Political organization appears to be among the most important factors affecting formal (legal) sanctions for nonmarital coitus. The correlations between prescribed capital punishment and nonmarital coitus in one type of nation are explored cross-culturally. They suggest that there is no single attitude toward sexuality per se in these societies; instead the rules governing each type of nonmarital relationship are outgrowths of different relationships between controlling political bodies and local boundary systems. These processes are observable diachronically and sync/ironically; they suggest a reinterpretation of the Protestant ethic, that it is a politically stimulated value system. The data also suggest that rules governing nonmarital coitus need not conform to motivational patterns.