“Ahhh…” I sighed in anticipation, sinking down into the overstuffed reading chair in a tucked away corner of Barnes and Noble. Coffee in one hand, book in the other, I was mere seconds away from two hours of pure book store bliss. Then it happened.
Two tiny, over-caffeinated teenagers in even tinier shorts plopped down in the chair behind me, flipping through gossip magazines and loudly discussing their tumultuous 14-year-old love lives. “I can’t WAIT to be in love! It’s going to be amazing!!!!” The blond one giggled to her brunette friend. “Me either!” The bubbly brunette exclaimed, “I think it’s going to happen this summer. Justin is the one – my first love.” “How can you be sure?” asked her friend. “I can just tell,” she announced, with all the confidence of ignorant youth. “I’m just not sure how to get him to notice me.” The girls paused to slurp their iced coffee drinks and ponder this dilemma. “I think you should just offer him sex,” the blond counseled her friend. “Tell him its friends with benefits – that always works on TV.” Her friend laughed, “Ha ha, yeah, friends with benefits…. Until he falls for me!”
I was speechless, completely paralyzed with shock. Is this what society is reduced too? When did little girl’s stop dreaming of marriage and start planning for friends with benefits, manufactured relationships and finding someone to move in with?
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Friends with benefits, defined by The Urban Dictionary as “A safe relationship that mimics a real partnership but is void of the emotions that come with a serious relationship.” Blockbuster hits like ‘No Strings Attached,’ released in January and ‘Friends with Benefits’ out this July are a reflection of a shift in the socially acceptable norms for relationships, or rather un-relational-ships. “Emma wants a relationship without the relationship. She just wants the sex,” actress Natalie Portman said of her role in the recent movie “No Strings Attached.” A relationship without the relationship? Male/female intimacy without love, respect, communication, and commitment? Isn’t that just a girl pimping herself out for fleeting sexual gratification? Why is it that the very things feminists used to call abuse, prostitution or male dominance are now an acceptable norm because females are freely agreeing to it?
The feminist agenda did everything possible to obliterate the double standard for men and women regarding sex, employment, education, and social expectations. But my generation and those following it- girls who were bottle-fed the feminist agenda- have taken sexual liberation to a whole new extreme. Feminist author Naomi Wolf agrees, commenting to the Washington Post that “The feminist message of autonomy got filtered through a pornographized culture. The message they heard was just go for it sexually….We’ve raised a generation of young women who don’t understand sexual ethics. They don’t see sex as sacred or even very important anymore. That’s been lost. Sex has been commoditized and drained of its deeper meaning.”
Wolf argues that it’s the loss of clear feminist ideology that has resulted in such blatant sexual promiscuity in my generation of females. But the reality is that when you release sexuality from its biblical moorings, there is no anchor of moral parameters – those sexuality “set free” from God’s design will be tossed about by the whims of current, sinful, society.
These promiscuous girls are just applying the formula learned from their feminist mother’s: if something gets in the way of your personal pleasure or plans, just get rid of it. The 1960’s generation fought hard for the rights of abortion and birth control to remove the inconvenience of pregnancy. Now their daughters are doing the same thing with emotional ties in relationships. In a futile attempt to avoid the emotional baggage of their many sexual relationships, my generation has embraced the concept of emotionless casual sex.
‘Friends with benefits’ is just another desperate attempt to get back to God’s original plan for good, healthy, safe, and loving relationships, without actually having to obey God’s moral law. “The only real sex is the sex that happens in a marriage; the faux sex goes on outside marriage is not really sex at all.” ( Real Sex, by Lauren Winner). Faux sex is anything outside of God’s plan for sex. Faux sex is the human attempt to enjoy the benefits of God’s gift of sexuality without having to obey any of God’s rules regarding sexuality (Genesis 2:24-25). And you can’t do that without serious emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical consequences. In trying to eliminate the emotional baggage of multiple partners, ‘friends with benefits’ is merely treating the consequences of sin with more sin, rather than surrendering sexuality and everything else to the Savior.
Your sexuality isn’t what you do, it’s who you are. We are complex creatures with interwoven physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects – you can’t do something physical that doesn’t affect you mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Your relationship with God is directly connected to what you do with your mind, emotions and body. Your emotional health is directly connected to what you do with your body. “Satan wants to seduce you into the sin of impurity so he can destroy you emotionally. If he can get you to compromise, he can constantly condemn and accuse you, causing you to drown in shame…. affecting your relationship with God.” (Lisa Ryan in ‘For Such a Time as This’)
That’s why the Bible places such emphasis on sexual purity:
- “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Cor. 6: 18-20)
- “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.” (1 Thess. 4:3-8)
Scripture tells us that sexuality is who we are, connected to every part of our being (1 Cor. 5-7). And science is now finding this to be true: “Scientific research shows how sexual activity releases brain chemicals that trigger emotional bonding and a powerful desire to repeat the activity- like an addiction….sexual activity triggers chemical reactions in the brain that help shape how we think and feel—in fact, they help shape the very development of our brains, especially in adolescents,” (Drs. McIlhaney and Bush in Hooked: New Science on How Casual Sex Is Affecting Our Children). Young women, especially, are likely to spiral into depression when the source of their addiction moves on to someone else. A Conservative Research Foundation reported that 25.3% of sexually active teenage girls experienced depression, compared to 7.7% of sexually abstinent girls. Dannah Gresh, well known author on purity, said “The bottom line is that you get “addicted” and “bonded” to the people you have sex with, even if they are “just friends.” What happens when they’re gone?”
God’s parameters for sexual expression – within the marriage covenant – are to protect us from the devastating emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual consequences of such sin. No matter how hard my generation tries to negate the consequences of their sexual exploits, there will always be pain, heartbreak and baggage. Because only when we express sexuality in the way which the Designer intended will we ever have the relationships we all dream of.
~ ~ ~
I sat in Barnes and Noble frozen in shock while the two girls scampered away, probably to find the object of their desire. I would have given my right arm to have been able to formulate words in that moment, to say something – anything. It’s heartbreaking. But I don’t blame those girls, they don’t know any better. I don’t blame Hollywood, because they’re just as deceived as those 14-year-old girls. I don’t even blame the feminist movement, which created this culture of ‘sexual freedom.’ God’s people are the only ones who know the truth… and have not shared it.
If you know the truth: If you believe God’s design for sexuality, then do something about it! You’d be shocked to know how many teenagers and college students in your church accept ‘friends with benefits’ as the norm. They don’t have moms, sisters, mentors, or friends pointing them to the truth. I’m not talking about lecturing or pointing fingers, but sharing your heart out of love and concern that they’re not experiencing God’s best for their sexuality. Right now, the only voice speaking into this issue is Hollywood and it’s saying ‘do it’! We, as God’s people, need to stop worrying about people’s opinions and start caring about people’s souls (and not just salvation, but also their sanctification).
If you aren’t sure of the truth: Know that “friends with benefits” is far from the good God intended for you. Anything you hear otherwise is a lie from Satan to break your heart, crush you with consequences and cripple future relationships. Jesus paid the ultimate price for you – His life. You were bought with a price; now honor God with your body! He has a better plan for your sexuality. Find godly women in your church to mentor you (or email us if there are no other options). Dig into God’s Word and discover his beautiful and perfect plan for you.
The only way to have a successful ‘friends with benefits’ relationship is to have it with your husband: marry your best friend and reap the benefits of doing it the way God intended.