Sex, Humanity, Mind, Body

 I’ve mentioned this book before: Hooked by Joe McIlhaney and Freda Bush.  While it’s not specifically a Christian book, it is a wisdom resource for thinking about sex, our minds, our bodies, our emotions, and our lives.  Below are two paragraphs from the last chapter of the book.  These paragraphs are helpful in and of themselves and they give a good summary of what this book is about:

As we have shown with the most current science available today, over and over again, sex cannot be dismissed as an activity with little or no impact on the person as a whole. We know sex involves the entire individual. Perhaps the most damaging philosophy about sex in recent years has been the attempt to separate sex from the whole person. Neuroscientific evidence has revealed this approach to be not only false but also dangerous.  Popular culture would have you believe that young people should become sexually active when they feel “ready” and that not to become involved sexually at that point in their lives will cause them to be sexually naive and repressed. As we’ve seen, the facts tell a very different story.

Current neuroscience research shows us that the human mind is an astounding organ, one we will never totally comprehend. But beyond that, just as the brain is remarkably complex, it is even more difficult to fully grasp what it means to be fully human. There is far more to human experience than we can ever explain. Life is not just a collection of choices. Nor are we robots or mechanical beings who hopelessly get hooked on certain behaviors. And to think that we are nothing more than a group of “brain cells” or neurochemicals moved about by our environment is ridiculous. We cannot be explained by quantity, matter, or motion. However, we do know and understand some things about ourselves. This information, properly interpreted and utilized, gives us direction toward the most beneficial behavior choices. It gives us so much new insight into how to live in harmony with our innate nature and, therefore, to be more fully human.  Living in accordance with this information gives us the greatest possible chance to enjoy our lives to the fullest.

Hooked, p. 141-142.

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI, 54015

The Brain, Sex, and Our Hook-Up Culture (McIlhaney & Bush)

 This is a unique and helpful book: Hooked: The Brain Science on How Casual Sex Affects Human Development by Joe McIlhaney and Freda McKissic.  Hooked is an in-depth look at what sex does to a person’s brain.  Most people in our culture think that the casual, hook-up kind of sexual encounter is a no-strings-attached, easy-come-easy-go type of relationship that doesn’t really affect a person.  So you can do it as much as you want with whomever you want and suffer few long term repercussions.  The authors of Hooked take that cultural view head on and prove scientifically that it is simply false:

A 2017 survey of high school adolescents illustrates that sexual activity has more ramifications beyond the physical.  The survey showed that both boys and girls who have had sex are more likely to be depressed than their friends who have not (p. 19).

…With the aid of modern research techniques and technologies, scientists are confirming that sex is more than a momentary physical act.  It produces powerful, even lifelong, changes in our brains that direct and influence our future to a surprising degree (p. 21).

Some individuals have been disappointed to find that as they move from one sexual partner to another, they not only are not finding ultimate pleasure but are feeling worse about themselves and their many sexual partners.  In fact, studies show that those in casual relationships find that these sexual patterns often prevent such relationships from blossoming into romance.  They wonder why they feel this way (p. 23).

…Engaging in sex almost always carries long-term psychological consequences, either life-enhancing or life-limiting.  The brain chemical effect of sex has happened, in varying degrees, to everyone who has experienced sexual intercourse (p. 71).

This book isn’t necessarily a Christian book and I don’t necessarily agree with everything in it.  But it is a great resource to have as we think about our “hook up culture” from a Christian perspective. When God told us to live sexually pure lives and to keep sex in the realm of a man-and-woman marriage relationship, he wasn’t cruelly putting shackles on us out of spite.  Instead, he was giving us parameters to live within for the sake of human flourishing, freedom, and safety.  It shouldn’t surprise us to learn from scientific studies that promiscuous sex is harmful for people while sex inside a man-and-woman marriage relationship is a good thing.

I’ll come back to this book later.  For now, do check it out: Hooked.

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI, 54015