Monday, February 11, 2008

Superbad – Why is it really so bad?

[still from the film “Superbad” released 8/17/2007]

The movie “Superbad” is a movie about three average American 17 year old boys and their first attempts to have sex. The movie is a comedy and it fairly realistically portrays a stage which most American boys today go through, with some unlikely but very funny situations added in to make the movie more entertaining.

The truth is, this movie is not much different from what ultra-Orthodox boys go through as well and at about the same age. (Many Hassidic boys marry at 18.) There is a lot of nervousness, embarrassment, excitement and misunderstanding. The movie felt strangely familiar in some ways. People are people, whether in secular New City or neighboring Hassidic New Square.

There is however something bad about Superbad.

What about the children?

Sex produces children. Children are people. They are the next generation and represent the future of mankind. This should be a paramount issue.

In an Orthodox setting, before the couple meets, references are checked to try to make sure that the couple is compatible for a long-term relationship. After meeting, the couple doesn’t touch each other until after a public commitment has been made – the wedding ceremony. Divorce is permitted in Judaism, but strongly discouraged except in cases of wife beating or adultery. When they do have sex, any children conceived will have a father and mother to care for them until maturity.

Let’s compare that to Superbad.

Other than some fumbling around for a condom, the issue of children is never considered. The selfishness and cruelty implied is staggering.

What will happen to children conceived in these situations?

Let’s check the statistics. About six million women become pregnant every year in the US. About 1.2 million fetuses are aborted. Another 800,000 are miscarried or still born. Therefore about four million are born alive. Of those born alive, about 40% will be born to an unmarried woman. Interestingly, this percentage has been rising for decades in spite of the availability of birth control. Birth control may at best decrease the likelihood of pregnancy, however sexually active women still get pregnant.(For more details on the effectiveness of birth control, see Knocked Up, by the same producer as Superbad.)

In any case, out of about 6 million babies conceived every year in the US, about 2.4 million will be born alive to a married woman. What about the future of those lucky 2.4 million? Seemingly, each one has about a 50% chance of seeing those parents still married when he finishes high school. And divorce has catastrophic effects on the children involved. “The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: The 25 Year Landmark Study” by Judith S. Wallerstein explains in great detail the emotional problems and mental anguish suffered by children who grow up in divorced homes. The father often disappears or provides the children with minimal emotional and financial support while he goes on to establish a new family. The mother is busy working and seeking a new mate. The children are basically abandoned; the unwanted products of a relationship which failed. The younger they are, the more they are affected. Their pain is translated into anger and sadness, which may lead to self-destructive behavior for decades afterwards and also poor choices in their own relationships.

Studies have shown that children living in single parent families are far more likely to suffer from many social and economic problems compared to children in intact families.

So perhaps one in five people conceived today in America will be raised to maturity by two married biological parents. Interestingly, this about equals the percentage of Americans who attend church services weekly.

The picture, which seems to emerge is that, if you are an American embryo, you should pray that your parents belong to one of the remaining, small religious communities. Otherwise, you’re goose is probably cooked. You will almost certainly be killed, abandoned, badly neglected or abused. And that’s superbad.


natschuster said...

I've seen promising students destroy their academic careers and any chance at a good future by getting themselves pregnant. MY school has abig day care center on site to accomodate the children of the students. Very sad.

badrabbi said...

I will not dispute the thrust of your argument, as I am not certain that what you are saying is actually wrong. There may be some merit in what you are saying, namely that a nuclear family consisting of a mother and father is in a better position to support children than a fractured family. Additionally, I agree that premarital abstinance is not encouraged in a secular society, which is a mistake.

I do take exception to your statisitcs, though. You state the following 2 points:

1. "One in five people conceived today in America will be raised to maturity by two married biological parents."

2. "Interestingly, this about equals the percentage of Americans who attend church services weekly."

By juxtaposing the two statistics together, you give the impression that the 20% of church going people are the same 20% who have children born to married couples. Said another way, you seem to be saying that 100% of people who regularly attend churches have babies who are born to married couples. That is an absurd claim that you are making.

The fact is that there are believers who go to church who get divorced and who have children out of wedlock.

Furthermore, in the same article you cited, it mentions that the percentage of people in England who regularly attend church is 10%. In Sweden, the percentage is 4%. Have you checked whether it is true that single parenthood approaches 90% in England, and 96% in Sweden?

jewish philosopher said...

Bad, that's a good point. I don't know if any thorough studies have been done about the percentage of children aborted or raised in broken homes among religiously non-observant people compared to the percentage among religiously highly observant people. I can only judge from what I see in my area (Rockland County, New York) that there would seem to be a high correlation between abortion, divorce and lack of visible religious observance. And the fact that the number of children in the US born alive and raised in intact families about equals the number of regular church goers does seem to imply this.

James F. Elliott said...

You are a bad, bad man. You make statistics, logic, and argumentation cry. Not only do you violate "correlation doesn't prove causation," you totally fail to make even a decent case for correlation.

Divorce is permitted in Judaism, but strongly discouraged except in cases of wife beating or adultery.

And if the man refuses to have sex with his wife. You forgot one.

jewish philosopher said...

JFE, first of all, please remember that on this blog flattery will get you nowhere.

However, my point is as a follows: Secular people seem to do a very poor job of reproducing. They are too selfish to be interested in children. If they do have a child, they usually either kill it before it's born or abandon it afterwards. That is a major flaw in the secular community as compared to the Orthodox Jewish community.

I stand by that.

Anonymous said...

hey I just found your blog. strong points you raise.

James F. Elliott said...

Secular people seem to do a very poor job of reproducing.

Which is flatly contradicted by your own assertion that religious communities, such as your own, are "small" and "dwindling."

But then, you're not a philosopher. You're not interested in obtaining knowledge. You're a True Believer, and they are interested only in confirmation.

jewish philosopher said...

Where did I say "dwindling"?

MikeTwo said...

"And divorce has catastrophic effects on the children involved."

I agree. Isn't it great then that atheists have the lowest rate of divorce in the country, and Jews almost the highest? :)

jewish philosopher said...

The rate I see in the modern Orthodox community is about 3%, which I think is reasonable. After all, sometimes people make a mistake.

natschuster said...


I've read studies that show that religious people have more stable marriages, so I guess it depends who is doing the study.

Also we have to take into consideration the Atheist who hav unhappy marriages, who cheat, etc, and don't bother with a formal divorce.

RaspK said...

Since you fell back on statistics (and used them as erroneously as is possible), here's a real stufy for you. Here's the end note:

"Belief in God may provide comfort to the individual believer, but, at the societal level, its results do not compare at all favorably with that of the more secular societies. When seeking a more civil, just, safe, humane, and healthy society, one is more likely to find it among those nations ranking low in religious faith-contrary to the preaching of religious folks."

jewish philosopher said...

I know all about that.

The Scandinavian nations prove that atheism is great. Have you checked their suicide rates?

Have you compared their crime rates to let's say Utah which has over 50% rate of church attendance?

Have you noticed that all Scandinavian countries have a state church, celebrate religious holidays publicly and therefore are probably in their way more religious than the US?

natschuster said...


The study you linked doesn't primarly discuss behavior. It discusses things like wealth and health. There are other factors that come into play that influence a nations prosperity, such as natural resources.