremarital sex was wrong and 21 percent said it was acceptable. By theearly 1970s, just 47 percent were critical of sex before marriage.

In 1985, a majority of Americans -- 52 percent -- said premaritalsex was acceptable. Now, 60 percent say the practice is acceptable and38 percent say it is wrong.

When Gallup pollsters specifically asked if sex between an unmarriedman and woman is morally acceptable or morally wrong, 53 percent ofthose surveyed said it is acceptable and 42 percent said it was wrong.

Researchers found that Americans' views on the topic depended ontheir age. Sixty-seven percent of young adults find premarital sex to bemorally acceptable, 60 percent of those ages 30-49 agree, but only 46percent of those aged 50-64 and 28 percent of those 65 and older say thepractice is acceptable.

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Fifty-two percent of Americans consider "living together" to bemorally acceptable while 41 percent consider unmarried couples livingtogether to be "living in sin." Three percent think it depends on thesituation and 2 percent do not consider it to be a moral issue.

Asked if is morally wrong for an unmarried couple to have a baby, 40percent said it was, 57 percent said it was not and 3 percent had noopinion.

Pollsters also found that 59 percent of Americans believe divorce ismorally acceptable, 28 percent think it is unacceptable and 12 percentsaid it depends on the situation.

The survey was based on a random national sample of 1,012 adults whowere interviewed by telephone May 10-14. It has a margin of error ofplus or minus 3 percentage points.

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Adelle M. Banks
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