By: Shane James O’Neill
4 min read
(reader discretion advised)
Sex Week is an event that first began at Yale and it takes place on campuses all over the country. It’s advertised as a time of education for students as “adult” porn stars and porn vendors are brought in to educate and sell their merchandise.
The event offers “courses” such as Fornication 101, which aim “to introduce students to carnal knowledge.” (And that’s one of the tamer courses provided.) Needless to say, these workshops are thorough and graphic.
As one student puts it, “The message: Don’t be boring. Be like porn stars.”
During Sex Week, hook up culture is the ethic being presented, where “having fun means engaging in physical relationships without emotional attachment.”
Sex is Powerful
Sex is incredibly powerful, which should make us consider whether there is an appropriate way to use it. As Jennifer Fulwiler says, “A society can respect human life only to the extent that it respects the act that creates life.”
When sex is abused, it has catastrophic effects upon victims. But when sex is treated casually, as it is in hook up culture, what kind of effects does it have?
In a quote from a Vanity Fair article, a student named Amanda says this about hook up culture: “It’s a contest to see who cares less… But if you say this out loud, it’s like you’re weak, you’re not independent, and somehow you missed the whole memo about third-wave feminism.”
Pleasure > People
The message (or sexual ethic) of hook up culture and sex week is that sex shouldn’t be intimate, that sexual non-intimacy is real empowerment. If you actually care about someone then they could hurt you, so take back power by castrating affection from sex.
In short: Care about the pleasure, but it isn’t safe to care about the person.
The message is a hard one, and really, it’s a natural reaction to abusing sex. Like we said earlier, sex is a powerful thing, and whoever can use that power without being hurt by it is thus empowered.
So, to level the playing field between men and women, hook up culture invites everyone to live for pleasure, without the pain of commitment. Or so the logic goes. But at what price? We cut our heart away from our bodies, and every hook up, every time we get off to porn or a person, we’re just cutting deeper into our own humanity.
Even Miley Cyrus, in a Times article, colorfully describes the hard difficulty placed on relationships from hook up culture: “F—ing is easy. You can find someone to f— in five seconds,” she says. “We want to find someone we can talk to. And be ourselves with.”
From celebrity to college student, we’ve made our soul and our body two different things, but instead of evolving, we’ve only made ourselves less human. And now we’re experiencing the damage and loneliness that comes along with it.
Advent and Jesus’ Body
This week begins Advent, the time we celebrate Jesus coming in the flesh at Bethlehem. Advent, Jesus’ incarnation, dignifies the body like no other religion. At Advent, we see a personal God who sits with us, eats with us, walks with us, hurts with us, and laughs alongside us.
The Eternal Soul inhabits the physical body in Jesus of Nazareth — where heaven’s pleasure was laid aside so that God could step into our pain.
Advent brings us face to face with an embodied God. The fact that Jesus then resurrects in a physical body shows us that He will forever be personalized in a physical form. Jesus dignifies the body by tethering His soul to our human form (see 1 Cor, and NT Wright.). Jesus’ bodily resurrection matters, and without it, as St. Paul says, our faith is useless and in vain (1 Cor. 15:14, 17).
The Master’s Body
In 1 Cor. 6, Paul goes so far as to say: “God honored the Master’s body by raising it from the grave. He’ll treat yours with the same resurrection power. Until that time, remember that your bodies are created with the same dignity as the Master’s body… In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love… Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for?” (emphasis added).
God honors the human body by coming in a human body. And He paid for our body, at the expense of His own. Consequently, words fail to communicate the royal value of our physical form.
In verse 16, Paul says: “Your bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit.” In response to this verse, Nancy Pearcy says, “Astonishingly, this passage is saying that your body is where people will meet God. And other people’s bodies are where you will see God” (emphasis added).
Advent and the Power of Your Body
People in hook up culture are hurting because they are using their bodies however they want. But the body is sacred, no matter how much we want to believe otherwise.
To illustrate this point, with heart-breaking affect, a student says: “Wear protection, everyone says, as if that’s all that matters. But condoms didn’t protect my heart, and contraception doesn’t pay my therapy bills. How I wish someone had told me about the need to protect myself from being used.”
You can use your body for pleasure, but there will still be pain, along with so many wasted moments. It’s worth saying again: people are more valuable than our pleasure.
Your body is powerful, and it has the ability to communicate and reflect the love of a God who has come and held us with outstretched, nail-pierced hands.
As one author prays: “Suffering God, your grace mystifies me. You become weak to redeem me in my weakness. Your face, agonized, smeared with dust and sweat and blood and spit, must become the icon of my . . . life with you.”
Be blessed, dear reader, as you take time this Advent to look upon the embodied God in order to see the value of your own body.
Shane James O’Neill is the Editorial Director for Proven Ministries and host of The Naked Gospel Podcast. He is currently working on a graduate degree in apologetics at Liberty University’s Rawling School of Divinity.