In answering the question “What is sex for?” the Bible and Science are on the same page:
• Sexual intimacy expresses love (Song of Solomon).
• Sexual intimacy bonds: The Bible says that a man and woman become “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24; 1 Corinthians 6:16). Science confirms that the chemicals oxytocin and vasopressin — released in the brain during sex — create a bond between the two being sexually intimate with each other.
• Sexual intimacy creates a feeling of trust in each other.
• Sexual intimacy gives pleasure: The Bible speaks of being “intoxicated” with love (Proverbs 5:18-19; Song of Solomon). Science confirms that the neurochemical dopamine, which floods the brain during sex, creates a feeling of pleasure and a desire for more.
• Sexual intimacy is a natural desire: The Bible speaks about the need to deal with this desire (1 Corinthians 7:2), and every healthy human being can attest to the existence of this desire.
All this is very good in marriage.
But what if . . . two teenagers have sex? Does sex then express love? Consider:
• Since sexual intimacy bonds a man and a woman, if their relationship ends (as most teen relationships do) and this bond is broken, the emotional pain is real because real brain chemicals have acted on real brain cells to bond the two together. If this happens often, it can leave young people feeling dead inside, lost and hurt, wondering if they will ever be able to love well enough to maintain a relationship — or if they themselves are lovable.
• Sex with multiple partners damages our inbuilt bonding mechanism. Oxytocin’s power to bond a woman to a man is weakened. Vasopressin no longer has the same power to bond a man to a woman, or to his children.
• If you have come to trust the other person, because of the bonding through sex, there is emotional pain when that person betrays your trust. And you will find it more difficult to trust another partner in the future.
• Sex itself may lose its excitement.
“Sex without strings, relationships without rings” (one author’s description of the hook-up culture) — is this attitude toward sex working? Does this lifestyle contribute to the well-being of teens, and to healthy relationships? Does it acknowledge the inherent value of the gift of sex?
Instead of assuming that teens will make poor choices and have multiple partners, including some they hardly know, let’s ask them to strive for self-control and to make smart choices — let’s encourage them to save sex for marriage. That’s the message of the Bible and of the best scientific research.
Let’s have more faith in our teens.