It’s been more than 60 years since the sexual revolution of the 1960s swept across the nation removing sexual barriers and changing beliefs around sex.
These days, most people have accepted the idea that what two consenting adults do sexually is their own business, and the idea that sex is for forming families through the avenue of marriage seems downright archaic.
Marriage itself is in decline. The percentage of individuals between the ages of 25–54 who are not married is at an all-time high of 47 percent. There’s very little, if any, societal pressure to get married before becoming sexually active, to stay married to one person, or to stay faithful to that one person.
Even so, marriage still remains a life goal for the majority of adults (about 58 percent, with an additional 27 percent unsure whether they want to get married). The goal of the sexual revolution was to sever the relationship between sex and marriage, to deny sex as a primary way humans bond with one another, and to devalue sex as just another bodily function such as eating and drinking. Society seems to have decided that what two consenting adults do with one another sexually is their business alone, but sex is, in fact, everyone’s business.
Human beings are social animals. We do not live separated from one another: We live in groups, families, communities, and as sex is still the main way new humans are brought into the human animal community, our individual sexual practices matter to that community.
I’m not only suggesting this because of the possibility of unwanted pregnancies and children. We can all agree that unwanted children are a community matter (someone must care for those children, if not their biological parents), but sex and procreation were successfully severed with the advent of birth control.
There are still unplanned pregnancies, of course, and while pro-choicers use the marginal cases of rape and when the mother’s life is at stake to say that abortion is necessary, the primary use of abortion is for birth control. Maternal or fetal health only accounts for 12 percent of abortions while not being ready in a variety of ways constitutes the reason for majority of abortions.
In a community, sex functions as one of the main ways human beings pair-bond. Oxytocin is a hormone present in both men and women that promotes bonding in both sexes. In women it is responsible for regulating labor and delivery, and it is released during sex as well as during breastfeeding of a child. In men, oxytocin regulates testosterone and is also released during sex. Oxytocin is commonly called the “love hormone” because its primary purpose is to promote bonding in humans.
Our bodies are made to bond during sex. Our bodies want to bond during sex. What happens when we deny our bodies that bond? What happens when we have sex with someone casually, have multiple sex partners, and are very promiscuous?
Sexually promiscuous behavior is considered high-risk behavior for a reason by doctors and mental health professionals. Promiscuity is linked with higher levels of anxiety, depression, sexually transmitted diseases and cancers related to those STDs, and increases in substance abuse.
The ability to bond is key to all human relationships and therefore key to healthy societal functioning. Consistently behaving in ways that deny the physiological response to sex will break one’s ability to bond. By engaging in this kind of behavior, one must engage in some amount of disassociation or compartmentalization of one’s sexual behavior, going against the human instinct to bond. Hookup culture tries to provide sex without any strings attached, but studies find that this simply isn’t a goal that’s attainable.
“Strings” get attached because that is exactly what our body naturally does.
What are these strings? These strings are the basic foundation of human bonding and the ties that bind marriages, families, communities, and societies together. Trying to break these strings only breaks that foundation of society. Sex that denies the formation of a bond just makes no sense to the larger society when the larger consequences of sex are so huge.
Given what we know about how humans function, the lifelong commitment of marriage provides both the safety and security needed to allow the natural bond to form between two people who are sexually united. It also provides the context needed for secure attachments to form in children who will then take that emotionally healthy foundation forward to form their own secure marital bond as adults. Psychological, emotional, and spiritual health begets the same.
If we want to undo many of the devastating effects of the sexual revolution, we must accept the physical limitations of how we’re made. We must reject the lie that humans can engage in promiscuity without severe emotional and societal consequences. Sex does not just affect those engaged in it. Sex is a community matter.
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