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From Procreation to Recreation

Human beings have been walking the earth for more than 6,000 years, and as surprising as this may sound to some people, we’ve been having sex for just as long. The idea that sex is wrong, or dirty, or evil is a preposterous notion. Sex is good. It’s pleasurable; it’s inspiring; it’s a decent form of cardiovascular exercise; and if you leave out the whipped cream, it’ll help you lose weight. In a word, sex is awesome!

Given its lengthy and pervasive existence, it shouldn’t be surprising to hear that sex has served a multitude of roles and functions in society. It also shouldn’t be surprising to hear that like every good thing, sex has been misused and abused. Yet, despite its storied history, there is one aspect of sex that has hovered over humanity’s collective conscious—the potential of creating new life. The possibility of pregnancy has consistently given sex a weightiness, a sense of significance, that has transcended the act above merely being a means of experiencing physical ecstasy.

That weightiness, however, began to lift in 1960 when the FDA approved The Pill for contraception. For the first time in 6,000+ years, women were gaining power over pregnancy; and as research and technology improved, so did The Pill’s safety and use, giving birth to a sexual revolution. Today, the evolution from procreation to recreation is complete. As a society we embrace the concept of casual sex and “friends with benefits.” We believe that sex is a recreational activity that we can explore and enjoy with no commitment, with no strings attached, because it’s “just sex.”

Or can we?

Friends with Benefits

In researching the subject of sex and how we view sex, I watched a Hollywood movie this week titled, Friends with Benefits. I’m happy and somewhat sad to report that this film offers a more honest, accurate, and relevant commentary on sex in the 21st century than any sermon or biblical teaching I’ve ever heard on the subject.

In the movie, the two main characters—Jamie and Dylan—decide to add sex to their friendship, thinking that it won’t complicate their relationship. Throughout the film they consistently reassure each other, and themselves, that it’s not a big deal, that it’s “just sex.” But it becomes obvious to everyone around them, and eventually to the two of them as well, that being “friends with benefits” just doesn’t work, and in the end, Jamie and Dylan end up together.

In Friends with Benefits, Hollywood portrays casual sex as a naïve and childish impossibility. Why would Hollywood—you know, the bastion of liberalism and debauchery—do such a thing?

Because everyone who has ever had sex and is not detached from their emotions knows that there’s no such thing as casual sex. Sex is never “just sex.” Call it emotional, mystical, or spiritual—I don’t care—the reality is that you form an intimate bond with every person with whom you’ve ever had sex, and every time you climb into bed with someone new, you bring all those other people with you because you can’t control the thoughts, feelings, and memories that come rushing back. You can’t. They are there with you, forever.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a fan of sex, a big fan. And I’m a fan of The Pill—I very much enjoy having recreational sex with my wife. However, I wish when I was 15-years-old somebody would have sat me down and told me their story, explaining how there’s no such thing as casual sex. And today, in addressing sex outside of marriage, I wish the Church had something more to say then, “Don’t do it” and “stop it.” I wish the Church would offer a relevant, biblical message about what sex is and what it is not.

That’s what I’ll try to do next time in a piece titled, The Two Become One Flesh.

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  1. Leon,

    One aspect that is often overlooked in the conversation is the true spiritual significance of the body. We are saved with our body, not apart from it. That’s exactly why the Orthodox Church forbids cremation (the willful destruction of the body). We live in a society where the acts of the body are considered merely “physical” and without consequence and in this way they are completely divorced from the divine. That is nothing short of an undoing of the incarnation of Jesus Christ.

    Thanks for the message. I’m looking forward to your next piece.

    • James, thanks for your thoughts. Based on your comments, I think you’ll enjoy the next post, and please add your thoughts to it as I’m sure your Orthodox views will add color that my commentary on “the two becoming one flesh” will lack.

  2. Steve Marsh says:

    thanks for sharing Leon.


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