religiosity, chastity, sex, young adult, virtue


The purpose of the present study was to present theological, philosophical, and psychological arguments for chastity as a virtue, and then test an empirical model linking religiosity to outcomes by way of values about chastity. Specifically, we tested a mediation model linking religiosity to outcomes via chastity values (beliefs about the importance of waiting until marriage to have sex and importance of sex within marriage as a bonding experience). This model was tested with a sample of single young adults (4,188) and a sample of married adults (2,531). Among single young adults, religiosity positively predicted abstinence beliefs, and abstinence beliefs negatively predicted unhappiness, risk taking, and risky sex. Among married adults, religiosity positively predicted both chastity values (i.e., importance of waiting until marriage to have sex and importance of sex within marriage as a bonding experience), while, in turn, both chastity values were positively linked to sexual frequency and sexual satisfaction, but only belief in marital sex as bonding was positively related to sexual satisfaction. Differences across religious affiliation were also discussed (comparing Catholics, Protestants, Latter-Day Saints, and those with no religious affiliation). We conclude that one way religious communities may promote chastity and positive psychosocial functioning is by teaching chastity values and providing structures to motivate and enable people to live consistently with them.

Original Publication Citation

Hardy, S., & Willoughby, B. J. (2017). Religiosity and chastity among single young adults and married adults. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 9, 285-295.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Psychology of Religion and Spirituality




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor