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Hello! If you are just joining us now, this and the next couple posts are (likely) the “final” ones in an on-going series on gender and sexuality as I review chapters in Love thy Body by Nancy Pearcey.  Some of the posts overlap and connect to each other, so you may want to take a glance at previous ones. If I don’t cover something you deem important, there is a chance I did in another post. See this category of posts HERE. 

** Adding this note due to some comments in other places. This post covers one chapter in a book, so I suggest it would be a good idea to read the entire chapter and optimally the entire book to get the greater argument and context. I highlight key points and cannot provide every clarification, nuance, explanation, and defense. Also, there has indeed been people who “hookup” for much of history but this considers the modern and recent phenomena of “hookup culture” that is much broader and widespread. **

This post will focus on chapter 4 of Love thy Body by Nancy Pearcey. The chapter title is “Schizoid Sex, Hijacked by the Hookup Culture.” It is difficult to halt the sexualizing of modern culture because “it is a complete ideology, a vision of redemption. To stand against it we cannot simply express moral disapproval. A person’s morality is always derivative. It stems from his or her worldview. To be effective, we have to engage the underlying worldview.” (page 136)

As focused on last post, Christianity has an astonishingly high view of the body. Why is this astonishing? Because it is counter-cultural, both in ancient times and in our modern day. “From the beginning, Christianity was not traditional; it was radically counter-cultural.” (page 143)

While some Christians sadly don’t know it (a sad testament to the lack of teaching in churches and personal study) Christianity teaches that our soul and body are complementary, forming an integrated psycho-physical unit. Our soul or spirit is not the real us. Our integrated soul/body person is the real us.

The Scripture teaches that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and our bodies have the dignity of being members of the body of Christ (1 Cor. 6).  Pearcey states: “Christians need to shake themselves free of the lethargy that settles in after hearing these phrases for years…In their original historical context, these verses were astonishing. In the ancient world, virtually all the major ‘isms’…taught a low view of the material world. In these philosophies, salvation was conceived as a complete break between matter and spirit.” (page 144)

I hope you sense where this is going. Unlike ancient teaching and the modern secular sexual ideology, Christianity teaches that what we do with our body matters and it affects our souls. We cannot disconnect the two (body and soul), even if we try. An “anything goes” view of the body and our sexuality robs our sexual lives of depth and significance. People need to hear a biblical ethic, framed in positive terms, that reintegrates body and person.

Pearcey points out: “The irony is that science is constantly uncovering new evidence of the profound connection between body and person. Pick up any recent book on sexuality and you will read about the role played by hormones such as oxytocin [women] and vasopressin [men]. Even if you think you are having a no-strings-attached hookup, you are in reality creating a chemical bond – whether you mean to or not.” (page 127)  These hormones have an emotional affect and contribute to our attaching to and trusting our sex partner.

While the apostle Paul did not know this science, it seems this could be a reason why God through the Holy Spirit directed Paul to write “whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body” (1 Cor. 6:18). Sex involves our bodies all the way down to our biochemistry. It is like we were designed to bond.

So imagine when sexual encounters are deemed to be physical only. That is the essence of hookup culture; the body is disconnected from your soul. Perhaps this is a good moment to clarify what hookup culture is. A hookup can be any level of sexual involvement, but you are not to become emotionally attached. There is to be no relationship or commitment. You are suppose to walk away as though the sexual encounter never happened.

But humans can’t help functioning as a body-soul unit, as the biblical worldview says we are. Humans can’t thrive on casual, meaningless sexual encounters. Pearcey interacts with various doctors, psychiatrists, professors, and a sex therapist. One states:

“It is no coincidence that the top two prescribed drugs at our state university’s health center are anti-depressants and the birth-control pill.”  (page 129)

Pearcey tells about a sex therapist that teaches PSD (pre-sex discussion) and that relationships are more fulfilling when a couple talks and gets to know each other first. A bit sarcastically, Pearcey responds with “Who would have guessed?” Indeed, as Pearcey further responds: How did so many Westerners lose sight of such a commonsense truth? (page 129-130)

Again, it all comes down to a worldview that has infiltrated our culture. Sex is cut off from the whole person, viewed more like an exchange of physical services for pleasure between individuals. But “no matter what the current secular philosophy tells them, people cannot disassociate their emotions from what they do with their bodies.” (page 28)

Well, I think you get the idea! Pearcey is not an alarmist but simply faces the reality of our culture and the consequences of it. I say that to end with a quote that could sound alarmist, but within the context of her book, I don’t think it is:

The hookup culture is unraveling the social fabric. It produces isolated, alienated adults who come together temporarily for physiological release. By repeatedly breaking up (or never connecting in the first place), many people fail to learn how to form the strong, resilient bonds needed to create happy, fulfilling, long term marriages and families.” (page 128)

Next post in this series is HERE.

People aren’t reading blogs like they used to, so I appreciate that you spent time here. To share this post, see the buttons below. To subscribe, see options in the right column.

⇒ Note that much of this post is me paraphrasing or summarizing the thoughts of Nancy Pearcey, and I quoted the book directly when my thoughts were getting to close to hers.