Friday, October 7, 2011

Sex and the Single Gal and Society

The U.S. Center for Disease Control released a report showing that sexual intercourse is decreasing among young people. What would account for this decease? Perhaps the sex-hype has run its course? On one level, this is surprising in view of the social push to sexualize even the grade-schoolers. However, there are some substantial reasons to possibly account for this turn-around.

In Premarital Sex in America: How Young People Meet, Mate, and Think about Marrying, sociologists Mark Regnerus and Jeremy Uecker write that there is a,

• Significant correlation between…monogamy and happiness—between promiscuity and depression…A young woman’s likelihood of depression rose steadily as her number of partners climbed. (Terrell Clemmons, “Saved Sex,” Salvo Magazine, #18, 42)

Writing from an entirely different perspective, thrice-married Tracy Miller comes down in the same place:

• “[C]asual sex is like recreational heroin—it doesn’t stay recreational for long…That’s due in part to this thing called oxytocin—a bonding hormone that is released when a woman a) nurses her baby and b) has an organism—that will totally mess up her causal-sex game.” It’s why you can be hooking up “with some dude who isn’t even all that great and the next thing you know, you’re totally strung out on him. And you have no idea how it happened. Oxytocin, that’s how it happened.” (42-43)

I don’t know if you can blame it all on a chemical, but the down-side of casual sex is clearly a reality. It’s similar to the downside we experience when we eat that extra bowl of chocolate ice cream. We have a vague idea of the price, but not until we finish licking out the bowl.

It is amazing that there is such a strong correspondence between what we consider moral behavior and the emotional payoffs we derive in the long run as we follow our moral impulses. Perhaps it is not amazing that there is a “Significant correlation between…monogamy and happiness—between promiscuity and depression.” The major religions have all signed on to this fact for centuries. Historians and sociologists have noted the role of monogamy in its support of civilization. In this regards, John Davis writes of the work of British Anthropologist, J.D. Unwin:

• After a comprehensive study of both Western and non-Western cultures throughout human history, Unwin concluded that the record of mankind “does not contain a single instance of a group becoming civilized unless it had been absolutely [heterosexually] monogamous, nor is there any example of a group retaining its culture after it has adopted less rigorous customs.” Unwin observed that a society’s adoption and maintenance of heterosexual monogamy as a social standard “has preceded all manifestations of social energy, whether that energy be reflected in conquest, in art and sciences, in extension of the social vision, or in the substitution of monotheism for polytheism.” (Evangelical Ethics, p. 116)

The extra bowl of ice cream might be tempting, but we have to remind ourselves that there is a price to pay. Jesus warned us to nip sexual sin in the bud of our thought life:

• "You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:27-28)

Our Lord gives us these commands out of love, because He knows what’s best for us. Long ago, He had revealed to us the overriding destructiveness of sexual sin:

• Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. (1 Cor. 6:18-20)

Sexual purity is not just a matter of does-and-don’ts; it’s also a matter of maintaining the sanctity of relationship. When we violate it, it has a way of violating us.

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