"Teenagers of both genders who are sexually active are substantially less likely to be happy and more likely to be depressed than are teenagers who are not sexually active. Teenagers of both genders who are sexually active are substantially more likely to attempt suicide than are teenagers who are not sexually active."
Amazingly, it gets even worse for the standard liberal view. Apparently, there's a strong negative effect on women who have multiple sexual partners, and women are even best off if they're sexually active only within marriage.
That's really interesting. If there are problems with these studies, it would be worth knowing what they are, because this has serious implications even on the standard liberal view that sex is ok unless it's non-consensual or leads to harm.
This view is the main reason for removing taboos against homosexuality. I've been wondering how this general view is supposed to fit with the common idea that incest is unnatural and wrong (even if it's between two consenting adults), which even many people who favor gay rights legislation still believe. Many of my students have nicely demonstrated this inconsistency. I don't see how someone can admit some notion of unnaturalness (and therefore wrongness) for incest without seeing if it might also apply to homosexual sex. Some just say incest is fine, but most people don't want to say that. When Senator Rick Santorum pointed out this problem, people labeled him a gay-hater, but he was making a simple logical point.
These recent studies lead me to wonder whether there's now clear evidence (even aside from issues related to STDs, pregnancy, and abortion) that teenage sex and any old non-marital sex leads to harm. Even without the possible revisions to the liberal view (having to do with unnaturalness and incest), it seems the standard liberal view has reasons to oppose teenage sexual activity because of the significant chance of harm.
Many conservatives have basically given up on meeting liberals on their own terms in the so-called culture war over these issues, figuring that the current assumptions of the liberal mindset give no possibility of defending anything close to the conservative attitudes about sex, but that just seems to me to be wrong. See my class handout on sexual morality for some discussion and evaluation of different attempts at this line of reasoning, particularly the stuff about Vincent Punzo's existential integrity argument. These studies confirm the general direction of my earlier thoughts. None of this requires any religious or scriptural assumption.