Since 1848, it has been illegal in the state of Mississippi to have sex outside of the confines of marriage. It’s also illegal in Mississippi to have more than one child out of wedlock.
Thousands of people are probably out of compliance with Mississippi laws governing the sexual behavior of its citizens, WAPT reports. In an investigative story it published on Friday, WAPT interviews lawyers, religious figures, and residents of the state of Mississippi to ask how they feel about the state’s so-called “love laws.”
Many people WAPT spoke with didn’t express worry that the long arm of the law would come down on them for failing to adhere to prescribed forms of acceptable sexual behavior.
Mark Chinn, a divorce lawyer WAPT interviewed for its story, concedes that, “Living with someone and engaging in habitual intercourse is, in fact, a crime in Mississippi today as the law is written on the books.”
But Chinn points out to reporters that, from a purely legal standpoint, it would be a challenge to prosecute every single person in the state of Mississippi who had sex with someone they weren’t married to.
Matt Friedeman, a Professor at the Wesley Biblical Seminary, meanwhile, has the following to say about Mississippi’s love laws: “If you want to live by the Christian world view, no, you can’t do these things. You shouldn’t be doing these things,” Friedeman tells reporters.
And not just because of the Bible, Friedsman continues. “It’s also good social science research. There’s no question about it that the best place for a child to be raised is with a mother and a dad that love each other and are together in a home with these children.”
Furthermore, Friedeman cautions, you have to make sacrifices if you “live morally.” Friedeman does not elaborate on how prohibiting certain forms of bedroom behavior translates into supportive public policy for America’s families.
According to Mississippi law: “If any man and woman shall unlawfully cohabit, whether in adultery or fornication, they shall be fined in any sum not more than five hundred dollars each, and imprisoned in the county jail not more than six months; and it shall not be necessary, to constitute the offense, that the parties shall dwell together publicly as husband and wife, but it may be proved by circumstances which show habitual sexual intercourse.”