Do Catholics Really Have Better Sex?

Does God help you have a better sex life? Well, according to the Family Research Council, devout, married couples have the best sex of any demographic group. The socially conservative Christian group relied on data from the University of Chicago’s last National Health and Social Life Survey, conducted in 1992, which found the most enjoyable and most requested sex occurring among married people who attended any church weekly and who had the least sexual partners. But this does not mean you should jump to clear all of your Sundays to make more room for church to improve your sex life, as there are reasons to doubt the Family Research Council’s claim.

The study done by the University of Chicago is part of a litany of papers and studies that have released statistics on the sex lives of Catholics. In 1994, Andrew Greely, a Catholic sociologist and priest, published Sex: The Catholic Experience. In his book, Greely released statistics claiming that 68% of Catholics professed to have sex at least once a week versus 56% of non-Catholics, and that 30% of Catholics had bought erotic underwear versus 20% of non-Catholics. For the Family Research Council, all of this data proves that “those who worship God weekly have the best sex.”

But let’s look at the data from the University of Chicago’s survey ourselves, starting with this graph:


According to this graph, those who attend religious functions weekly have a higher percentage of people claiming to feel loved during intercourse with their current sexual partner. The claim is that this proves that those who go to church more often have better sex. But the data shows that those who never go to church have a percentage of feeling loved that is statistically insignificant from that of those who go to church more than once a month month.

Let’s look at another graph:


According to this graph, those who are married feel more loved during intercourse than those who are single or divorced/separated. This statistic is a no-brainer: If you are happy being around your sexual partner or have a stronger relationship with him or her, you are more likely to feel loved during sex.

This goes to highlight some overarching flaws with using this survey to claim that married, devout Christians have better sex. First off, the study asked whether or not the respondents felt loved during intercourse, not about the quality of the sex or amount of pleasure they experienced. These are two radically different things. Second, the survey specifies that “with current sexual partner,” which means that naturally married individuals are bound to have advantages in the area of feeling loved and having more consistent sex. If you're single, you have to work harder to get laid. Third, the survey only draws from “households in two middle-sized metropolitan areas,” which indicates that this survey is not the most representative study. Surveying Pittsburgh and Buffalo would give you radically different results and sampling from surveying Wichita and Tallahassee.

From this data, the most you can say is that married couples feel more love during sex and those who have higher religious attendance tend to feel more loved too. And the religious link is most likely a product of those types of people tending to have more stable marriages and fewer partners in their lifetime — not because God is playing an excellent third wheel. As Patrick Fagan, a senior fellow at the Family Research Council, puts it, “those who are monogamous have the best sex they ever could — because it’s the only sex they’ll ever know.”

Expanding the sample size and representation of the survey and rewording survey questions to ask about quality of sex could one day support the Family Research Council’s claim. But as it stands now, you might want to find a better way to help get your rocks off.