5.19.2010

It's Only Sex, Right?

The Horizontal Mambo. The Booty Call. The Denver OmeLET (a la Chocolate News). Casual sex. It has many nicknames, some a bit funnier than others, but it does occur, even among Christians. …I’ll wait for your gasps of disbelief.

I know what you might be thinking. What is De-Andrea going to say now? The answer: a lot. I generally like to work with vignettes to illustrate my ideas, so let’s start there.

Let’s bring back Jan and Jim. They just met each other at a Christian conference and are seriously digging each other. Jim is from Chicago and Jan is from Atlanta. They’ve already exchanged email addresses and have vowed to stay connected because of the friendship spurred by their common beliefs. Since it’s the last evening of the conference, they decide to spend time together and end up talking into the wee hours of the morning. They’re feeling each other and Jim kisses Jan. She kisses back because, after all, he is her dream guy: Christian, grounded, good-looking, and available. However, a kiss progresses to a touch which progresses to even more touching and next thing they know, pants are on the ground and they’re studying Song of Solomon instead of Proverbs. …You get the point. So they did it; they had sex and the next day, they return to their separate cities intending to stay connected, especially since they’re now friends on Facebook. And it was only sex, right?

No, not exactly. Let’s start by looking at it biologically. Intercourse is designed for reproduction, for the most part. (The only purpose of a woman’s clitoris is pleasure, but that’s a whole other blog.) Anyway, women are designed to receive: we receive a man’s sperm that makes the miraculous journey of travelling through the fallopian tubes and uniting with one of our eggs to create new life. Additionally, both women and men produce chemicals in their brains during sexual contact. Dr. Laura Berman further explains:

When girl meets boy (or, in our case, Jan meets Jim), the brain releases a chemical love cocktail: Dopamine produces feelings of bliss, norepinephrine makes the heart race, and we are driven to want sex. Then, during sex, the brain triggers the release of oxytocin—the warm fuzzy of the hormone world—which leaves us wanting to bond with the person we’ve just done the horizontal mambo with. These are primitive urges that have helped ensure the survival of our species.

The problem is that oxytocin may have a more powerful effect on women, at least initially. The theory is that testosterone (which men have more of) turns off oxytocin, making women more sensitive to oxytocin’s effects. So although you may intellectually and even emotionally approach sex with a no-strings-attached attitude, these primal brain circuits may override the decision.

Of course brain chemistry cannot explain everything and there are times when recreational sex is just that—recreation. However, as anthropologist Helen Fisher puts it, be careful about having sex with people you don’t want to fall in love with—because you may end up doing just that!

Taken from Dr. Laura Berman’s Passion Files, 12/3/09

As explained by Dr. Berman, our bodies are engineered to bond while having intercourse. Additionally, oxytocin is also released in women’s brains during childbirth to facilitate mother-child bonding. The cards are indeed stacked against women in treating sex as casual encounters. However, there is an even deeper level of transfer that occurs.

Genesis 2:24 explains that when a man leaves his father and mother to unite with his wife, the two become one flesh. I think of this process kind of like how paper is made. There are several different ingredients that form to make paper, such as wood and water. However, if you try to extract wood or water from a sheet of paper, you’d be unable to do so because they’ve formed to make one product. You can cut a sheet of paper into different shapes or sizes, but you can’t squeeze water from it. And so it is when a man and woman become one flesh. When a man unites with a woman physically, they’re united spiritually, even if the intent was to have a casual fling. So how can we separate our spirits from those we didn’t plan to become tied to? It can be like tearing a sheet of paper in half….

Well, you know the story. Jan goes back to Atlanta and is still thinking about Jim while he’s in Chicago. It’s a possibility that the soul tie created could be pulling them together. However, they prematurely entered into a covenant to which neither of them was committed. Sure they’ll probably never see each other again aside from updated status messages on Facebook, but both will have to work extremely hard when they plan to marry others. They’ll have to work to untie themselves from each other so they can enter into the ministry of marriage with other partners.

So let’s revisit the question: is it just sex? No, it’s not. Sure, some people will continue to have casual flings, but it’s important that you understand all that’s at stake: your physical and spiritual health. Make wise decisions y’all.

3 comments:

  1. Very good post!

    I suspect you would LOVE reading about the Theology of the Body, as developed by the late Pope John Paul II. TOB is scripturally based.

    Your thinking suggests a real spiritual and intellectual compatibility with his writings on the Gift.

    I also guess your faith tradition is not Catholic but no matter. More and more non-Catholic Christians are discovering TOB and the mighty weapon it offers all Christians to take back the culture.

    Check out this blog by an Evangelical theologian and Baptist seminary professor who is all over TOB. He gets it and he's not Catholic. TOB is truly a gift to the Christian church universal.

    Here's a link to the page for all his TOB-related posts (14 to date):

    http://politicsofthecrossresurrected.blogspot.com/search/label/Theology%20of%20the%20Body

    The Faith needs young women like you who have not given up your birthright - your gift of yearning for relationship - that must be re-awakened so the rest of us (men, and other "sleeping" women) can throw off the shackles of slavery to sexual idolatry. John Paul teaches that sex in marriage is an icon (that which points to something greater) of the Marriage of the Lamb, when Christ marries His bride, the Church (all of us) in Heaven.

    When we do otherwise (as you so effectively described above) we turn it into an idol. When we choose sexual gratification with various personS and in situations of our own choosing to gratify our desires we are indulging in the "fast food" offered by this world that can never fulfill us - not truly; not in a lasting manner. We stay hungry, and unsatisfied.

    Idolatry NEVER truly satisfies.

    OTOH, when we follow His way and reserve sex to marriage with one with whom we become one flesh then we live out our lives as icons to others, pointing the way for them to share in the heavenly Banquet that truly satisfies - the Marriage of the Lamb.

    Look, if you find this interesting I can send you more when you're ready.

    Best Wishes, and keep up the good work.

    Phil
    bleusmon@comcast.net

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  2. Thank you so much for your comment! You're right, I'm not Catholic, but I minored in Theology at Saint Louis University (Jesuit) and did read some of Pope John Paul II's writings in a few classes. I am definitely interested in getting more information about Theology of the Body and wil check out the webiste. Thanks again for your comment and any info you'd like to share, I'd glady listen...well, read. :)

    Be blessed! :)

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